Lack of Government Senator means there can be no Senate meeting says Opposition Senator
Lead Senator for the UDP, Michael Peyrefitte, is vexed over the current Senate composition, and has written to the President of the Senate to rectify the issue. According to Peyrefitte, with Eamon Courtenay no longer being a government minister, he does not have the authority to vote on government business or public money business. With that said, Peyrefitte wants to see the matter fixed, saying that there can be no Senate meeting on February 8, unless the matter is addressed. Peyrefitte’s comments are viewed as hypocritical as UDP Senator, Doug Singh had served as a Senator without holding a ministerial seat. Likewise, Courtenay has also served in like manner under the Musa administration. Peyrefitte did respond to the matter of precedence, saying wrong is wrong.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator: “Under the standing orders of the Senate, certain things can only be done by a minister. With the resignation of Senator Courtenay from the Cabinet effective January 1st, I believe the Senate has no minister which then in my view makes it impossible for you to move certain bills through the Senate. Public business, government business, motions and money businesses, in my view, cannot be moved through the Senate by a regular Senator you must be a minister. Therefore, with the Senate meeting scheduled for February 8th and no minister there I have written to the President of the Senate to indicate to her that we have an issue. How can, for example, standing order 21 3 says “that government business shall consist of motions proposed to be made and bills sponsored by ministers and shall be set down in such order as the government thinks fit.” Order 22 states that no public money bill can be discussed without a minister. It says as follows. “Except on the recommendation or with the consent of the cabinet to be signified by a minister and recorded in the minutes of proceedings.” The Senate has no minister. And so government business, public money business cannot be decided upon with a Senate that has no minister. Now I don’t care if it was done a thousand times before the wrong way, bad precedent doesn’t make good law. Doesn’t matter by whom it was done. I am saying that we are here now. We are present now in the Senate now. And certain things cannot move without a minister. I’m alerting the president to this fact because I plan to raise it if between now and February 8th the prime minister doesn’t put a minister in the senate.”
Peyrefitte’s letter did cite Order 22 where it states that only a minister in the Senate can say if cabinet consented to a money bill as he/she would have access to Cabinet. With all that said, we did note in previous reports, that Courtenay would have special Cabinet privileges, as indicated by Prime Minister Briceno. The media asked Peyrefitte what would be his response if the Senate meeting proceeds next week.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator: “Certainly won’t punch a wall and try to blame the police. For sure I won’t do that. Now we don’t walk out, I’m not gonna walk out on the people’s business, but I will put this to the president, send this letter to the president, on that day if they still insist on proceeding, I will remind the president in session and whatever the president rules, she rules. If she rules that, no, let’s proceed, well, then we proceed. And then the United Democratic Party reserves its options and its rights. Having cabinet privileges don’t mean that you’re a member of cabinet. It is something that they did not think about. It is something in their haste to move an act whatever inspired them to act this way, to leave us with a situation currently that we have no minister in the Senate and certain businesses, government businesses, can only be moved by a minister. I don’t care how it was done before. I don’t care if it was wrong or treated as right before. The fact of the matter is this is not correct in my view and from my reading of the Standing Orders, it’s not correct. And I think what the prime minister needs to do is to put a minister in the Senate.”
The next Senate meeting is scheduled for February 8.