Pubdate: Sat, 29 May 2004
Source: Royal Gazette, The (Bermuda)
Copyright: 2004 The Royal Gazette Ltd.
Author: Matthew Taylor
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Government MPs stifled an Opposition debate calling for MPs to undergo 
testing for drug and alcohol abuse in Parliament yesterday.

Government whip Ottiwell Simmons said the Opposition was not allowed to 
bring motions to the House which had financial implications. The motion, 
introduced by Opposition MP John Barritt, called for twice yearly testing 
which Mr. Simmons said would cost money.

He originally tried to stop the motion from the outset but speaker Stanley 
Lowe ruled Mr. Barritt should be allowed to introduce it after saying a 
similar motion had gone to the House before the election.

It passed that time but Mr. Barritt said it had gone to the Rules and 
Privileges committee where it had languished since 2001.

The United Bermuda Party then pledged to test its own MPs and were joined 
by Government MP Dale Butler before the election.

In the House yesterday Mr. Barritt said the motion had originally been 
about illicit drugs but Government had requested alcohol abuse be added to 
the motion.

Bermuda's sports stars were showing the drug-free example and 
parliamentarians should follow that example, said Mr. Barritt.

"We are at the top of the pyramid. Why should we not have it up here?"

He noted that bus and new taxi drivers had to have drug tests.

Government's stance was a "classic case of do what I say but I don't do 
what I say" said Mr. Barritt. Mr. Simmons then forced a vote and the motion 
was dropped to cries of "shame". Opposition MP David Dodwell taunted: "You 
are going to look good in the paper tomorrow."

After the debate Mr. Barritt said: "This looks like two-faced tap dancing. 
It is not a great cost and they supported it last time around. I could not 
understand what Government was doing or where they were coming from."

He said the Opposition would be willing to pay for Government MPs to have 
the testing. "I find it absolutely incredible they voted against it given 
what happened previously but they even refused to speak on it and explain 
why they were against it."

During the motion to adjourn Opposition MP Jon Brunson said: "I would 
submit myself to a drug test to help a drug-free Bermuda.

"We need to do this to demonstrate to the young that we are not just 
talking the talk but walking the walk."

American tourist Tony David was watching the debate in the gallery. 
Afterwards Mr. David, 61, from San Francisco said Government's attitude was 
appalling. He said: "I understand drugs are a big issue on this Island but 
they refused to step up to the plate.

"What are we to think of them?" 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D