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National Assembly

Assembly starts review of its Standing Orders | 09 June 2020

The chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Orders’ Committee, LDS MNA for Les Mamelles Bernard Georges, yesterday led discussions to review different sections and segments of the Assembly’s Standing Orders.

The last time the document – which guides the principles, procedures, functions, operations and practices of the National Assembly – underwent such a review was in 2009.

A series of propositions were raised in relation to different procedures namely one relating to the appointment of a deputy speaker coming from another party other than the one of the speaker.

Many members argued that Seychelles, with a small parliament, the most important thing is to have a capable person with integrity for the post instead. Other propositions raised concerned a series of issues like; should the clerk and deputy clerk be elected before taking an oath of office before the Assembly. According to Mr Georges the provision was present in the 1976 Orders before being removed.

Should the deputy speaker chair all Assembly committees as was the case under the speakership of Speaker Francis Mcgregor in the first Assemblies? Should the minister always be present in the House for debates on financial bills including the Appropriation Bill or should the minister just present the bill and return after the debate is concluded? Should only be the minister who answers Assembly questions when he or she is accompanied by advisors and other key experts from the ministry? What constitutes a walkout, what is and is not permissible and when should penalties be applicable and if the provision for a fine under the National Assembly Members Emolument Act should remain? Should the Assembly adopt a standard procedure that the head of delegation submit a report on all overseas visits as currently some are submitting while others are not doing so? What should be the status of an Assembly committee report? Should it be debated or not? Should there be a limit on supplementary questions? (as at certain point there was a limit in line with time keeping but this seems to no longer be the case), Should the leader of the opposition be the only member who asks supplementary questions in a PNQ? Should there be a limit on members who intervene on motions or should there be a time limit and if there is a limit how this should be enforced? Is seven days between the first and second reading of a Bill enough to allow for sufficient consultations with electorate in the districts and other concerned parties? Should the Assembly business committee (ABC) be formalised as a standing committee of the Assembly in the Standing Orders or should it remain as an ad hoc committee? Should there be a series of portfolio committees? Each bill should have a roll out plan and budget for implementation, should there be a protocol on how ministers and ambassadors should be questioned before the National Assembly?

Apart from the women parliamentary caucus all other Assembly committees are men, there are propositions that this change for more gender inclusivity.

Assembly members spent the whole day deciding if the proposed amendments should be inserted in the Standing Orders, remain as is, or not accepted. The Assembly resumes discussions to review its Standing Orders this morning.

 

Marie-Anne Lepathy

 

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