KAMPALA — The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa has issued new guidelines on conduct of Parliamentary business on points of procedure and order during debate.
In his communication from the chair during the 14th sitting of the 2nd meeting of the 2nd session of the 11th Parliament on Wednesday, November 30, Tayebwa said the new rules would spur constructive debate in the House.
“Hon. Members, over time, I have observed the continuous abuse of the rules of procedure relating to points of procedure and order by Members during debate,” he said, reminding them to adhere to the Parliament Rules of Procedure when debating, raising matters of national importance or other matters.
The presidening officer under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament is accorded powers to issue additional directives to guide debate in manner under which debate may be interrupted.
“A Member rising on a point of procedure must ensure that the point of procedure being raised pertains to the subject matter under discussion by the Member holding the floor, except for matters related to quorum. For example, points of procedure should relate to motions not properly seconded, authenticity of reports being presented to the House, among other matters relating to procedural flaws of the Rules of Procedure. Thus, the point of procedure must be based on identified procedural flaws within the Rules of procedure and the rule of procedure being breached must clearly be stated,” the speaker guided.
Tayebwa guided that a point of order must only be used to draw the attention of the Presiding Officer to words used or conduct of a Member, at any time immediately after the words are used or conduct that breaches the Rules of Procedure”.
“Points of order can be raised where, for instance, a Member does not conform to the rules of debate, approved attire, uses un-parliamentary language or does an act or utters any words that breach the Rules of Procedure.”
Tayebwa also reminded MPs against making political statements, raising a matter of national importance or any other matter under the guise of a point of procedure.
“This amounts to an abuse of the Rules of Procedure,” he said also guiding that when a member rises on a point of procedure or point of order during debate, a Member holding the floor must immediately resume his or her seat and no other Member is supposed to rise until the Speaker has decided on the matter or unless the Speaker grants the Member leave to speak.
“In granting leave to a Member to interrupt debate, a point of procedure takes precedence over a point of order.”
“A member who rises on a point of procedure or point of order must stick to the point of procedure or order respectively, and must not depart from the respective point.”
He said that once the presiding officer makes a decision on a point of procedure or order, the Member who was holding the floor is entitled to proceed with his or her speech unless the Speaker’s decision prevents the Member from proceeding with his or her speech.
Tayebwa implored MPs to follow the new guidance when seeking to interrupt debate on points of procedure or order.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline, Abdu Katuntu has implored MPs to approach the office of the speaker on matters of national importance in compliance with the Rules.
Mr. Joseph Ssewungu, the Member of Parliament for Kalungu West called for continuous training of MPs on Rules of Procedure and parliamentary.
The Wednesday guidance comes at a backdrop of an alleged misconduct on the floor of Parliament by the Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake who has since been sent to the House’s Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Discipline for disciplinary action over his transgressions.
The Tuesday ruling followed Mr. Zaake’s brief submission on the floor over a procedural matter on the abductions of Opposition supporters.
Rule 175 (a) of the Rules of Procedure states that the Rules Committee shall by the order of the House inquire into any complaint of contempt of Parliament or breach of privilege or any matter of privilege which may be referred to it and to recommend to the House such action as the Committee may consider appropriate