Parliament will not sit again until September 29

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Parliament will not sit again until September 29

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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PARLIAMENT is not expected to meet again until next Tuesday, September 29, as the new leadership of the House of Representatives is making efforts to resolve the protocol issues affecting the accommodation of Government members.

Edmund Bartlett, the new leader of the House, and his deputy, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, are expected to meet with architect Evon Williams this morning to discuss the necessary improvements.

Williams's team won the People's Choice Award in April last year for the design of a new parliamentary building to be started next year. The winning design was titled “Out of Many, One People” and the site is at National Heroes' Circle in Kingston.

In the meantime, the visitor-unfriendly design of Gordon House, which was initially built to accommodate house meetings of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), has been constantly highlighted both inside and outside the building.

Although Bartlett did not reveal much of how he intends to improve the seating to accommodate 49 Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government Members of Parliament (MPs), he insisted that the process should be completed by next week Tuesday, September 29.

“We want to meet with him [Williams] to look at how best we can accommodate the Government members on one side, and to develop a design that will enable the accommodation of all the members, with due regard to observance of the COVID-19 protocols,” he noted.

He also indicated that at next week's resumption, three victorious candidates in the September 3 general election who were unable to be sworn in last week will be sworn in. The three are the JLP's Phillip Henriques in Clarendon North Western and Daniel Lawrence in Westmoreland Eastern, as well as the PNP's Lisa Hanna in St Ann South Eastern.

The reopening of Parliament after a general election, which is highlighted by the swearing-in of new MPs and members of the Senate, was switched from Gordon House to the Jamaica Conference Conference which was built as the home of the International Seabed Authority (ISO) in the 1980s.

In 2011, the Houses of Parliament had to meet at the conference centre while repairs to the roofing were done and asbestos piping removed, and it lasted some three months. It is understood that Parliament paid $50,000 per day then for meetings at the venue. It could not be ascertained how much using the conference centre at this time will cost the Parliament.


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