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New rules: PM to field questions

By \\\\\ Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to be questioned for 30 minutes by Opposition members at the next sitting of Parliament under the revised Standing Orders.

The revised standing orders of the House took effect yesterday with House Speaker Wade Mark urging members to learn the new rules.

In an announcement to the House, Mark pointed out that some of the new standing orders which includes a Prime Minister’s question time —which will be held during the second sitting of the House each month and shall not exceed 30  minutes.

During this item of business, questions may be put to the Prime Minister relating to current matters of national importance or on the general performance of the Government and Government agencies.

The first sitting of the fifth session of the tenth Parliament took place yesterday and the second sitting is carded for next Monday when the Prime Minister will be in the spotlight.

Mark also pointed out members now have a maximum speaking time of 45 minutes.

He said the onus was now on the member to request an extension of this time, either during his speech or immediately upon the expiration of his speaking time.

Standing Order 48, said Mark, is the new reference number for contents of speeches and encompasses many of the matters often raised as Point of Order, for example, relevance and use of insulting language.

He said Standing Order 24 now allows for one member from each party in Opposition to ask a brief question only for elucidation on statements made by ministers.

Mark also advised members to note Standing Order 55 which is related to Order in the House and in Committee.

He said they should take heed of the extended definition of disturbances of the proceedings which now includes along with tedious repetition, engaging in excessive cross-talk and conversing noisily with another member.

Mark said the Parliament’s secretariat was compiling a “Companion” to these revised standing orders which will assist members as well as the public and media.

He said it was also the intention to host a half-day session with all members as soon as practicable for general discussion on the implementation of the revised standing orders.

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