UWP, House Speaker clash over questions in the House

Parliament building in Roseau
Parliament building in Roseau

The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) will be holding a meeting at the Peebles Park on Thursday morning to inform supporters of what it says are concerns that its members are not being allowed to ask questions in Parliament.

The party is saying this is the second consecutive time the opposition has been barred from asking questions by House Speaker Alix Boyd-Knights.

But Boyd-Knights has said she is only obeying the Standing Orders of Parliament.

“What I have in fact been hearing is that the opposition is going to protest my obeying the Standing Orders of the House,” she said in a live interview on stated-owned DBS Radio on Thursday morning.

Parliament meets today (Thursday) and UWP Senator, Thomson Fontaine, said the meeting is to bring to the attention of the public that the opposition is not being allowed to ask questions of the government during the sitting.

“That will be the second consecutive seating of Parliament where we will not be allowed to raise pertinent questions that we think is of interest to the public,” he said. “And as such we are asking all Dominicans an hour before parliament to meet with us in the Peebles Park so that we can explain to them the situation and also tell them the kinds of questions that we were willing to ask the government in the sitting of Parliament.”

He stated that the party was told members needed 14 days notice to be able to ask their questions and to get responses from government.

“However we got the notice with 12 days notice,” he stated. “We are saying that is very unfair to us. That this was not a surprise or an urgent call of Parliament. They knew months before that they were going to have the Parliament on the 26th. So it is only fair that we would have been given enough time, the 14 days as required by the Standing Orders to be able to ask questions…”

He described the matter as a threat to the island’s democracy and it is important to raise the issue with the public, who will in turn pressure the government and the Speaker to change their behavior.

Boyd-Knights said in her live DBS interview that every member of Parliament was given a copy of the Standing Orders of Parliament and Standing Order 22 is very clear on the matter.

“Standing Order 22.1 says a question shall not be asked without notice,” she stated in reading the Standing Order. “Unless it is of an urgent character or relates to the business of the day and the member has obtained the permission of the Speaker to ask it. Standing Order 22.2 says notice of a question may be handed by the member to the clerk when the House is seating or may be sent to or left at the office of the clerk at any time during the hours prescribed for the purpose. Every such notice must be signed by the member giving it.”

She continued, “And Standing Order 22.3 says the reply to any question may be deferred to the next seating of the House unless a member asking the question shall have given not less than 14 clear days notice in writing of his intention to ask the same.”

She stated that there are other subsections “but the important thing here is that the members are given the Standing Orders, they read it.”

“There are members who have come to me, to ask me to explain certain provisions that they have not understood, but the Leader of the Opposition has indicated that he understands it, so then if he understands particularly Standing Order 22.3, it means that he is going to send his questions way before a meeting,” the Speaker indicated. “The fact is, it is not necessary for members to wait to get a notice for them to decide for them to ask a question.”

She said the requirement for notices is a clear 12 days before a sitting.

“Therefore, when a member sends a question 10 days before a meeting is to take place, he ought not to expect me to disobey the rule and just put the question on the Order Paper,” she stated.

Boyd-Knights stated that all members of the House are aware that they ought not to wait on a notice telling them that there is going to be a meeting to ask questions.

“The rule is very clear, you can ask your question anytime,” she remarked. “And when 14 days before a meeting, questions are coming we automatically go on the Order Paper.”

She pointed out that that the rules of notices are that they must be sent 12 days before a sitting and there are rules for questions which say that they must be sent at least 14 clear days before.

She insisted that members must not wait until they get a notice to send questions and the rules say that if a member wants to ask a question that is urgent, he or she can come to her and ask her permission to do so.

“Nobody came,” the Speaker said. “People just sent their letters routinely and the clerk tells me that, I think is the Monday, that questions came in, one from a new member and one from a member who has been in the House before and knows perfectly well you ought not to wait on those notices. That is why the rules are saying send your questions before.”

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  1. Danziger
    November 26, 2015

    I LOVE OUR SPEAKER SHE IS JUST RIGHT FOR THE JOB. You all want to turn and toss Mme Speaker around no no not so she is a strong woman WITH TWO STRONG ARMS.

