Speaker of the House of Assembly Jomo Thomas, on Thursday, reminded lawmakers that the Standing Orders provided for censure of him or any other member of the national assembly.
He said that aggrieved lawmakers should use the censure provisions, where he can respond, rather than “snipe” at him on radio.
“In the Standing Orders, there is a place for the censuring of members, all Members of Parliament, including the Speaker,” Thomas said.
Thomas, a lawyer, has come under heavy criticism, at various times, from supporters of both the government and the opposition over his handling of various matters in the national assembly.
Thomas became house speaker in 2016, after he lost in a bid to become Member of Parliament for South Leeward in the December 2015 general elections, two years after he became a senator.
“And I just want to say that I have become particularly taken aback by the kind of sledging that has taken place by Members of Parliament on both sides of the House on public radio having to do with one position or the other that I might have taken on a multiplicity of issues,” he told lawmakers during the section of the meeting allocated for announcements by the speaker.
“I think that it would be appropriate and I would welcome if people think that I have done something that is outside of the ambit as Speaker of the House that they can bring a censure motion, have me censured for doing something because it would be for my own educational value,” he said.
He further told lawmakers: “And if people think I am so beyond the pale that they can bring a motion which can result in me being removed as the speaker.
“But I don’t think that, in my own humble estimation, that I have done anything that is so violative of the broad ambit which I have as Speaker…
“I just wanted to bring that to the floor so that people can know that I serve at the pleasure of all of the parliamentarians here in this house. And rather than going sniping here, there and everywhere in the public domain, it may be best that you come here where, at a minimum, I would have an opportunity to defend myself.”
In response to Thomas’ comment, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is head of the Unity Labour Party, of which Thomas is a member, said:
“Mr. Speaker, I don’t believe that any quote-unquote sniping of you by this or that person in the House. Honourable member, in the public, I believe that what is done in public there are always different opinions.”
The prime minister, who is leader of government business in the House, said he does not “see need for us to even address the issue or even considering censuring the speaker.
“I don’t know if you have done anything to be censured. I don’t know about that or, certainly, to bring a specific motion for removal. I personally don’t think that that is a matter, which really should be on the agenda for any serious consideration, though I understand why you said it. But, for my part, I just want to make that particular point.”