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St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): His rulings in the House can be challenged but they must be done so in the proper manner.

That explanation - from Speaker Michael Perkins.

He is acknowledging that the Presiding Officer in the National Assembly can sometimes get it wrong.

“Many times things would happen in parliament that I would have to be thinking on my feet and make a decision and in fact use the discretion I have in me. Certain things are very clear , the authority for me to do and take certain measures are clear, other things there are some gray areas  and so therefore the only thing I’m left to do is to use my intuition my discretion and make a decision. Having said that, using my discretion to make decisions, the other thing that the public must know, is that any ruling of the Speaker, whether it’s by a direct authority as per a Standing Order or him using his discretion, any ruling that is made can be challenged.”

Speaker Perkins says however that there are occasions when his rulings receive unfair public criticism.

“I know there’s been some mischief making in my opinion, in the public that the Speaker makes rules or I’ve even heard the term used make up rules as parliament proceeds but even if that is so, even if a matter comes to my attention where I have to give a ruling on which is unprecedented, the standing orders allow that I have to use my discretion, I have make a ruling but in the event that a member is not in agreement with my ruling there is a way the member can come and challenge my ruling through what we call a Substantive Motion. And that simply means at some further sitting you challenge what the Speaker did in writing, you give notice that on such a sitting, this happened, you lay out your facts and you’re asking parliament to review that decision of the Speaker and make a decision.”

According to the Speaker, none of his rulings have to date been challenged in the proper manner.

“The Speaker could be found to have erred in his ruling, parliament could decide that based on what is presented as a complaint the Speaker in fact erred, but in all of the talk that has happened since I’ve been Speaker I have never had any of my rulings, not one of my rulings being challenged in the proper way.”

Michael Perkins’ explanation was made on WINN FM’s Inside The News programme, where he was quizzed about his role as Speaker.



Ken Richards
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