A code of conduct for Assemblymen was the first order of business for the newly inducted Tobago House of Assembly representatives in the inaugural plenary session at the Assembly Legislature Building, Jerningham Street.
It was THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles first plenary appearance within his new job function, where previously he’d been Presiding Officer.
Charles asked that the House “appoints a special select committee to prepare a code of conduct for consideration.”
“Whereas at present there is no specific code of conduct for members of the Tobago House of Assembly,” he said, noting that Assemblymen have a great responsibility and are subjected to greater scrutiny from the public with respect to governance.
The Chief Secretary proposed that the committee comprise of three members of the Majority and two Minority members that would “report to the House no later than May 2017,” and be chaired by the leader of Assembly Business Kwesi Des Vignes. He is also the Secretary for Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment
“We do not have to look far…to recognize that in respect to the behavior of some of our Parliamentarians, those behaviors are less than acceptable,” Charles said, indicating leaders must have and set a standard of conduct.
“We have at this time the opportunity to set both the pace and the tone for what happens over the next four years,” Charles said. “There has never been a time where we would have been guided by a code of conduct,” he said, adding “Example is better than precept.”
Deputy Presiding Officer and Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis agreed with the Assembly leader. “Accountability must start at the head.”
“Codes of conduct exist” around the world, Dennis said. “We have to start with ourselves right at this House to ensure we observe the principles of good governance, we observe the principles of transparency, and we observe the principles of integrity.”