Honourable Penn wanted to interject during the contribution to the Virgin Islands Investment Act 2020, during the Eleventh Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly on Thursday, August 19, 2021, of Deputy Speaker Hon Neville A. Smith (AL), but Honourable Smith did not yield.
Following Hon Smith’s wrap up, Hon Penn addressed the HoA on the matter.
“As the leader of the Opposition in this honourable house, I have a responsibility to this house; if the legislation is good, I will support it, if there are issues that I have with the legislation, I will voice my issues in this honourable house. I will not be intimidated to do otherwise.”
Honourable Penn called on the Speaker to be consistent in his rulings in the HoA.
“I want also, Mr Speaker, we have to be consistent in the things that we do, in the rulings that we do in this honourable house. We have to be consistent in terms of the rules that the Opposition has in this honourable house and we not continue to seem to attempt to shut down the opposition from speaking in this honourable house,” he pointed out.
However, the Honorable Speaker was not pleased with the accusation.
“I just want to say, Leader of the Opposition, I don’t take lightly with your accusation that there is some attempt to shut down the Opposition. That is not accurate, and I do not accept that. Standing Order 37. B, speaks to if a Member is unwilling to yield that he continues speaking unless the Speaker recognise the other person, that’s the Standing Orders.”
The Speaker then reminded the Opposition Leader that “A few days ago, you accused us of making up the rules as we go! Now we are sticking to the rules, and you have an issue.”
Hon Penn said all he was calling for is consistency in the Honourable Speaker applying the rules of the HoA.
“Not just rules for one set of members in this honourable house. There needs to be consistency in applying the rules in this house, and blind Bartimaeus could see what’s happening here,” Honourable Penn argued.
Hon Willock replied that he heard his argument, but if he [Hon Penn] was honest, he would agree that the “rules apply to everyone.”
Coincidentally, Speaker Willock had come in for praise at the same sitting by Opposition Member and Fourth District Representative Hon Mark H. Vanterpool, who praised the work and impartiality of Speaker Hon Julian Willock.
Hon Willock had at the time called for ‘Order in the House’ after Hon Vanterpool, during his debate on the Virgin Islands Investment Act, 2020, on August 19, 2021, was interrupted by Members on the Government side.
Hon Willock also told Hon Vanterpool to adhere to Standing Order 38.1.
“Mr Speaker, I always like you because you keep us in check when we get out of hand. Thank you very much,” Hon Vanterpool said.