Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley says he does not have control over the "individual input" of his Members of Parliament.Rowley was responding to questions about Friday's divided vote among Opposition MPs in Parliament on a private motion brought by San Fernando East MP Patrick Manning.In an unprecedented development three Opposition MPs-Patricia Mc Intosh, Fitzgerald Jeffrey and Amery Browne-voted "yes" with Manning, while the other five MPs abstained.Chief Whip Marlene Mc Donald said the party had agreed to abstain from the vote.
Yesterday, Rowley said the divided vote had not affected the operations of the Office of the Opposition Leader, which he said was distinct from the party."The Opposition is functioning on full cylinders with respect to dealing with its governmental and parliamentary responsibilities."We make a distinction between Opposition and party. Wherever we have party issues we have Balisier House for that," Rowley told reporters during a news conference at his office on Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday."So the work continues unimpeded," he added.
Asked if he was confident the party would not vote divided in the future, Rowley said he could not give that assurance."I am not one of those who professes to have access to any crystal ball or any seer person. All I could say is that the PNM is a very strong and resilient organisation and to the extent that these things occur, we'll cross each hurdle as we approach them at full speed," he added.Asked to state what he intended to do to prevent it from happening again, Dr Rowley said:
"Well, as the leader I have a responsibility to try and avoid that happening but you must understand there is a certain amount of individual input over which I have no control."He added: "Members of Parliament are members of Parliament in their own right. They have a responsibility to the organisation which put them in Parliament and how they treat with that are matters that we'll experience as we go along."He said that it was the norm for party members to "hold the party line" in Parliament.But Rowley said he was "not for one minute despondent with any of this."We take these things in stride and we will continue to ensure the party provides the service the country needs and expects."