Speaker Horton Comments On Friday’s Incident

March 16, 2015

[Updated] “Upon reflection, and with the benefit of hindsight, I now accept that I should not have allowed the amended motion to be brought to a vote at such an early stage,” Speaker of the House Randy Horton said today [Mar 16], adding that some of Mr. Burt’s remarks to the media were “disrespectful” and “bordered on being contemptuous of the Speaker…”

This follows after Friday’s [Mar 13] House of Assembly sitting, which saw the Speaker ask for Mr. Burt to be removed from the House, which resulted in all the PLP MPs leaving.

Following this, Mr Burt sent a letter to the Speaker saying, “Your action on Friday, March 13, in putting the Attorney General’s amendment to a vote without allowing debate on the amendment, was in contravention of standing orders.

“Furthermore, when I attempted to raise this breach of standing orders via a point of order, which is the prescribed method to point out a breach, you refused to recognise me to speak twice. Following those two refusals, you also refused to recognise me on a question of privilege and subsequently ordered the Sergeant at Arms to remove me from the chamber.”

Audio excerpt #1 of the Speaker’s statement this morning

Audio excerpt #2 of the Speaker’s statement this morning

Addressing the House this morning, Speaker Horton said, “In light of events on Friday evening here in the House of Assembly and, subsequently, outside of the House, I wish to make the following statement. I crave the undivided attention of the honourable members.

“There’s been much talk, there have been many comments with the past few days, about the rules of our House, their interpretation, and, ultimately, their application and enforcement by the chair.

“As honourable members will know, and as members of the general public may not know, our rules are known as standing orders [PDF].”

‘Remarks Were Disrespectful, Bordered On Being Contemptuous Of The Speaker’

Addressing Mr. Burt’s statements in the media, the Speaker said: “You will note that on Friday last, one honourable member, aggrieved as he was by a decision or decisions of mine, took his complaint initially to the press, which reported his remarks extensively.

“I presume that the honourable member’s remarks were reported accurately. The honourable member then wrote a letter of complaint to me and shared the letter with the press for publication.

“This action was more than disappointing, for it completely cut across, if not undermined, the procedures by which this House is to be governed and by which it is meant to govern itself.

“Further, I view this action as a violation of a member’s duty to the House and its rules and procedures, for addressing matters of the House even where a member feels that he is right and that he is justifiably aggrieved – it’s wrong and it is unhelpful.

“Some of the reported remarks were, at the very least, disrespectful and, whether intended or not, bordered on being contemptuous of the Speaker, the House, and how we govern ourselves.”

‘I Should Not Have Allowed The Amended Motion To Be Brought To A Vote’

The Speaker continued, “It certainly was not my intention to prevent or shut down debate on the original motion or the amended motion.

“I had heard some argument on whether the amended motion should be allowed and I ruled I thought it could be put, and I stand by that decision.

“In my haste to move the debate along, I allowed it to be brought to a vote. Upon reflection, and with the benefit of hindsight, I now accept that I should not have allowed the amended motion to be brought to a vote at such an early stage.

“It is now my duty and, indeed, my wish, to resolve this matter for the sake of maintaining good order in the House.

“In the circumstances, I am proposing the following process, whereby the current grievance or complaint against the Speaker’s decision might be addressed.

“I shall refer this entire matter to the House’s Standing Orders Committee, which is empowered under our rules to consider and report on matters which appear to affect the powers and privileges of the House.

“The Standing Orders Committee will be free to recommend what sanctions, if any, should be imposed. It may be that some further guidance will emerge for honourable members and for me, the Speaker of the House.

“I would like to believe that we can sort these contentious matters out as honourable members collaboratively and make recommendations with respect to further actions that should be taken.”

testimonial-divider

According to the Parliament website, the Standing Orders Committee consists of the Speaker and five other members: Premier Michael Dunkley, Opposition Leader Marc Bean, OBA MP Cole Simons, PLP MP Lovitta Foggo, OBA MP Suzann Roberts-Holshouser and Shernette Wolffe as the Committee Clerk.

