MP Burt Submits Formal Complaint To Speaker

March 15, 2015

Following the Speaker’s order to eject him from the House, Deputy PLP Leader David Burt sent a letter to Speaker of the House Randy Horton today [Mar 15], saying it is his belief the Speaker’s actions “violated the rights and privileges” that he has as an MP.

The 5-page letter cites various sections of the House of Assembly Standing Orders, and lays out Mr. Burt’s position as to why he feels the decision was not valid.

30 second excerpt of the Speaker calling for Mr Burt to be removed

Mr. Burt’s letter said, “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.”

The letter added, “Should you not wish to admit your error in this regard or decline to assure Members of their right to be heard, please accept this letter as notice that pursuant to standing order 13(3)(a) I intend to raise this matter as a question of privilege on Monday, March 16, 2015; where I will lay out the above matters in full and ask for the House to make a ruling.

7 minute excerpt of part of the exchange:

Mr. Burt concludes the letter by saying, “Please note that I have sent this letter to members of the media as my ejection from the House of Assembly on Friday was widely reported and it is only fair they note my objections in full for balance.”

This follows after Friday evening’s [Mar 13] session in the House of Assembly saw an exchange on immigration reform result in the Speaker asking for Mr. Burt to be removed from the House, which resulted in all the PLP MPs leaving.

The MPs were discussing an amendment to a motion on immigration reform and the Speaker blocked Mr. Burt from making a point of order on at least two occasions, with Mr Horton firing back, “Take your seat” and then calling for Mr. Fox, who is the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Following the Speaker’s call, Opposition Leader Marc Bean rose and said that Mr Burt had not done anything to be removed from the House, and if that was the case, they would all leave, and the PLP MPs left, and the evening’s session of the House ended shortly after.

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Speaking later that night, Premier Michael Dunkley said, “It is very unfortunate that the PLP Opposition walked out of the House of Assembly this evening as a result of Speaker Horton’s decision on House procedure. Their action deprived the Legislature, and the people of Bermuda, of a discussion on immigration matters.

“Members of the Legislature should know that when the Speaker rules his decision is final. Recently, when the Speaker made a decision that Government Members could not vote on an Opposition motion, we accepted the decision though we disagreed with it, and moved on.

“Mr. Burt’s comments this evening stand in stark contrast to his words last November when Government MPs protested the Opposition Leader’s bad behaviour toward a woman by not sitting in the Chamber during the Reply to the Throne Speech.

“Finally, there were vitriolic and threatening comments made by the Opposition Leader as he left the Chamber tonight. The Government will not be moved by this type of behaviour and will remain steadfast in our work for all the people of Bermuda.”

The full letter from Mr Burt to the Speaker is below [PDF here]

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Comments (44)

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  1. Sky Pilot says:

    There is not one MP in Bermuda that would last 5 minutes in Westminster!

    • Fresh Prince says:

      Because Westminster is the pinnacle of political and parliamentary decorum. Said no one ever! If Westminster continues to be our benchmark, we will never progress.

      • But Mr.Speaker says:

        Well written letter Mr Burt in regards to this matter. There has to be a better and more fair process conducted by the Speaker of the house. The Speaker needs to be held to account to endure the debate in the house is balance and all members are treated in an equal manner.

        The Speaker needs to familiarize himself more effectively with the rules of Parliament, to proceed further in this same manner is unacceptable.

        • Onion says:

          Equally or perhaps moreso the members need to behave themselves.

          • But Mr.Speaker says:

            Listening to Parliamentary debates across the world they are often extremely heated. Bermuda debates are mild in comparison.

            The major difference is that the Speaker of the house has a strong command of the rules and is quick to state them when an issue becomes extremely hot. In Bermuda our Speaker seems unable to do this and seems to become quickly frizzy when the heat is on…..not sure he best man for the job. He seems to forget or says “I want to go home now”…..

          • What went wrong says:

            You listened to the recording. Do you think that MP Burt was not “behaving” himself?

  2. Family Man says:

    Who wrote the letter for him?

    • Wow says:

      This comment stinks of racism. Would anyone else imply that a white MP was not capable of writing a thoughtful, well reasoned letter”

      • Spectator says:

        If you really believe that “Who wrote the letter for him?” has any racist connotations about it then you SERIOUSLY need to get your head checked out, I mean really! It’s people like YOU that mess this island up!

        AND by the way every time someone from the OBA writes an opinion piece or something such as this MANY people (plp) ask who wrote that for them, WHITE and BLACK!

      • funny says:

        Family Man implied that he was incapable of writing the letter. You suggested it was because of his race. You’re the racist!

      • Family Man says:

        I think you’re smelling your own odor.

      • Creamy says:

        It’s extremely unlikely he wrote it himself. He is the face for whoever wrote it.

