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Who will be the new House Speaker?

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The Opposition Progressive Labour Party has decided not to nominate someone for the position of Speaker of the House of Assembly,

The Royal Gazette has learned.

With both parties almost equal in strength, the election of House Speaker is a critical decision because the Speaker only casts a vote in the event of a tie.

The OBA will seek to have an Opposition MP elected, while the PLP would want to keep the status quo whereby a member from the Government benches becomes the Speaker.

Government’s two-seat majority will be reduced by one if the Speaker comes from their own ranks, or increased by one if the Opposition supplies the Speaker.

Premier Cannonier has reached out to Opposition backbencher Randolph Horton and others about the Speaker position.

Mr Horton is said to be interested in the position, but he is keeping his party, the media and the One Bermuda Alliance in the dark about his intentions at the moment.

No one in the Progressive Labour Party would comment on the record but it is understood that the parliamentary caucus decided not to nominate anyone for the position at its inaugural meeting last week.

Mr Horton will court the wrath of his own party if he does accept. Shortly after the PLP’s delegates’ conference in December, which saw Marc Bean elected as Party Leader, the delegates voted in a policy which would expel any member who accepts a position which assists the OBA Government.

That resolution, brought by Maynard Dill who became party chairman this month, was passed over the objections of some members who deemed it unconstitutional because the constitution provides a disciplinary process.

“It was a feel good motion,” said one party insider. “It was not implementable.”

It is felt that as the party’s supreme decision-making body, the delegates’ conference can provide guidance to the party on all issues, and any violation of the policy could result in a member petitioning the Central Committee to proceed with disciplinary measures.

When we interviewed the Premier last week, he would not say who, besides Mr Horton, he had approached about the Speaker’s position.

The PLP’s caucus of 17 MPs voted unanimously, with Mr Horton in attendance, not to accept such positions.

Last month Sandys South Central MP Kim Wilson cited the party’s position as a reason to decline Mr Cannonier’s invitation to her to join his Cabinet.

According to the Constitution, the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker has to be the first order of business when Parliament reconvenes after a general election.

House rules which came into effect during the last Parliament, state that if more than one MP is nominated then the ballot has to be secret.

There will be no vote if only one MP is the nominee unless a motion is carried calling for the House to endorse the nominee.

The PLP could also succeed in persuading someone from the Government side to accept a nomination at the last minute.

One PLP MP said he had approached Government backbencher Cole Simons but he rejected the suggestion. Mr Simons said yesterday that he would be guided by his leader.

“I have been asked to be the whip and Government House leader,” Mr Simons told

The Royal Gazette. He added that while there had been “rumblings” about him being nominated for Speaker, no one had approached him officially.

“It’s a team decision. We have to lead by example and follow the party leader’s recommendation.”

As for Mr Horton, Mr Simons said: “I’ve heard that he’s interested but we’ll find out on February 8 when the nominations are officially submitted.”

Mr Horton, the representative for Southampton West, was first elected to Parliament in 1998. He is, by all accounts, the most qualified by experience to run the House.

In July 2010, he became Chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on the Causes of Violent Crime and Gun Violence in Bermuda and was elected Deputy Speaker of the House in May 2011.

Mr Simons is also an experienced parliamentarian who was elected to the House of Assembly in 1998. He could well end up as the Deputy Speaker instead of the Whip and House Leader position being offered.

He has served as the Opposition House Leader and the Opposition Whip. He has also served as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Possible House Speaker? Randy Horton
Possible House Speaker? Cole Simons

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Published January 28, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 27, 2013 at 9:57 pm)

Who will be the new House Speaker?

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