ST JOHN’S, Antigua – As Antigua Labour Party (ALP) leaders voiced their dismay at what they call the “loss of an opportunity” to debate the no confidence motion, the Speaker of the House revealed that Bird’s illness did not have to preclude the continuance of the motion.
In an interview with OBSERVER Media, Speaker of the House D Gisele Isaac-Arrindell – who presided over Wednesday’s parliamentary meeting – said that the process to continue the debate was “simple.”
“Very, very simply, you write a letter to the speaker saying … you are unable to move the motion yourself and give authority to another member to move the motion that stands in your name,” Isaac-Arrindell said. “As simple as that. “
Even though Bird fell ill just before the no confidence motion was to be called, the speaker noted that the ability of former prime minister to authorise another party to move the motion on his behalf is outlined in the provision of Standing Order 31 that governs the conduct of the House of Representatives.
In his address to the House, MP Gaston Browne said as much.
“I recognise that the standing orders are such that they require permission in writing from our political leader for someone else to move the motion, …” Browne said. “It is his desire to present the motion himself.”
That decision, however, caused the motion to be lost and it cannot be deferred. A new motion would have to be brought before the House to reignite the ALP’s no confidence push.
Isaac-Arrindell said that she was not apprised of the ALP leader’s sickness throughout the day, but noted that Bird was very much a part of the day’s events before his illness.
“He was very present, he was very vigorous, he was very much a part of the proceedings,” she said.
“So I can’t speculate about the state of his health. He left the chamber and he did not return.”
In a joint statement to the media Wednesday, opposition members Molwyn Joseph and Robin Yearwood echoed the sentiments of many ALP supporters, expressing their “deepest disappointment at the loss of an opportunity to debate the motion of no confidence.”
Neither Joseph nor Yearwood could be reached for comments.