Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Sanctions for MPs - PM urges action against habitual stragglers
Monday, June 24, 2002
Jamaica Gleaner

THE NATIONAL Executive Council (NEC) of the People's National Party (PNP) yesterday approved tough sanctions against its Members of Parliament who fail to attend House sittings or are habitually late.

Recommendations for sanctions were proposed by party president Prime Minister P.J. Patterson at the NEC meeting in Oracabessa, St. Mary.

Mr. Patterson was among the few members present in the House last week when Information Minister Colin Campbell had to wait for more than an hour to make his presentation in the Sectoral Debate because of the lack of a quorum. PNP general secretary Maxine Henry-Wilson said last night that Mr. Patterson was not amused.

She was non-specific on the sanctions but suggested they could come in many different forms. "There may be questions of eligibility for party positions or being publicly chided by the NEC," she told The Gleaner.

"The NEC is the highest decision making body in the PNP and no party member wants to run afoul of the NEC. The adverse publicity that comes along with it is not something that anybody would want either," she added.

The late arrival of MPs forced a 70-minute delay to the second day of the Sectoral Debate with three Government Members of Parliament down to speak. In the end only Information Minister Colin Campbell made a contribution. Canute Brown, outgoing Member of Parliament for East Hanover who was slated to speak, did not make his presentation while Sharon Hay-Webster, MP for South Central St. Catherine, was absent.

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson was among the MPs who were forced to sit and wait while frantic telephone calls were made to members urging them to turn up at Duke Street. When the sitting of the House of Representatives finally got under way at 3:10 p.m., instead of the usual 2:00 p.m., there were only 14 members present including Deputy Speaker O.T. Williams. That was two short of the required 16 that constitutes a quorum, a clear breach of the Standing Orders. Only one of twelve Opposition MPs was present for the start.

The proceedings officially got under way at 3:16 p.m. when Opposition members Karl Samuda and Derrick Smith entered the chamber.

Meanwhile, the NEC also confirmed Patrick Roberts as the PNP candidate for West Central St. Andrew constituency in the upcoming general elections. He was selected over Dr. Warren Blake who was defeated in the 1997 election by the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Andrew Holness. The decision was, however, not without controversy as a number of Dr. Blake's supporters protested outside the Oracabessa High School claiming that "the selection was bogus."

The party, however, delayed the decision on the candidacy of O.T. Williams for the West Central St. Andrew Constituency.

Mr. Williams, the sitting M.P. for the area, came out victorious in a recent indicative poll at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters. He received 129 votes out of some 746 delegates that were eligible to vote.