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Prime Minister Bruce Golding, gave his recommendations to the procedures of Parliament to the Standing Orders Committee today; (Feb 4) noting that the committee was important as there is an increasing demand for a Parliament that is more representative and responsive.
The Prime Minister noted that the lapsing of committees caused by the ceremonial proroguing of Parliament was a hindrance to the work of lawmaking.
He proposed a remedy, as adopted in Singapore in 2004, where a bill does not lapse on the prorogation of Parliament and all business continues in the proceeding session.
On the matter of Parliament giving oversight to appointments of public sector posts, including boards of management of public agencies, Mr. Golding said he was anxious for the committee to make suggestions for clear guidelines on how the committee would oversee this function.
He noted that it was important that Government be able to attract persons of competence and integrity to serve in public posts, particularly non-salaried posts, and that the scrutiny for selection should be within agreed parameters that are rigorous but respectful.
Noting that members did not have to get answers to questions that they pose in Parliament on behalf of their constituents, Mr. Golding’s remedy was that a provision be placed in the Standing Orders that any member who has a particular concern can address the Parliament on that matter. As the orders stand, those opportunities are limited to matters of national importance or under Matters and Motions for Adjournment.
The Prime Minister noted his very strong feelings that an MP has no guarantee that his or her resolution will be debated or questions to Ministers, answered. He noted that a provision should be made that if questions are not answered in a specific time, that matter should automatically be referred to an authority of the House.
On the matter of the Prime Minister’s “Question Time” as observed in the UK, Mr. Golding said that he had no objection to its introduction, but he is not advocating for its inclusion in the Standing Orders.
The Standing Orders were promulgated from Independence and amended on only ten occasions over the past 46 years.