Parliament of the co-operative Republic of Guyana

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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.


Glossary of Parliamentary Procedures...

PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE in the National Assembly of the Guyana Parliament has been evolving since Guyana attained its independence on May 26, 1966 and moreso from 2003 to the present.
Following the constitutional reform period of 1999-2003, consequential parliamentary reforms have taken place with an expanded committee system, greater oversight of government and a revised Standing Orders in 2006. The establishment of a Special Select Committee to examine and revise these draft Standing Orders in 2008 in the 9th Parliament and its submission of additional changes to these SOs reflect the ever evolving level of parliamentary activities and procedures. In addition, a Special Select Committee prepared a Procedural Manual for Committees which was approved in 2009.
Specific terminology has evolved based on the experiences of other Parliaments in the Commonwealth that captures its intricacies. Because of the technical nature of these terms, and the fact that there was no single work directly related to the context of the Guyana Parliament, the Special Select Committee on the draft Standing Orders in 2009 decided to draft a glossary to provide basic explanations and definitions in a readily accessible form. Much of the terminology employed in Guyana is based on that used in Westminster and is similar to that used in other Commonwealth countries.
This is the first edition of the Guyana National Assembly Glossary and it is anticipated that this will be updated from time to time as the need arises.

It is hoped that this will be a useful tool for Members of Parliament and all those involved in the proceedings of the House, including the media and the public at large interested in the workings of Guyana National Assembly.

Glossary terms starting with "A"

  • Absence, Leave of
  • A Member must inform their Chief Whip and the Clerk of the National Assembly if they are unable to attend a sitting of the House or a committee meeting and ask to be excused. It is the duty of every Member to attend the sitting of the Assembly, including its Committees of which he or she is a Member. This duty is recognized by S.O. No. 105(2) which provides for Members to vacate his/her seat if absent for more than six consecutive sittings in the same session within two consecutive months without the grant of leave. S.O. No. 94(7) stipulates that the Chairman of a Committee advise the Committee of Selection when a Member is absent from its meeting on three or more consecutive occasions without leave.

  • Abstention
  • The act of refraining from voting either for or against a motion. Members are not obliged to vote and the records of the House take no official notice of an abstention; a list of the Members is appended to every division list in the Minutes of the Sitting.

  • Accountability, Members
  • Members are expected to be accountable to the electorate and to serve with honesty and integrity the best interests of Guyana.

  • Accountability, Ministerial
  • Ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments/agencies in their portfolio. It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.

  • Acting Speaker
  • Any Member, other than the Deputy Speaker, who is called upon by the Speaker to take the Chair during the unavoidable absence of the Speaker during a sitting.

  • Act of Parliament
  • A bill which has been passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President and has been proclaimed through publication in the Official Gazette.

  • Address
  • A formal message from the President to the National Assembly at the beginning of a new Parliament which signals the opening of a Parliament session or an address by the President to the National Assembly at any other time.

  • Address in Reply to the Speech from the President
  • An address expressing the National Assembly's views in relation to the President's Address, adopted after a debate addressing various aspects of the government's programme.

  • Adjournment
  • The period between the adjournment of the Assembly and the resumption of its sitting is called an "adjournment".

  • Adjournment of debate
  • Often a dilatory tactic which may be employed to delay progress on a question. If a motion to adjourn a debate is adopted, the item is not dropped from the Order Paper  but may be taken up again on a later day.
    Compare: sine die adjournment motion

  • Adjournment of the House
  • The termination of a sitting (either by motion or pursuant to a Standing or Special Order) within a session. An adjournment covers the period between the end of one sitting and the beginning of the next. The House may adjourn for a few minutes or for several months. Distinguish: recess; suspension of a sitting

  • Admonition
  • A stern warning by the Speaker to a Member who is adjudged in breach of the rules of the House.
    Compare: reprimand

  • Affirmative resolution
  • In an Act, this expression, when used in relation to a regulation, means that the regulation shall be laid before the National Assembly within the prescribed period of time and shall be sent to the Statutory Instruments Committee and or by motion to the House and shall not come into force unless and until it is affirmed by a resolution of the House.
    Compare: negative resolution

  • Agenda
  • A list of the items of business to be dealt with during a sitting of the House or of one of its committees. The Order Paper may be considered as the Assembly's "agenda" for any sitting. Committees use the word "agenda".

