26 August, 2007


Order in the House of Assembly. A correspondent has recently sent me a post from the St Helena Herald. He has added his comments. I wonder if his comments are relevant to the conduct of business in the Anguilla House of Assembly at this time. There have been times, no doubt, when his comments may accurately describe what happened in Anguilla. But, does it happen still? Make up your own minds. This, in red, is the clipping he sent me, with his comments in green below:

St. Helena Herald
17 August 2007
Honourable Speaker calls Councillors to Order

During formal Legislative Council Meetings, the Honourable Speaker of the St Helena Legislative Council has found it necessary on occasion to remind Honourable Members of the rules of procedure when rising on points of order or information. The current Speaker, The Honourable Eric George MBE found it necessary to do this at the 3rd Meeting of the 2nd Session of the Legislative Council also.

Someone asked me to explain what was actually happening in the Meeting at the time, which I did. Realising that there may be others who may be unaware of the rules of procedure in Legislative Council,the following information relevant to any member rising during a debate in Legislative Council, is offered for clarification.

The St Helena Legislative Council Guide to Procedure contains a section on Standing Orders made, with the approval of the Governor, in accordance with section 29 of the Constitution:

ORDER 22 – Responsibility for Order

1. The President shall be responsible for the observance of the rules of order in the Council and his decision on any point shall be final.

2. Whenever the President rises during a debate, any member then speaking or offering to speak shall sit down, and the Council is to be silent so that the President may be heard without interruption.

ORDER 23 – Points of order or information

1. Any member deviating from the provisions of these Standing Orders may be immediately called to order by the President or by any member rising to a point of order; a member rising to a appoint of order shall simply direct attention to the point he desires to bring to notice and submit it to the President for decision.

2. When the question of order has been stated, the member who raises it shall resume his seat and no other member, except with the leave of the President, shall rise until the President has decided the question, after which the member who was addressing the Council at the time the question was raised shall be entitled to proceed with his speech giving effect to the ruling from the Chair.

3. Any member may rise at any time to state any fact which is relevant to the matter under debate and of which he believes the member then speaking to be unaware; Provided that a member so rising shall confine himself to stating the fact in question, without argument or opinion; and Provided also that any member who appears to the President to be abusing the procedure provided by this Rule so as unreasonably to interfere with the freedom of speech of another member shall be liable to be dealt with under Order 25, Rule 2.

ORDER 25 – President’s powers to enforce order

2. If a member shows disregard for the authority of the Chair, or abuses the rules of the Council by wilfully and persistently obstructing its business or is grossly disorderly, the President may order that member to withdraw from the Council Chamber for such period as he may determine, and may direct such steps as are necessary to be taken to enforce his order.


St Helena Legislative Council Guide to Procedure, issued April 1989 by the Secretariat, following the introduction of the St Helena Constitution Order 1988.

I trust the above selected information about rules of procedure in Legislative Council is helpful.

Cyril Gunnell

This is different from Anguilla. In Anguilla, any member is free to interrupt whoever is trying to speak, so that he or she may correct the misinformation being presented. This is called a "Point of Order." Other members may then intercede. Whoever speaks the loudest has the floor. The Speaker yields his authority by banging his gavel repeatedly and making empty threats. When the meeting turns into something resembling a mass cat and dog fight, the radio broadcast is suddenly discontinued without explanation or apology.

In Anguilla, we call this "Setting a good example for our young people." We wonder why they have gone bad.

I have to admit that I do not have a copy of the Rules of Procedure of the House of Assembly of Anguilla with me in London at this time. I seriously doubt if our rule on points of order are as detailed as these. I also doubt that they provide such clear rules on how a Member is to make a “point of order”. I have never heard a Member in Anguilla make a “point of information”. And, I doubt that Speaker David Carty can be described as ineffective.

Does anyone know what the Rules of Procedure say?


  1. Just a note to apologise for the delayed postings of comments. I am travelling and have only intermittend and poor contact to the internet. Back home on Wednesday.


  2. I've had much the same problem right here in Anguilla since Pat Hunte left Cable & Worthless to work at The Fat Cat.

  3. I was hopeful that having a Speaker who wasn't just there to be the Ministers' running dog, we would see some progressive changes in the running of the House of Assembly. But members are still being allowed to misuse Points of Order as the writer describes. Meetings are still not noticed in The Anguillian, or on the Anguila Mailing List, or on anguillatalk.com. The Rules of Procedure still cannot be found on the internet.

    I wouldn't bother to comment if the Speaker were just another political hack who needed a job or needed exposure until the next election. But I have great respect for the Speaker. I thought he was there for higher reasons, and expected more from him.

    And so I want to tell him this. I knew your father, David, and had great respect for him. I know what he expected of his sons. And I think your actions since the last election would have disappointed him.

  4. We have a tradition in Anguilla that a Speaker is sort of "middle management." He directs the choir, and shows up, reluctantly, but dressed very nicely, at various community rites and ceremonies. We don't expect him to have any opinions, but if he does, we certainly don't want him to express them. He is somewhat like a judge. We expect judges to do their job and that's all. If a judge enjoys life or has fun, people would be horrified.

    In some other Overseas Territories, and most notably in remote St. Helena, a rock the size of Anguilla in the South Atlantic, the Speaker of the House is a force for moral leadership, ethical conduct and good governance. But St. Helena is a backward place where official corruption is unknown, dolphins are kept in the ocean instead of being imprisoned in pens and the police department is closed on weekday nights, so what do _they_ know?

    Yes, the late Rev. Carty would be disappointed. It's not that his son has done anything wrong -- it's just that he hasn't done anything outstanding. He expected his sons to be outstanding.

  5. Anyone knows who are the seven candidates Hubert Hughes name to contest the general elections under his leadership?

    Much thanks.


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