Opposition Senators took a decision to boycott parliamentary proceedings today, June 24, and say they will do the same in future if they continue to be disrespected.
They were protesting their late notification of the sitting and not receiving the Order Papers in a timely manner, according to the Upper House’s Standing Orders 9(4) and 9(5).
In a letter dated June 23, 2021, the four United Progressive Party (UPP) Senators complain to Senate President Alincia Williams-Grant that they continue to receive late notice of the sessions – a contravention of the Standing Orders.
Standing Order 9(4) clearly states: “Not less than seven days before the date of a sitting the Clerk shall pose (sic) or otherwise dispatch a Notice paper of such sitting to each Senator… .”
The Opposition Senators say they were served with Notice of the sitting only on Monday, June 21, three days prior to the June 24 meeting.
This clear violation of the minimum timeline for notice seemingly has “become the norm,” the Senators charge.
Further, Standing Order 9 (5) states: “The Clerk shall be responsible for preparing for each sitting an Order Paper containing the business for that sitting, copies of which shall be posted or otherwise dispatched to each Senator not less than two clear days before the Senate sits.”
Yet, up to Wednesday, June 23 – the day before the June 24 sitting –
the UPP Senators were yet to receive the Order Paper in accordance with the rules.
“This practice of giving extremely late notice and the callous disregard for the Rules made by Parliament is unacceptable and makes a mockery of our Parliamentary procedure and practice,” their letter tells the Senate President.
Therefore, Senate Minority Leader Richard Lewis and Senators Shawn Nicholas, Johnathan Joseph, and Damani Tabor – signatories to the correspondence – advised the Senate President that they would not attend Thursday’s sitting “in protest against the … continuous violation of the Standing Orders.”
The Senators say they take the work of the Upper House very seriously. Therefore, they require adequate time to consult and undertake research for their presentations.
“This approach, which has become the norm, must be discontinued immediately [and] we trust that you will use your good office to ensure that the Standing Orders are adhered to,” the letter to the President concludes.