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MPs who interrupt speakers on the floor will face the penance of being ordered to retire to the Members’ Lounge for three hours, a stern Speaker Wade Mark announced in the House on Friday. There was dead silence after that. People’s National Movement MP Colm Imbert, known for his frequent crosstalk, got up after a short while and retired of his own accord. “I am going to retire. I can’t talk,” he said, walking out the chamber.
His colleagues were forced to remain silent while Works Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan gleefully boasted of the Government’s good works. Mark’s announcement came after a particularly noisy session of crosstalk from the PNM benches while Rambachan was on his feet. Mark rose and said while MPs can sometimes engage in light banter, they cannot disrespect the rules of civility. “I am going to be invoking the Standing Orders,” he said, his voice rising.
“Any MP who interrupts a speaker while he is on his legs will be asked to retire to the Members’ Lounge for three hours. “I am getting fed up of this. It can’t continue,” Mark barked. There was an unaccustomed silence in the House for about ten minutes, until Imbert, unable to contain himself any longer, shot something across at Rambachan. Mark jumped to his feet, saying, “If you continue to interrupt the member, I will have to ask you to leave the chamber. This is my final warning.”
Somebody from the government benches said, “Put him out.” It was not long after that, when Rambachan was talking about the Bank Village Empowerment Centre the Government had built, that Imbert voluntarily retired to the Members’ Lounge. Imbert returned to the chamber less than an hour later and, grinning, took his seat.