An obvious and serious violation of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly was allowed by the Honourable Speaker, Mr. Ramkarran, at the sitting of the National Assembly on 30th July, 2009.
At that sitting the Report of the Special Select Committee on the Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Bill 2009 was being presented according to Supplementary Order Paper (No. 2) of 30th July, 2009. The Report was on members’ desks on their arrival for the sitting.
On the cover of the said report the following words are included “Presented to the National Assembly by the Honourable Kellawan Lall the Chairman of the Committee on 30th July, 2009.” That is indeed very accurate.
Standing Order 103(8) states that “The Report of a Committee may be taken into consideration by the Assembly on a motion . . . Such a motion may be moved by any Member after one day’s notice.”
This rule was drawn to the attention of the Honourable Speaker when he announced the presentation of the report and he correctly pointed out it was not the appropriate time to raise the issue.
However, at the appropriate point the PNCR was not in the Assembly but that should in no way have affected the Speaker’s duty to uphold the Standing Order, especially as it was brought to his attention earlier.
There was no request to dispense with notice.
Additionally, Standing Order 103(8) requires a motion to the National Assembly. No such motion was before the National Assembly at its sitting on July 30, 2009.
The basis therefore, on which the Honourable Speaker allowed the report in question to be considered by the National Assembly on July 30, 2009 is perplexing.
According to the report in the Stabroek News of Friday July 31, 2009 Ms. Teixeira pointed out that “the Committee finished on July 28; the Minister signed the document that very day, and, in so doing, gave the House more than one day’s notice.”
On the assumption that the report is accurate, Ms. Teixeira has demonstrated a woeful lack of understanding of what the Standing Order means.
Notice to the National Assembly is not given when the Minister signs the report, but rather when the report is presented to that body and it was presented on 30th July, 2009.
Winston S. Murray
(Published in the Stabroek News and Kaieteur News on Saturday 1st August, 2009)