Sir Gerald Watt, KC, speaker of the House of Representatives, has addressed what he deems to be the vexing issue of the placement of Barbuda MP Trevor Walker on the Opposition Bench.
Reportedly, members of the Government Bench have expressed concern about Walker being seated among the United Progressive Party (UPP) MP’s.
But, addressing the matter on Thursday morning, Sir Gerald says that neither he nor the Clerk of the Parliament is responsible for seating MP’s.
If Walker opts to form an alliance with the main opposition party, the UPP, he must subject himself to that Party’s “whip,” Watt says. He also claims that it means Walker must vote with the UPP – even if its position conflicts with that of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), which Walker represents.
According to Sir Gerald, Walker has indicated certain things to him; and he insists that he, the Speaker, is not wrong about the position he has taken and challenges anyone to prove otherwise.
Other persons disagree with Watt, however, saying that Walker – like any other MP – is “entitled to vote his conscience” on any controversial issue, no matter where he is seated.
“Back-benchers are entitled to disagree with
their own government,” one pundit says. “Walker has the same privilege since all MP’s are equal.”
Meanwhile, Sir Gerald also addressed concerns about the seating arrangements for the Deputy Speaker of the House, Member for St. Phillip’s North Sir Robin Yearwood.
The Speaker says there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents Sir Robin from sitting where he is accustomed, or consigning him to the back bench.