Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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No move to declare Manning’s seat vacant
People’s National Movement (PNM) chairman Franklin Khan says the party will resist any move to have the San Fernando East seat declared vacant. The seat is held by former prime minister Patrick Manning, who has taken extended leave from Parliament since suffering a stroke in January 2012. Last week he was granted further leave of absence from the House of Representatives.
The question of declaring Manning’s seat vacant rose during the public furore over Speaker Wade Mark’s decision on Monday to declare the St Joseph seat vacant. This came after incumbent MP Herbert Volney resigned from the United National Congress.
Yesterday a letter to the editor appeared in the T&T Guardian calling for Manning’s seat to be declared vacant. Additionally, residents of Palm Garden and Environs, Pleasantville, which is in Manning’s constituency, wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar appealing for her to intervene to have their area developed. That letter was also sent to the T&T Guardian.
In the face of these complaints Khan yesterday declared that the party stands firmly behind Manning, whose representation, he said, is effective. “We are not going to support Mr Manning’s removal as MP for San Fernando East. We understand that he has his challenges in terms of health, but we know for a fact that he still effectively runs the constituency. He has a perfect machinery, if I could say so myself, in San Fernando East,” he said during a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian.
“Mr Manning does attend constituency office on a Thursday and he meets constituents, he just is not making his presence (sic) in the Parliament because of his ill health. But he does in fact visit his constituency office. He sees constituents and my understanding is that his service has not deteriorated in any way,” Khan said. He said the constituency executives, councillors and Manning’s regional managers are working with the MP to ensure constituents are represented.
Khan said Manning is an MP of long standing and his attendance in Parliament is under the sole jurisdiction of the Speaker. He said the Speaker continues to grant him a leave of absence for medical reasons and the party leaves that up to the Speaker and Manning. Khan said if the Speaker does not give Manning the time off legitimately, in terms of ill health or if he misses six consecutive sessions, his seat could be declared vacant.
“But the Speaker continues to facilitate him because of illness and we appreciate the Speaker’s position in that regard,” Khan said. He said the PNM has no intention of moving Manning. Leader of the House Dr Roodal Moonilal steered clear of calls to declare the seat vacant. Yesterday Moonilal told the T&T Guardian that he did not want to make any statement on Manning’s seat.
“That matter is a matter for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and as Leader of the House I prefer not to venture on an excursion into the domain of the Honourable Speaker,” Moonilal said. Moonilal said under normal circumstances the seat might be declared vacant, but he pointed to the late PNM MP Gordon Draper, who was granted prolonged leave and missed many Parliament sittings, but whose seat was not declared vacant.
“The circumstances are different, Mr Manning is of course recovering from a stroke and has been a long-serving member,” Moonilal said.
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