Speaker of the House Dr Barton Scotland yesterday turned down a request made by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, to have the proposed Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Motion be amended and sent to a Parliamentary Select Committee.
Originally, Teixeira had intended to move the Motion in the House yesterday, calling on Government to table the final report of the Commission no later than two weeks.
However, on Wednesday, a day before the sitting, Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan delivered the report to Dr Scotland in Parliament Chambers.
“The government had the tabled report… And having the tabled report, I put in an amendment that the matter is sent to the Parliamentary Select Committee for further examination. My amendment was submitted yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) and was circulated on the floor,” Teixeira declared.
“Verbally on the floor I have submitted an amendment hours before yesterday to allow for a simple amendment that this report go to a Parliamentary Select Committee. In fact, under exemption from notice. I am appealing to you that this is an order and bringing the report merely to this House, does not give it the opportunity for examination by this House,” a visibly upset Teixeira told the Speaker.
She asked that her motion with the amendment be allowed and be debated.
“I am appealing to you, there is no harm done that this is going to a Parliamentary Select Committee and we as the MPs of this house will be able to look at it. I am begging you too because we must never let this happen again and we can only do this by looking at it and examine it. I cannot comprehend how you will do this. I am begging you that you see the reason that this be sent to the Select Committee. It will do no harm”, the Chief Whip appealed to the Speaker.
Teixeira said the situation is a very emotional one for her, as her entire youth in Guyana during that period was spent with Dr Rodney and other “comrades for democracy in Guyana”.
“This has gone full circle and after 36 years, we now have a report and it’s now going to be shelved?” she asked.
Teixeira also questioned the completeness of the submission, asking whether more information is missing since there is only a ‘volume one’.
“Where are the other volumes of this report? There are other volumes that were submitted. The CoI submitted a compilation of reports, I don’t know if there are other volumes but this is volume one. I have seen volume one of the report has been tabled. In my view there must be other volumes and therefore it is not the entire report,” she contended.
Meanwhile, Dr Scotland said the matter before the House was to have the report delivered to the Assembly in two weeks. He said it has been submitted and the amendment could only be made when the question is asked. According to him, Teixeira was welcomed to take the amendment as a fresh Motion. However, as it stood, the request could not be allowed.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, rising in defence said the House is protected by rules. He said a member seeking to be protected by the rules cannot abuse the very rules of the House.
“The speaker has made a ruling that the intention of the motion has been satisfied and the member is seeking through the back door to introduce an emotive contribution by way of a debate of a Motion,” Nagamootoo argued.
He said the speaker has ruled that the Motion is admissible and should have been on the Order Paper, but the intention of the Motion of the House has been satisfied and it is clear that the only Motion on the House shall relate to only one definite matter – that the report be submitted in two weeks.
Nagamootoo said the move to defeat the ruling by the speaker is “contemptuous of the House, if not of the Speaker himself” and should not be encouraged whether one is emotional or not.
The report compiled the findings of the COI, set up by former President Donald Ramotar to probe the circumstances surrounding the death of renowned Guyanese and Leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Dr Walter Rodney who died as a result of a bomb blast on the evening of June 13, 1980.