Friday, August 31, 2012


Source: The Clerk to Parliament Members of Parliament seek for information or press for action through questions. It is a method of demanding for accountability from those in authority by making them put information on the record. A question can be put to a Government Minister, Committee Chairperson or Parliamentary Commissioner for the purpose of obtaining pertinent information or pressing for action. SCOPE AND PURPOSE Ministers are obliged to answer questions on matters relating to public affairs under their mandate. Committee Chairpersons may be asked questions relating to a Bill, Motion or other public matter related with the business of the House for which the Committee is responsible. Questions may be asked of a Parliamentary Commissioner relating to the administration of Parliament or other Commission matters. TYPES OF QUESTIONS There are three types of questions that can be asked namely; oral questions, questions for written answer and urgent questions. A Question for oral answer requires an oral reply. A Member who desires an oral answer to a question is required to mark it as “oral reply.” Supplementary questions may arise from an oral question. Questions for a written answer are printed in the official report and are not answered orally. They do not attract supplementary questions. Questions of urgent nature relate to matters of urgent public importance. The Speaker determines if the question is urgent. Notice of urgent questions should be given by delivery of written question to the office of the Clerk at least three working days before the day on which the Member proposes to ask the question. CONTENT AND FORMAT OF QUESTIONS Rule 37 of the Rules of Procedure details conditions for admissibility of questions. Questions shall not be asked if they: Relate to proceedings in a Committee which have not been tabled before the House. Solicit expressions of an opinion or solution of an abstract legal case Are of a hypothetical proposition Contain any arguments, expression of opinion or inferences, imputations, epithets or controversial, ironical or offensive expression Raise an issue already decided, or which has been answered substantially during the current session Relate to the character or conduct of any person except in his or her official capacity. Refer to more than one subject and is too lenthy. Have answers available in official publications Relate to the character or conduct of a person whose conduct can only be challenged on substantive motion. Relate to a matter before court. Include the names of persons or statements of fact unless they are necessary to make it understandable. Supplementary questions shall be subject to the same rules of order as an original question. PROCESSING OF QUESTIONS The procedure for processing questions is as follows: A Member intending to ask a question makes a draft of the question and presents it to the office of the Clerk. The Office of the Clerk ensures that questions are drafted concisely and comply with the Rules of procedure. The Question is forwarded by the Office of the Clerk to the Speaker for approval. Upon approval, the question is sent to the person meant to answer it. Ministers are expected to respond to questions within 2 weeks of receipt. Answers to questions should be printed and a copy supplied to the Member who asked it not later than 15 minutes before the Sitting at which it is to be answered. All questions are recorded in the Question Order Book which is available for Members' inspection and contains: All questions submitted by Members; Questions admitted by the Speaker and the time of their transmission to the person to answer; Questions not admitted and the reasons for their rejection; Answers given to the question, and the form of answer; Questions which have received no answers. MANNER OF ASKING AND ANSWERING QUESTIONS The Speaker calls a Member in whose name a question stands on the Order Paper. The Member called upon rises and reads out the number assigned to the question standing in his or her name on the Order Paper. In the absence of the Member asking the question, he/she may authorize another Member with the Speaker’s prior permission to ask the question. After the question has been asked, the Speaker calls on the person to whom the question is addressed to answer. The reply to a question is limited to three minutes. However, if the Speaker considers that the matter is of sufficient importance, up to an additional two minutes may be given. SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS After the question has been answered, supplementary questions may be asked. Priority is given to the Member who asked the question. This is to enable the Members seek further clarification. Supplementary questions should be related to the original question. Replies to supplementary questions shall be limited to two minutes, unless with permission of the Speaker.

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