  2. TJ
    November 26, 2015

    The opposition is not Alix Boyd knights child and she should treat them with respect. The speaker of the house should understand she is not an elected member of parliament. This of outright disrespect is cause for a call for her resignation.

  3. UserName
    November 26, 2015

    So why were questions presented by the opposition, subsequently barred, at the LAST sitting of parliament not entertained this time around by the speaker.

  4. Eros-Venus
    November 26, 2015

    Santa Hang on help is on the way! After what the country been through after the Ericka business, family to realocate,roads,landslides,vehicles,insurance etc. uwp want to do the opposite. They are getting caught one bye one, just be patience

  5. Puzzled
    November 26, 2015

    Following the house debate on GIS.IT is obvious that the SPEAKER and the PRIME MINISTER are hand in glove.
    Standing orders say questions that are PERTINENT to the business of the day can be asked,with the speakers consent.
    The SPEAKER has enough leeway to permit the Opposition to ask PERTINENT questions IF. She so wishes

  6. November 26, 2015

    Dominicans are a bunch of spinless cowards, CHICKENS :-D :-D

  7. looking
    November 26, 2015

    If the opposition said they only got 12 days notice and the speaker said she gave more than 14 days. Then this implies the problem is the channel between the two parties. The messenger. Or one of the parties involved is not telling the truth. The Opposition, The speaker or the Messenger……..HMMMMMM

  8. Freedom adds its voice
    November 26, 2015

    Dr. Sam Christian, speaking on behalf of the Dominica Freedom Party, added his voice to support proper functioning of the House of Assembly. He was very eloquent and passionate, urging the Opposition not to be taken for granted by the speaker – not to be a zeh-zeh or majee.

    Dr. Christian pointed out that all dictatorships begin by marginalizing & undermining Parliament, beginning with the February 27, 1933 burning of the German Reichstag. The Nazi\’s later arrested and jailed hundreds of political opponents to solidify Hitler\’s grip on power. \”Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it\” he quoted, urging the crowd to stand strong and not be intimidated. Dominica\’s parliament has been burnt before. And if we are not careful, it will be burnt again to ensure that the people\’s elected representatives will not be silenced.

    His speech was cheered by the modest crowds. Those present felt that parliamentarians drew strength from speeches like his. I for one, was…

  9. November 26, 2015

    The Uneducated Wicked People in opposition should at least understand that when your own supporters refuse to come out to support and defend your cause you lose ALL credibility and viability as a political party. It was inevitable that this inept party would fall apart at the seams given the aloofness of their “novice” leader. A man who believes that big words and constantly haranguing, belittling and pursuing our Supreme Leader will endear him to the Dominican People and even win him some supporters from the “other” side. The right and honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit did not need to do anything to sweep aside this weak opposition. They began destroying themselves from day one when they chose to make their platform solely about attacking one man instead of being true “representatives” of the marginalized and disenfranchised within our society. This fight against the Speaker of the House has brought to life all the shortcomings of this failed party.

    • Dominican in NJ
      November 26, 2015

      lmbo when did Skerrit became a Dr……dude does not even hold a Masters degree…..u must be mistaking Skerrit for Hendo

  10. love
    November 26, 2015

    uwp need to follow instructions,and do things the right way.when you guys behave that way how do you expect the children to behave?

  11. forreal
    November 26, 2015

    wait is saying that the opposition signed on the rules,so what is the problem?

  12. DA Native in Texas
    November 26, 2015

    I have said it before and I will say it again, some of these antiquated laws that we have on our books need revising. How the heck can I ask a question 14 days before listening to what you have to say? Imagine this so called house sits every six months. Why should I have to wait until 14 days before the next meeting to have my questions answered? I think what should happen is that, each member of the house should be given an allotted time to speak during the sitting of the house, and after their time has been used, if needs be maybe a minute or two for rebuttal. And those rules should be for every elected member of the house.

  13. Marcus Hill
    November 26, 2015

    I have to say that in this case I agree with the speaker. You have 14 days to send in your questions; abide by the time. All like now get your questions in. They will meet the 14 days by the next sitting of the House of Assembly. If the Speaker does not take your questions then, you have a point but not in this case.

