NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 20 – Members of Parliament have been urged to read widely in order to improve the quality of debate in the chamber.
Speaking while opening a meeting of the Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Eastern and Southern Africa (APLESA) Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi urged the legislators to not only rely on material found on the Internet for research, but also to physically visit the libraries to find additional information.
“It is a fact the world over that a lot of parliamentary libraries are not visited by very many parliamentarians; reason being that they are certain things that can be checked online, but most importantly, members should still visit the libraries. Anyone worth their salt would want to read and research before they come and contribute,” said Muturi.
He said the libraries are equipped with material which would enhance the effectiveness of Members of Parliament but called on them to ensure they move with the trend to ensure MPs get relevant information at their convenience.
“Parliamentarians need information as they monitor issues, develop policy solutions, predict consequences and influence government decision-making, this information must be availed in a timely, accurate and politically neutral way, thus responding to the changing needs is vital,” he added.
He also called on legislators to make use of parliamentary support staff who conduct research on various topics to help enrich their content.
He was however cautions over the digitization of all the material saying although this was the trend, there was material that individuals preferred in hard copy, adding that digitized material was prone to hacking.
He urged the parliamentary library services to conduct training for legislators to help those with difficulty in using computers so as to enhance access and use of digital material.
During debate on the Constituencies Development Fund which has been dismissed by the court, Muturi urged MPs contributing to the motion to find other ways of presenting their arguments and questioning the court ruling as opposed to simply ‘making noise’ about what they have done with the funds saying content would help make them sound relevant.
Also present at the event was Clerk of the Senate Jeremiah Nyegenye who dispelled the notion that with the advent of technology, ‘classical’ libraries were not relevant saying they cannot be done away with as they had bulk material which had not been digitized and which were important, he instead urged the libraries to consider updating their websites to ensure they were up to date.
The four-day event is attended by representatives from 15 Parliaments together with the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and Pan African Parliament.
It is the second time Kenya is hosting the event.