Retired parliamentarian and former Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Lashley today launched his own parliament at the Parkinson Resource Centre in the Pine, St Michael to mimic the House of Assembly.
However, Lashley was at pains to stress that the ‘Senior’s Parliament’ was “no mock sport Parliament” and was established to engage in serious business on behalf of the people of Barbados.
“This is a very serious Parliament. This is not a mock sport Parliament. Decisions taken from this Parliament will be forwarded to the relevant sources and ministers of Government so that the necessary action will be taken. It is no mock sport or play sport Parliament,” Lashley insisted.
Like the legislature in Bridgetown, this chamber will consist of 30 members – although it was launched with just 22, including two non nationals – and Lashley made it clear that anyone entering it would be required to dress appropriately.
Today’s launch mimicked the sitting of the Lower House with Lashley servicing as “Speaker”, and followed the normal protocol of a functioning parliament.
“We are using this parliament as an educational vehicle particularly for the schools in this community and those outside of this community where you can come and listen to important debates as enunciated by persons that you are not accustomed of hearing their voices unless, of course, you attend the Parliament of Bridgetown. So this is a necessary vehicle [that] offers another system of governance to Barbados where ordinary people of this country will also come and listen to their views,” he told the audience, which included Member of Parliament Santia Bradshaw, former MP Delsisle Bradshaw, Government Senator Patrick Todd and several students.
Lashley explained that in order to occupy a seat a member must be 50 years or older, although the rule was relaxed in some cases to allow persons who were outstanding members of the community and were also on the cusp of reaching age 50 to participate. The oldest member of was 92-year-old Emmerson Bellamy, a senior pastor.
Congratulatory letters from several sitting Members of Parliament, including Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett, Minister of Housing Denis Kellman and Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, as well as noted Barbadians, including Ralph Bizzy Williams, were read at today’s initial sitting.
The Seniors Parliament has four committees –management, finance, disciplinary and library – which will look after its affairs.
While today’s sitting was to introduce the members, the Senior’s Parliament will meet next week to discuss the issue of republicanism.