Text of media release by Senate president Timothy Hamel-Smith
In light of the comments made in the media with respect to a statement made by me on the question of the referral of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill (the ‘Bill’) to a Joint Select Committee, I have decided to make this statement to clarify certain issues.
1. I am not subject to any party whip nor do I participate in the proceedings of any political party.
2. All decisions made by me with respect to my role as president of the Senate have been independently made by me on an impartial basis without regard to partisan politics and are based purely on my own personal judgment, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Senate.
3. By virtue of Section 59 (2) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, “The President of the Senate or other member presiding in the Senate shall not vote unless on any question the voters are equally divided, in which case he shall have and exercise a casting vote.”.
4. Having regard to the view advocated by me with regard to the referral of the Bill to a Joint Select Committee, some individuals have taken the view that I should recuse myself from presiding on the debate of the Bill, despite the fact that I have not expressed any view as to the merits or demerits of the Bill.
5. I have given serious consideration to the question of recusal and while I believe that the argument has no merit, nonetheless, I am aware that a high level of emotion surrounds the consideration of this Bill. In the circumstances, I would not like my participation as presiding officer to add to the heightening of such emotions and to distract the public, or honourable members for that matter, from a fair consideration of the Bill.
6. In light of the foregoing, it may well be that I would have made a decision to recuse myself from presiding on the debate of the Bill. The issue however does not arise.
7. Prior to the fixing of 26th August, 2014, for the debate on this Bill, I had already made arrangements to travel to Florida on 20th August, 2014, and will not be returning to Trinidad until 28th August, 2014.