Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alix Boyd-Knights, has explained how United Workers Party (UWP) member, Dr. Thomson Fontaine, lost his position as a senator.
She told Parliament on Monday that Fontaine was absent from the House without leave for the sittings of the 20th of September, 1st of October and 12th of December.
She said that he wrote three letters simply informing the Clerk that he would not be there.
“If you write somebody and tell them ‘I am not coming’, I don’t think that you are even asking to be considered to be asking for leave. You are simply informing the Clerk that you will not be there,” she stated.
According to Boyd-Knights, as members should know, the question of leave not to be in the house, requesting leave or permission is addressed in standing order 15: 1 and 2.
“It’s a two-part provision,” she stated. “Standing Order 15:1 says any member who is unable to attend the meeting of the House to which he has been summoned, shall acquaint the Clerk as early as possible of his inability to attend.”
She continued, “Then 15:2 says if without leave or order of the Speaker previously obtained, any member is absent from three (3) consecutive meetings of the House to which he has been separately summoned during the same session such member shall vacate his seat.”
Boyd-Knights went on to say that every member according to the standing orders must give the Clerk an address and, “we take E-Mail addresses as well, as to where he can be served any documents coming from Parliament.”
She pointed out that if a member needs to put something on the order paper it must be written 14 days before, ” such as questions…and that the notice of a meeting according to the standing orders has to go out 12 days before.”
She explained that under her watch there have been only two occasions in the last 18 years where the requirement of sending the notices 12 days before has not been appealed..
“That was year before last when this house sought to extend the State of Emergency,” she noted. “I think we sent it 3 days before and recently, in the case where the President was being re-elected we sent it 2 days before.”
Boyd- Knights advised that persons must understand how the rules are represented to them.
“The other thing is that as far as our records show for the last four meetings of the House at least, we received no letter from the member,” she remarked.
Fontaine was replaced by UWP candidate for the Roseau Valley Constituency, attorney, Ronald Charles, who was officially sworn in on Monady.