During a heated debate on a motion on race relations, Browne attempted to use the Standing Orders to shut down Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner in order to defend former PNM political leader Patrick Manning.
Warner, citing remarks made by Manning at a cottage meeting recently, was in the process of accusing the San Fernando East MP of using propaganda to incite racial tension when Browne rose on “a point of order” (an objection that alleges that the rules of Parliament have been violated).
“Mr Speaker you made a ruling last week Friday with regard to statements made by the member for San Fernando East, statements made by the honourable Prime Minister in 2005,” Browne said. “You shut him down completely because he (sic) said it was imputing improper motives. He is going down the same avenue,” Browne said of Warner. The Speaker, who is the only member of the House who can regulate the functioning of its business and determine whether a breach of the Standing Orders has occurred, immediately stood to respond.
“Listen, when you rise on a point of order, you quote a point of order,” he warned. “Don’t lecture to the Speaker! That is not your role. I am in charge here. I am listening very carefully.”
Browne attempted to respond, while the Speaker was still standing. (No MP is allowed to speak when the Speaker stands). Mark was not impressed.
“No! No! No! No! Do not argue with me!” he said.
From his seat, Browne then said something which was not audible.
“Member, apologise for those remarks,” the Speaker ordered. Browne stood but did not apologise.
“What remarks Mr Speaker?” he asked. Apparently sensing that his comments had not been picked up, Browne asked Mark, “what remarks would you like me to apologise for?”
“What you just said!” Mark responded.
“Mr Speaker I moved a point of order and I gave the example previously. If you would like me to withdraw that I withdraw that,” a defiant Browne said.
“You are not withdrawing what you said while you were seated? Okay. I am listening to the member for Chaguanas West. If he violates the Standing Orders I will pull him up immediately, okay?” Mark said. He asked Warner to continue.