Parliament’s Standing Orders to be reviewed

A day after Speaker of the House of Representatives Juliet Holness called for a comprehensive review of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, Member of Parliament for Clarendon Northern Dwight Sibblies moved a motion for this undertaking.

At Wednesday’s sitting of the House, Sibblies said that the number of debates that have arisen suggest that the Standing Orders need to be reviewed.

In recent times, there have been discussions in the House regarding the manner in which reports from the Integrity Commission (IC) and the Auditor General’s Department (AuGD) are tabled and what pertains in the Standing Orders.

During Tuesday’s sitting of the House, Holness made rulings regarding how reports from these bodies are to be handled.

Sibblies said that the former House speaker had on several occasions made the recommendation for review, “but I think it is timely in light of the discourse that happened yesterday that we move seriously to have the Standing Order reviewed comprehensively”.

“This does not absolve, though, our reading of the Standing Orders and understanding of the Standing Orders, because I find in a number of occasions the discourse happens because we do not read the Standing Orders. And we need to ensure that all of us members read the Standing Orders and to be very much acquainted with it,” he said.

In response, Holness said she is in “total agreement”, stressing that it is critical that everyone continuously reads the Standing Orders, which are not so easy to remember.

“The Standing Orders which govern our proceedings are no joke. They are so serious because they are literally the laws, the rules that bind that guides this House in every single proceeding. And it would be good for us members of the House to pay attention to and improve the Standing Orders because it also can be used to give directions to the Speaker or presiding officer, in the case of the Senate. So I appreciate this motion being moved today,” she said.

On Tuesday, Holness said the discussions in the House underscore the need for consistent assessment of legislation, with a view to amending, where necessary, when clarity is further required.

In her ruling, Holness said investigation reports from the IC will be tabled “as soon as possible” after submission to Parliament. She noted, however, that annual and special reports will first go to the commission’s oversight committee for deliberation, then tabled following the discussions.

The motion for the review was approved by the House.