Prime Minister, Bruce Golding has called for amendments to the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, so as to allow Members of Parliament (MPs) who are not Ministers, to make statements during sittings.
The Prime Minister, who was speaking during yesterday’s (Sept. 27) opening of the new session of Parliament and swearing-in of the Senate and House of Representatives at Gordon House, noted that currently, only Ministers are entitled under the Standing Orders, to get up in Parliament and make statements to the nation.
“A Member of Parliament has to appeal to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and has to, in a sense, induce the Speaker to allow the rules to be bent, in order for the member to speak to the nation about the people, who sent him here to represent them.
“I have always felt that, that is wrong because we all come in here as 60 persons equally elected, non anymore elected than the other,” Mr. Golding stated.
He noted however that the process will have to be regulated and “it’s going to have to be managed with some discipline. It is not going to be possible for 60 of us to come here and all want to get up on the same day.”
“I am sure the Speaker will be able to provide some guidance in terms of how an intention or a desire can be recorded and registered with the Clerk (of the House) and limitations in terms of time,” he added.
The Prime Minister encouraged his fellow MPs to remember that they are elected by the people to serve. “The people in Jamaica did not elect 60 (MPs); they elected one person to represent them in that particular constituency and that is a role, that is a position that we must respect and uphold,” Mr. Golding said.
“Therefore, I want to see this Chamber not just a place for doing the business of government, I want to see it as a Chamber for representing the interests of the people, who sent us here to represent them,” he continued.
Opposition Leader, Portia Simpson Miller, in her contribution, congratulated the Jamaica Labour Party on forming the new Government and noted that the Opposition will be playing its role in the Parliament.
“Our pledge is to be a vibrant, vigilant and vocal opposition, constantly watching over the interests of the Jamaican people,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
Mr. Golding, in the meantime, announced that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives will now be elevated to the same rank as Cabinet Ministers, while the positions of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative and Deputy President of the Senate will be elevated to the same rank as Ministers of State.
He noted further that in view of the “constitutional and political importance of the office of Leader of the Opposition, we will be elevating that office to the rank pari passu with that of Deputy Prime Minister”.
Fifty Six MPs, 31 from the Government side and 25 Opposition members, were sworn in today at Gordon House. In addition, 13 Government and seven Opposition Senators took the Oath of Allegiance.
Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North Eastern, Delroy Chuck was appointed Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of Parliament for South Trelawny, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, was appointed Deputy Speaker.
Dr. Oswald Harding was appointed President of the Senate and Thomas Tavares-Finson, Deputy President.

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