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4.15 P.M.

Somewhere I think I would have read; 

  “That broad is the road that leads to destruction filled with temptation; but narrow is the path that leads to righteousness”. 

I am beginning to think Madam Presiding Officer that I really should take serious to the whole question of pastorship. [Laughter] But I will see how that goes.  So we are convinced that raising public awareness and promoting values are extremely valuable as means to prevent corruption.  We are also convinced that corruption represents a very serious threat to the rule of law; 

democracy; human rights; equity; and social justice and that it hinders economic development and all its implications and unintended consequences.  The ability to put food on the table, and endangers the stability of our democratic institutions and certainly, the moral and ethical functions of our society.  Indeed, we have a responsibility as adults, to train our younger ones.  In fact, I think it is the Bible that says: 

“Train up the child in the way he should go, so that when he is old he should not depart therefrom”.

     Madam Presiding Officer, as a Member of the Peoples National Movement, I think it is well known that the Party is one of those Parties that is a signatory to a political Code of Conduct.  In fact, at the level of the Tobago House of Assembly elections, this Party was also a signatory to a political Code of Conduct. 

Madam Presiding Officer, we on this side, are also demonstrating our level and degree of magnanimity and that is why we would have suggested the kind of Proportional Representation or perhaps adverse Proportional  Representation in respect of the composition of the Committee.  We were suggesting that sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66 2/3%) of those represented on the other side, be part of this Committee.  Whereas less than one third on this side to be part of the Committee.  Such is our commitment to embrace and to take the opportunity so that we can forge the kind of partnership, notwithstanding the differences in political aspirations and perhaps political thoughts.  So, at the end of the day, the averaged citizen resident in Tobago would be the beneficiary of a very sound and progressive development process or path for Tobago. 

As I was making the point, when I started again, we are about building a society in particular ways.  I ask those on the other side, please, ensure that when you are weighed in the balance, you are not found wanted?  

Madam Presiding Officer, it was Ed Preston in his Book, “Ethics for the Public Sector 1994”, Page 1, that stated and I quote:


“Nothing is more dangerous to the well being of the body politic.”


We heard the Leader of Assembly Business and Secretary for Infrastructure Quarries and the Environment made reference to that.

…than a public official who is or may be technically competent or strategically astute, but ethically illiterate or unfit”.  

Preston was really in fact, signalling or making the point, that it is all good and well for us to have our various degrees of competencies, but at the end of the day if we are engaged in public functions, but we lack the moral and spiritual values required for us to execute our responsibilities, then woe be unto the body politic.


     So Madam Presiding Officer, as I indicated we are on the threshold of history, I urge those on the other side that when the account of our   stewardship is being assessed; that when the history of this term would have been written, let it be said, that they rose to the occasion and they joined with the majority and did their part.

Madam Presiding Officer, with these comments, I say to all of us, let us do this together. [Desk thumping] 

Question put and agreed.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.  Madam Presiding Officer, as I stand to wind up this debate, let me take this opportunity to commend those of us on the majority side who would have contributed this debate.  I sat there and I wondered because I said to myself, if these Members in the main were in fact making their maiden contribution and they did it with such a plum, with such confidence, such competent, such quality, you can imagine, Madam Presiding Officer, when we get into full authorial flight what will happen?   [Desk thumping]   So, I applaud the Members on this side.

     Madam Presiding Officer, fortunately I am not in a combative mood this evening and therefore, in responding to some of the comments made by the Members opposite, I should be kind.  

 Madam Presiding Officer, fortunately I am not in a combative mood this evening and therefore, in responding to some of the comments made by the Members opposite, I should be kind.  course, he does recognize its import and for that I commend him.  But even as I do that I take the opportunity, Madam Presiding Officer, to advise him that he has a responsibility as Leader to mentor and coach his younger colleagues and to let them know that as the Bible says, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.”  Therefore, this Motion as much as it is important for us to recognize that our physical needs are essential.  

     There is need for a context both as a driver for and as a basis for action and a spiritual grounding is a moral and ethical grounding is an essential feature of life and particularly of governance.  So that I urge the Minority Leader to please take that responsibility and provide coaching for your young Members so they would begin 

to understand as I just said, there are many facets of life but a spiritual grounding is particularly important and that is why we were told those of us who would have gone to Sunday School that our houses must be built on solid rock rather than on shifting sands.

     Madam Presiding Officer, if I were to respond (and of course, I said I will be kind) to the Member for Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside.  He made reference to Satan and Satan’s attempt at tempting Jesus Christ but what he did not tell us is that Satan failed miserably in his attempt to tempt Jesus Christ.  [Desk thumping]  

     Of course, I would also wish to respond to the Member and to advise him or remind him that the rule of law prevails in this country and notwithstanding his attempt to debunk the validity of the Motion by reference to a number of laws and saying that persons should be locked up and punished.   I want to remind him that one of the things that those who are charged in this country for any crime is that they have the opportunity to get bail.   The only crime I think or one of the few crimes that one can commit and get away and is not allowed bail I think it is murder but for most of the other crimes they can get bail.

     We on this side are particularly convinced that they ought to be a strong ethical and moral foundation in respect of the governance process because our experiences would have taught us, it is easier to do wrong than right.

Member for Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden. [Desk thumping]

4.05 P.M.

     Madam Presiding Officer, I want to refute this claim a bit because I am convinced that people do not change, what I believe a bit because people do not change.  What I do  believe is that when people come into public office it gives them more opportunity to show their true character and this for me, Madam Presiding Officer, is one of the reasons  that I am prone to support this Code of Conduct because it is a check balance against us as we come into office, so that we do not fall prey to what so many before us have fallen prey to but that there is some regulated body of rules which helps us to check ourselves as we move forward politically.

Our young people are crying out for leaders of integrity who can see themselves as true models of integrity that we are in office.  For years people who are willing and to be honest and to be selfless and who can genuinely offer them the guidance and support that they need at this time.  

Madam Presiding Officer, Members of this Honourable House the ball is now in our court.  Let us make the best use of the next four (4) years that we are in Office.   Four (4) years is a relatively short time to change behaviour but I honestly believe that it can happen one step at a time.  Let us be willing to show the people of Tobago 

that we can serve them and serve them to the best of our ability.  Let our service be summed up in three short phrases:  “Let us love and respect God; let us love and respect ourselves and let us love and respect others.”

I heard Members around the horseshoe expounding on the word of God.   Members on our side and Members on the other side and you know this is very admirable because it is important to know the word of God but more importantly, I want to encourage all of us to know the God of the word because if we do that I honestly believe that many of the problems that we face here in Tobago at this time would soon become less or even a thing of the past.  [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, as I conclude, I wish to wholeheartedly support the Motion laid by the Honourable Chief Secretary, Mr. Kelvin Victor Charles.  This House should appoint a Special Select Committee to prepare a Code of Conduct for 

consideration and approval.  I support the tenets that this Committee should report to the House no later than May, 2017 and I also support the fact that this Committee should comprise of three (3) Members from the Majority, two (2) Members from the 

Minority and I am silently hoping that these two (2) Members from the Minority would be the Representative for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside as well as the Representative for Roxborough/Delaford.

Madam Presiding Officer, Members of the Tobago House of Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you.  [Desk thumping]

3.55 P.M.

     Madam Presiding Officer, now that sittings of the Parliament are being televised publicly, the general public and the world at large are witnessing firsthand the rampant disorder, discord, and disrespect that passes for debate in the House - sometimes the Lower and the Upper House.  This dissonant at the seat of power in our country, is providing an inaccurate image of who we are as a people.  It sets unacceptable standards of behaviour for the impressionable young people in our nation.  It is therefore, imperative, that here in the Tobago House of Assembly, we continue setting 

and adhering to established Codes of Conduct for Members within this Assembly.  

Madam Presiding Officer, permit me to quote from an article in Transparency International dated July, 19th 2012, and the heading “Calling out Public Officials on Corruption”.  

“According to people around the world, political parties; and Parliaments are among the top Institutions that are the most prone to corruption.  Perceptions of corruption have been consistent across time and countries signalling systematic mistrust on the part of citizens in the bodies that are supposed to represent them.  

     Madam Presiding Officer, I speak this without any form of remorse and regret.  It means, that we as a people, must look internally at all of ourselves before we can look at externally.  The quote continues:  

     In a recent poll conducted by Roy Morgan in Australia, to examine public attitudes to the behaviour of Parliamentarians, it was revealed that only seven percent (7%) of these people believes that members of Parliament displayed high standards of honesty and ethics”.  

    Madam Presiding Officer, trust in public official is at an all-time low. Disillusionment with the conduct of government officials, including the Tobago House of Assembly, has been a feature of public discussion for a very long time.  If we are truthful with ourselves, even during this last election, this was a big talking point.   So Madam Presiding Officer, through my readings, I have realized that one source of support that has found favour with the population not just here in Trinidad and Tobago, but in other parts of the world, is developing, adopting and enforcing a Code of Conduct that reflects the communities expectations.  This more than anything else is the reason that I openly support the urgent need, not just the need, but the urgent need for a Code of Conduct in the Tobago House of Assembly.  Codes of Conducts strive to decrease corruption and increase accountability.  

     I have heard the Member for Buccoo/Mt. Pleasant articulating on how important accountability is.  To the Members on the other side, I want to take this opportunity to implore you, to assist us in supporting this Motion because you yourselves would come to a place where accountability is important and the Code of Conduct gives the community the opportunity to examine the standards that are set and to see whethe

    In winding up a debate, or should I say being the last Speaker it is always difficult to bring new information to the fore, but some things are worth repeating.  

