Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Don Saunders named Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday evening and ordered the sergeant at arms to remove him from the chamber after Davis refused to stand down while attempting to defend Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin, who was being chastised by Saunders as she attempted to make a point of order.
In Westminster parliaments, naming a member is a procedure that allows the speaker or deputy speaker to remove that member who is refusing to adhere to parliamentary rules of conduct.
After Saunders repeatedly instructed the sergeant at arms to remove Davis from the House, two police officers walked up to Davis and Hanna-Martin and escorted them out.
The matter arose after Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar, the MP for Freetown, contributed to debate on a compendium of insurance bills, but instead of speaking to the bills, he spoke to the air navigation services agreement between Bahamas Air Navigation Services Authority and the US Federal Aviation Administration, which was signed earlier in the day.
After D’Aguilar took his seat, Hanna-Martin rose on a point of order, and noted that while Saunders had chastised her for straying from the debate at hand, he did not do the same for D’Aguilar.
She said, “I’m so sorry Freetown didn’t get the admonition Englerston got because at least I said something about the bill. Freetown ain’t say nothing about the bill. But I understand how this go. No problem.”
But when Hanna-Martin, the former aviation minister, proceeded to the substance of her point of order, that D’Aguilar had provided certain misleading statements in his contribution, Saunders cut her off, seemingly becoming increasingly agitated.
“He’s finished his contribution,” he said. “I don’t see any reason … we need to continue in this.”
Hanna-Martin insisted, “Would you allow me to speak and then determine? Would you do that, please? Would you give Englerston that courtesy, Mr. Deputy?”
Hanna-Martin added, “I said the member misled this Parliament. May I address it please?”
Saunders responded, “If you rise on a point of order and you make a sentence and in your sentence you are already alluding to issues that have already been addressed, the chair can only come to the conclusion that your point of order is going to be spoken on issues you have already raised.”
The deputy speaker then asked, “What is your point of order, Englerston?”
After Hanna-Martin said she was grateful that he was allowing her to proceed, the deputy speaker said, “I don’t need the condescending statements. Just carry on.”
Hanna-Martin then said, “And I don’t like condescending either, Mr. Deputy. This member demands respect in this Parliament.”
Saunders shot back, “You get respect, Englerston. One thing I observe in this chair … over and over and over, you can make statements and comments and raise issues about every and anything, but when somebody else is on their feet …”
It was at that point that Davis, the MP for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, attempted to intervene.
Saunders repeatedly shouted, “Cat Island, the chair is speaking; the chair is speaking, Cat Island.”
Davis retorted, “You have to act like a chair.”
Saunders shouted, “Philip Brave Davis, the member for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, is now to be escorted out of this House, Mr. Sergeant at Arms. Sergeant at Arms, please carry out your duties. The member for Cat Island is excused for the rest of the evening.”
Davis then asked, “What rule?”
But Saunders again called on the sergeant at arms to remove Davis, adding, “If Englerston wants to leave, she can leave too.”
Saunders said, “You have to respect the chair.”
Before leaving the chamber, Davis told him, “When you act like a chair you will be respected.”
The events transpired hours after another contentious moment in the House when House Speaker Halson Moultrie lashed out at the prime minister and the executive, accusing them of disregarding COVID-19 protocols and disrespecting his authority as speaker after the chief clerk of the House tested positive for COVID-19.
Invoking the Holy Bible, Moultrie suggested the executive was engaged in darkness and evil and accused the Cabinet of dragging the Parliament around like a dinghy boat.