MOTION FOR THE ADJOURNMENT OF THE ASSEMBLY TO 7TH AUGUST, 2013 – July 25, 2013
Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make one thing very pellucid and that is that, on this side of the House, we respect the confidentiality of conversations, which are the precursor to agreements.
I want to make that very clear and that where the Hon. Member, Mdm. Gail Teixeira, spoke about what happened before the Herdmanston Accord, the conversations that took place that lead to the Herdmanston Accord, those things were not bandied about. Those things were not reported here in Parliament as if they were to bolster anybody’s case. It was never done in that manner, please, Mr. Speaker. The conversations which I have...
Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Speaker, if you will allow me, there is nothing which I said here that is confidential. The records of the discussions and the reporting in the press of 1997 to 2003 are public property and they were also debated in this House, Sir.
Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: Mr. Speaker, we have fast forward to 2013. We are talking about conversations held between the representatives of the APNU and the representatives of the Government. Without prejudice these are conversations and while Dr. Luncheon is not here to represent anything I have to respond to some of the statements made by Mdm. Gail Teixeira about communication between myself and the honourable doctor. [Interruption] I am going to read it.
Mr. Speaker: Okay, Ms. Teixeira, allow Mr. Harmon to speak.
Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: Mr. Speaker, I will read the message that was sent to me... Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Mdm. Gail Teixeira referred to these conversations and made her case based on those conversations. I would like to set the record straight as to the nature of that conversation.
Mr. Speaker: Proceed, Sir.
Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: This was the text sent to me by the Hon. Dr. Luncheon at 3.03 p.m., yesterday. He said “I am asked to inform you that we plan to postpone tomorrow’s sitting to Wednesday, 6th August.” [Ms. Teixeira: I am right.] You are right. “Thus allowing time for both sides to negotiate the return of Amaila two matters.” Mr. Speaker, what Dr. Luncheon saying to us was communication of a decision that had been made by the Government at 3.03 p.m. yesterday that they were postponing the sitting of this Assembly. Let me go on, chronologically. At about 5.00 p.m. the Hon. Prime Minister sent a letter which was copied to the Leader of the Opposition stating that the sitting of Thursday, 25th July, is government’s day and the Government has decided to postpone the sitting from Thursday, 25th July, to Wednesday 7th August, 2013. With all of this, Dr. Luncheon’s text at 3.03 p.m., the Prime Minister’s letter at 5.00 p.m. and at 7.00 p.m. when we were meeting to discuss this matter the Leader of the Opposition, in my hearing while sitting there next to him, called the Hon. Speaker and asked him whether he was aware of this letter by the Prime Minister stating that the Parliament would be adjourned to the 7th August and the Speaker said that he was not aware.
Mr. Speaker: No. One second. At 7.00 p.m. last night no one could have found me because I was in church so there is no way that anybody could have telephoned me at 7.00 p.m. Secondly, I did speak to the Leader of the Opposition at 6.00 p.m. and I confirmed that I had spoken to the Clerk, I was aware of the letter and that I was in the process of getting a copy of the letter so at 7.00 p.m. I had been aware of the letter. At 7.00 p.m. I was aware of the letter, but I was incommunicado.
Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: Mr. Speaker, Mdm. Gail Teixeira read an extract from the letter which was sent by the Hon. President to the Leader of the Opposition and she read a particular extract but I would like to read another piece of it. It says at paragraph two of the letter “the Speaker approved the government’s request as evidenced by the circular which was dispatched to all Members of Parliament by mail and electronic means that same afternoon stating that the sitting was postponed to August 2nd.” At 3.00 p.m. there was Dr. Luncheon’s text saying that ‘we have decided to postpone’. At 5.00 p.m. the Prime Minister’s letter said ‘we have decided to postpone’. In and around 6.30-7.00 p.m. a request from the Leader of the Opposition to confirm that the speaker was aware of this and subsequently, this morning, this letter came to say that the Speaker had approved of this. We need to put things in place and in perspective.
Mr. Speaker: Are you saying that a letter went out saying that I had approved?
Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: In a letter from the President of Guyana dated 25th July, 2013, to Mr. David Granger, Leader of the Opposition, it said “The Speaker approved the government’s request as evidenced by the circular.” The Speaker approved the Government’s request. Mr. Speaker, nowhere, until the Prime Minister stood up here this afternoon, was there any such word like ‘request’; not in his letter, not in the text from Dr. Luncheon to me or anywhere that there was any request. What we are getting here is a directive from the Government that this Parliament is to be adjourned to the date of 7th August. For those reasons I wish to support the other Members of the Opposition that we cannot approve of this motion by the Prime Minister. [Applause]