Oulanyah chastises Committees on House business

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has blamed the poor performance of Parliament on House committees taking longer than the prescribed 45 days.

In his communication to legislators on Thursday, Oulanyah said Parliament would from now on strictly follow the provisions in the Rules of Procedure on consideration of Bills. 

“Parliament is hinged on competence and effectiveness of committees, which form the engine of processing Parliamentary business. In respect to Bills, our performance leaves a lot to be desired. We have not performed as well as we should,” Oulanyah said.

Rule 128 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure stipulates that whenever a Bill is read for the first time, it shall be referred to the appropriate committee. The committee shall examine the Bill in detail and make all such inquiries in relation to the Bill and report to the House within 45 days from the date the Bill is referred to the committee. 

Oulanyah said that Committees must respect the 45 days adding that if a Committee does not report back with in the stipulated time, Parliament will proceed with the Bill. 

“The mandate to pass or disallow a Bill rests with Parliament, but not the committees. Committees are supposed to advise us on what we need to look at when we are passing the Bill,” said Oulanyah.

He further said that a Private Member who introduces a Bill will not be granted leave to benchmark before the Bill is passed.  

“Any request for benchmarking in whatever form on a Private Member’s Bill will not be entertained, because in my understanding the rationale for benchmarking would only apply on post legislation scrutiny,” Oulanyah said.

According to Rule 121, a Private Member’s Bill from First Reading to passage shall require 45 days. 

Oulanyah also directed the Clerk to Parliament to make a schedule for consideration of all the remaining Bills, which were referred to the committees so that chairpersons and movers of the Bills are ready to handle them in Parliament.   

“If there is a Bill that is in the Order Paper, we will proceed whether there is a report or no report because the motion will be for second reading and it is this House to debate that Bill and pass it,” said Oulanyah.

He further asked the Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business to notify Parliament about Bills that government has lost interest in. 

“I am aware that some Bills were saved from the 8th Parliament and due to various developments, some of them may not stand the test of time anymore. Prime Minister, please indicate to us those Bills for purposes of saving time, so that we can remove them from our business and clean up,” Oulanyah said.

He reminded the legislators that they have a duty to work together to better the lives of Ugandans. 

“We should rise up to the occasion and carry out our roles. I call upon all of us for commitment and change of attitude in handling business in Parliament,” said Oulanyah. 

He also urged the Parliamentary staff to play their supportive role with due diligence and commitment by meeting time schedules expected by committees in handling business. 

Meanwhile, Oulanyah has cautioned MPs against breaching rules during the upcoming East African Community (EAC) Inter Parliamentary games. The games will be held from 1 to 11 December, 2018 in Bujumbura, Burundi.  

Oulanyah said that a meeting of Speakers of Parliament in the EAC on 21 September, 2018 in Juba, South Sudan raised concerns about some of the activities that take place during the Inter-parliamentary games. 

“The Speakers agreed that each legislature considers imposing sanctions against its members who do not conform to the prescribed rules of the tournament,” said Oulanyah.

He noted that failure to conform to the rules of the tournament has affected the integrity of the games and caused tension where there should be none.

“Now I communicate to Members going to participate in these games, please observe the rules, if others are going to break the rules, let it be them and not the Parliament of Uganda or its members of staff,” Oulanyah said.