McAlpine ‘disruptive’ over members’ questions day in House
Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine got into a back and forth yesterday with members of his own party and House Speaker Halson Moultrie over a House rule he said has not been observed since the Minnis administration took office.
As soon as the House began, McAlpine jumped to his feet. The speaker promptly asked why he was standing.
McAlpine pointed to rule 39 (2) of the House rules. The rule details the order of business when the House meets on the second Wednesday of the month when members are allowed to ask questions.
McAlpine said, “This is listed in the rulebook. I’ve been here now a year, Mr. Speaker, and I have not been able to see us to fulfill this particular section of the rulebook.
“Considering that this is the second Wednesday, there are some members in here who sometimes have questions that they need answered.
“The question is and the reason why I am bringing this up is because from time to time there is something that I want to deal with in terms of questions, nothing controversial, so that one could get clarity.
“So I figured that I would bring this up now so as to know when the opportunity will arise for us to fulfill this part of the obligation that is stated here in the rules and procedures of the House of Assembly.
“Like I said, I’ve been here for one year and have not seen this agenda followed on any second Wednesday of any month as stated here in the rulebook.”
Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, the leader of government business, noted that McAlpine was referring to opposition day.
“That is a day that there is an agreement between the opposition and the government,” he said.
“The understanding has been, Mr. Speaker, that, that day is observed under the agreement of the opposition and the government side. That has been the tradition.
“Now, during the former administrations it has not been adhered to. Not one.”
He added, “We understand the rules and it is the second Wednesday. It is a day that is agreed to but, Mr. Speaker, we have not sat down and had any agreement and the government today will move forward with its agenda.”
McAlpine attempted to respond but Moultrie told him to have his seat.
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said that the rule does not speak to the opposition asking questions, but any member.
“You have your own members ask you questions so as to clarify things,” he said.
“The practice that we have clashes with the rules. There could be the assumption that we have waived that particular order but it has now been raised to you.”
But Carmichael MP Desmond Bannister said the practice has been to follow the ordinary agenda.
Bannister had to speak over shouts from McAlpine, who was in his seat.
Moultrie warned McAlpine that he was being “disruptive”.
“I am putting you on notice to discontinue that behavior,” Moultrie said.
McAlpine apologized and said it was not his intention to insult the speaker or any member in the chamber.
“I was seeking to find out when the opportunity will arise because there are questions that members of this caucus, government caucus, may want some answers to,” he said.
He added, “It does not speak to [the day] specifically as opposition [day] and I need my colleagues to understand what was done or wasn’t done is not the issue of the day. We told the Bahamian people that we would do better and that it’s the people’s time and we would govern…”
At that point, Moultrie said, “Honorable member, I have taken your point. Thank you very much. Resume your seat.”