  • Allocation of Time
  • i) The allocation of a specified number of days to take a bill through various stages. This applies to allocation of time for consideration of an appropriation bill.
    ii) This also refers to the time between tabling a motion and its debate and or the period for answering questions.

  • Allotted days
  • Where an order or Standing Order allots a certain number of days to a motion or to a stage or stages of a Bill, an allotted day is any day on which the motion or Bill is put down as the first public business of the day.

  • Amending Act
  • An Act of Parliament whose sole purpose is to modify another Act or Acts.

  • Amendment
  • An alteration proposed to a motion, a stage or clause of a bill, or to a committee report. It may attempt to present an improved formulation of the proposition under consideration or to provide an alternative to it. Usually an amendment is presented in a subsidiary motion moved in the course of a debate upon another motion which interposes a new cycle of debate and decision between the proposal and decision upon the main motion and question, in its turn the debate on an amendment may be similarly intercepted by the proposal and decision upon a further subsidiary amendment (an amendment to an amendment), or it might be superseded by a dilatory motion.

  • Ancillary motion
  • A subsidiary motion dependent on an order already made by the House, such as a motion for the second reading of a bill or for concurrence in a committee report.

  • Anticipation
  • Debate on the subject of a Bill or motion of which there is notice for a future day, whether specified or not, or which appears on the Order Paper must not be anticipated by previous debate on the same subject. In determining whether a debate is out of order under the rule against anticipation, the Speaker must have regard to the probability of the matter being brought before the Assembly within a reasonable time. (See May, pp 334- 335)

  • Appeal a decision
  • To request the reconsideration of a decision made by a committee chair. In standing, special and sectoral committees, the appeal is made to the committee itself-, decisions made by the Speaker may not be appealed.

  • Appropriation
  • A sum of money allocated by Parliament for a specific purpose outlined in the government's spending estimates.
    See: business of supply

  • Appropriation bill
  • A bill to authorize government expenditures, introduced in the House following concurrence in the main and supplementary estimates. An appropriation bill can only be introduced by a Minister with the approval of Cabinet.

  • Assent
  • When Bills have been finally agreed to (passed) they require the President's "assent" to be declared an "Act of Parliament". It takes the following form- "I assent" (signed)President
    See: Presidential Assent

  • Asterisked item
  • i)An item on the Order Paper which is asterisked will not be proceed with at that sitting.
    ii) A Question on Notice to a Minister that is for oral reply.
    Compare: starred question

  • Auditor General
  • An officer of Parliament responsible for the independent scrutiny of the government's accounts. Annual Reports of this examination are tabled in the House and examined by the Public Accounts Committee.

  • Authority
  • See: procedural authority

Glossary terms starting with "B"

  • Backbencher
  • A Member who is not a Minister of Government, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition or a Whip.
    Distinguish: Private Member

  • Bell
  • An electronic bell used to summon Members at the beginning of a sitting, for the taking of a vote or to establish a quorum in the House. When used with respect to a vote, it is called a "division bell".

  • Bill
  • A proposed law submitted to Parliament for its consideration and approval. It may originate either with the government, or with a Private Member, and may relate either to public or private interests. Public bills deal with matters of public general interest and private bills are for particular interest or benefit of any person or body.

  • Breach of privilege
  • An infringement of one of the specific privileges of the House or its Members which prevents either one from carrying out their functions. The House is asked to deal with an alleged breach only when it appears to the Speaker to be evident (prima facie).
    Distinguish: contempt of Parliament

  • Bring in a bill
  • Introduce legislation tabled by a Minister or private member.