     The Chief Secretary said a couple hours ago, that the purpose of a Code of Conduct is not to control the behaviour of Parliamentarians.  I want to repeat it again, especially for our Colleagues on the other side.  A Code of Conduct is not to control the behaviour of Parliamentarians, but rather and I quote: 

“It is to set public standards by which the behaviour of Parliamentarians can be assessed.  It is to provide a basis for assessing proposed actions and so guiding not controlling behaviour.  It provides an agreed foundation for responding to behaviour that is considered unacceptable.  

     I heard the Member for Buccoo/Mt. Pleasant talk a while ago about sanctions.  Built into any Code of Conduct must be sanctions.  It also helps to assure and reassure the community that we serve, that the trust that is placed in us as an Assemblyman is well placed.  

     So, Members of this Honourable House, I too, like so many others would like to remind you of the Oath that we took just a few weeks ago.  I heard the Councillor on the other side read to you a while ago, the Oath of Allegiance that we took.  She also read a little bit of the oath that Secretaries were given.  I want to endorse that those oaths are covenants that we are making with the people. A covenant to be the best that we can be, so that we can set the example that so many people are expecting from us.

    Madam Presiding Officer, as public officials, we owe it to God, we owe it to the people who voted us into office; we owe it to ourselves; and most importantly, we owe to the thousands of young people who are following us on Twitter and Facebook, who are looking at our interactions daily on Facebook. 

I urge Honourable Members of this House, not only should a Code of Conduct be or should I say specifically for what happens in your public life but I really want to implore that that Code of Conduct carries over into our personal and professional life.  [Desk thumping]  

     Madam Presiding Officer, Members of this Honourable House, I want us to prove to all of Tobago and Trinidad and Tobago, that the term Honourable is not just a title, but it really depicts who we are as Assemblyman.  The design of this Code of Conduct is going to be very critical.  Not only must it show clear ethical standards of behaviour but it must also be a reference point so that citizens can use it to assess our behaviour.  Once this is combined with penalties for public officers, we will find that we are in a better place than we are in today.  Madam Presiding Officer, the effectiveness of this Code of Conduct depends on the political will of all of us to ensure that we abide by every aspect of this Code.  We must also be prepared to support them and not only to provide sanctions but I want to also add, rewards.   Even the best designed Code of Conduct can fall short, if we are not willing to subscribe to and enforce them from the top down.  But the very action by our Chief Secretary, the Honourable Kelvin Charles assures us that he is willing and able to enforce it from the top down.  Now, we are all familiar with the saying by most people, that politicians, before they come into the House they are honest; law abiding; ethical citizens; and when they get in here, all of a sudden they change and they become something else. 

Madam Presiding Officer, Members of this Honourable House. Indeed, I join the numbers of Members around the Table for whom today this is my maiden presentation in the House. I want to first thank God for giving me this opportunity to be of service to the people of Tobago. I would also like to thank all the Members of this august body for affording me the privilege of speaking during the first sitting of this 2017 - 2021 session.

Madam Presiding Officer, this Motion which calls for clearly defined standards of behaviour for Assemblymen seeks to bring ethics back into government and for that, I would like to take the opportunity to heartily congratulate our Chief Secretary, Honourable Kelvin Victor Charles because he has stated very early and you have heard it many times before this afternoon that as we sit in the Assembly it is not “business as usual.” As a matter of fact, he prides himself on saying to us it is “business unusual.”

Madam Presiding Officer, Members of this House, this is something that sends a clear signal to all of us not just to Members of the Assembly but the people of Tobago and by extension Trinidad and Tobago that he is willing to make a change, a positive change and he recognizes the importance of starting at the top.  So for that Madam Presiding Officer, I would like to again take the opportunity to congratulate our Chief Secretary, the Honourable Kelvin Charles.  [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, almost every major professional or business organization has developed a Code of Conduct which sets out its values, ethics and responsibilities which guides the standard of behaviour and performance of all its Members and included in those major organizations are:

  • The Teaching Service; 

  • The Public Service Association.

So it is passing strange to me that Members on the other side of this House seems to find a problem with establishing a Code of Conduct in the Tobago House of Assembly.   I have heard it described as unnecessary, superfluous at this present time and it worries me because these are the persons that have been elected into Office not only to represent their constituencies but to represent all of Trinidad and Tobago.  Madam Presiding Officer, it seems to me that at this point in time, since the Tobago House of Assembly has been without a Code of Conduct for so long it is imperative that we get on board as soon as possible.   

     Madam Presiding Officer, the term “Honourable” is usually ascribed to Members of Parliament and in some cases the Members of the Tobago House of  Assembly.  When we think of the word, “Honourable” it is usually a title of respect that is ascribed to some high ranking Official in a country.

      Madam Presiding Officer, permit me at this time to quote two definitions of the term “honourable” as outlined in some of our major dictionaries: 

(a)The Cambridge Dictionary defines “honourable” as honest and fair, deserving of praise and respect;  

(b)Collins dictionary defines “honourable” as possessing or characterized by high principles worthy of esteem. 

These qualities, Madam Presiding Officer, are not qualities that can be regulated by law.

     I have been hearing around the room all afternoon, laws, standing orders etcetera.  But when we propose a Code of Conduct it is intended to affect the individual on a personal level and this is something that a law will not do.   We are anticipating higher levels of behaviour and higher levels of service to the people.  We are anticipating that the Code of Conduct would guide us as Members as we strive to ensure that our integrity is intact.

   In Trinidad and Tobago, our Parliament has adopted two (2) sets of Codes of Ethics. These were presented on the first of July, 1988 and approved on the 15th July, 1988 and it is interesting that these codes were or should I say, this Motion was moved by a fellow Tobagonian the Honourable A. N. R. Robinson. What that says to me, Members of this Honourable House is that being Tobagonian give us a special 

place in the affairs of Governance in Trinidad and Tobago.   I really believe that the Code of Ethics that we are hoping to instill in this Honourable House is one that says more than anything else that we as Tobagonians understand that we must continue leading the charge as far as good governance in Trinidad and Tobago is concerned.

Secretary of Community Development and Culture. [Desk thumping]

3.45 P.M.

I was hoping that the first debate would be used to facilitate, creating such a Committee that would hold the THA accountable and by the way, Madam Presiding Officer, for the benefit of those who may not know, the Public Accounts Committee according to Section (if I am not mistaken) 77 of the Standing Orders is responsible for and I quote: 

     “Examining, considering and reporting on:

(1)   Accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by 

the Assembly to meet Public expenditure.

(2) Other accounts of the Assembly; and

(3) The report of the Auditor General on such accounts.”

In other words, examining, considering and reviewing how this Assembly spends taxpayer’s money.

Madam Presiding Officer, in the minds of the average Tobagonians, these issues are way more important than having a piece of paper tell us that we should be polite to each other.  

Madam Presiding Officer, remember there are over thirty-five thousand (35,000) adults who either voted against or did not vote for the Members on the Majority. We stand here in this House giving those individuals a voice to raise the issues that are of concern to the people of Tobago.

Madam Presiding Officer, acting at the request of Members who I represent which includes and I like to call it, “Belle Garden/Goodwood and a little bit of  Mt. St. George and the wider Tobago.”   I cannot and I will not support in principle using the Assembly’s time and the Assembly’s effort to sit and form a Committee to prepare a Code of Conduct when there are many other priority issues for the Tobago people.

I must say, however that if the Members of the Majority feel that they need a Code of Conduct to tell them how to behave then sure, we are willing to sit and facilitate that process.

Thank you. [Desk thumping]

3.35 P.M.

I would like to remind the House, that according to Section 69 of the Tobago House of Assembly Act that speaks specifically about the Standing Orders of the Tobago House of Assembly, that they are in fact, legal binding documents.  According to Section 69 which speaks about the Rules and Standing Orders. It also specifically says, and I quote: 

“That these rules and Standing Orders are among other things to: 

(1) The regulation and conduct of the proceedings and meetings of the Assembly;  

(2) The maintenance of order in the Chamber of the Assembly;

(3) The conduct of debates in the Assembly; 

I will draw this one specifically to those who spoke about how we treat with members who do not uphold the rules, 

(4)The suspension of members in the Assembly;

and the last one says specifically,  

(4)Such other matters as the Assembly considers fit.  

Like my Colleagues, because this is the first time that I am having the opportunity to sit in this House, I also spent a lot of time reviewing what is currently written in the Standing Orders. Given that the Tobago House of Assembly Act says: 

“That if there is any other matter that the Assembly considers fit can be placed in the Standing Orders… 

Then maybe we need to consider amending that document if we do not think that it currently influences our behaviour well enough.  

     So again, I asked Madam Presiding Officer?  What exactly will the Code of Conduct bring that is not already written in either the Standing Orders, Acts of Trinidad and Tobago, or the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago? I am yet to find something that would be written in a Code of Conduct that has not already been addressed either in the Standing Orders, other Acts of Trinidad and Tobago and the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago.  

May I, Madam Presiding Officer, identify some of the other laws that have not already been spoken about in the House, that we can use to treat with Members who do not adhere to the laws of the land.  

The Criminal Offences Act for example Chapter 11: 1, speaks specifically about the falsification of accounts.  It says, and I quote in Section 9: 

“That any Clerk, Officer or servant, whether in the Public Service or otherwise …

and I am assuming that this covers all of us standing/sitting here: 

…who willfully and with the intent to defraud, removes, conceals, destroys, alters, mutilate, or falsifies any books, paper writing, valuable security or account which belongs to or is in the possession of the Government… 

and it goes on and on: 

…is liable to imprisonment”.  

