Leaders of Assembly business, Assemblywoman Claudia Groome-Duke piloted a motion at the last sitting of the Tobago House of Assembly that called for the “payments of salaries, allowances, and other conditions of the service to office holders of the Assembly, namely: the Chief Secretary, the Presiding Officer, the Deputy Presiding Officer, the Deputy Chief Secretary, other Secretaries, and other Assemblymen and Councillors.” The motion was brought forward because of a silence in THA regulation on the payment of Assembly members and their respective staff from the time ‘an Assembly’ is dissolved to the formation of a new Assembly after an election.
According to Groome-Duke, the motion was necessary for the proper “functioning of the Assembly,” and the “continuation of services to the people.” When the 8th Assembly (2009-2013) dissolved on October 25, 2012 and Tobago business laid in the hands of the Executive Council, the only functioning branch of government during the period of dissolution, the members continued their work of Assemblymen. This worked included the operation of their electoral district officers and necessary support staff inclusive of personal assistants, research officers and cleaners.
The 8th Assembly passed a similar motion after the dissolution of the 7th Assembly (2005-2009), when the same problem occurred. The motion presented was aimed to permanently fix this recurring problem where the payments of salaries to Assemblymen and other office holders are terminated at the dissolution the Assembly. The payment also included allowance to “defray the costs of rental of office accommodation in districts, telephone and electricity services.
Assemblyman Hilton Sandy also spoke on the motion; however, he used much of his time to bring the issue of internal self-government into the spotlight because the motion had prior historical precedence and would have faced no opposition even if an opposition was present in the current Assembly.