Opposition Senator Damian Lyder claimed there were inconsistencies in the Government's measures against the spread of the covid19 virus, arguing in the Senate on Tuesday for a full return to the pre-pandemic speaking time.
This was the resumption of last month's debate on Opposition Senator Wade Mark's private motion.
At that time, Mark was due to propose increasing the speaking time from the 20-minute limit set last August up to the original 40 minutes, but Senate leader Franklin Khan pre-empted the motion by instead proposing a 30-minute limit.
Lyder vowed that the Opposition would never be silenced, even as he complained the Government had last December brought a slew of legislation to railroad through Parliament in late-night sittings.
"Did they put our lives at risk?" he asked. "Where's the consistency and the science? I thought we were supposed to leave early."
Contrasting lengthy sittings for government bills like anti-gang legislation to shortened debates on Opposition bills, he said this was not in line with science.
Lyder said a full time was especially needed to debate items such as procurement legislation.
He said the British Parliament had never reduced the speaking times of its MPs, unlike the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament, and had allowed new methods of attendance such as the option of remote attendance.
Lyder then pointed out inconsistencies he had seen in the Government's policies to curb the spread of the virus.
"You could go to a restaurant and sit down with 12 persons around a table, but you can't share a glass of wine. I don't know if the covid would jump off the wine onto their chest."
He said while you could spend an hour travelling in a maxi taxi, a senator could not get his/her full speaking time.
"You could go on a beach and cook curry duck and play small goal (football) but we can't go by a riverside with the same duck and run a stew chicken and take a little paddle in a canoe.
"What science is this?"
Saying ministers might be exposed to covid19 in their ministries, he alleged prejudicial treatment towards parliamentary time.
Lyder urged that parliamentary debate should be considered an essential service.