Madam Presiding Officer, the offences of “cheating” and “fraud” are also included in the Criminal Offences Act under Section 7.

Madam Presiding Officer, if we are planning to use the Code of Conduct to ensure that individuals behave themselves and that they speak words that are not annoying, or obscene in the House, the Standing Order already speak to that in the Section that deals with “Content of Speeches”.  May I add, Madam Presiding Officer, that Section 49 of the Summary Offences Act also speaks and I quote:  

“To any persons who uses any obscene, indecent, or profane language to the annoyance or any resident in a public space, can be taken to Court because of such.


In other words, you know when the Police Officer arrest you for “cussing”, this is what they are using. 

   Madam Presiding Officer, the Tobago public is hurting.  As you are aware, the levels of crime seem to be escalating.   I was also surprised when I saw that a car was stolen in the heart of town in broad day light today.  I know individuals who are yet to be paid for the year; I know individuals whose family members have died because of less than stellar health care. 

  Madam Presiding Officer, unlike the Member for Black Rock/Union/Whim/Spring Garden for example, who seems to be stating that he decided very early that this is something that he is going to put forward.  I have spoken to individuals who are within my Constituency and I like to call it Belle Garden/Goodwood and a little bit of Mt. St. George, and yes, I did say my Constituency, [Desk thumping] Belle Garden/Goodwood and a little bit of Mt. St. George. [Desk thumping]   I asked them, if this is something that is important to them.  They have said to me, “Dr. Faith, No, there are issues that are way more important than a Code of Conduct.”  

In fact, one of those members called me the other day and he said, “Faith, I am looking for rice”.  I said to him, what do you mean you are looking for rice?  He said, “Faith, I have gone to several groceries and we cannot find rice.  I said to myself, there are so many other things that are of importance to the people of Tobago.  For example, I do not know, maybe that lack of rice is as a result of the Superfast Galicia not being able to dock in the port in Port of Spain because there are crew ships sitting there.  I do not know.

Madam Presiding Officer, as I said at the beginning, a Code of Conduct is really only applicable when there are no other laws and regulations binding the actions of individuals.  As my Colleagues said, we are all adults in this House.  If we want to behave, we will behave.  If we do not want to behave, there is nothing on a piece of paper that will make us behave. Those of us, on my side, have decided that we are adults and Madam Presiding Officer, we will behave in this House. [Desk thumping]

By the way Madam Presiding Officer, I am yet to hear anyone speak about the Regulatory Body that will monitor and ensure compliance with this Code of Conduct.  In the end, Tobagonians are hurting.  Some of us are hungry; some are starving.  Tobagonians have not been paid. Tobagonians do not have the luxury of job security.  Right now Tobagonians need Representatives who would serve their needs.  

     Madam Presiding Officer, I personally believe and having spoken with individuals who I represent, I believe that spending the next three (3) months of my life sitting on a Committee to create a Code of Conduct is not a good use of my time or of our efforts.  


     In fact, Madam Presiding Officer, I would have thought, that given the absence of a Minority in the House for the last four (4) years, and, given the absence if I am not mistaken and I stand to be corrected, of the absence of a Public Accounts Committee for many more years.

Good evening to the House. It is indeed an honour that I stand here having a voice for all of Tobago.  When I read the Order Paper coming from an academic background, I ask myself, why do we need a Code of Conduct?  After having done a lot of research and yes, like Members in the Majority, I identified the fact that there are Codes of Conducts all over the world - sure but one of the things that came forward was the fact that Codes of Conducts are usually created when there is an absence of a law or regulation to influence the individuals or the group, or the institution that the Code should affect.  

So, I ask myself is it that the Code of Conduct for the Tobago House of Assembly is it that there are no other laws or regulations available to influence the actions, to influence the behaviour, to influence those of us who are sitting in this House.  I thought back, and I went back to the Oath of Office that was taken less than two (2) weeks ago by each and everyone of us sitting, standing in this same House and please allow me to read verbatim what some of that includes.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Oath of Office for Assemblymen said specifically that the Assemblymen will and I quote:

“Uphold the Constitution and the law and will conscientiously and impartially discharge the duties thereof.” 

Madam Presiding Officer, the Oath taken by the Chief Secretary, the Secretaries, the Assistant Secretaries in addition to upholding the Constitution and the law, also says that individuals in those offices are to and I quote: “Do all manner, do right to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”  And I repeat: “Do right to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”  In my mind, that already encompasses that we all need to behave in a certain manner whether we are sitting in this House, whether we are on our feet in this House or when we are outside representing this House.

Madam Presiding Officer, please allow me based on the comments of previous speakers to identify key components of the Standing Orders that are relevant.

Minority Councillor.  [Desk thumping]

3.25 P.M.

Therefore, under those circumstances, Members can be brought before that Committee.  But I want to suggest that it must go beyond privileges inside of this House.  It must go into: 

  • General behaviours;

  • Into general conduct of Members of this Assembly;outside of this House;

  • In your offices;

  • In your electoral district, even in your Divisions for those who are Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries.  

  • How you relate to the Media; 

  • How you relate to your constituents, etcetera.

All those things must form part of the Code of Conduct and therefore, I want to suggest that maybe instead of just a Privileges Committee we should have a Privileges and Standards Committee.  Therefore, it is not only about abusing the privileges inside of this House but that Committee must also deal with potential mis-behaviours outside of this House. 

Madam Presiding Officer, secondly, I am suggesting as well that there should be sanctions being a part of this Code of Conduct.  Because yes, you have the Integrity in Public Life Act, yes, there exist some sanctions but I am saying that the processes of course, we all know takes almost forever. 

     I am saying and I am just going to give an example.   For example, you can have a sanction being maybe Members might be required to give an apology if they break the Code, a Member might be required to give a written apology or a verbal apology in this House or it may go to the extent of suspension from the House, Madam Presiding Officer.   But I am suggesting that there must be serious sanctions so that at the end of the day, Members within this House must understand that the manner in which we conduct ourselves is in fact important especially in a society that is going down the way in which it is going down today.  

     Madam Presiding Officer, but even as we discuss the Code of Conduct, of course the issue of crime - the Minority attempted to bring that up and of course we recognized those challenges, we understand the importance of us dealing with those challenges but I am saying that we have to start at the head, we have to start with ourselves right in this House to ensure that we observe the principles of good governance, the principles of transparency and the principles of integrity.  

So, I am in total support of this Code of Conduct and of course, some of the other advantages are, it will provide guidance on ethical issues and an improved framework.  Because a number of times new Assemblymen, new Councillors we come into office and we do not have much to refer to in terms of guidance. Yes, again, there is the Integrity in Public life Act which is very broad, again it is the law of the land and therefore there are no specifics and of course, you have the Standing Orders which speaks to how we conduct ourselves in the House.

Then you have the THA Act which give us some guidance there as well.  As a matter of fact, it tells us that Secretaries, the Chief Secretary and the Presiding Officer cannot have any other form of employment but Assistant Secretaries can have etcetera, etcetera but there are no real specifics.

Madam Presiding Officer, a Code of Conduct can also satisfy community expectations and build political trust.  Because of course, we are here time and time again, where our residents our constituents they have very little faith and very little trust in politicians generally in this country and we must begin to signal our intent to first of all hold each other accountable, hold each other to the highest ethical and moral standards, Madam Presiding Officer.  

Of course, finally, it will build the confidence in this institution called, “The Tobago House of Assembly” and again, I want to deal with the issue of accountability because if we as Members in this House can hold each other accountable then maybe Administrators in the Tobago House of Assembly will begin to hold their subordinates more accountable and then the accountability Madam Presiding Officer, should go down the line where heads of Departments will begin to hold their staff more accountable.    I am saying at the end of the day, a number of the issues we experience here in Tobago has to do with a lack of accountability.   Therefore, I am sincerely proud to be a part of this Administration that is signalling to the people of Tobago and that is signalling to even the people of Trinidad and Tobago that here in Tobago it will not be business as usual but we intend to change the way we operate, we intend to hold the Members of this House accountable. 

The Chief Secretary intends to hold his Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries accountable and by extension, we intend to hold our Administrators in the Divisions accountable.

So, as I close, I want to demonstrate my support for this Motion and my support for increased accountability and increased integrity in the Tobago space and by extension, the Trinidad and Tobago space.

I thank you.  [Desk thumping]

Thank you very much, Madam Presiding Officer.

Of course, let me start by congratulating all the Members of this House, particularly our new Chief Secretary of Tobago, the Honourable Kelvin Charles and of course, the Minority Leader, other Members of the Minority, and all my Colleagues on the Majority side, I sincerely congratulate all of you who being elected to this august House. Let me congratulate you as well, Madam Presiding Officer, on your ascension to higher office.

Today, we are here discussing a Code of Conduct.  Of course, the fact that we are here discussing this Motion, demonstrates that Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, is a man of his word.   It demonstrates that Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles needs to ensure that it would not be business as usual in the Tobago House of Assembly. 


Of course, the Members of the other side went into great details to school us on the Standing Orders, and to school us on the Integrity in Public Life Act.  But I think it is pretty obvious Madam Presiding Officer, that the Standing Orders clearly speaks to how we conduct ourselves within this House.  In terms of staying quiet when people talking, when other Members are giving their contributions; in terms of how you should leave and enter the House; in terms of appropriate language during conversations within this House, etcetera, etcetera.  Of course, the Integrity in Public Life Act by the way, is law, it is part of our laws here in Trinidad and Tobago and in some cases there are strict sanctions especially as it relates to declaring your interest and your assets, etcetera.  I think false declarations and failure to declare results in imprisonment up to I think, ten (10) years in some cases.  Therefore, that is the law.  We all know that there is an Integrity Commission and we all know about the perceived shortcomings of that Commission.  We know how long it takes for that Commission to go through the processes if in fact there were to take actions against any Member in public life.   Therefore, there is a need obviously for a Code of Conduct.  We the Members of this House Madam Presiding Officer, must be able to hold each other accountable.  I am saying as well, accountability, must start from the head.  

