Row erupts in the House

A testy and heated row erupted in the House of Assembly last night between House Speaker Patricia Deveaux and several members of the opposition.

At one point, the speaker threatened to remove a member from the chamber.

As Long Island MP Adrian Gibson wrapped up his contribution to the debate on the supplementary budget, Deveaux said she was ashamed of the way members from both sides behaved during the debate. 

“When members rise, from this day forward, they will say to me whether it is a point of order, point of clarification and you will respect the member and the other member will sit,” she said. 

That was a repeated issue during the debate. Members constantly argued over whether other members were making a valid point of order.

Gibson made that argument several times during his contribution.

Deveaux said, “There will not be two members on their feet. I allowed it to happen today because I want to clarify your behavior today. Then, we will be respectful. 

“Today’s events was very unparliamentary. I am ashamed on both sides. The cellphones, the laptops, all of the noises will cease or I will have it taken away.

“Respect. This is the people’s House. This is not our House.

“They put us here to do a job. After today, you will meet a new speaker in this chair. I allowed a lot of things to happen, so I can speak to it. Respect. I don’t want any member to tell me from this day forward whether I allow a point of order or not. I allow members to get up, I hear them, I make the final decision.

“No member will tell me what is a point of order or not from this day forward. I am here to bring respect to this chair and, whether you like it or not, respect will be given from all sides. 

“I am ashamed of the behavior today. It will not go any further. Now, I want you to go and think on those things.”

At that point, laughter erupted from the opposition side. 

Deveaux looked at the opposition side and asked, “Is it funny? Is it funny? I want to know if it’s funny? Did I make a joke?”

A member of the opposition responded to the speaker.

She asked, “Say to me why you’re laughing? Now, listen here, I didn’t crack a joke and let me tell you something…”

The member asked if he could speak, but the speaker said, “No, I don’t need to hear from you.”

The opposition member made another comment and the speaker said, “I am not talking to children but do not act as children. Do not act as children.”

As the back and forth continued, the speaker rose to her feet, “Listen, listen, I am standing now. Please, have a seat.

“I am standing in this House now and I have said what my likes and what my dislikes are. It’s not funny but you laughed.

“You are making a mockery of the chair … because you laughed. The people of this country are watching.”

She added, “I am ashamed.”

The speaker then took her seat.

Leader of Government Business Obie Wilchcombe rose to his feet, signaling that it was “an appropriate time to suspend”. He also agreed with the speaker and said he saw some “repetitive” behavior during the debate.

Gibson rose on a point of order, causing the speaker to respond, “I just said we will allow the member to complete, then you will rise on a point of order. I just said it.”

Opposition members began shouting at the chair.

The speaker, referring to Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis, said, “You don’t tell me what I need to do.”

She told him, “I will have you removed from this place.”

Lewis continued making comments.

Gibson, who wanted to make his point of order, attempted to calm Lewis down. 

The speaker said, “You don’t tell me what I need to do. You are very disrespectful, Central Grand Bahama.”

The row eventually subsided.

The House meets tomorrow.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.

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