NATIONAL ASSEMBLY REGULATES ITS OWN PROCEDURES AND MAY IN PARTICULAR MAKE RULES FOR ORDERLY CONDUCT

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 17, 2020 (SKNIS): Under section 44 of the Constitution of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, National Assembly regulates its own procedures and may in particular make rules for the orderly conduct of its own proceedings, says Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Michael Perkins during Wednesday’s (January 15) “Working for You” programme.

“To me, this is a very powerful bit of legislation. It has constitutional authority. So, this is saying that as a Parliament we can make rules to govern the proceedings in Parliament once none of the rules violate or is ultra vires to said Constitution,” stated the speaker.

Honourable Perkins added that there are 85 rules, which are Standing Orders that govern the proceedings. However, at any time, Parliament can add to, take away from, and amend those rules.

“As a matter of fact we are in the process now to doing just that,” he said. “[We now have] what we call the Standing Orders Review Committee. It is a committee established by the Parliament which over the past year or so has been looking at ways and means or areas of the Standing Orders which we think should be amended.”

The speaker stated that in the future it is hoped that Parliament will be able to table and have passed a new or improved set of Standing Orders for the National Assembly.

The Speaker of the National Assembly said that persons would often hear the members call for a point of order. He said that these points of order refer to the Standing Orders.

“So when a member rises on a point of order, he really should be indicating which of those orders, and there are 85 of them, he thinks is being violated or breached. However, over time and in the past, Speakers including myself, have used our discretion to allow members to raise almost anything under the umbrella of a point of order,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a breach of the rule, but anything that I feel needs some clarification or a member could complain that you are misleading the Parliament, [that is] you are saying something that is not true.”

“Having said that I tend to deal with points of order in three basic ways,” he said. “I may say that is not allowed or I will allow it and ask the member to either retract or modify his language, or this is also a ruling from my standpoint, or I say nothing. I remain silent on it and move on.”