Speaker of the House of Assembly of Saint Lucia Peter Foster has apologised for falling short on the expectation of all Saint Lucians and allowing a confrontation to occur in the House.
“Recent events fell far short of the rules and my expectations and I would dare say, the expectations of the people. To the people of Saint Lucia, I apologise for allowing this to happen,” he said.
Foster said he did not profess to be always right and whether he was right or not, no Member of Parliament (MP) has the right to argue with the speaker or to behave in a manner that is not proper.
“When this happens, there are sanctions that can be imposed, with which I am sure all members are well versed,” Foster told MPs during Tuesday’s sitting.
Foster explained that there are certain Standing Orders which describe the role of the speaker and how the speaker maintains order in the House.
He said his role as speaker is also to determine the relevance of a member’s observations to a motion or bill with that determination of relevance to the subject matter before the House.
Foster said the House should not been seen as something of less importance. Rather, it should be treated with high esteem by all sitting MPs and given the respect it deserves.
The speaker also advised members to show respect for themselves, other members of the House, the chair and the people they represent.
“This is the only way we maintain order in this House. Otherwise the order expected in debates would quickly descend into chaos,” Foster noted.
Foster and Castries South East MP Guy Joseph had a long exchange in the House during the last sitting, which led to popular discourse in the public.
The incident occurred during debate on a motion concerning the Laborie/Banse Road project.
Joseph maintains that the speaker was in no position to engage him in a debate and to interpret law to him in the House.
Foster was forced to instruct the MP to discontinue his speech after he kept debating the speaker’s role.