Business Ceases in Parliament to Facilitate General Elections


All business has ceased in both Houses of Parliament with the dissolution of Parliament officially becoming effective on (July 25).
On July 24, Governor-General His Excellency, the Most Honourable Professor Kenneth Hall sent three Proclamation letters informing the Clerk of the House, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House that the Houses of Parliament, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate, are to be dissolved on July 25.
In keeping with constitutional provisions, Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller wrote to the Governor-General yesterday requesting the dissolution of Parliament with effect from July 25, to make way for the holding of Jamaica’s 15th General Elections since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944.
The dissolution also constitutionally signifies the end of the Parliamentary life which ceases every five years to facilitate general elections. Sitting members of Parliament, as well as all unresolved matters such as Bills before the Houses, are retired until the Parliament reopens after the general elections, Deputy Clerk of the House, Valrie Curtis explained.
“Parliament is dissolved, meaning that all sitting MPs are no longer considered Members of Parliament. Those who are not going back for election, as of today they cease to be Members of Parliament, and it follows that their tenure ceases as of today. Those who are going back to run as members. are considered as candidates, and whatever happens depends on the results of the elections.”
“Parliament being dissolved means that no sitting of the House can take place, however the country has to go on, so the Prime Minister is still Prime Minister even though she is a Member of Parliament. The Cabinet Ministers have to continue in their portfolios as Ministers until election date, with those responsibilities allotted to them,” she informed.
As of today, the Order Paper which contains all matters of business before both Houses is now “blank”, she noted. “All things that are before the Parliament, whether House of Representatives or Senate, they are no longer there,” Miss Curtis reiterated.
As such, no reference can be made to any Bills still in the House or Senate that have not been dealt with before today. She noted that when the new Government is formed after the elections, any outstanding Bills that are brought back “would have to be taken as a new Bill and it would have to go to the House of Representatives again and passed and then go to the Senate.”
To make clear the differences between prorogation and the dissolution of Parliament, she explained, “The life of the Parliament is five years, but within that parliamentary life, each year we have a parliamentary year, and it is the end of the parliamentary year that the parliament prorogues. But it is at the end of the life of the Parliament that the Parliament is dissolved.”
The “life of the Parliament”, she noted, ran from 2002 following the last general elections to the time it was prorogued on March 28th of this year. The new Parliamentary year was opened on the 29th of March, Miss Curtis explained.
There is no set time for prorogation, which generally runs along with the financial year. “We generally prorogue the end of March, early April.
But the records have shown that we have gone way down to May and June already. In recent years, it is around about March or April, but it is not a fixed date,” she pointed out.
Once elections have been called and seats have been declared, the new Parliament will reopen with the usual ceremony highlighted by the Governor- General’s throne speech, and the swearing in of newly elected candidates. “During prorogation, there is no swearing in ceremony because the members are still members,” Miss Curtis reminded.
The Chief Parliamentary Counsel acting on the instruction of the Governor- General will now prepare a Proclamation for the Dissolution of Parliament, for signature and gazetting before midnight on July 25th.
A Proclamation for the fixing of the date for general elections will also be issued. Both Proclamations will pave the way for the nomination of candidates on Tuesday, August 7 and the holding of General Elections on Monday, August 27.
Some Members of Parliament will not be seeking re-election in the upcoming elections, hence will not be returning to the House. These are: O. T. Williams, West St. Andrew; Donald Buchanan, South West, St. Elizabeth; Errol Ennis, West Portland; Victor Cummings, Central Kingston; Ralston Anson, West Hanover; Lenworth Blake, South East St. Elizabeth; Dr. Karl Blythe, Central Westmoreland; John Junor, Central Manchester, K.D. Knight; East Central St. Catherine; Charles Learmond, SouthWest Clarendon; Verna Parchment, North West St. Ann; Dr. Paul Robertson, South East St. Catherine and Aloun Assamba, South East St. Ann.

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