Senate President Carolyn Trench-Sandiford Expresses Concerns Over Senate Language
Joining the Speaker of the House on The Morning Show on Monday was the President of the Senate, Carolyn Trench-Sandiford. The Senate President spoke on her role in the Senate, and her concerns on the language used in the Senate sittings.
Carolyn Trench Sandiford, President of the Senate: “There is a provision in the standing orders for the Senate and I believe there may be a similar provision in the House, I don’t recall I haven’t really read it thoroughly. But there is this provision that says where there is ambiguity, to use that word, or where it is not provided for in the standing orders, the president of the Senate makes that decision and that is a final decision, so to speak. So you do have that provision but I think as the speaker said, what you want to do is to encourage freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of debate. One of the challenges I find is language, for example, because we’re supposed to be speaking in English but that’s not everybody who can communicate in English. But then also what may, and I think the point she raises is so valid, what we may have considered unparliamentary maybe in 1960s may not necessarily be the conduct or how we speak now. And that becomes a challenge because, you know it’s like do you reserve the Queen’s English so to speak or do you allow people to express how they think and how they feel? And I will give you a classic example. I remember sitting in there in the Senate one day presiding and someone used the word damn but it was after the fact I picked it up. And then I said, wow that ought not to be parliamentary language but then I put myself in that place and I said, but maybe I would have said ‘damn’ too. But you get the point I’m making. Is it a bad word is it a good word and how do you allow people to express themselves and I think that’s the challenge that you face in terms of the balancing act.”
Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House: “And that’s the term it’s balancing because you’re not looking for good or bad words but parliamentary language.”
Both Woods and Trench-Sandiford were sworn in to the National Assembly in December 2020.