Statements made by National Security Minister Jack Warner at last week's sitting of the Senate about the million-dollar ex-gratia payments to former police commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and deputy Jack Ewatski are about to land him in hot Parliamentary water.
People's National Movement (PNM) MP Fitzgerald Hinds yesterday confirmed to the Express he intends to seek the leave of the Senate President today by filing a motion that the Senate treats with Warner's statements as a matter of privilege warranting an investigation by the Committee of Privilege.
Hinds said the decision was taken after consultation with the leaders of the PNM caucus.
Warner had told the Senate repeatedly last Tuesday that it was the Police Service Commission (PSC) which recommended the ex-gratia payments, amounting to $1.2 million each, for the two Canadians.
However, by Thursday, the PSC issued a release categorically denying that it ever made such a recommendation, stating further that "the issue of such payments does not fall under the constitutional mandate of the commission".
Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith would have to decide on whether or not a prima facie case has been established to refer Warner's statements for investigation by the Privileges Committee of the Senate.
Hinds said he wished he could do more (than raise the issue as a motion of privilege).
"It is the most blatant statement of untruth I have ever heard in my Parliamentary career."
He said, however, the rules only permit him to refer the matter to the Senate President for his approval to take the issue to the Privileges Committee.
After consulting with the leadership of the Parliamentary caucus, it was agreed that this action be taken.
Hinds said PNM Leader Keith Rowley has told his MPs that if under a PNM government any of them tells an untruth to the Parliament "out you go".
If the matter goes to the Privileges Committee, it would have to decide whether Warner knowingly misled the Senate when he uttered the statements, which were to be subsequently denied by the PSC.
If it is so determined, there are sanctions, which include reprimand or suspension. However, the Committee, which has a majority of Government MPs, could find in Warner's favour. Or the Minister could correct the record of Parliament and apologise if his statements were indeed inaccurate.
Also down for discussion in the Senate is the Beverage Containers bill. The bill seeks to provide for the establishment of the Beverage Containers Advisory Board, a deposit and refund system for prescribed sizes of beverage containers, a regime for the collection of beverage containers to reduce their disposal into the environment, thereby alleviating the pollution problem.