     Of course, we are all aware of some of the issues here in Tobago, small issues or issues that persons may consider to be small such as a pothole to be fixed; a drain to be cleaned etcetera, etcetera.  You will recognize that one of the fundamental issues we have here in Tobago, and in governance in general in Trinidad and Tobago, is a lack of accountability, a lack of persons taking responsibility.  

     Therefore, this Code of Conduct is actually about improving accountability.  It actually allows us as Members of this House to be held accountable for our actions.  When you do the evaluation Madam Presiding Officer, Councillor Des Vignes mentioned the fact that even Grenada has a Code of Conduct at the level of their Parliament.  When you look at the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and a number other countries, Codes of Conduct exist to determine how Members of the House should operate inside and outside of this House.  

    Of course, I am understanding of the fact that some Members of the other side, they are feeling uncomfortable when they hear the word, “conduct” and I understand that, but at the end of the day we in Tobago must recognize that it cannot be business as usual.  Therefore, I am sincerely proud of my Leader.  As a matter of fact, I have greater respect for the man. 

     The man said I think it was maybe two (2) or three (3) months ago, that “one of the first things I will ensure being elected as Chief Secretary, is to ensure that there is a Code of Conduct that governs the behaviours of Members of the Assembly”.  Here we are today as the first Order of Business, the first Motion being debated in this House, has to do with that Code of Conduct, and Mr. Charles should be congratulated. [Desk thumping]  

    But the question has to be asked, because the Member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside spoke about existing laws and spoke about Integrity in Public Life Act etcetera, but who enforces that Act.  We will recognize that the process has to do first of all, with the Integrity Commission and under some instances the Director of Public Persecutions and even the Police can eventually get involved.  But I am saying at the level of this Assembly, each of us must be accountable to this House.  

    Therefore, I want to make some suggestions because there exists according to the Standing Order which the Member for Roxborough/Delaford went into in great detail, there is a Privileges Committee.  Privileges in my opinion has to do with ensuring that the Members in this House does not abuse the privileges that we have when we give contributions in this House.

3.15 P.M.

     It means then that, what we need is not a next coded document.  What we need is for us to become more punitive, and to address forcefully the people who misbehave.  

     I could tell you that I do agree somewhat with Councillor Des Vignes. He spoke about as long as the head is good.  I hope for his sake that his party now has a good head.  If we can attribute so many flouting of the laws to previous incarnations of the Tobago House of Assembly, then it must be that the head we had was not good.  So, we in this House, must behave like adults; we in this House must observe all the laws of Trinidad and Tobago; we in this House must understand that we are living examples of the ideal.  Whenever we break that down, we are saying to people that it is okay for them to misbehave.  Whenever we in this House have tints for example on our cars that are unnecessarily dark, and that breaks the law, then we are saying that it is okay for others to do that too.   When we in this House take back some money from people that we give contracts to, we are saying it is okay to steal; when we in this House go around and lie whether it is on the platform or whether it is in private, we are saying it is okay for people in the public to so behave.  

    All I am saying this afternoon, Madam Presiding Officer, is that this Motion is superfluous to the extent that there are other laws that actually meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct that is being called for.   So, it is not that we need a Code of Conduct, we need to simply observe the laws of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.


     I want to close by saying this. I would have hoped that on day one of governance that we would have had a party that was ready for governance.  A majority that was ready for governance from day one.  The fact that on this small island we have so many pressing issues, yet on our first Motion, is something that seeks to duplicate other laws, something that is superfluous, then it shows that we are not quite ready.  

     Let me be very frank.  The people that I represent who needs proper roads, better housing, who needs street lights, who do not have access to telecommunication, they do not care about this debate you know.  They care about food on their table; they care about services reaching them.  So, we need to move quickly, because my concern is that we waste time with these motions, we seek to embarrass each other as we bring these motions and yet we get nothing productive done.  Let us get productive.  Madam Presiding Officer, if all of us, observe all the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, then we do not need another Code of Conduct.  

I thank you. [Desk thumping]

3.05 P.M.

I am grateful for this opportunity to represent a constituency that most people would have forgotten.  A constituency no doubt that has been forgotten by my predecessors.  And so, I join this debate, notwithstanding some difficulties that I have with the Motion of itself, I join this debate, I see this as a privilege. 

Madam Presiding Officer, I wish to begin by indicating that this Motion as it is, is really superfluous.What do I mean by being superfluous, it means that it is redundant to a large extent, and it is also unnecessary in other areas.  Why do I say that?  Because when I look at this call for a Code of Conduct and I listened to some of the elements that are desired for this Code of Conduct then, I find all of those things as mentioned by the Honourable Chief Secretary and by Councillor Des Vignes.   I find them in other existing legislation in Trinidad and Tobago.  So ideally, what we ought to do is just become law-abiding citizens, and if we are law-abiding citizens then we will be meeting the objectives as proposed by this Motion.  If we pull the Integrity in Public Life Act and we go to Part IV for example, there is a Code of Conduct established in the Integrity in Public Life Act and this Act talks about in part IV talks about the use of the Office.  How do you use your Office? It speaks to inside information; it speaks to how you use your influence; it speaks to gifts; it speaks to confidentiality; conflict of interest and a number of areas that you would have seen being flaunted, being broken quite openly these last four (4) years. 


     So, I am surprised that a Code of Conduct has surfaced as our first Motion.  But then given who is the National Political Leader of the Members opposite, I am also not surprised because perhaps the Code of Conduct need to be established within Political Parties starting with the Members opposite as opposed to in this House.  

     More than that, Madam Presiding Officer, the Honourable Chief Secretary spoke to the need for an intervention.  He spoke about the fact and I say it is a fact that the public has high expectations and that the public is demanding more from us.  You know why the public is demanding more from us?   The public is demanding more from us because we have seen time and time again that we have many Members who are really law-breakers and it is not that we need another law or another policy to govern how people behave, what we need is for people to simply observe and practice the laws of this land.  If people are practicing the laws of this land then we would not need a Code of Conduct to tell people that they cannot give their girlfriend a house – public housing because that is clear conflict of interest.  If people observe the laws of this land they will know that kick backs is illegal and that is Code of Conduct.  If people observe the laws of this land they would also know that they ought to conduct themselves with the use of their Office in a manner that can make their constituent proud.    So, is not that we need more laws, what we need to do is observe those laws that exist.   That is what you need to observe. 

     In fact, Plato said it probably well.  He said that good people do not need laws to tell them how to act responsibly.  [Desk thumping]  But he said something further, he said bad people will always find a way around the law.  And so, it is not a Code of Conduct that will really determine how we behave the next four (4) years or the next sixteen (16) years or for whatever duration this Assembly stands, this institution stands.  What will determine that is who we are because it is either people have conduct or they do not have conduct or it is either people choose to have conduct or they chose not to have conduct and so no amount of passing policy or a law is really going to change how people behave.  I notice quite humourously, that most of us in this House when we took our Oath of Office, most of us choose to swear using the Holy Scriptures.   

     Today, I have noticed that we have been having scriptures quoting “left right and center” and that is all well and good but I have found in the same scripture that Satan himself was able to take Jesus on top of a tall building and quote the very scriptures to Jesus.   So I am not fooled by people who quote the scriptures under the guise that somehow that means they have conduct.  If you want to demonstrate good conduct there is one way to do that - live a life that has good conduct, everybody in here big and have sense.   [Desk thumping]   So, I do not think there is need for a law to do that.  I do not think there is need to duplicate what exist in other laws like the Integrity in the Public Life Act in the order to engender good conduct among Members of this House.

   The Honourable Chief Secretary pointed out some goals as established by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) document that he quoted from.  He spoke about selflessness.  Well, if you come into this House selfish there is nothing that we can write that will change that behaviour.  And so, what the laws of Trinidad and Tobago would have done is that those laws would have ensure that people should not be engaging in things like “kick backs,” conflict of interest, giving all the contracts to your brother-in-laws and to your friends and your family - that is selfishness and we do not need a new law to deal with that.   We have laws that can already deal with that. 

    Integrity was mentioned and I was happy he spoke about financial gains.  How interesting!  The amount of people, Assemblymen past who have enriched themselves because of their position, because of their access, despite there being laws against that, says that we do not need another law, what we need is enforcing of the laws that exist.  

     In fact, if the current Honourable Chief Secretary start doing a forensic audit and start locking up people for breaking the laws that will be the best response and the best way of getting proper conduct from people but until we become punitive in our actions, until we begin to drag people to the courthouse and ensure that justice rolls over and ensure that a Judge in Chamber tries those who have stolen from the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), who have made this hallow place less sanctimonious then having a new Code of Conduct will not change people’s behaviours.  We have to become punitive in our actions. 

     He spoke about declaration of interests.  He spoke about objectivity and we know that that is something that is hard to achieve based on human nature and we know that in a political culture where nepotism and cronyism is right and you cannot blame me for that culture.

    This is my first time in this House as a real Assemblyman. I did nothing to contribute to that culture and I submit, that some of those who are championing this Motion should begin to do some introspection themselves and if they know that they are guilty maybe they should go in the religious tone that we had this morning, stand and confess their sins.   Then we will know that we are genuine about a Code of Conduct.  He spoke about accountability, openness and transparency, honesty, leadership and of course, all of these attributes all of these things in some way or another.   We have tried through various pieces of legislation, through the Central Government to regulate how people behave, how people in public life behave, and still people in public life continues to misbehave.  

