St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Speaker Michael Perkins is acknowledging that the task of presiding over the National Assembly can be a challenging job.

He told WINN FM’s Inside the News that while some bills debated in parliament can in essence be a routine matter, others can prove difficult.

“For example certain bills are fairly straight forward, you know just the run of the mill routine debate, not much controversy, there are other times where I can sense that this one may lead to some controversy and I’ll have to be very alert. And I will say this, it’s something that I’ve always admitted and will continue to admit, in the early stages as Deputy Speaker and even Speaker I was caught off guard just a few times when I was not giving total attention to the presenter, I may have missed something one would have said and there’s a challenge and then I would have found myself in difficulty, ok I didn’t hear what the speaker said so how do I respond, and there are times I’ve had to say I’ll have to review the record. So I’ve learnt from that meaning that it became clear to me that as Speaker you need to pretty much listen to every word that is spoken by someone on his or her feet, you have to.”

Speaker Perkins has been reflecting on his first year as the presiding officer of the National Assembly.

One year later he says he still wants to ensure that people understand what happens in the parliament.

“I wanted to be the type of Speaker who would try to explain to the public on each and every opportunity I have the workings of parliament, the procedures, getting people to understand what is happening in parliament, because I’m of the view that there are not many things that we do in parliament that are really difficult to understand. We follow a lot of the traditional procedures coming out of the British parliament, House of Commons, and there are a few things that may seem a bit not clear in the minds of people, but most other things are pretty straight forward because at the end of the day parliament is the place where our laws are made, our laws are amended and these laws come through what we call bills in the first instance.”

A Guest on Saturday’s Inside The News programme, the Speaker explained the importance of bills and their role as part of the legislative agenda.

“A bill is simply a proposal which once approved by parliament becomes law, and it is as simple as that. Once parliament votes on a proposal or a bill, it becomes law of the land and irrespective of all the nomenclature that is given to some of the things that happen in parliament like a first reading, a second reading, a third reading those are just names of particular procedures and so on but at the end of the day parliament is fairly simple and straight forward in terms of proposals or bills being brought to parliament by government, or by members even private members, or members of the opposition bench and once parliament approves they become law.”

Michael Perkins in his role as parliamentary speaker, has been accused by the opposition of favouring government MPs and being biased against and unfair to parliamentarians on the opposition benches.

It’s an allegation he denies.


Ken Richards
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