Saturday, December 7, 2013

Power of Speaker Should be Curtailed - Standing Orders Amendment

The abuse of standing orders to suspend a member of assembly should be curtailed by limiting the duration of the suspension. We should review the power of the speaker and set the proper rules to ensure that the speaker can not in his discretion simply suspend any member of assembly for any length of duration.

The following standing order regarding Disorder in the assembly is what being practiced in the Parliament of New South Wales. We should seek amendment to the Rule of Debate. Article 51 should be abolished and adopt the following rules to curtail the power of speaker of the assembly regarding the suspension and expulsion of the member of assembly.

51. (1)Member Called to Order
If a Member's conduct is such that it is necessary for the Speaker to call the Member to order more than three times in any one sitting for any gross breach of the rules, the Speaker may direct the removal of the Member by the Serjeant-at-Arms until the adjournment of that sitting.
A Member who is removed from the House shall be excluded from the Assembly precincts for the remainder of the sitting and cannot take part in any proceeding of the House or its committees.

(2) Member named for disorderly conduct
A Member may be named by the Speaker for:

Persistently and wilfully obstructing the business of the House.
Being guilty of disorderly conduct.
Using offensive words, and refusing to withdraw them.
Persistently and wilfully refusing to conform to any standing order.
Persistently and wilfully disregarding the authority of the Chair.

(3) Procedure after naming
If the Member has been named:

the Speaker shall forthwith propose the question "That the Member for ... be suspended from the service of the House".
There shall be no amendment, adjournment or debate allowed on this motion. However, the Member named may make an explanation limited to 5 minutes.

(4) Duration of suspension
If a Member is suspended during the session:

For a first time, the suspension shall be for 2 sitting days.
For a second time, the suspension shall be for 4 sitting days.
On any subsequent occasion, the suspension shall be for 8 sitting days.
In this standing order “sitting days” means days the House actually sits, and the uncompleted portion of the sitting during which the Member was suspended shall count as one sitting day.

(5) Consequences of suspension
A Member who is suspended from the service of the House shall be excluded from the Assembly precincts until the expiration of the suspension period including all intervening non-sitting days and cannot take part in any proceedings of the House or its committees.

(6) Expulsion

A Member adjudged by the House guilty of conduct unworthy of a Member of Assembly may be expelled by vote of the House with the concurrence of two-thirds, and the Member's seat declared vacant.

(7) Expulsion - criminal trial pending
If the House decides not to proceed on a matter which has been initiated in the House concerning the alleged misconduct of a Member on the grounds that the Member may be prejudiced in a criminal trial then pending on charges founded on the misconduct, the House may suspend the Member from its service until the verdict of the jury has been returned or until it is further ordered. 

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