[Desk thumping] Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

   It is indeed a privilege to stand in this House as a real Member of this House. In fact, Madam Presiding Officer, as I sat there and I think back to the first time I entered these Chambers, it was somewhere between 2001 – 2003, perhaps 2002. I entered this House to serve as a mock Assemblyman in this House. Today as I sat here, it dawned on me that I am actually sitting in the same seat I sat at that time, and so, I am inordinately grateful for this privilege.

Member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside.

Thank you very much for your correction Sir.  The Deputy President here with us and he has been an active Member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and we have to understand that our responsibilities as signatories and Members of the CPA is to align ourselves with these international best practices.  These benchmarks that are set, we have to now ensure that we align ourselves as such. 

  As the Honourable Chief Secretary said Madam Presiding Officer, this is not a “big stick”.  We do not need to hold a big stick to the Member of Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside.  I am sure even as a Teacher, he would recognize that there are other methods and we have adopted other methods of ensuring proper conduct in our schools.  Corporal punishment was banned but it does not mean that we do not have Codes or Rules in place.  The difference between the Standing Orders which are primarily rules of  procedure and it seems not everyone is aware of that, the difference the Code of Conduct and the Standing Orders, the Standing Orders tells us what we need to do in the House.  How we conduct ourselves is important in public life.  

    No longer are we the Presidents of any Associations.  Whenever we stand before anyone we address them as Secretary for this, Honourable Chief Secretary for that, Member for the other.  We have to recognize that we have a responsibility.  I implore the young and new Members especially in this House to ensure that we hold everyone to account.

     I have spoken to the Member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside on many occasions, even before we ended up in this situation, about the fact that we are the future.  He would agree with me, and I am sure that he would continue to agree with me as we go further together.  I challenge the Member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside get your Colleagues on board.  We need a Code of Conduct to ensure that we are accountable to our people.  Let the people know the standards that we abide by, the standards that we are going to continue to ensure we stand with.  We need to ensure Honourable Member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside that we work together.  Honourable Member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside, we must work together.   Madam Presiding Officer, my apologies.

     So, Madam Presiding Officer, if I may, refer to a document “A Guide for Parliamentarians for the Global Task Force on Parliamentary Ethics”.  They speak about the regulatory framework for a Code of Conduct.  I quote:

      “A Legislative Code of Conduct is a formal document which regulates the behaviour of legislators by establishing what is considered to be acceptable behaviour and what is not.  

    In other words, it is intended to create a political culture, which places considerable emphasis on propriety; correctness; transparency; and honesty of the parliamentarians’ behaviour.  However, the Code of Conduct is not intended to create this behaviour itself”.  

It means Madam Presiding Officer, that it is up to us here in this august House, this Honourable House to ensure that once a Code of Conduct is in place that we work together and we set the standards.   We set the standards that we want to spread to all of Tobago.   

I know some good fishermen, Madam Presiding Officer, and they always say, “their fish is the best fish that there is”.  There is a saying that “the fish may rot from the head”.  We have to ensure that the fish stays fresh from the head.  The head, our governance here in Tobago, we need to ensure that we set a strong, ethical and conduct regime that can transcend the entire Tobago.

Madam Presiding Officer, we must ensure that we set the tone.  We set the tone from minute one and at 3.01 p.m. on this very day February, 09, 2017, I say, I submit that now is the time to stand on the principles that I would have mentioned before.   

I must commend Madam Presiding Officer, again, the Honourable Chief Secretary, a man of his word. [Desk thumping]  He said even before knowing what the date of the Internal Election may have been; he said without even knowing what the date of the Tobago House of Assembly would have been; he said without even knowing who the Members of the House would have been, that I am going to ensure that there is a Code of Conduct for all Members of the Assembly.  We are here today to ensure that that happens. [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, as I seek to rest, not my seat, [Laughter] I would like to leave as the Honourable Chief Secretary did mentioned, maybe I do not attend church as often as I should have, but I made a fresh start on Sunday [Applause] and I am so inspired.  Let me share with the Honourable Members from Philippians Chapter 4: 8 – 9: 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise; think about these things.  What you have learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you”.

Thank you Madam Presiding Officer.  [Desk thumping]

2.55 P.M

We cannot take these principles for granted, Madam Presiding Officer. Now is the time.  Now is the time as I stand here, I stand  proudly to say, a Code of Conduct is necessary to take away that level of sometimes we are unsure, should we or should we not.  We cannot just leave it up to everyone’s whims; fancies; and interpretation anymore.  We must be very clear in what we are doing.  We have entered an age where people are looking at us now more than ever.  The information age is here.  We cannot hide behind secrecy or ignorance in any kind of way.  We have to recognize that our young people are looking on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the Television, they are looking at us now. Now is the time.  We cannot ignore the fact that we must move forward in a different way of operation. I say to you Madam Presiding Officer, that I have absolutely no challenge, in ensuring that we have a Code of Conduct.  As a matter of fact, I have in my possession a file and I will share it with the Minority when we have the opportunity.  Madam Presiding Officer, if I may, [Demonstrating] these two (2) files contain Code of Conducts from across the world, including Grenada.  We have the Deputy Presiding Officer of the Senate here with us and he … [Interruption]

     Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.   I must say, Madam Presiding Officer, again, it is a pleasure, this is my maiden speech in this august House as well.   If at any time I wondered Madam Presiding Officer that it may have been necessary for a working session on the Standing Orders, I know this is no longer important because the Member for Roxborough/Delaford would have certainly afforded us with one. 

Madam Presiding Officer, I am thankful that he did reference Shakespear because as a former English Teacher and I am sure the Member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside would also appreciate it.  I would like to refer to some Shakespeare:

"That it should come to this!"  That is taken from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2.   Madam Presiding Officer, what Hamlet was speaking about is the fact that around him his beloved country was going down a path of decadence a path that he was not comfortable with and he realized that the time had come that change had to happen.  And he recognized that change had to happen at the head thus the introduction of the concept of the “Body politic.”

The “Body politic” and again the Member for Parlatuvier/Speyside would appreciate this.  The body politic meaning that as long as the head is in good order the rest of the body will follow suit.   

Madam Presiding Officer, I say today, it seems like we need a lesson and I would like to refer to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) document again that was brought by the Honourable Chief Secretary and it seems that I would have to afford the other Members copies of this document, so we understand the role of a Code of Conduct as apposed to the Standing Orders.  Madam Presiding Officer, if I may:

"A Code of Conduct forms an important part of the integrity system."

If we do not have a need for integrity in this august House what do we really need.  If that is not considered as important, then what is important?   

Integrity is of paramount importance.  I stand here today and I dare to say, I stand in the presence of what I may have recalled, "giants."  

     Madam Presiding Officer, I remember, as a young boy my father taking me to the Library downstairs.   For those of you who may remember that the Library was downstairs.  As a matter of fact, I will take you further when my grandfather was downstairs giving art classes.   I remember looking at the Members of this august House and wondering, "Look at those giants, look at those men and women who represented us, represented our people."   I dare say and as I was telling the Honourable Chief Secretary earlier, I only recognize today that I am the third generation of Des Vignes to be here in this House and I take that responsibility seriously because I recognize immediately the importance for us to stand as giants for our community, for Tobago to see us, to be proud of us and to take pattern from us.  

      So I say again, Madam Presiding Officer, if now is not the time to resume (as the Honourable Chief Secretary has mentioned) start bringing back those Tobagonian characteristics and principles when will that time be?  If now is not the time to bring back a sense of ethics in our community, when will that time be?  I dare say, now has to be the time.  Now has to be the time that we stand up and recognize our responsibility as Members of this august House to lead Tobago into a new and renewed future.

Madam Presiding Officer, now is the time that Members of this august House ask themselves why!  Why are we here today?  Why will we be here for the next four (4) years?  We are not here to rock in our chairs, we are not here to grand charge like raging bulls, we are not here to drive about to get fancy stickers to put on our cars or complain about our offices or lack thereof, we are here to serve the people of Tobago.  [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, if a Code of Conduct is what we need to ensure that there is a higher level of accountability, that the people of Tobago can hold us to task and say, listen, this is what I expect of my Representative then we have a problem.  

We have all campaigned for weeks about accountability and integrity in public office yet, at the first opportunity we start shirking and cowering from that responsibility.  [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, if I may beg your indulgence.  On Monday I went to my Village Council Meeting in Moriah and I was hoping to just resume my duties as the Public Relations Officer of the Village Council, Moriah (a Village that I love, that I was born, grew in Moriah) and I sat there hoping that I would be recognized as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Moriah Village Council.  A Village Council that I was instrumental in ensuring was rejuvenated.  Madam Presiding Officer, I could not be seen as such, I was seen as the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment.   I was no longer the PRO even within the Village Council.

Madam Presiding Officer, Junior Chamber International - an International Organization of active young citizens with over one hundred (100) countries across the world.   I have the privilege of serving as the National President for JCI (Junior Chamber International) West Indies.  I went to a meeting of JCI Tobago on Thursday and I was not recognized as such.  I am no longer the President of JCI, West Indies.  I am the Secretary for Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment and whenever I speak in public, I represent the entire Assembly, each and everyone of us.   We cannot take that responsibility lightly, Madam Presiding Officer.  We must recognize that we must be of the crowd but not in the crowd.  We must know that we are here to serve our people, work with our people but it does not mean that we have to descend to behaviours that surround us sometimes.  

