Bound by convention to agree publicly, two Cabinet ministers found themselves a verbal clash on the floor of the House of Assembly today as one accused the other of misleading the chamber.
Today a Government MP challenged a fellow frontbencher on a point of order.
As lawmakers debated amendments to the Electric Light and Power Act which regulates the electricity monopoly, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey declared that most St Michael districts were “extremely dark, making them extremely dangerous” at night.
Humphrey expressed the hope that urban communities would benefit when the renewable energy changes are implemented so the districts can be better lit.
He then declared that he had written the Ministry of Transport and Works on numerous occasions requesting additional lights.
He said: “We in urban Barbados, in St Michael South, St Michael South Central, with whom I share a border…. Many nights if you are walking through our constituencies you would know it is dark, dark, dark, dark, so that if you are telling me about renewable energy that is fair enough.
“It has to be for poor people too so that when you come with these nice light bulbs and these fancy light poles put some in our constituencies, why don’t you?”
He continued: “It is not really Light and Power; this is a conversation that we have to have with the Ministry of Transport and Works whom I write all the time asking for more lights in St Michael because St Michael South is dark.”
It was at this point that Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid rose on “a point of order” to interrupt the Minister for the Blue Economy.
Duguid declared: “On a point of order, Mr Speaker, the honourable member is misleading the House.
“The honourable member is saying that St Michael South is dark, that St Michael South Central is dark.
“There is a policy every other lamppost gets lamps.
“The lamps cost money, hundreds of dollars eight million dollars that is cost.
“If we are to put lamps on every single lamppost it would be 16 million [dollars].
“There are costs. I anticipate and I appreciate that certain parts will have difficulties but we also have to weigh that with the ability for the country to pay.”
House Speaker Arthur Holder then questioned Minister Duguid: “What is the point of order, honourable member?”
Minister Duguid replied: “The honourable member is misleading the House with respect to the darkness of the particular constituencies.”
The Speaker then swiftly said: “There was no point of order. Honourable member please continue.”
As Humphrey continues to speak, loud laughter and murmurs rippled throughout the Lower House.
Humphrey had earlier said it may be efficient to move to renewable energy but it was not effective if the average person was not benefitting from the change.
He said: “St Michael is extremely dark.
“I canvassed your constituency, sir, dark.
“When you bring these renewable energy because you have these small solar generating on the poles it allows the bulb to be brighter and run longer that is efficiency but it not effectiveness if it is not reaching the people that need it.
“I would love to see a lot of those lining our constituencies.
The Minister then reminded Government of their promise to make Barbados a “brighter” country.
Humphrey continued: “We came in to office we said we were going to make the country brighter than it was we were going to take it out of darkness and we did in many ways.
“But in real terms we still have to take it out of the darkness.
“When we start doing all these lights sir that I would like to see Chelsea Road, parts of Brittons Hill very dark. I mean is a dark place you walk through almost any part of St Michael at night..
“Just because we are so close to The City one may assume that you have the lights, Sir; we don’t.”
Humphrey then challenged those managing the process not to forget the poor constituencies when the time comes for installation.
The MP for St Michael South said: “When people start to manage their dollar they may not feel it necessary to put that expensive lighting in poor constituencies.
“I want some in St Michael South for me, some St Michael Central for you sir, some in St Michael South Central for the honourable member who sits next to me and I want some in St Michael West, too.
“It is about people it is not about politics.”