The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has commenced a training seminar for local Members of Parliament (MPs), where they will be educated on parliamentary procedure, committee work and the role of the Speaker, among other things.
The training is being conducted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), with the opening ceremony attended by MPs from both sides of the aisle. In his presentation, Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Issacs was optimistic that the training would aid in the development of the members and parliamentary staff. He also hailed the valuable role the CPA places in training parliamentary staff throughout the region.
“The staff are also exposed to parliamentary procedure, practice and training in other jurisdictions, enabling them to function more effectively upon their return,” Issacs said in his presentation.
“The workshops and seminars are not limited to our staff gaining knowledge, but also allows them to share their experiences and our best practices. We at the Parliament Office continue to avail ourselves of further interactions to aid in the development of our members and staff.”
Meanwhile, Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretary General Martin Chungong praised the role that technology has played in bridging the digital divide for parliamentary work. According to him, technology can allow parliamentarians to stay connected with their constituencies in a seamless fashion.
“During the pandemic, we saw how Parliaments were innovating, transforming their working methods in order to stay relevant, in order to stay alive and contribute to the efforts that were intended to stem the pandemic,” Chungong said.
“So, we ignore digital technology at our own risk and peril. We need to accelerate this digital transformation, that will allow us, among other things, reach out to communities, canvas the views more than ever before. I think we can count our blessings, given the fact that sometimes travelling physically to your constituencies can be onerous and time consuming.
Among the matters that were covered on Tuesday, was basic procedural training and training on committee work. The respective roles of the Speaker and the Clerk, were also covered in the training, which will last for two days.
The 12th Parliament has been one of the most dramatic ones in recent memories, with sittings being disrupted by MPs who disregard the Standing Orders. The most recent instance where the Standing Orders were disregarded and an MP had to be disciplined was Alliance For Change (AFC) MP Sherod Duncan, who was suspended on February 9 for disrupting the parliamentary session.
Duncan is one of eight APNU/AFC MPs already before the Privileges Committee, for the infamous Mace grab of December 29, 2021, when Opposition members protested the hearing of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill, which they wanted to be sent to a parliamentary Special Select Committee for review.
The coalition MPs stood banging on their desks when the Bill was called up for debate and subsequently gathered in the pit of the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), where National Assembly sittings are being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bill was eventually passed late into the evening but not before the Opposition’s protest escalated into a physical confrontation with Parliament staff after an MP snatched the Parliament Mace from in front of Speaker Nadir.
The other APNU/AFC MPs sent to the Privileges Committee include Chief Whip Jones, Annette Ferguson, Ganesh Mahipaul, Natasha Singh-Lewis, Vinceroy Jordan, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, and Maureen Philadelphia.