THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The Office of Speaker of the House of Representatives is almost as old as Parliament itself. In the United Kingdom, the Office of the Speaker was central to the battle for supremacy between Parliament and the Monarchy. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Speaker, or in his absence the Deputy Speaker presides over each sitting of the House of Representatives, acts as Chairman of Committees of the House and enforces the observance of all rules for preserving order in its proceedings. As a result, he maintains order, enforces the rules as is necessary, interprets Standing Orders and practices of the House, deals with points of order and gives rulings when called upon to do so.
The Speaker is considered the Guardian of the privileges of the members of the House of Representatives and the chief characteristics required are authority and impartiality. The Speaker is also responsible for the management and general administration of the House.
The Constitution provides that when the House of Representatives first meets after any general election and before it proceeds to the dispatch of any other business, it shall elect a person to be the Speaker of the House from among members of the House who are not Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries. Persons who are not members of either the House of Representatives and Senate may also be elected provided he is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and is not disqualified for election as a member of the House of Representatives.
The Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes that Parliament may regulate its own procedures and that an order of the House of Representatives is a legitimate decision of the house. Our constitution provides for the House of Representatives to elect a person to preside over it as a Speaker of the House either from among the members of the House of Representatives or from among persons who are not members of the either House.
The House of Representatives is regulated by Standing Orders and the Standing Order of the House, Section 3, deals with the election of a Speaker. Section 5 provides for the Speaker or, in the Speaker's absence, the Deputy Speaker, to preside in the House or on Committees.
The Speaker's powers, function and duties may be categorized as manifold or multifunctional, and include traditional, ceremonial,statutory and constitutional duties. While presiding in the House, the chief characteristics required are authority and impartiality. The Speaker is required to give a completely objective interpretation of Standing Orders and precedent and is considered to be the guardian of the privileges of the members of the House of Representatives.
The Speaker presides over the debates in the House but cannot participate. The Speaker maintains order, enforces the rules as necessitated, interprets Standing Order and the practices of the House, deals with points of order and give rulings when called upon to do so.
Current Speaker of the House of Representatives is Mrs. Brigid Annisette-Georger. Deputy Speaker is Mr. Esmond Forde.