Point of Order

Dec 13, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business | 0 comments

Plenary 13th December 2017

15:32
The Llywydd

The Llywydd

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Point of order—Joyce Watson.

Joyce Watson AM

Joyce Watson AM

Title: Commissioner

Party: Welsh Labour

Diolch, Llywydd. I want to raise a point of order regarding Gareth Bennett’s disgraceful outpouring of homophobic rhetoric in this Chamber yesterday, while talking about—ironically—the debate on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s annual report. And he did talk about minority rights as rights belonging to one individual being denied to another, which undermines human rights. But he has caused outrage, and I’ve received phone calls and messages this morning from the transgender community. He has caused further misunderstanding, and according to that community, potentially promoted further hatred against those individuals. So, I want to ask him to come to this Chamber, and to consider the words that he has spoken, and to apologise for them. And I want to ask UKIP to ensure that never again do we have to sit in here and listen to that sort of rhetoric, within this Chamber, which prides itself, actually, on equality. I feel that it’s important that, as Assembly Commissioner for equality and people, I want to send a very clear message to the wider community that if they come here to work, or help in any way whatsoever, they will be welcome and they will be treated with absolute dignity and respect.

The Llywydd

The Llywydd

I want to thank Joyce Watson for raising that as a point of order. I’ve had the opportunity myself to relook at the contribution made yesterday by Gareth Bennett, and some of the comments were particularly hateful to the transgender community. This Chamber is not a platform to demean citizens of Wales, and everybody deserves our respect and our understanding. You were informed that this point of order was to be made, Gareth Bennett, and I would like to give you the opportunity to withdraw your comments from yesterday, and to apologise to this Chamber and to those who have taken offence.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Thank you, Llywydd. There will be no apology. There will be no withdrawal.

Neil Hamilton AM

Neil Hamilton AM

Title: Leader of the UKIP Wales Group

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Further to that point of order, Llywydd, I’m concerned about your ruling today, because I also have read what Gareth Bennett said yesterday—I wasn’t in the Chamber for the speech—and it seems to me that this is a point of argument and debate rather than a point of order. The remarks that Gareth made yesterday seem to be related to a proposed Bill in the House of Commons, the gender recognition Bill, which is going to be introduced, apparently, by the Government for the autumn of next year. If we cannot in this Chamber debate the matters that are contained in a Bill that is proposed to be introduced in the House of Commons, then I think that’s a very serious diminution of the democratic rights of the Welsh people as represented by those that they elect to this place. Now, it may well be that what Members say in speeches can cause outrage in certain parts of the community, but that is what democratic debate often entails. I would like you, if you will, to identify exactly what it was in Gareth’s speech yesterday, which precise words, to which you take objection in terms of the Standing Orders of the Assembly.

The Llywydd

The Llywydd

Thank you for that contribution. You will know that I did not intervene yesterday. I take the right of Assembly Members in this Chamber to make comments that aren’t wholly appreciated by other Members very seriously. But, on careful reflection of those words uttered yesterday, I have no doubt in my own mind that they were particularly hateful to transgender people, in reference in particular to ‘deviation from the norm’. I have made my ruling on this. I have asked the Member to apologise and to withdraw his comments. He has said that he will not do so. That Member will not be called in this Chamber in 2018 until he has done so.207 Felly, rydym yn symud ymlaen at y datganiadau 90 eiliad— So, we move on to the 90-second statements—

Neil Hamilton AM

Neil Hamilton AM

Title: Leader of the UKIP Wales Group

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

I’d like to raise another point of order—

The Llywydd

The Llywydd

No, I’m taking no further points of order on this today—

Neil Hamilton AM

Neil Hamilton AM

Title: Leader of the UKIP Wales Group

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Another point of order about Joyce Watson—

The Llywydd

The Llywydd

We are moving on to the next item on the agenda.