Opposition Leader Marlon Penn and Second District Representative Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull are demanding more respect for their office.
Speaking at Monday’s sitting of the House of Assembly, Penn, who is also the Eighth District Representative, said he has been experiencing a lack of respect by certain members and supporters of the VIP government.
“It seems to me somehow some persons forget that February 25 happened, and the people of the Eighth re-elected their representative. I don’t know how but there seems to be this constant push in our district where persons are interfering and assuming responsibility for the district when there is a duly elected member for the district,” Penn said.
He continued: “I heard the Premier in one of his maiden speeches that no district will be left behind, and all district representatives will be respected and he made that clear to his ministers. And yet you have some unelected men in these districts, and they are walking around with their chest high and they are telling you what will happen here and there. I — the person who the people elected — is being pushed on the side for persons who were not elected.”
Premier, please intervene
Penn then called on the Premier to intervene in the matter.
“Premier I want you to reinforce what you said in this honourable House, that your ministers need to respect the duly elected representatives. Even if you don’t want to do projects through us, have a conversation, and that is the respectful thing to do,” Penn said.
In the meantime, another opposition member, Turnbull, is also calling for greater respect as an elected representative.
Legislator publicly searched at airport
Turnbull recounted an incident at the TB Lettsome International Airport where he was on official duty and was randomly searched in the public.
“I don’t have a problem being searched because I am not going to carry or do anything in contradiction to the office for which I was sworn in. But what baffles me is this is … when we travel overseas or to any of the other Caribbean islands, courtesies are extended to members of parliament that in my view we are given the respect that is due to a representative or a member of parliament for the particular country,” Turnbull said.
“Here, I am not travelling on my own behalf, having my suitcase open in the public and searched in front of everybody passing. It is something that we need to address because I understand that there is a list. I don’t know if the Premier and the Governor are on that list of exempted members, but that’s what I understood. So I am bringing it up so that no other member of parliament would be embarrassed leaving the country to travel for the government.”
Matter to be raised in Privileges Committee
He said the BVI should follow the other countries and put provisions in place to give members of parliament who are travelling on official business the ‘privilege’ due to them.
Turnbull then said he will raise the matter in the next Privileges Committee’s meeting.
“It is the matter of protocol for members of this honourable House, and maybe it happens to some, and it does not happen to others,” he remarked.
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