Legislators on Friday passed a bill to enable installation of CCTV cameras in Cayman during a debate that got so heated, the Speaker of the House broke her gavel trying to restore order.
Amendments to the Information and Communications Technology Authority Law were required to enable CUC power lines to be used to transmit captured security camera footage.
Under the amendment, CUC can form a subsidiary, called Data Link, that would pay 6 per cent of its profits to Information and Communications Technology Authority. Without the formation of the subsidiary, if CUC’s lines were used to transmit the images, CUC would have to pay 6 per cent of its profits to the ICTA, as well as pay Electricity Regulatory Authority fees.
The debate on the seemingly innocuous amendment became increasingly heated as opposition and government members argued over what UDP legislators described as a “sweetheart deal” the People’s Progressive Movement government had signed to renew CUC’s operating licence. At one point, to refute statements made by government members, Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin produced a copy of a memo between Arden McLean, when the East End member was the minister of works overseeing electricity issues, and Philip Thomas, the former secretary of the team negotiating a new licence for CUC.
However, the Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence ruled he was not allowed to read from it after Ms Juliana O’Connor-Connolly objected to its inclusion, querying why Mr. McLaughlin had access to it when it was a ministry document that should not have been removed from the ministry. As arguments about the memo continued and members shouted across the floor at each other, Mrs. Lawrence called for order in the House, banging her gavel until its head fell off, bounced off her desk and hit Mr. McLaughlin on the leg.
He said he had received the memo from Mr. McLean and argued that the Legislative Assembly was becoming “increasingly irrelevant” because members were being prevented from debating.
This comment led education minister Rolston Anglin to urge the Speaker to expunge Mr. McLaughlin’s statement from the official record of the proceedings.
On Monday, Mrs. Lawrence issued a statement to the House reminding members that the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly grant her powers to enforce order.
She said she would not review the matter from Friday arising from the introduction of the memo, but she reminded members that the source of documentation read in the House must be identified, and that confidential documents and correspondence between two parties without clearance from the parties will not be allowed.
The bill was eventually passed on Friday and the gavel was repaired by the Serjeant-at-Arms and returned to the Speaker.