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Opposition parliamentarian ordered out of House of Assembly

Opposition parliamentarian ordered out of House of Assembly

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The House of Assembly was temporarily adjourned last Thursday, after Member of Parliament for West Kingstown Daniel Cummings refused to leave as he was ordered to by Speaker Hendrick Alexander.{{more}}

Cummings, earlier in the session, had indicated that a special chair, which had been recommended by his neurosurgeon for use while in Parliament, had been purchased for him by supporters of West Kingstown.

Thursday, as the Prime Minister announced that he intended to make four ministerial statements, Cummings rose and asked the Speaker to allow him to leave to collect his chair, which was downstairs.

“I crave your indulgence on a personal matter. I seek your permission, Mr Speaker to have access to my chair which I believe is downstairs,” Cummings said.

However, Alexander denied permission to the member for West Kingstown and suggested that the matter be dealt with during the break, as it would disrupt the sitting of the House.

“Mr Speaker, that is too long a period for me,” Cummings said, indicating that the ministerial statements tended to be quite lengthy.

The Speaker, however, insisted that Cummings wait until the break.

“Mr Speaker, you cannot determine for me what I can and cannot stand. I need to have my chair!” Cumming said.

The Speaker then told Cummings that if he could not stand, he should withdraw, to which Cummings seemed to agree.

Alexander then told Cummings he should withdraw for the time being, until after the break.

That statement by the Speaker seemed to upset the member, as he again insisted he needed to have his chair now.

“Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, … I said I need to have my chair!” Cummings said loudly.

“I said you cannot have it now,” responded the Speaker.

“You cannot determine that, Mr Speaker! I said, Mr Speaker, you cannot determine when I must have my chair!”

“I can determine,” responded the Speaker.

“No, you do not know my condition, Mr Speaker, you are not God almighty, I need to have my chair.” Cummings retorted angrily.

Alexander banged his gavel and instructed Cummings to leave the House.

“Honourable member, please leave the House of Assembly now,” Alexander said.

An irate Cummings refused to leave and questioned the reason for Alexander’s request.

“Why?” Cummings asked.

“On what conditions are you asking me to leave the House?” Cummings asked repeatedly.

Alexander said that Cummings was being disruptive, but the West Kingstown representative continued to ask the Speaker why he was being asked to leave the House.

The Speaker said he would not give a reason and asked the Sergeant of Arms to assist him in removing Cummings from the House.

“I have suffered too much disrespect at the hands of the member for West Kingstown and I am asking him to move,” the Speaker said angrily.

The Speaker then adjourned the House, saying that the adjournment would last until Cummings decided to leave.

During the break, Cummings stood in his place for several minutes, while other members of the Opposition could be seen speaking among themselves and with Cummings.

Several members of the Opposition left the Chamber, then returned and spoke with Cummings. He then picked up his briefcase and left.

When the Speaker returned, he made stern remarks regarding the incident that had just occurred.

“I want to make this abundantly clear,” he said.

“As Speaker of this honourable House…my ruling should always be final and there is a process…by which one can appeal this ruling.

“I do not have to give any reasons for my ruling. I’m not a crazy to be just going about making rules like that…This House is not a playground for any of us”.

Additionally, the Speaker stated that he would ensure that respect for the House of Assembly is maintained.

Cummings had earlier this year made repeated requests for the Speaker to provide him with a chair to accommodate injuries he says he sustained to his back, during an incident when Opposition parliamentarians were forcefully removed from the House by police, under the directives of the Speaker in March 2011.

The Speaker refused; however ,in a letter to Cummings, he told him he could make personal arrangements for the “appropriate seating to lessen any discomfort [he] may experience … provided that such arrangements do not disrupt the Assembly Chamber.”(BK

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