  14. Bayfront
    November 26, 2015

    Dominicans are happy with their economic status in the island, they are proud of the labour regime thus they won’t elect the UWP, it’s clear to see….

    not sure why the UWP can’t read between the lines, i guess too educated to understand that these brainless dominicans don’t care…the speaker must continue he work as it’s a good plus for the fools which live in dominica..

  15. Rocky Hills
    November 26, 2015

    Honestly Earl Williams had issues but this type of situation he would surely crack the ice..

    although Dominicans are known to be backward and contented with dust, they do need a more forceful and aggressive leader, Lennox is too timid, depending on Q95 will never bring out anything..he needs to revisit things..

    The Speaker must be pressured more by the citizens of Dominica in many forms pranks calls, making her feel un welcomed at events etc…but sadly dominicans aren’t known to create anything effective all they do is call Q95……

    That’s why they are Highly Proud of being the Poorest in the Caribbean and proud of the OECS Heads snubbing them…what a foolish island so named Dominica..

  16. street side
    November 26, 2015

    Dominicans do not want change, they are expecting some miracle to fall from the skies
    i firmly believe that if the believed in the UWP they would show numbers up in masses.

    But again you can’t count or trust Dominicans, it’s wise to understand the culture of a laid back don’t care type society, the few who barks can’t make any change,,,

    DLP will call elections bring in overseas voters, all the foolish folks will do is call Q95,what a joke, they have been calling for the past 8 years and can’t effect anything..

    The speaker is right to be hard as the UWP team guys aren’t willing to stand up..
    Lennox must understand that talking on Q95 won’t shake anything…you have to be Militant prepare to walk the streets and corners…

    Breaking a chair in the House is away to show disgust and create a stir…
    But Dominicans are cowards to the core…
    Labour will continue to trick and fool them all the times, as they are fools..

  17. Bagaila Bande
    November 26, 2015

    Alas por petite UWP crying again!

  18. November 26, 2015

    What questions were asked that was not entertained by the speaker?

  19. Zandoli
    November 26, 2015

    And herein lies my biggest problem with these banana republic type of democracy. Haven’t we learned anything from these hotspots in the world where democracy is not allowed to breath freely?

    I am in no way comparing Dominica to the middle east, but if they had vibrant democracies in that area, we would definitely not be seeing the kinds of strife they are experiencing today.

    In places like Dominica, we have these petty characters who had no aspiration to the positions they now hold, suddenly they have a bit of power and they behave as if the country belongs to them to do as they please. That attitude makes me want to scream.

  20. November 26, 2015

    U.S A. God bless America, Every day is giving thanks Day, Long live Dominica, Able to listen to the proceedings Live and direct. Thanks for the previlage, D.B.S. Also we must find common grounds to slove our problems and must be mindful all the time God is good all the time. We the little people are just hoping the way forward is to allow all persons to share in our democracy. The voice of the people is the voice of God. do not take that for granted, life is short, make a difference in any way possible and the legacy of paving the way for our furture generations is the best legacy of all. I am Dominican? Are you?

  21. %
    November 26, 2015

    UWP TEAM DOMINICA. I love you all. You all need to match up to the those DLP clowns in the house, and refuse to let the speaker MUZZLE you all.Concerned Dominicans wants to know what Skerrit signed in Macau recently! DEMAND ANSWERS FROM inept Skerrit!!!

    • Fly
      November 26, 2015

      Adove comment The so call workers party and supporters are a big joke none off them could tell the woods from the trees.

  22. committed
    November 26, 2015

    This so called speaker must stop being a trouble maker and do the people’s work. Stop being a puppet for Skerit or get the hell out.

  23. AA
    November 26, 2015

    The speaker and skeritt are being asinine with their behavior. There is no set date for parliament so the onus is on the speaker and the government to set the dates and inform. The last sitting of parliament was in may and six months later in November you are having a next sitting. Do you think it is logical and the questions would be relevant if as issues comes up the questions are sent? The government simply have to take up the allotted time in parliament answering irrelevant questions and the relevant ones keeps getting not answered. Anyone who agrees to that process is a fool.

    The speaker and the govt. simply needs to give the appropriate time for the necessary questions to be asked and stop playing games with the nations business. Remember you all are setting precedence and these same precedence will come and bite you all in the ass. Stop playing games with the nations business and give true accountability.

