Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie has rescinded a letter communicating his decision to ban Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin from Parliament unless she apologized to him for the disrespect he claims she showed toward him and other members during the last sitting.
The decision came hours after the opposition received word of the speaker’s ultimatum.
In a letter to Leader of Opposition Business Picewell Forbes, David Forbes, clerk of the Parliament, wrote, “I have been instructed by the speaker to inform you that because of the defiance of the authority of the chair, the disrespect for the chair, the lack of respect for honorable members of the House and the House of Assembly itself, along with its rules and procedure (most specifically rule 88.3 and rule 33), displayed by the honorable member for Englerston, Mrs. Glenys Hanna-Martin, the speaker has decided not to allow Mrs. Hanna-Martin to enter the chambers of the House until and unless a written apology, signed by the member (Glenys Hanna-Martin) is presented to the speaker of the House.
“You are further requested to treat this as a matter of urgency in bringing it to the attention of the leader of the opposition and Mrs. Hanna-Martin.”
That same day the clerk sent a second letter to Picewell Forbes.
He wrote: “I am directed by the speaker to advise that representations have been made to him, which appears to have the support of both sides of the divide in the House, and will result in an amicable resolution to issues raised in the earlier correspondence today. As a result of this new development the speaker wishes my earlier letter to you rescinded.
“The result of this new development is that no attempt will be made to prevent Mrs. Hanna-Martin from enjoying all of her parliamentary privileges.”
When the House of Assembly last met on June 30, Moultrie ordered guards to escort Hanna-Martin out of the House after a screaming match erupted when the government abruptly moved to suspend proceedings.
The meeting was suspended only minutes after it began, shortly after the prime minister tabled a proclamation of emergency from the governor general that saw a new state of emergency start last Tuesday.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis rose to speak after the prime minster, but Moultrie would not acknowledge him, and instead, let Leader of Government Business in the House Renward Wells move for the House to be suspended until today.
The move prompted an outburst from the opposition.
Hanna-Martin hurled insults at the government from her chair, with Davis also shouting across the floor as numerous government members shot back.
Moultrie condemned Hanna-Martin for her comments, ordering her to withdraw from Parliament.
When Hanna-Martin refused, Moultrie called guards to have her physically removed from the House.
Hanna-Martin still did not budge as the guards remained at the entry to the floor for reasons that were unclear.
Moultrie then called for the approval of the House to suspend, which was given as members continued to shout at each other.
Davis said last night the opposition will take the matter to the courts if it has to.
“The speaker has no lawful authority to do or demand any such thing,” Davis said.
“Our attorneys will be seeking to move the courts if she is unlawfully excluded from the House.
“This is an assault on democracy and all people of goodwill should join us at the House of Assembly tomorrow morning to resist this tyranny.”
This is not the first time Hanna-Martin and the speaker have butt heads.
In 2018, Moultrie named and suspended her following a heated back-and-forth.
Moultrie later suspended the remaining three opposition members.
That decision proved controversial, and the opposition moved a motion of no confidence in the speaker, but that motion was defeated.
Moultrie later apologized for the “hurtful” remarks that he made during the ordeal and called for reconciliation.