    Madam Presiding Officer, I dare say, there are times when I am driving around Tobago and I am hurt.  I am hurt because I am a lover of the environment.  I am hurt because I believe in a clean, green and serene Tobago and a safe Tobago as well.

Madam Presiding Officer, the lack of respect for our environment.  People are throwing things out of their windows, they prefer their cars to be clean than the environment around them to be clean and we are beginning to accept these things as society.  Now is the time to pull it back in.   We have to set the example from right here, from right here where we sit.  We have to let the people of Tobago know that it is not business as usual, it is business unusual.  [Desk thumping]   We have to ensure, Madam Presiding Officer, that we go down the road of showing and as the Honourable Chief Secretary would have said we are not just here to “do as I say and not as I do”, we must lead by example.  It is time for us to build an ethical culture a culture that is not foreign to many of us, I do not know if all of us but we must regain those principles that the Honourable Chief Secretary spoke about.  We must lean heavily on the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. [Desk thumping].

2.45 P.M.

Secretary of Infrastructure and the Environment.  [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, you see what we have to put up with on this side – distractions.  Maybe like football they should mark the time, record it and give it back. Foul Play!  Pure foul play going on the next side!  That is what I agree should be controlled by the Code of Conduct.  

This person would have given the assurance that a Contract has been prepared for the boat.  Only to find out, two - three months later when they enquired from the Minister, if the Contract has been prepared, none was prepared.  These are things we need to regulate in public life.  Of course, there must be a Code of Conduct, but not now.  We are saying, not now.  Let the Code of Conduct take the quene and wait in order of precedence.  Maybe sometime six (6) months down the road.

I wonder now, as I close, Madam Presiding Officer, if this is what the Honourable Chief Secretary, the Honourable Assemblyman for Spring Garden/Whim/Union/Mary’s Hill (SWUM) is coming with at the first sitting, and if this is the priority, I ask myself what is to come in the next one.   

I take my seat, Madam Presiding Officer. [Desk thumping]

Member for Roxborough/Delaford can you please proceed with your presentation?

Thank you.   That is a lot of time.  I appreciate that.  I have a lot more to say.


When one looks at Standing Order 49, there are particular rules for Members who are not speaking on the Order Paper.  I want to take some time and read that: 


“A Member present in the Assembly during the debate shall:-


And that is for those who are listening to the Tube, they may never have the chance to read a book as this.  They may say, you know perhaps what my friend is asking for on that side is a good thing?  May be they really need some behaviour? Maybe they really need to control some bad behaviour too? But every bad behaviour that could be conceived, was thought of in this book and has been properly addressed in this book.  

(a)  enter or leave the Assembly with their decorum

It tells you how to leave the Assembly – behaviour: 

(b)     maintain silence while another member is speaking… My friends on that side have trouble doing that.  They are talking; they are swerving in their chairs.  May be they need a Code of Conduct for themselves Madam Presiding Officer.   It says that.  It is here.  [Demonstrating] I read it.  My Honourable friend you can read it too if you have some time.  Standing Order 49. 

It says: 

(c)    otherwise conduct himself in a fit and proper manner. Very clear!  You cannot get more clearer than this. So it worries us on this side what is so pressing about this Motion?  What is so pressing?  I just want to repeat again for some of my friends who has a temptation to speak. I want to read for them the Standing Order.  It says: 

“…Members not Speaking…, 

they are not signed up to speak at all supposed to remain silent during these sittings here.

It says: 

(c)maintain silence, while another member is speaking…”  

These rules - I love these rules.  Anything better than this, spoil.  My friend on this side, he likes to use statements like, “example better than precept’.   I would use a local one, “anything better than these Standing Orders spoil”.   I could rely on this. 

    As a matter of fact, the last Tobago House of Assembly Executive that was here headed by his Colleague, Honourable Orville London, he had no trouble at all with these.  He ruled for the last sixteen (16) years, without ever creating a Code of Conduct.  My friend has not even rule for a week yet – not even a week, but he is on the side talking about Code of Conduct.  I do not know what type of “hellish behaviour” he has seen or discovered among his Colleagues, but he wants to control it.  I understand that.  

    So today, we on this side have no problem with the Code of Conduct, but we are saying it is not urgent, and because it is not urgent, we are not prepared on this side to subject ourselves to those trivial issues at this point in time.  Maybe six (6) months down the road; maybe a year from now, we could deal with my Colleague across there issues.  But on this side, we are saying that there are more pressing issues as crimes, there are more pressing issues as the boat; these are things we need to treat with.  

    Just today, I read a letter, Madam Presiding Officer, I came from a Permanent Secretary, and he was talking about people conduct.  They would have written the Chairman of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Demi Cruickshank, last year May, 31, 2016, telling him that a Contract for the Superfast Galicia has already been prepared, and it is only awaiting signature.  However, I am disturbed on the next side, I am being disturbed from the other side.  Could you please tell the next side to control themselves?  I am speaking… Please protect me from Members on that side… [Interruption]

2.35 P.M.

But ask Trinidad, Trinidad is unregulated. No Code of Conduct. None! I say the Standing Orders is very good for me at this point in time, and for my Colleagues. So 45 speaks about the contents of one’s speech, how it must stay on the subject. If you are trying to propose the reason for a Code of Conduct, one will expect those reasons to be strong; to be reasons that are not now addressed. Not to hear flippant reasons as, “Example is better than precept”. What is that? Where that came from? Shakespeare? “Example is better than precept”.

My good friend on that side refers to the Integrity in Public Life Act, which is another set of rules. My Honourable friend, Brother Farley Augustine, he will rise and will speak about that to a greater extent just now. Some of my Colleagues have not been reading, they have been too new, they have been admiring the clorchness of their office, Madam Presiding Officer. They have been sitting in their couch, spinning around, as some of them are now doing, rocking from side to side, swinging their feet, maybe a Code of Conduct is required for that.  On the side, swinging, side to side, not focused, enjoying the luxury of office, maybe they require that.  

My good friend spoke about, “odium” and “disrespect”.  Those are powerful words.  Indeed, we on this side, Madam Presiding Officer, we on the Minority bench, we have felt the true meaning of the word, “odium” and “disrespect” coming from the other side. We have felt that.  So it is Code of Conduct that they need to control, I am speaking about.  They need to control that.  

When you are now elected into office, all of us, we have got our oath the same day, all of us are serving in this Honourable House.  All of us represents the Tobago House of Assembly, at different levels, doing different tasks.  But when those on this side, the Minority side, we have been given no offices, no staff to work with.  Nothing whatsoever! Not even an Assembly sticker to stick on a car and look posh.  Nothing at all whatsoever. They come here and they say that they want to deal with Code of Conduct, as if someone was misbehaving themselves. I say perhaps the solution can best be found by Michael Jackson’s words, “Deal with the man in the Mirror”.  I will say that.  If they can see at the back of this phone, they might see a reflection of who they will have to deal with.

We go on further in these Standing Orders, (because I really spent some time combing through these meticulously) 50, limits the time to which one speak.  I want to ask that my good friend ask a while ago, Madam Presiding Officer, for a time check.  I am not seeing the time check on the wall.  If you are so kind Madam Presiding Officer, how much time do I have?

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer, thank you Honourable Chief Secretary, Kelvin Charles.

Madam Presiding Officer, I stand on my feet today as the Chief 

Secretary and Assemblyman for SWUM (Spring Garden/Whim/Union/Mary’s Hill) just spoken a while ago, to make my maiden speech.  I was once outside, looking on to the throne at what was taking place on the inside and certainly, I felt for a moment as my colleague have expressed, the need for a Code of Conduct.  I must admit, I am in agreement with him on the fact for the last four (4) years what was demonstrated in the House of Assembly required a Code of Conduct.  

I am consoled by the fact that when the Honourable Assemblyman spoke, he spoke about parliamentarians misbehaving themselves, he spoke nothing about Assemblymen misbehaving themselves.  He also spoke about the need to reduce one's discretion in conducting themselves and so this Code becomes important, it becomes like the steel barriers used along the highway to constrain people from destroying themselves.   He sees a Code of Conduct like that and I say perhaps yes, but nowhere did he made mention of the fact that for the last four (4) years, the Tobago House of Assembly needed one. 

I hold in my hand [Indicating] a very prized book - Standing Orders of the Tobago House of Assembly and I dare to read the first page for my friend on the next side, Madam Presiding Officer.   I trust the House has been so kind to give him one.   It says:- 

"Standing Orders of the Tobago House of Assembly made by the Tobago House of Assembly under Section 69 of the Tobago House of Assembly Act 1996. That is just a reference point - amended 2015”  

     This good book was amended.  I took the time out to peruse this book quite meticulously.   I took my time, studying every page with great intent because I wanted to see how this House would be regulated and I must say, I found a storehouse of information as regards to one's behaviour and one's conduct in the House of Assembly. 

Madam Presiding Officer, for instance, I invite my friend on the next side Assemblyman for SWUM, my good Chief Secretary, friend, Kelvin Charles.  I invite him, if he has one of these books perhaps he could look under Standing Order 42 it spoke about time and the manner of speaking.   It guides you, it tells you how much time you have to speak, how to go about speaking, you have to give notice, the order of speaking.  These things are never left to chance in the Tobago House of Assembly.   This is a well written book, it guides one's behaviour, yes, in the simple of task nothing is left to chance inside here.  Once conduct is well regulated by this Standing Orders.

If one was to go to Standing Order 44, I want to take my time, as I turn the pages, least anyone think that I am speaking from my memory, even though I can, I will not rely upon it because the book is the authority that I rely upon today.  Madam Presiding Officer, you see, there are times when people read books and they do not know how the story end and so they start talking about the book; but these Codes of Conduct have been tried in large countries and it has failed miserably.   People do not read them and it seldom improves the behaviour of anyone because they are guided by legislation rather than the oration or some document that someone created.

