A group of 21 Cayon High School Fourth Form Social Studies students and two of their teachers received special treatment Thursday during a sitting of the National Assembly, where they had come to learn first-hand, the workings of a parliament.
“I think it is always healthy when the young people show interest in the developments in the country and in this particular case, I want to thank those from the Cayon High School who came as part of their Social Studies curriculum to get a better perspective of how parliament works,” said Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris.
Before the official start of parliamentary proceedings, Prime Minister Harris crossed over to the gallery where the students and their teachers sat and greeted each one individually. He expressed regret that the students had to leave the parliament in the middle of proceedings before the morning session ended due to time constraints.
The students and their two teachers, Ms .Akilia Hodge and Mr. Vernon Wilkinson, were ushered into the gallery quite early where they caught the attention of Clerk of the National Assembly Mrs Sonia Boddie-Thompson, who explained to them how the parliament works. She later invited Senior Minister and Minister of Nevis Affairs, Labour, Social Security, and Ecclesiastical Affairs, the Hon. Vance Amory, to join the discussion.
“I think Mrs Sonia Boddie-Thompson, the Clerk, is to be commended, because she asked if I would discuss with them and have questions,” noted Minister Amor,y who said he enjoyed the experience and noted the importance that students appreciate and understand how things happen in parliament and the need to encourage more children in schools to have an opportunity to do so. “I met with them and spoke with them because it is important that our people understand how governments work, how the country works, and not any longer not have an appreciation and be able to analyse, evaluate what is happening with the country.”
Following the talk with Minister Amory, the Hon. Lindsay Grant walked into the chambers. When asked asked to state his name, the constituency he represents, and the ministerial portfolios he holds upon greeting him, students correctly cited his role as Minister of Tourism, while he reminded them “There is also International Trade, Industry and Commerce.”There were no such issues issues with the Hon. Mark Anthony Brantley and his ministerial portfolios — They knew he was the Premier of Nevis and the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation.
The students also caught the attention of the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Hon. Michael Perkins, who at every step in the House proceedings took the liberty to explain to them what was happening while the students took notes.
“Only the elected members of parliament, otherwise known as the Representatives, will be entitled to cast a vote in respect to this (constitutional) bill,” advised the Speaker before Prime Minister Harris tabled the ‘Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis (Tenure of Office of Prime Minister) (Amendment) Bill 2019’ for its second reading. “Other bills like the one which preceded and was moved by the Honourable Member for Nevis Ten, and Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs (the Hon Vance Amory), once the question was put as to how members would vote, all members present were entitled to vote, elected and appointed – appointed meaning senators.”
Minister the Hon. Ian Patches Liburd tickled the Cayon High School students — and others in parliament — when he referred to people who make allegations as “allegators,” addressed the students as “future leaders in parliament” and informed them that his grandmother grew up in Cayon.