  3. Ringmaster says:

    Pathetic that the MP in question has to resort to the media to complain. He will be fortunate if he is allowed back in the House without some kind of of penalty.

    Here’s a way to save money. Any MP who refuse to accept the rulings of the Speaker, regardless if right or wrong, should be banned from the House and his salary stopped for at least one month.

    Taking it one step further why have 36 MPs? Let’s get it down to 18 and Bermuda saves thousands in pay. Step two is to reduce MPs salaries. After all it was the PLP that increased them, so let the OBA reduce them. $25,000 annually each should be enough.

    • mj says:

      How can you say whether right or wrong? the whole idea of Parliamentary proceedures is to establish a form of understanding for legislation to be approved and inacted… There must be clarity within the very House that is formed to do just that!!! Creating legislation is the JOB of the House of Assembly! Mr. Burt should have been allowed his point of order , that is why they assemble in the highest House of the Land to establish Law and Order not to dictate, they are all dictated under Parliamentary proceedure, not just the Speakers opinion of the hour, based on whether he is tired or not.. and we wonder about the children..

      • What went wrong says:

        At least someone on this story is talking plain sense!

  4. Craig Clinton says:

    Looks like Horton is backed into a corner!

  5. Ed Case says:

    Because things would be sooooooo much better under PLP.


    • But Mr.Speaker says:

      Yes……life sure has gotten worst under the OBA. ….unemployment rate up…..2000 jobs less…..Scandals of the OBA up…..yesh

  6. Onion says:

    Even if the Speaker was wrong the PLP’s childish behaviour does a disservice to us all.

    We need mature statesmen, not petulant children.

    • What went wrong says:

      If you listen to the recording the Speaker seems the petulant one.. “I’m telling you”… Really…

  7. Terry says:

    He was told to sit down.
    How many freeking times does one have to say it like I have.
    Sit down.
    He does.
    Now Mr. Burt do you have anything to say.

    I give the hell up.

  8. Rights for All says:

    MP Burt clearly shows his importance to Bermuda. Not how as an MP can I help Bermuda but instead it is me, me, me.

    In 5 pages of me, me, me there is no apology for the PLP bankrupting Bermuda. There is no reference to how I as an MP am working to solve the financial abys created by the PLP, There is no reference to how I as an MP can create jobs. Totally self serving and of no importance to most Bermudians.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      In listening to the proceedings in the house, it suspect that Mr. Horton was simply trying to get the matter over. Discussion were had, it was apparent that the amendment was going to be passed, all Mr. Burt seemed to be doing was stalling the works. Seems there is more issue from the PLP that they aren’t the ones being able to have everything they want anymore.

  9. kangoocar says:

    And WE demand you and your plp own up to your incompetence while you all controlled the public purse!!! But that will never happen will it??? While I am at it, I would like to know what ever happened to the investigations from the BPS concerning, swizzlegate, betting shop gate and plp leader pottymouth gate??? The plp have become the laughing stock of the civilized world but it is only them and their dim witted supporters that don’t realize it yet?? When I was a youngster, I was taught to be always respectful of those in higher authority whether I liked it or not!! You should always accept their decisions and challenge them later in a respectful manner!!! The plp have proven once again they are not worthy of being the government especially when you here the plp leader calling the HOA a ” den of vipers and will take them out?? ” and then picking up his crayons and shouting out he and his party are going home??? Grow up you bunch of miss fits!!!

    • But Mr.Speaker says:

      Stop it diehard blindfaithfulness Kangaroocar . … know the OBA are falling and have a track record which is not very good so far as the government. There is more things wrong under their leadership than right…..but your blindness prevents you from seeing anything the OBA does wrong or says wrong…..really

    • ray says:

      The ubp now oba was a lot worse kangoocar micheal dunkley was a champion of challenging everything the plp did barely falling short of the colours of buildings pure nonsense. Tired of you keyboard racist post your real name coward.

      • Kangoocar says:

        Racist??? I am not racist, I only speak the truth and that truth stings the likes of you and anyone that thinks like you!!! That is why I am targeted by you bunch of hypocrites that still to this day don’t truly understand why you lost the election and you certainly have not come to terms with your lost??? Also demanding that I state my real name while you are posting under a pen name yourself is the height of hypocricy??? Which plp member are you??? Alaska hall has not known truth from fiction in a very long time, just look at the Betty posts, who also posts under many other names as well ” mr speaker ” is another of the Bettie’s along with many more, just yesterday I noticed two pics that were the same but different names, ” mr speaker ” was one of them associated with that pic??? And now we have ” Ray ” demanding my name?? You lot are nothing but silly?? Let’s see if I can list some Alaska hall names, Ray, Sally, John, Betty, Rhonda, bill, these are just a few examples of the FAKE names you all use!!!!!

