‘No eating’ and other rules; MPs get reminders on etiquette and decorum

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Parliamentarians have been reminded not to eat or chew gum and to bow to the Speaker when they enter and leave the House during sittings of the National Assembly.

The Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs was Tuesday compelled to remind Parliamentarians of how they should conduct themselves when there is a sitting of the National Assembly; this he said was in order to maintain the dignity of the institution of Parliament and to ensure its proper functioning.

In a hilarious incident recorded Tuesday evening, Opposition Parliamentarian Gillian Burton took food into the Chambers and she was quickly spotted by the Speaker when he reprimanded her and reminded her of the rules.

At the outset of the Speaker’s protest, she placed the food on the floor; she was told that it didn’t make a difference and she had to ensure the box was taken out of the House. There is a spacious lounge a few steps outside the Parliamentary Chambers for Parliamentarians to eat.

The Clerk, in a letter to all Members of the House, said that the rules are based on the rules of procedure and have gradually evolved from conventions and ruling given by Presiding Officers in Commonwealth Parliaments from time to time.

Below are some of the reminders issued to Parliamentarians:

1.     When the Speaker enters the Chamber, Members should stand and bow in response to the Speaker himself bowing to either side of the House.

2.     A Member should bow to the Speaker while entering or leaving the House or when taking or leaving their seat

3.     A Member should not sit or stand with his or her back to the Speaker and is not to read any book, newspaper or letter except in connection with the business of the House

4.     A Member should not use his cellular phone in a manner which disturbs the Assembly

5.     No Member should speak unless called upon by the Speaker

6.     A Member should only speak from the seat assigned to him or her and should address the Speaker and not individual members

7.     While the House is in session, no Member should obstruct the proceedings, hiss or interrupt

8.     A Member should not speak with strangers in the public gallery when the House is in session

9.     No Member should leave the House immediately after delivering his or her speech

10.   Members should avoid talking or laughing in the lobby loud enough to be heard in the House

11.   No Member should drink coffee, tea, juice or soft drink in the House (water is provided for MPs to drink during sessions)

12.     No Member should eat food or chew gum during a sitting of the House

“It is also important to note that the use of offensive, provocative or threatening language in the House is strictly forbidden,” the Clerk also reminded Parliamentarians.

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