The MPs are still discussing the matter as of this writing, with Opposition Leader Marc Bean saying the Speaker’s position is “untenable,” and we will have additional coverage of the discussion later on.

We are trying to obtain a full copy of the Speaker’s comments and will update as able, and in the meantime you can view all our coverage of the Speaker’s request to remove Mr Burt and subsequent commentary here.

Update 2.48pm: The full statement by the Speaker is below [PDF here]

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Comments (44)

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  1. But Mr. Speaker !! Point of Order Please says:

    “Upon reflection, and with the benefit of hindsight, I now accept that I should not have allowed the amended motion to be brought to a vote at such an early stage”….

    Mr. Speaker is out in left field. He still is not accurately dealing with this matter in an effective and fair way.

    Due to the unfairness directed towards Burt by the Speaker, Burt was within his right to write a letter and stand on his grounds. The actions by the Speaker are outright wrong. The sad fact is he is unaware of it or blind to it.

    • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

      I tend to think of it as a case where two wrongs don’t make a right.

      While I do understand why things went to the media, respect for the house and the process would have dictated that the contents of the letter not be released to the media until it had been addressed in the house.

      • mj says:

        would it have made any difference if Mr. Burt was interviewed outside of the house about what took place on friday? Mr. horton admitted that in his opinion Mr.Burt was wrong and that some coments BORDERED on contempt of the Speaker however Mr. Burts action of standing on a point of order where disrespected innitially and in that event things went wrong as admitted by the Speaker Mr. Horton who was too quick to move things along rather than proceed with regulations in mind, this is the matter of dispute that disrupted the House,.. is a member supposed to be recognized when standing on a point of order? this would apply to the ENTIRE House of Assembly not just Minister Burt.. He was well within his rights according to Parliamentary proceedure to stand on a point of order , the speaker cannot assume what he was going to say and in doing so proceeded incorrectly because he did not recognize Mr. Burt.

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        It would be amusing, if it was not a waste of house hours. Both were right, both were wrong. The true measure of our leaders has been how they handled and responded to these events.

    • stunned... says:

      it takes a big man to acknowledge his mistake and a small man to beat his chest and bleat about his success.

      • mj says:

        Its not about being a big man its about Proceedure..

        • stunned... says:

          im still waiting for the small man to apologise for his bad behavior…but no, that’s not proceedure (sic)

    • Mockingjay says:

      U.B.P./oba will not except that they were wrong, just like Jet Gate and all the other Gates.
      Good looking out P.L.P that’s what I’m paying you for, but those other Dreamers who are selling our Island away……………………………………………….

  2. Unbelievable says:

    “Untenable” huh?

  3. hmmm says:

    So will Burt resign for violation of a member’s duty to the House and its rules and procedures ?

    Bean seems hell bent on kicking out Horton, therefore he should be hellbent on kicking out Burt.

    Or does this equity in action not suit Bean’s agenda.

  4. Trust NOT says:

    Poor excuses. The Speaker’s needs to be removed. His position has become untenable. Is it only the rights of our appointed Governor to dispose of one in that method?

    Someone one FB said our HOA has become a Kangaroo Court.

  5. watchfuleyes says:

    Mr.Speaker Just apologize and leave it at that, don’t add any ‘buts’ … but Burt was rude, but Burt should not have… Maybe Mr.Burt’s remarks and attitude were such because he knew the Speaker decision was wrong!

    • Mockingjay says:

      You cant leave it at that, there needs to be an investigation on other rulings to see if he F!@#ed up then.
      Or just leave it at that like Jet Gate and ALL the other Gates.

  6. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    You know, that seems a reasonable response from the speaker, as well as the proper way to deal with the situation.

    So…. why ‘untenable’?

    I’m interested in hearing more.