        • But Mr.Speaker, Point of Order says:

          At least we have no paid bloggers like you……OBA paying you how much….

  10. Navin Johnson says:

    Mr Blurt

  11. campervan says:

    five page letter!!!!
    no wonder Randy told you to sit down and be quiet:)

  12. Creamy says:

    5 pages because was told to sit down?
    You’d have thought Burt had bigger things to think about than purported damage to his own ego.

  13. Dylan says:

    I was alway taught that not everything will go the way i expect them, so be mature ,learn from it and move on …unfortunately the Opposition and more directly Burt and Bean ( sounds like sesame street characters don’t they ) want to have a temper tantrum when things don’t go their way ….all I can say is ” Grow Up ” and expect to be on that side of the house for many years to come because i for one never want to see you ever again as the ‘ Government” Your history is your resume .

    • What went wrong says:

      Move on? So if you are right, just accept the fact that you are wronged?

  14. Raymond Ray says:

    As with the passing of time, “all things done in the dark will / do come to light.”
    But there’s no two ways out of what Mr. Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition Party / Progressive Labour Party, had blatantly stated while he was leaving the “House”

  15. Edmund Spenser says:

    I can think of only one reason why MP Burt would choose to try this in the court of public opinion instead of in the house where the discussion belongs.

  16. Trulytruly says:

    Whatever Burt says the Speaker will have the final say. To try and get out in front of the story as he has done will not help his position in the House. The Speaker has to be respected.

  17. stevie says:

    PLP. Politicians Losing Principles. Basically they have lost the plot. Grow up Bean & Burt, your childish attitude of taking down Bermuda sucks. Grown up up you two & the lame ducks in the PLP & supporters. Get up, smell the coffee. Period!!!.

  18. Double Trouble says:

    If you stick to the issue Burt had every right to act in the manner that he did in the house. He had a right to go to the media as his attempted dismissal was in the media. The issue is likely to go before the house on Monday and if there is no apology by the Speaker all Members of the House should challenge his understanding of the rules and possibly his ability to retain that position. The comments of “Onion” and “Kangoocar” say a lot about the mentality of a certain segment of this community and speak to the need for the Government to address a deeply imbedded cancer within this society. “Wow” your comment was wrong in all the circumstances and should have been thought through some more. We all know that some of the OBA opinion letters are not written by the person who represents that opinion and I question how a lawyer like Leah Scott could intentionally plagiarize as was done in her ” Opinion” piece. Yes racism is prevalent in this society and a number of these blogs and the likes to those comments lets us know just how pervasive it is.

  19. Never Never says:

    @kangaroo ugh still here when are you leaving please Hurry no one will miss you or your business Get the hell out lol hahahahaha

  20. nomoremoney says:

    The issue, again, should really be about Marc Beans comments as he left the chamber. What makes him such an angry man?

    • mj says:

      He quoted Biblical scripture? You wanna know how angry God is?

  21. Questionmark says:

    MR. Burt quotes himself that it is the discretion of the Speaker whether there is a point of order. Mr. Burt had made his point by saying that an amendment cannot be a direct contradiction of the motion. The speaker ruled that it is not a direct contradiction (as it is only a “take note” motion). The speaker had furthermore announced that the person who made the motion (Attorney General) would speak first on the motion (that is general parliamentary order, he should speak last as well). Mr. Burt tried to prevent the Attorney General to speak to his own motion. At that point the vote was not yet called. Mr. Burt know that with the majority of the OBA the amendment would be passed. After the amendment would have been passed, the PLP might not have voted for its own (now amended motion) and he wanted to prevent this. At no point said: I have another point of order. He continued to argue with the speaker on his ruling.If he had been a bit smarter he would have let the amendment pass and then make another amendment to the motion or should have amended the motion.

    • mj says:

      there is a Questionmark about your comments, you miss the point of rules regarding standing orders, Parliamentary proceedure usurps all authority if not it would be dictating from the speakers chair.Mr. Burts point of order was not recognized, so he never got to state his point, he was not trying to stop the attorney general coz as proceedure goes he knows the AG would have a time to speak that is the whole idea of points of orders.

  22. Questionmark says:

    If people criticize the Rule of Order, the one used in USA Robert’s Rule of Order, allows the house to overvote the speaker on a point of order decision. However, I guess the OBA would have agreed with the speaker. I hate to remind the Honorable Member Burt that it was THE PEOPLE who voted the OBA into government (and the PLP out of government). The speaker was absolutely right in his decision at first. When he got continued interrupted by Mr. Burt he talked about voting on the amendment, in that he was maybe confused, as before he had said: first speaks the person ho made the amendment. So he had the intention to have debate on the amendment motion. Burt wanted to prevent even debating it. He wanted to dictate his opinion on the house without debate on the motion.