By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday said House Speaker Dr Kendal Major made the “correct decision” in allowing former PLP MP Dr Andre Rollins make his contribution to the Budget debate last week.
Dr Minnis also criticised the government for trying to “hide and cower” when faced with criticism.
The Killarney MP called the government a “shameless group” for attempting to prevent Dr Rollins from making his contribution. He said the attempts by government members to block Dr Rollins from speaking in the lower chamber suggest that the government does “not want to accept anything that’s negative towards them”.
Last Wednesday, Dr Rollins quit the Progressive Liberal Party, explaining that it was obvious he was no longer wanted in the party after government members made several attempts to block him from contributing to the debate. Dr Rollins said that while he had no prior intention of resigning from the party, he “would be a fool” to call himself a PLP after the “way I was treated in here (Wednesday night)”.
However, despite the objections of various government members, Speaker Major allowed Dr Rollins to make his contribution, saying his “heart would not let him stop a member from speaking.”
“The Speaker made the correct decision,” Dr Minnis told The Tribune yesterday. “The Speaker made the decision based on the rules of the House, the Speaker said a very important thing that they should’ve remembered. But they would not have paid attention to what he said, because what he said they do not have. And I quote: the Speaker said he had a conscience. They don’t have a conscience. If they had a conscience they would proceed and report to the nation.
“But the Speaker said he had a conscience and that he is following the rules, and the people have a right to hear. The constituents of Fort Charlotte have a right to hear what their member is saying. They’re the same ones, when we were stopping (MICAL MP) V Alfred Gray from speaking, they’re the same ones who were arguing that (Mr Gray) has a right to speak in Parliament. The people of MICAL, he represents MICAL and they have a right to hear him.
“But suddenly they reversed that decision. (The member for) Fort Charlotte didn’t have a right anymore. So that shows again they are a shameless group. They don’t know right from wrong. Everything is about themselves – they’re a self centred group, and they must be removed, and they are bad for this country.”
Last week, during the evening session of the House of Assembly, Mr Davis put the question to close the budget debate early, although neither he, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage nor Dr Rollins had given their contributions. Prime Minister Perry Christie also failed to wrap up the Budget debate as is customary.
The closure motion was seconded, however Dr Rollins rose in protest and accused the government of trying to muzzle him.
Mr Christie, however, said Dr Rollins missed his allotted time to speak earlier, but had decided “he would do it on his time.” Mr Christie said he would not let the government be held “hostage” by Dr Rollins.
Nearly an hour later, Dr Major ruled in Dr Rollins’ favour.
Speaking with The Tribune yesterday, Dr Minnis said the resistance to the outspoken MP’s contribution suggested that the government “did not want to hear one of their own men who would’ve thought negatively about them.”
Dr Rollins quit the PLP at the end of his Budget communication. He said he will be an independent representative for his constituency.
Meanwhile, Dr Minnis said instead of facing criticism, the government tries to “hide and cower and not accept the results.”
“For example, the Department of Statistics came out with the job statistics,” he said. “They do not accept that. The audit report came out and has negativity about Urban Renewal. What they want to do? They want an independent report. But when the auditor general had a negative report about the FNM’s 52-week job programme, they were not concerned about an independent report, because it’s not about a selfish individual’s agenda.
“Then the negative report came out with the Public Hospitals Authority. What did they do? They’re hiring another auditor to give another report, all looking to sort of boost of themselves because they do not want to accept anything that’s negative towards them.”
He added: “They’re obviously not concerned about the country. They did not want to hear anything negative about them. (They are) a group of selfish individuals. So they have put themselves above country.”