Parliament adjourns in a record 10 minutes

November 17, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 17 – The Kenyan Parliament was Wednesday morning forced to adjourn its sitting after a record 10 minutes of business, due to lack of quorum.

Temporary Deputy Speaker Gitobu Imanyara was forced to drop all questions appearing on the morning Order Paper due to the absence of Member of Parliament who had listed questions.

According to the National Assembly Standing Order 46 “a member shall be guilty of disorderly conduct if he fails to answer questions listed on the Order Paper without the leave of the Speaker.”

Standing Orders 36 which governs the Order of Business as set down out on the Order Paper gives the Speaker discretion to decide how business should be transacted in the House, which may include deferring questions.

The Speaker may drop a question as a means of disciplining a member who asked it and is not present in the chamber when it is called out.  The member will then be forced to seek another chance to have the question re-listed but will not be given precedence over other MPs.

“Business shall be disposed of in the sequence in which it appears in the Order Paper or in such other sequence as the Speaker may, for the convenience of the House directs,” reads Standing Order 36 (2).

There were eight questions listed on the Order Paper on Wednesday morning but none of the MPs were present to ask their question. Parliament has two sittings on Wednesdays with the morning session beginning at 9am till 12.30pm while the afternoon sitting commences at 2.30pm ending at 6.30pm.

Nairobians woke to a heavy downpour on Wednesday which resulted in the flooding of most roads in the City which saw a heavy traffic snarl-up being reported on most city roads.

However, Speaker Kenneth Marende has in the past dismissed the claim of traffic jams as a reason for failing to appear in time to ask questions, saying that it was the responsibility of a member to ensure he or she is in the House especially since the Order Paper is posted on Parliament’s website 24-hours before the sitting of the House.

An attempt by Kinangop MP David Ngugi to have the Speaker allow more time for MPs to arrive was rejected by some Cabinet ministers who were in the House ready to answer the questions.

“I was coming with Mr Kioni but he went to see the Speaker (Marende)… I am seeking your guidance,” he said.
The back bench has in recent times complained that the Executive has not been taking the business of the House seriously and at times called on the Speaker to invoke sanctions on the government side as provided by the Standing Order.

Before adjourning the House, MPs present were only able to dispose of one item in the Order Paper.

They passed a Private Members Motion seeking to establish a 21-member Parliamentary Select Committee to look into how the government has addressed the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) and review existing institutions and legislation on forced displacements.

The Motion was put to vote without the reply of the mover Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro or the contribution of Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi.

Mr Imanyara also dropped a Private Members Motion seeking to adopt the report of the Departmental Committee on Labour and Social Welfare on fact finding tour to Mai Mahiu, Gilgil and Kurbanyat IDPs camps in the Rift Valley.

The Wednesday morning sitting is usually reserved for Private Members Bills as opposed to the other sittings where Parliament transacts government businesses.

During the Private Members days, MPs are allowed to introduce Private Bills which are intended to affect or benefit a particular person, association or corporate body.


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