Former House Speaker asks when invitation-only rule was instituted and who will fill remaining seats in the gallery

D. Gisele Isaac, former speaker of the House of Representatives, is asking when the rule that requires invitations to the swearing-in ceremony of the Lower House was instituted.

In the past, Isaac says, persons could show up at the Parliament to support the candidate for whom they voted, and seating was accorded on a first-come first-served basis, she confirms.  

Accordingly, she wants to know what has changed, since the gallery can accommodate approximately 300 people.  She recalls that, when she was sworn in as Speaker in 2004, she had about 23 guests at the event – although she was not an elected Member of House.

Isaac says the elected members should not be limited by invitations. Rather, persons who are interested should be allowed to witness the event, especially since some candidates did exceptionally well at the polls. 

As an example, she points to the victory of Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle, who defeated the Labour Party’s Colin James by over 700 votes.

The former Speaker says the 10-invitations limit could well be a ploy by the Browne Administration to bring in as many of its supporters as possible – giving the illusion that the Labour Party still enjoys the popular vote.

Hence, Isaac is curious to find out who will fill the over 200 gallery seats remaining.  If it is, indeed, Labour Party supporters, she says, this would be very unfair.

Isaac expresses the hope that someone would use their intelligence “and get sensible today” and remove the restriction, which is an insult to the newly elected Members of Parliament, she says.