Opposition Leader says National Honours Committee should be reviewed after general elections

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Jamale Pringle (file photo)
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By Robert A. Emmanuel

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As the Parliament met yesterday to reconstitute the National Honours Committee, Leader of the Opposition Jamale Pringle has called for the committee to be set up following the first sitting after a general election.

Currently, the law governing the National Honours Committee states that only two senators should sit on the seven-member panel, and one of them must be an opposition senator.

However, it was revealed that government Senators Samantha Marshall and Senator Mary-Claire Hurst both sat on the panel — which also had one less member of parliament — in violation of the law.

That committee had approved a list of nominees for Independence Day honours — to include the Attorney General – and this list had been signed off by the Prime Minister.

The administration’s oversight to adhere to the law as it relates to the make-up of the committee was used by the Leader of the Opposition to call for the committee to be looked at during the first parliamentary sitting.

“While we correct something that was not in keeping with the law, Mr Speaker, I hope for us to really look at these committees as an agenda item right after a general election.

“Just as how we constitute the Public Accounts Committee, I think that within the first sitting of our parliament … that this committee also be constituted,” Pringle stated.

The National Awards ceremony takes place on November 1, and members of the newly established committee will have to meet within the next few days to approve the nominated list once again.

“It is sad that we are going to have to meet again in a short space of time but the beauty of it is something that we have looked at and since the members, except for one person, will be added … I think this is something that can be done expeditiously,” he said.

The new committee will comprise of St John’s Rural South MP Daryll Matthew, St John’s Rural East MP Maria Browne, St John’s City East MP Melford Nicholas, and All Saints East and St Luke MP, Jamale Pringle as well as senators Shawn Nicholas and Samantha Marshall.

Senator Nicholas said that the committee should be amended to include more members of the civil society in its deliberations.

“It’s uncomfortable, especially when we are all politicians — let us not fool ourselves — politicians, at times, awarding and rewarding politicians when there are so many other people in our community that we know are deserving of awards, and I think it lends to more transparency or wider reach in terms of people who are nominated,” the Senator explained.

The Cabinet has agreed to amend the law in the future to ensure that one member from civil society will be added to the National Honours Committee, with the number of government appointees being reduced.

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