  7. Independent Observer says:

    Well, my my my, Burt was right.

    What’s the OBA going to say now?

    • jt says:

      Did the OBA ever say he was wrong with respect to the rules governing the house? Please show where they did.

      • watching says:

        I am pretty sure that the OBA said that the Speaker was correct. It cannot be both ways.

        • jt says:

          I’d have to see proof of that. Don’t think that was the case.

  8. Mockingjay says:

    Now can we have an apology from ALL those who supported the Speaker !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HELLO, I cant hear you.

  9. Terry says:

    Regardless.
    He was still wrong doing what he did.
    Speaker was correct in removing him.
    Once again Randy came to the pitch and scored on that but admitted that he was wrong but that does not give other member to break the rules when asked to sit.
    As I stated before he should have sat the f)^% down and made a plane.
    Simple.

    More to come.

  10. watching says:

    So everyone that was blaming Burt…what do you say now?

    • Terry says:

      He was told to sit down.
      Rules are rules.
      That is what started this firestorm.
      This to shall pass.

      • Let's be honest says:

        Funny. I could’ve sworn he was asked to be physically removed.

  11. stunned... says:

    for once Burtie was right. amen, it’s about time. is that what you had in mind?

  12. stevie says:

    Burt wrong, Bean wrong. Walking out of Parliment because the headmaster threw out a pupil? Shameless, stupid childish acts by the PLP. Grow up children, you are a disgrace to the country.

  13. so much more says:

    Nothing honorable about much of anything that is taking place lately. Funny how our system is based off of Englands and well we all know how serious they are in the House.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bhpXhxP-WU

    no wonder we have so many issues.

  14. Alvin Williams says:

    Bermuda is still mild in it’s political dealings; I recall a member of paliament in the Bahamas I believe? who seize Speaker’s mace and threw it through the window of parliament. Now that is real disrespect for the Speaker.

  15. Unbelievable says:

    I’m just laughing that Marc Bean called the Speaker’s position “untenable”.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      It is quite funny, he completely slipped up and even had to catch himself from calling the government the opposition.

  16. Triangle Drifter says:

    The Monday morning quarterbacks are out in full force.

    Speaker Horton did the honourable thing. He acknowledged his mistake. He did it in short order without being taken kicking & screaming protesting inocence to the woodshed.

    Huge storm in a tiny teacup. The PLP is desperate to milk it for all they can in an effort to disrupt the progress, such as it is, of the OBA. The welfare of Bermuda matters not one jot. It is all about deflecting the memory of the horrible mess that they made & getting their faces in the trough of power & priviledge again.

    Primary school gang behaviour at its best.

  17. islandgirl says:

    Isn’t the speaker a member of PLP? Why would Mr. Burt openly go against his own “family” member like that? Air your family’s dirty laundry in the privacy of your home…..

    • Fluffy says:

      Uneducated.

      • Make a new plan Stan says:

        Each one teach one……why humiliate when you can educate?

    • Jonah says:

      Unfortunately Mr Horton has proven be loyal to himself and himself only.The fact that he clearly campaigned for the role of Speaker should be sufficient proof that Mr Horton’s need for green isn’t restricted to party colours.

  18. Legal Eagle says:

    The real issue is being missed here! The Speaker is like a Judge in a Court Case! Once he has Ruled(rightly or wrongly) the arguements about it must end or the Court case–will never end! Mr Burt is lucky! If he wasin Courtroom-+ kept standing up to argue about a Ruling the Judge already made-the Judge would Hold him in Contempt -with far more serious consequences than merely being..’Removed-from the Court’!

  19. Sky Pilot says:

    Wether the Speaker is right or wrong dosn’t matter,the Speaker Ruled and Burt didnt like it,nor did Bean.
    In fact these two don’t like anything unless it benefits themselves.
    I have seen guys like rise and fall all over the World,these two will fall.

    • watching says:

      It most certainly does matter. The Speaker does not rule absolutely.