Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Photo/T&T Parliament
By Prior Beharry
PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley did not vote in the no-confidence motion against his National Security Minister Stuart Young in the Lower House on Wednesday evening.
And Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who brought the motion, did not wind it up after Speaker Brigid Annissette-George was called upon “to put the question” in effect ending the debate.
Leader of government business in the House Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, holding on for the absent Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis, got the Speaker’s attention and referred to Standing Order 52 (i) asking that “the question be put.” This was after Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally finished his contribution.
Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said that Persad-Bissessar was in the chamber and therefore should be given the opportunity to wind up the debate.
But Annisette-George said, “I’m sure my eyes don’t deceive me. The member was not in the chamber when the question was put.”
She then said, “The question is that the question now be put.”
After Annisette-George asked for the members to vote, a division was called and two PNM MP Pennelope Beckles and Shamfa Cudjoe, who had just reentered the chamber, asked what they were voting on.
Annisette-George said she could not put the question again.
Twenty PNM MPs voted yes while the 18 UNC MPs voted no.
This meant that the mover of the motion, Persad-Bissessar was not given the opportunity to wind up the debate and paved the way for the vote on the motion to be taken.
The Speaker then said, “Be it resolve that this House now express its lack of confidence in the Minister of National Security.”
After a division, the 18 UNC MPs voted yes while the 20 PNM MPs (excluding Prime Minister Rowley who was not in the Chamber but contributed earlier) voted no. It meant that the motion failed.
Absent were Robinson-Regis who is on sick leave and Opposition MP Dr Rai Ragbir in quarantine after returning from New York.
Some UNC members told AZPNews.com that Caroni East MP Dr Rishi Seecharan was on his feet and supposed to have contributed after Rambally.
They said it was also customary that since Covid-19 protocols were being observed both parties would limit the number of their MPs in the chamber at any given time.
In a release shortly after Parliament was adjourned on Wednesday the UNC described what transpired as an “incredible scene.”
It stated, “In an incredible scene today at Parliament, the Government hijacked the motion of no confidence moved by the Leader of the Opposition, effectively shutting down the debate and denying the Opposition Leader her right to reply.
“It is clear that they were running from the exposure of the Minister’s all-round failure.
“Even more telling, is the fact that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley failed to register his vote of confidence when the vote came up.”
The release quoted Rowley’s contribution in the debate when he said, “The minister (of national security) does not act on his own. I take responsibility for what the ministry of national security does and what this government does.”
The UNC stated that Rowley was now attempting to distance himself from Young’s failures.
Wednesday was private members’ day in the Lower House when the opposition gets to present its business.