Friday, March 16, 2012

Greenidge/Ramjattan withdrawal motion deemed "out of order"

Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, after the National Assembly resolved itself into a Committee of Supply for the consideration of Paper Number 8 of 2011, ruled that the paper should not be withdrawn, contrary to the motion that was moved by A Partnership for National Unity [APNU]’s shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge at the last sitting of the National Assembly on February 16.
"I therefore rule that the motion purportedly moved by Carl Greenidge, and seconded by Khemraj Ramjattan, was not a permissible motion within the meaning of the Standing Orders, and cannot therefore be entertained", the Speaker ruled.
This ruling paved the way for Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh to proceed with the paper.

The Speaker, in his pronouncement on the issue, told the House that he had received a letter from Leader of the House, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, requesting a ruling on the motion moved by Greenidge at the last sitting for the withdrawal of Financial Paper Number 8, and the voting against four heads in Financial Paper Number 7.
The letter also claimed that Mrs. Deborah Backer, who was at the time the acting Speaker at the last sitting, allowed Mr. Greenidge's motion which was seconded by Khemraj Ramjattan, for the withdrawal of Financial Paper 8.
The Speaker told the House that in his examination of the concerns raised, after observing Erskine May and other rules of procedure, and with the advice of the Clerk of the National Assembly and that of another jurisdiction, and even of a former Clerk, he denied that Mrs. Backer did allow Greenidge's motion for the withdrawal of Financial Paper Number 8, but the motion was merely moved and seconded, after which arguments were heard regarding the admissibility of the matter.
He said that Mrs. Backer was not certain about the admissibility of the motion; and so instead of proceeding in contravention of the Standing Order, was right in asking for an adjournment to be properly advised on the way forward.
The Speaker deemed Greenidge's motion to withdraw Financial Paper Number 8 "out of order". He also ruled that Standing Order 78 clearly sets out the procedure to be followed when supplementary estimates are before the House.
According to the Speaker, a motion to withdraw is not one of the stated procedures, though the minister who introduces the papers may withdraw or defer it if he/she chooses. Standing Order 36/1 says that a motion can only be withdrawn at the request of the mover, provided there is no dissenting voice, the Speaker ruled.
He emphasised that the intent of the motion was not to abandon the consideration of the financial paper, but for the submission of "more details [unidentified]", according to the Prime Minister.
This would seem reasonable if the wording of the motion did not include "withdrawal".

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