Assembly resumes discussions to review its Standing Orders | 24 June 2020
Members of the National Assembly yesterday resumed debates and discussions on several propositions to review and amend the institution’s Standing Orders or set of rules and procedures that guide its operation, management and functions.
The Assembly has revised its order paper to dedicate three days of sittings this week to hopefully complete the review and amendments of its Standing Orders.
The discussions were led in committee stage by the chairperson of the Assembly’s Standing Orders Committee, Hon. Bernard Georges.
But before the discussions started Speaker Nicholas Prea clarified an issue raised by Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) member of the National Assembly (MNA) Jean-François Ferrari relating to a private notice question (PNQ) by the leader of the opposition Hon. Wavel Ramkalawan which was to feature on the order paper of the Assembly for this week but had been deferred until next week.
Speaker Prea argued that the PNQ was not that urgent and could therefore wait until next week’s question time, but Mr Ferrari insisted that the privilege to ask a PNQ is a Constitutional right of the leader of the opposition and has nothing to do with if it is urgent or not.
Speaker Prea strongly highlighted that the Assembly’s Standing Orders which is in line with the Constitution also gives him the power to conduct the business of the House and therefore power to decide if a PNQ or any other matter is urgent or not.
Mr Ferrari argued that there should have been consultations to reach an agreement and that it is not right for one side to decide and the other obliged to agree.
Meanwhile, among the different propositions for review and amendments brought forward by the Standing Orders Committee include the time the Assembly starts and completes sessions.
Members were in general unanimous on the need for flexibility. They agreed on the 9am to 5pm schedule but called for flexibility depending on the urgency of the matter at hand.
For his part, Mr Ramkalawan argued that there is a need for order in time management and even if a member is allowed 30 minutes of intervention on a matter, the Speaker should be able to use his discretion to prevent repetition and in respect of time management.
He also insisted on the need for the Speaker to attend all Assembly Business Committee meetings where all consultations on Assembly business are conducted and where what goes on the order paper is agreed on.
The leader of government business Charles de Commarmond, for his part, pointed out that these discussions should in no way dilute the powers of the Speaker and the right of expression of members should also not be restricted.
Debate on the issue was lengthy but members agreed for consensus with the Speaker on flexibility depending on the urgency of matters being discussed.
Other amendment propositions that were discussed at length included Assembly procedures to remove a vice-president or minister from his/her post, adjournment of motions, adjournment of debates in Assembly and committee stage, election of clerk and deputy clerk among other numerous propositions.
The Assembly continues with the review and amendment of its Standing Orders during today’s and tomorrow’s sittings.