    November 26, 2015

    Dominicans don’t seem to realize the question the opposition put before the house is pertinent to our checks and balances of Dominica’s democracy and integrity… some may say the opposition is this or that. but giving a government the leeway to do things in a manner which they are not accountable to the masses. then, Dominica is headed for a free falling tail spin while a few men are fixing up themselves.

  25. Doc. Love
    November 26, 2015

    Mr. Linton asked for parliamentary meetings at least once a month. There is no official schedules for the meetings, therefore, the opposition must wait until the meeting is called in order to submit their questions. How does the Speaker expect the opposition to submit a question about a situation which occurred in July when the next meeting is held in November.

  26. who vex vex
    November 26, 2015

    Ok now i understand
    They do not have to wait for a notice to ask a question.
    So all the time they on q95 dia they could have been sending their questions in.

  27. real possie
    November 26, 2015

    Dominicans when are you all going to learn? You have a man you is hell bent on not following rules and laws and you sit there and condone these blatant disrespect to our country. These are the same people who claims this is a lawless country, but they should know cause they are the perpetrating the lawlessness. How could you not understand you can drop of put in your questions at any time? This is the man you wanted me to put up as leader of our country? Thank God the islands don’t have armies cause we would sure go to war with another island if Linton was PM.

    • cadette
      November 26, 2015

      What a contradiction and blatant ignorance you post with so high-handedly. YES based on the House rules they should be able to put in a question anytime, however the Alix Boyd Knights VIOLATES the very law you are attempting to lambaste the Opposition on, by barring any such practice.. What is the difficulty in understanding this. I have respect for someone who decides no matter what I will support Labour Party or UWP but when FACTS are presented and said person deliberately contradicts themselves by pretending to be balanced and still indulging in wrong doing then I can only wish the next generation well. Alix Boyd Knight is NOT Dominica. This woman has led a cantackerous and vulgar trend in Parliament but I hope she will have enough space in the HUMONGOUS box they already are charged with burying her in when that time comes.

      • November 26, 2015

        @Cadette, could you tell us which house rules allows questions to be asked at anytime, the speaker quoted the rules which relates to the submission of questions. Was she lying?

    • truth
      November 26, 2015

      possie again,The most foolish people on the planet

  28. November 26, 2015

    Mrs. Boyd-Knight explained the issue so eloquently, now Dominicans should clearly understand what’s going on. We see the ignorance and incompetence of the Uneducated Wicked People in full colors. So…whatever happened to their so-called “meeting” at “The People’s Park” this morning? Let me guess: NO ONE SHOWED UP! The Uneducated Wicked People in opposition, especially the disappointing “Novice” are quickly becoming the laughingstocks of Dominica. Their supporters are so ashamed of them that they refuse to be associated and/or affiliated with them in public. Most of the support is behind Attorney Joshua Francis whom we all know is contemplating crossing the Isle and joining the blessed Dominica Labour Party. The Uneducated Wicked People’s party is quickly disintegrating, their support is almost non-existent outside of a certain propagandist radio station, their elected members are weak and confused and their former supporters are regretting wasting their votes.

    • Papa Dom
      November 26, 2015

      To you and the other fool real possie, there is such a thing called convention. The convention has been that questions are sent in once the meeting of the house is notified. I am sure that this applies in every country which operates a system like ours. Can you tell me whether all questions will be placed on the order paper when they are submitted? For example, if 50 questions are asked will all of them be placed for the next seething? this is pure semantics and political scheming on the part of skerritt and the speaker which is not in line with the behaviour of an honest and respectable government

  29. November 26, 2015

    Boy it would be interesting to see the opposition send questions every week only to have a parliament sitting every 4 months.
    What an execrable woman.

    • November 26, 2015

      It is not the woman, it is the rule of the house. Why do we always cry fowl when we don’t like the rules. Send the questions within the 14 days.. The Speaker did not make the rules.

      • Zandoli
        November 26, 2015

        The rules were not designed to be manipulated by the governing party.

      • November 26, 2015

        Send the questions within the 14 days, but she giving them 12 days notice :-D :-D

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