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What are the roles of your Member of Parliament, Parliament of Uganda

The unicameral Parliament of Uganda is the country’s legislative body. The most significant of the Ugandan parliament’s functions is to pass laws which will provide good governance in the country (PHOTO/Courtesy)

What is a bill and how does it become law?

A Bill is a proposed law. A Bill becomes law after being introduced in Parliament (First Reading), discussed/debated and approved at the Second and Third Reading, before being signed (assented to) by the President of Uganda.

What is a Private Members Bill?

This is a proposed law moved or introduced to the Parliament by backbench Members of Parliament or Committees. A Private Members Bill is not introduced by a minister or the Executive.

How does a bill become a Law?

The formal introduction of a bill to Parliament is known as the first reading from where it’s referred to an appropriate committee for scrutiny. When a Committee finalizes consultations and scrutiny of a bill, the mover of the bill presents it to Parliament for a second reading. Members of Parliament will then consider the committee report and its recommendations to the bill, consider it clause by clause and pass the bill for a Third Reading. A Bill is read three times before it becomes an act of Parliament. The Clerk forwards the Act of Parliament to the President for the Presidential Assent before the Bill finally becomes law.

What happens to legislation if President doesn’t assent?

Article 91 of the Constitution provides that a bill passed by Parliament shall, as soon as possible, be presented to the President for assent. The President shall, within thirty days after a bill is presented to him or her assent to the bill or return the bill to Parliament with a request that the bill or a particular provision of it be reconsidered by Parliament.

Where the President returns the same bill twice and the bill is passed for the third time, with the support of at least two-thirds of all members of Parliament, the Speaker shall cause a copy of the bill to be laid before Parliament, and it shall become law without the assent of the President.

What is the difference between a Bill and a Statue?

Bill is a draft law. It may be proposed by an MP or Minister.

A Statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative body other than Parliament. For example, enactments made by the National Resistance Council are referred to as statutes, while those made by Parliament are referred to as Acts. A  Statute may also refer to a body of laws, which are collected and arranged according to a scheme.

Who is a backbench Member of Parliament?

This refers to a Member of Parliament who does not hold the portfolio of Minister both in government and the Opposition.  Back Bench Members cannot occupy the front seats in Parliament since they are reserved for Ministers.

What is a Session of Parliament?

Each five-year term of Parliament is divided into sessions. A session lasts one year. It is a period beginning with the date when Parliament commences to sit upon being summoned by the Speaker by proclamation under Clause (2) of Article 95 of the Constitution, and ending with the date when it is prorogued by the Speaker under Clause (3) of that Article or when it is dissolved under Article 96 of the Constitution.

What is the purpose of the Shadow Cabinet?

 The Shadow Cabinet is composed of Members of the Opposition. Its role is to provide alternative policies and solutions to government programmes on the floor of the House. They analyze the budget and advise on what amendments can be made.

Who pays the Members of Parliament and who determines their salary package?

Government through the Parliamentary Commission, the body charged with administration of Parliament pays the salaries of the Members of Parliament. It also determines their entitlements. The salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament are drawn from the Consolidated Fund. The consolidated fund is the Government account onto which all government revenues and funds are paid and from which money is withdrawn to fund all activities of government.

Who is the Clerk to Parliament and what are his/her roles?

The position of Clerk to Parliament is provided for under Article 87 of the Constitution, which provides that there shall be a public officer designated Clerk to Parliament appointed by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission. The Clerk to Parliament is the de-facto Chief Executive Officer of the Parliamentary Service. He/she is the Secretary to the Parliamentary Commission and provides advice and guidance to the Speaker with respect to the rules, procedures and protocol of Parliament. He or she heads all the staff of Parliament and directs the internal management of the parliamentary service.

Where is Parliament located and When was the Parliament Building constructed and commissioned?

Parliament is located in the center of Kampala City, on Plot 16 – 18 Parliament Avenue Kampala. It was commissioned in September 1960 by the Governor Sir Fredrick Crawford.

How are Members of Parliament determined?

Article 78 of the Constitutions determines the composition of Parliament as follows;

(a) Members directly elected to represent constituencies;

(b) One woman representative for every district;

(c) Such numbers of representatives of the Army, youth, workers, persons with disabilities and other groups as Parliament may determine; and

(d) The Vice President and Ministers, who, if not already elected members of Parliament, shall be ex officio members of Parliament without the right to vote on any issue requiring a vote in Parliament.

How many Members of Parliament did the first Parliament have?

The first Parliament of Uganda at Independence was comprised of 82 Members of Parliament -37 (UPC), 24 (DP), 21 (KY)

How many Members of Parliament does Uganda have currently?

The composition of Parliament is provided for under Article 78 of the Constitution. Parliament comprises of members directly elected to represent constituencies; one women representative for each district; representatives of the Army, Youth, Workers, Persons With Disabilities; and Ex-officios.  The current Parliament (2016-2021) has 457 Members.

Where does the President seat?

The President is not an elected Member of Parliament and therefore does not have a seat in the Chamber of Parliament. However if the President is invited to address the Legislature on matters of national importance, a chair will be provided for him in the Chamber.

When may the President address Parliament?

The President is by law expected to address the Legislature at least twice annually, at the opening of each parliamentary session when he delivers the Address on the State of the Nation and at the presentation of the National Budget. If however there is an urgent issue of National importance, the President may request (or be invited) to address the Legislature.

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