Standing Order 44 tells you not to interrupt people like I am feeling threatened that my colleagues on the next side are trying to interrupt me, see they are laughing loudly, I can hardly hear myself on this side but it speaks about interruptions.  Those on the next side should not do anything to interrupt those on this side but they do not practice what they preach, Madam Presiding Officer.   But they love to preach, they know chapter but they do not know verse.   This is the trouble we have on this side.   My colleagues and I, the Minority bench we are having trouble while he spoke I listened intently he is busy telling secrets on the side, Madam Presiding Officer.   I feel as if I am talking to myself but I will plead your protection whenever it is necessary for me to do so.  I know you will protect this House and you would regulate the conduct of persons within this House because there is a proclivity for my friends on the next side to be “out of control” and behave like “raging bulls” from time to time, especially when they are resisted.   I do not know if it is the “red” that they are wearing sometimes that will infuriate them but that is their behaviour on that side not on this side.

Madam Presiding Officer, again, the Standing Orders are very clear.  They are on target, they speak about interruptions.  It also speak, if you go to Standing Order 45 about the content of one’s speech.   I listened to a whole speech a while ago and I was wondering what was the contents of it, if it was really on the subject.   It spoke about all type of different behaviour the this and the that and I was wondering what is the reason for the Code of Conduct.   I never got any reason.  But the content of one’s speech is regulated by this.  It says here, a Member shall confine his observations to the subject under discussion.  

    Madam Presiding Officer, why do we need a Code of Conduct?   Why do we need one, why is it so urgent, why is it so pressing?   I mean, nothing is wrong with a Code of Conduct but I think that it is best focused in the right direction.  

  Right outside these walls there are people who are unregulated, they are unregulated because those who have been charged with the responsibility of creating policy for the population at large in Tobago have abandoned their responsibility in so far as providing the nation with a crime plan.  So, people are walking up and down and doing what they want outside. There is a need for one to tape on their behaviour.  I understand that, but I say, it may not be inside this House at this point in time.  

Yesterday, I know that people have a way sometimes to deteriorate in behaviour - a car was stolen in broad daylight on Garden Side Street.  Yesterday a man was shot in his leg, so there is definitely a need for a Code of Conduct, Madam Presiding Officer, but I say not urgently needed inside here.  The misconduct is outside not inside here.  I am concerned that my friend try to misrepresent what goes on inside this august and Honourable Chambers as if people inside here were like “Wild Apache” running up and down with “axe” trying to kill someone or try to hurt people inside here.  I am concerned when you ask them how do you intend to regulate society for which you have signed up for, the work that you aspired to and achieved, they throw their hands in the air and say they have no crime plan, they have no plan to regulate society.  That comes from Trinidad.  

2.25 P.M.

Member for Roxborough/Delaford.

2.15 P.M.

Thank you.

I shall now turn Madam Presiding Officer, to some basic principles which ought to underlie the establishment of an acceptable Code of Conduct. In this regard, I refer to a document, “Recommended Benchmarks for Codes of Conduct Publication from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.” Some of the principles that are outlined here are as follows: -

“Members shall behave according to the following principles:

Selflessness:  Members of the Assembly should act solely in terms of the public interest.

Integrity: Members of the Assembly must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organizations that may try inappropriately to influence them in their work.

     In other words, they should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial, or other material benefits for themselves, their families or their friends. In that regard, they have a duty to declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

Objectivity: This is another principle.The view is, that members must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and unmerit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

Accountability: Members are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

Openness: Members should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner; information should not be withheld from the public, unless they are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

Honesty: Significant - Members ought to be truthful.I know Madam Presiding Officer, that in the cut and thrust of what is called, “politics”, there may be the temptation to score political points. I think we have again a responsibility notwithstanding, to even in our attempt to score political points to remain faithful to what is true and what is the truth.

Leadership: Members should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour.

      That underscores the point I made earlier in respect of example been better than precept. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs. Even as I say that, in quoting again, the document makes reference to:

  • Acting in good conscience;

  • Respecting the intrinsic dignity of all; 

  • Act so as to  merit the  trust and respect of the community; and 

  • To give effective ideas of democratic government and abide by the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and uphold the separation of powers and the rule of law.” 

You would recall, Madam Presiding Officer, that you were present on the January 26, 2017, when we all took that solemn oath, “To uphold the Constitution and the Law”.  There was a reason why we were required to take that oath.  Taking that oath as it were strengthened the social contract between those of us who went to the people and would have been provided by the people with the opportunity to be their Leaders.  We must exercise the privileges and discharge the duties of public office diligently and with civility; dignity; care; and honour.  I think Madam Presiding Officer, that captures in essence some of the principles that I say should underlie the establishment of a Code of Conduct.


May I say, Madam Presiding Officer, that what is happening here today in respect of this Motion, represents in a very real sense keeping the faith with the people.  Those of us who were following, when I decided that I would respond to the wishes of the people and I started my internal campaign, one of the things that I said, is that if I were to be successful, that one of my first acts would have been to institute a Code of Conduct for Secretaries and Members of the Assembly. [Desk thumping]  Indeed, it is in respect of the policy position emanating out of this Honourable House, my very first act. [Desk thumping]

In reviewing some of the literature, Madam Presiding Officer, it became clear to me that in respect of an attempt at enforcing a Code of Conduct, that there are at least three (3) broad approaches: 


  • One has to do with the use of legislation and that is in itself creating a body external to an independent of or from the Legislature to be responsible for enforcement oversight, etcetera.  Examples of this approach one can find in Alberta and Ontario, Canada and in New South Wales; 

  • The other is to establish within the Legislature a body that oversees the conduct of Members and those Institutions that derive their model of governance from the United Kingdom in the main….;

Even in respect of the Tobago House of Assembly, there is a Privileges Committee which has the responsibility to treat with some of those issues.

  • Thirdly, there is the option of where discipline is internal to the legislature and is based upon a detailed set of rules and guidelines, there is considerable details in the codes and rules.  

I am not so sure, Madam Presiding Officer, that that would be appropriate, an example is in the United States Congress.  For example, a gift role adopted on the December, 07, 1995 was accompanied by a ten (10) page explanatory note, so you can well imagine.  

   So, Madam Presiding Officer, as I wind up, in respect of the presentation of the Motion, I wish to appeal to all of us, that for those of us who would really like to see the development of Tobago and the development of Tobago in a particular context, that we have a responsibility to support this Motion.

  In that regard, Madam Presiding Officer, I beg to move. [Desk thumping]

Question proposed.

2.05 P.M.

(1) Set public standards by which behaviour of Members of the Assembly (inclusive of those of us in this House) can be assessed.   If we are to bequeath a society to our children and our children’s children, a society in which peace and harmony, concord abounds, then we have a responsibility to create the environment and to leave such environment in which all of our children can blossom.

(2) It would be designed to provide a basis for assessing proposed actions and so, guide behaviour.  It is not uncommon, Madam Presiding Officer, to hear persons speaking in respect    of the need for positive role models for our young persons.  I am saying to us today, that those of us who are now Leaders in this place or in this House have a responsibility to set that tone and in fact, to behave like role models for our young people. 

(3)  Provide an agreed foundation for responding to behaviour that is considered unacceptable and therefore, what this does is that it eliminates subjectivity and promote a certain kind of consistency in respect of assessment evaluation analysis.

Finally, a Code of Conduct would seek to assure and reassure the people of Tobago that their trust in us is not misplaced.  As a matter of fact, Madam Presiding Officer, given the situation that those of us who are now here would have been as a result of a response of the electorate.  It says to a large measure that they are saying to us, principally to those of us on the majority side that we have confidence in you.  [Desk thumping]  We are providing you with the opportunity to continue to lead this island and to take it to another level and therefore, you ought to do what is required so that at the end of the day our faith in you is not misplaced and that you do not let us down.

Madam Presiding Officer, I say through you, to the Members of this Honourable House that that is just what we are going to do, “we will not let the people of Tobago down.”   [Desk thumping]

A Code of Conduct and the one in which I am sure at the end of the day will come back before this House must be one that is balanced in that, it must be both aspirational on the one hand and prescriptive on the other.  In that context, it ought to be characterized by clear guidelines, principles, injunctions and prohibitions.  

     The Code must not only deal with conflicts of financial interest for example, but must also deal with behaviour of Members that may tend to obstruct, undermine or thwart the operation of this House or this Legislature.  It must also deal with issues relative to the abuse of the benefits, privileges and position of Members of this Honourable House and actions that may otherwise bring into disrepute other Members or the institution itself must be frown upon and must be outlined.

    Madam Presiding Officer, what needs to be said forcefully is that Codes of Conduct by themselves will not create honesty nor integrity and we understand that, we understand that very, very clearly.  But let us be clear about the fact or for that matter, let us recognize that as individuals, our core personalities do not change.   Therefore, we have a responsibility to see to what extent if we are challenged in that respect, how we can moderate our behaviours. Madam Presiding Officer, because you know, that one definition of personality is a consistent pattern of behaviour.   Therefore, we in this House must do some introspection to the extent that we are conscious of our core personalities and take the required actions to moderate those behaviours that may be inimical to the peace, order and good conduct of operations not only in this House but outside of this House as well.  [Desk thumping]  

     Madam Presiding Officer, Codes are not merely cudgels, in other words, they are not “thick sticks” that need to be used as weapons or clubs but they ought to be seen as lights, as an illumination allowing for a shining of the light on those attributes that are desirable.  You know, Madam Presiding Officer, I probably do not go to Church as often as I should, but I think somewhere in the bible it is written that we ought to let our light so shine so that men shall see our good works and glorify our father which is in heaven.  I commend that passage of scripture today, Madam Presiding Officer, to those of us who are present in this august Chamber.   So that our Code of Conduct ought to have at least two (2) significant purposes:

(1)   A public purpose; and 

(2)   An institutional purpose.

