House: PM time vague

June 4, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya June 4 – Utilisation of the Prime Minister’s time in Parliament is still clouded in confusion owing to a lack of clear rules and norms of operations.
Members of Parliament (MPs) objected to a statement by Premier Raila Odinga on Wednesday arguing that he had not availed the same earlier enough to enable them fully scrutinise it.

The MPs led by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale rejected a move by the PM to present a statement detailing the progress of the Prime Minister’s Roundtable Initiative.

“Mr Speaker, the silence in the House could indicate attention but it could also be the Prime Minister has ambushed us with his statement because we have had the courtesy of writing to him and tell him what we are about to ask him; so he should be courteous to extend the same notice to us on what is in his statement so that we can interrogate him,” Mr Khalwale said.

The objection was then followed by Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo, who rose to seek the Speaker’s ruling on the matter, saying ‘it would make the PM’s time disenchanted.’ 

Speaker Kenneth Marende is expected to issue a ruling next week making clear guidelines on the use of the session, usually on Wednesday afternoons.

“We will have to respect some procedure for this and ensure that all times there is decorum and that this House conducts itself in a manner that lives up to its integrity. We are in the process of defining how we will conduct the PM’s time and we will therefore take time to consider what else to bring on board in our conduct of the Prime Minister’s time,” the Speaker ruled.

This followed a contribution by the Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, who led a parliamentary delegation to the UK House of Commons to study the practices of the PM time.

Mr Imanyara differed with the Prime Minister who had claimed that in the House of Commons the PM does not alert the House on contents of his statement, saying that the British media actually previewed and discussed what they anticipated the PM to address.

“We spent a week at the UK studying the process of the House of Commons. It will be useful to note that even the PM’s time the media discusses it in the morning; if you watch Sky News or BBC you will see extensive interviews and comments about the statement. So indeed the PM`s Office issues a press release to the media and to the House so that when he comes to House at 2.30pm, he is aware and the whole nation is aware that the PM will be addressing certain issues,” he said.

In response, the PM said that he was not opposed to giving advance notice to the House on issues he would be addressing during the 45 minute slot allocated to him.
The Premier said that it would be necessary to avail his statements to members before presenting them on the floor of the House. 

Among other things, members also want to be allowed to ask the PM questions on the floor of the House without prior information.


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