Prime Minister Freudel Stuart has warned that if his party is returned to office following the upcoming general election some changes will be made to the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly to ensure better attendance by members of the Lower Chamber.
Stuart issued this warning last night while addressing the Women’s League of the Democratic Labour Party at party headquarters on George Street, St. Michael.
The Prime Minister charged that since February 2008, former Prime Minister and parliamentary representative for St. Peter, Owen Arthur, has not spent a total of 24 hours in the House of Assembly.
“It is an abuse of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly. It will not remain untouched when the DLP returns to power,” he said.
“Sometimes he comes, in signs the register and leaves even before the chaplain of the House of Assembly. Even the chaplain listens to some of the debate before he takes his leave. The abuse of Parliament will have to stop. This is arrogance on the part of Arthur.
“Sir Grantley Adams sat in the Chamber when he was not in charge, Errol Barrow sat in there when he was not in charge, Harold St. John sat in the Chamber when he was not in charge, so why this arrogance by Arthur? His regular absence denies the people of St. Peter any representation in Parliament,” Stuart argued.
He told his audience that these would be some of the issues raised on the DLP platform during the upcoming general elections.
Addressing the issue of corruption in the society, Stuart told the gathering that it was always his intention to have the Prevention of Corruption Act on the statute books before he dissolved Parliament. Stuart stressed that with the setting up of the commission, persons invited to disclose their assets will be questioned by a panel and in some cases their associates can be called in for questioning.
To loud applause from the members of the Women’s League, Stuart said some of them may be heading to the institution they built at Dodds, St. Philip.
He stressed that with this act in place, it would not be the case of a member of parliament borrowing a pencil and a piece of scrap paper from a shopkeeper and writing down the size of his/her assets and then declaring them in Parliament. It would be a more formal event, he said.
On the issue of succession following the death of former Prime Minister David Thompson, Stuart charged that when Thompson disclosed in May 2010 that he was experiencing some health challenges, the Barbados Labour Party began to smell blood. He noted that persons who had earlier said they were finished with elective politics began once more to show an interest.
Stuart further noted that when operatives in the BLP recognised in October 2010 that Thompson had slim chances of ever returning to elective politics, they smelt blood again and quickly pushed the then Opposition Leader, Mia Mottley, out of the way.†He, however, argued that the smooth succession which followed Thompson’s death surprised the BLP because they were looking for an implosion of his party.
Stuart said that having failed to assume office via this route, they then began to question the DLP’s economic policies.
In jest he said: “Barbados has two Nobel laureates in Economics in the persons of Owen Arthur and Clyde Mascoll, yet they have failed to offer their services to President Obama where 20 million persons remained unemployed and 50 million were on food stamps. All they have under their arms is perspiration.” (NC)†