In respect of the latter, it must be a guide to behaviour both inside and outside of this House, outside of this Chamber so that there is a particular kind of consistency, there is a particular kind of order, so as we call upon the population to behave in particular ways we can have the peace of mind knowing that there is legitimacy in such a call because we are in fact living or as we like to say, Madam Presiding Officer, we are in fact “walking the talk.”  What we are asking to be done is what we ourselves are prepared to do.  And in respect of the former, it seeks to inter alia as I indicated earlier, facilitate an assessment or a benchmarking in other words, so that the public would be able to judge behaviours that are acceptable and those that are unacceptable as we seek to transform our island of Tobago and to the extent that our island is characterized by behaviours that are unethical especially when it comes to the issue of governance to that extent, we can reflect and take the actions required to change course. 

     Finally, in that respect, in respect of what I am just speaking about to ensure the promotion of trust in the institutions as well as the Members who occupy this House.  

    Madam Presiding Officer, would you be so kind I would have lost track of the time.  How much time do I have still?

1.55 P.M.

In other words, the expectations are rising.   

      It is in this context Madam Presiding Officer, that we felt it particularly important, almost compelling, to place this Motion for debate at the first sitting of this Honourable House.   Indeed, we have the opportunity at this time, to set both the pace and the tone for what happens over the next four (4) years. We must lead by example.  We must never be those who believe that you must “do as I say, but not as I do”.  We, on this side, state unequivocally, that for us, “example is better than precept”. [Desk thumping]  We are at the place, where in setting the pace, we are in fact sitting on the threshold of history.  As was stated in part of the preamble to the Motion, at this time there is an absence of such a Code.  So that, notwithstanding,  the length of time that the Tobago House of Assembly has been in existence, there has never been a time when we would have been guided by a Code of Conduct.  So in a very real sense, those of us who sit around the Table today, those of us in this Honourable House are part of this history making event.  Indeed, our contributions, those of us who are contribute to this Motion will in fact be indelibly edged, not only in the records of the Hansard, but in the minds and hearts of those of us who are listening and looking on.  

      Madam Presiding Officer, today ought to mark in a very real sense, a kind of renaissance; a kind of reawakening; a rebirth of those critical values that in a very real sense defines the Tobagonian personality of sometime ago.  You know Madam Presiding Officer, Trinidad and Tobago has been fortunate on the one hand, but of course, there have been consequences unintended as those maybe in respect of that level of fortune. We have been privileged to enjoy the fruits of our petroleum sector, but we have in doing so, suffered from what is normally referred to as “The Dutch Disease,” in that affluence did breathe much effluence. [Laughter] Therefore, as part of that breathing, we would have seen deterioration of standards across the board, a lowering of the values and the morals of our society, to the point where the view would have been expressed and not by an insignificant number of persons that we were on a downward slide into moral decadence.   So as I am saying Madam Presiding Officer, we are at the point where we can in fact engender and generate the kind of reawakening that the society on a whole calls for today.


So, Madam Presiding Officer, in respect of the Motion before us, a Code of Conduct basically specifies certain rules for behaviour or standards to which one’s behaviour must comply.  In that context, what happens, is that there is a reduction in one’s discretion.

     Madam Presiding Officer, in a very real sense, those of us here today as Members of this Honourable House, are in effect public officers.   As you undoubtedly are aware, Madam Presiding Officer, the Integrity Act defines every one of us here as “a person in public life” and indeed, a person in public life as we are, is in effect a Public Officer.  Therefore, as Members, we sit in legislative authority, albeit, limited legislative authority.  As you know, Act 40 of 1996 does in fact limit the ability of this Honourable House to pass laws.  But there is a measure of legislating function; there is a budget-making and approval function; and of course in the main, there is policy making function.  As such, Madam Presiding Officer, as public officers, we must at all times, act in the best interest of the people of Tobago and the island of Tobago on a whole.  As public officers, Madam Presiding Officer, there is a fiduciary; moral; and ethical relationship with the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago particularly those citizens that are residing in Tobago and on whose behalf we act.  As well, Madam Presiding Officer, the point must be made very forcefully, that we are entrusted with the responsibility to protect and uphold the common interests of all of our residents.  That is to say, we must put the public interest above all others, including our own, first.  We must be island and community focused, rather than individual focused. [Desk thumping]  

Madam Presiding Officer, furthermore, as Members of the Assembly, our behaviour should reflect favourably on the reputation of this Assembly and this House.  In fact, it must also reflect, strengthen and promote the Assembly as an Institution.  We must never as stated in the preamble, take action or engage in behaviours that brings this Honourable House into odium and disrepute.  Because you know, Madam Presiding Officer, there is a relationship between our conduct in this House and the risk to the reputation of this august body or Institution.  If ever behaviours descend, then to that extent the reputation of this Organization, this Institution will be placed under pressure.  In that regard, we are likely to lose faith with the electorate or the residents of Tobago because they would lose respect for those of us who sits around this Horseshoe.   

Madam Presiding Officer, there are some questions that one may well ask at this time.  Some of these questions undoubtedly are: 

  • What are the options available, for improving the conduct of Assemblymen?  

  • What is the purpose of a specific Code of Conduct?  

  • Are Codes of Conduct the most effective mechanisms to: 

(1)    Improve the conduct of Assemblymen; 

(2)    Increase the trust of citizens or electorate in those of us  sitting here, both the majority and the minority; 

(3)     What features would be acceptable; and 

(4)     Why is misconduct important in a democratic society?   

   Those are some of the questions that I am sure maybe engaging the minds of those of us who are here and in respect of the wider community of Tobago those who are tuned in.

     I submit, Madam Presiding Officer, that it would be difficult, for anyone to argue legitimately that the Code of Conduct for Members of this Assembly should not be adopted. 


     A Code of Conduct represents a fundamentally important element in any Programme or any attempt to generate public trust and confidence and to improve public perception of the Assembly and its Members.  Let me make it ellucidly clear, Madam Presiding Officer, that a Code of Conduct is not designed to control the behaviour of Members per se rather, it would be designed to:

1.45 P.M.

AND WHEREAS members of the Tobago House of Assembly or this House have a responsibility to engage in conduct that will not bring the House into odium and disrepute;

AND WHEREAS members of this House are likely to be subjected to greater scrutiny by members of the public with respect to the governance  process of our island;

BE IT RESOLVED that this House appoint a Special Select Committee to prepare a Code of Conduct for consideration and approval;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Committee report to the House no later than May 2017;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Committee comprises three members of the Majority and two members of the Minority and that it be chaired by the Leader of Assembly Business.”

Madam Presiding Officer, a cursory examination of our Parliamentary system of government and indeed our political culture suggest that there is need for intervention.

     Madam Presiding Officer, we do not have to look far to recognize that in respect of the behaviours of some of our Parliamentarians those behaviours are less than acceptable. Indeed, for those of us who from time to time, would tune in to look at the Parliament of other countries - we would also recognize that there are times when the behaviour of Members of those Parliaments would have descended almost into chaos.

     Comments in the Media, the Press, News and Radio, Facebook, etcetera and the community at large, point to the fact that the standard of conduct of those who have the responsibility to provide leadership at all levels but more particularly, at the level of the political leadership must set the tone.  In fact, in respect of the expectations of the Tobago electorate and also in respect of the standards of conduct and ethical behaviour of politicians, the game is pointing upwards.   

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

Madam Presiding Officer, today is quite an historic day for me.  In the not too distant past, Madam Presiding Officer, I would have sat where you are now sitting and I would have been calling on Members of the House to make their contributions.   As faith would have it, you are now calling on me to make my contribution and what is significant is that it is my maiden contribution and more fundamentally, is a contribution that deals with the whole question of Code of Conduct.

Madam Presiding Officer, so it is a pleasure that I stand to move the Motion standing in my name:

WHEREAS at present there is no specific code of conduct for Members of the Tobago House of Assembly;

Member for Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden.

Member for Parlatuvier/L'Anse Fourmi/Speyside, your request under Standing Order No.20, Subsection 1, has been considered under the guidance of Standing Order 20, Subsection 2 Whilst I agree that the matter is of Public importance, I am sure you would agree that it is not as defined within the orders being urgent or specific enough in nature as read. Therefore, your request has been denied and I would like to suggest that you do have a day for a Private Member's Motion as guided within the Standing Orders where you can table this Motion. 

Madam Presiding Officer, I wish to table before the House the following Motion for consideration:-

"WHEREAS the absence of a reliable cargo ferry service has  continuously had crippling and deleterious effects on all commercial  activity in Tobago;

AND WHEREAS a wide cross section of Tobagonians including participants of the  construction industry, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, market vendors  and consumers, wishing to purchase food use  the service;

AND WHEREAS the operating cargo vessel is due to leave the country's shores shortly with no reliable alternative set in place in which  any Tobagonian can prove confidence;

BE IT RESOLVED that this House strongly condemns the flagrant disregard of Tobago's critical need for all the things that a reliable cargo  boat facilitates;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House immediately sets up a Working Committee to see to immediate establishment of a proper service owned and controlled by the Assembly."

Member for Parlatuvier/L'Anse Fourmi/Speyside.

1st Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2017 - 2021 Session


9 February 2017
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