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Volney’s resignation denies history-making judicial rulings

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Regarding the Speaker’s ruling to declare the parliamentary seat of St Joseph (held by former judge H B Volney) vacant, the public will not know how the court would have ruled in a possible legal challenge by the MP.



The Crossing of the Floor Act was invoked and the Speaker ruled against Volney for resigning from the UNC and joining the ILP. Volney must have rationalised that the UNC would not challenge his crossing of the floor, given the failures at previous attempts by party leaders to discipline errant MPs (declare vacant their seats). He must have also felt that the UNC would not want another by-election given its defeats in Tobago and Chaguanas West. No MP was ever disciplined by a Speaker for crossing the floor since the act became law.


The 1978 Standing Order Act, as enacted jointly by the parties of former opposition leader Basdeo Panday and prime minister Eric Williams, was to get MPs to toe the party line. But it is not “enforceable”. Several other countries, including Guyana and India, have enacted similar acts after MPs refused to toe the line of the whip or crossed the floor.


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