  • Budget
  • The government's statement of its fiscal economic and social policies. It is usually presented once a year.
    Distinguish: Budget speech

  • Budget speech
  • A presentation made in the House by the Minister of Finance introducing the government's plans concerning fiscal, economic and social policy (the Budget).

  • Business of Supply
  • The process by which the government submits its projected annual expenditures for parliamentary approval. It includes consideration of the main and supplementary estimates, and may include motions to restore or reinstate items in the estimates, appropriation bills, and motions debated on the allotted days.

  • Business of the House
  • Any question, motion or bill, which is placed before the House, whether introduced by a Minister or by a private Member.

  • Business of ways and means
  • The process by which the government obtains the necessary resources to meet its expenses. It has two essential elements: the presentation of the budget and the means by which tax bills are introduced.

Glossary terms starting with "C"

  • Cabinet
  • The executive of the government, consisting of those Members appointed by the President. It is responsible for the administration of the government and the establishment of its policy.

  • Cabinet Minister
  • A member of the executive, appointed by the President with a ministerial portfolio. Ministers are responsible to Parliament for their official actions and those of their departments. Cabinet Ministers are given the title "Honourable".
    Synonym: Cabinet member

  • Cabinet solidarity
  • The principle that decisions of the Cabinet must be supported by all of its members; by convention, those not supporting a decision must resign from the Cabinet.
    Distinguish: ministerial responsibility; responsible government

  • Cabinet System
  • A system in which the plurality of Ministers act corporately as the government executive and individually as ministerial (departmental) administrators

  • Casting vote
  • The deciding vote accorded to the Speaker (or, in committee, to the chair) in the event of a tie. The Speaker or chair may vote only in order to avoid a deadlock, and traditionally votes so as to maintain the status quo.

  • Caucus
  • A group composed of all Members of a given party or representatives of different parties meeting to discuss or reach consensus on matters before the House or in committee.

  • Censure motion
  • A motion condemning the government, a Minister or a private Member, for some position which they hold or for some action or lack of action for which they are responsible

  • Certificate of election
  • A document transmitted by the Chief Electoral Officer to the Clerk of the national Assembly, following a general election, certifying that a political party has been allocated a requisite number of seats and a list of names of persons for that party elected to serve as Members of Parliament. A Member cannot be sworn in until the certificate of election is sent to the Clerk of the House following the election.

  • Chair
  • The Presiding Officer at a meeting of the House, whether the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Acting Speaker, or at a committee. Joint committees have co-chairs, one from each committee.

  • Chair of Committees of the Whole
  • The Speaker is charged with presiding over all Committees of the Whole.

  • Chamber
  • The hall or assembly room in which the House meets to conduct its business.

  • Charges upon (i) public revenue (ii) public funds, (iii) Consolidated Fund
  • An obligation or a potential obligation to make payment out of the Consolidated Fund.

  • Chief Parliamentary Counsel CPC
  • A senior official of the Attorney General's Chambers offers comprehensive legal and legislative services to the Speaker, Committees, and Members of the House. As Legislative Counsel, he or she assists Members in the preparation of government and private Members' bills and related legislative matters.

  • Chief Whip
  • A term borrowed from the U.K.'s Parliament where he/she is concerned with mapping out the time of the session; estimating the time likely to be required for each item, and for arranging the business of the individual sitting for their party.
    There are 2 Chief Whips, one on the government side and one on the opposition side. In carrying out his/her duties there, he/she is directly responsible to the Prime Minister and Leader of the House and/or the Leader of the Opposition, respectively. He/she on the government side with his/her counterpart of the largest opposition party constitutes the "usual channels" through which consultations are held with other parties and Members about business arrangements and other matters of concern of the House. (See May, pp 213-212)

  • Citation
  • A numbered paragraph in a Standing Order or another procedural authority usually referred to in the course of debate on a question of privilege or a point of order.

  • Clause-by-clause study
  • The final phase of a committee's consideration of a bill, involving detailed study of its provisions. Each clause of the bill is considered individually.

  • Clause (of a bill)
  • A division of a bill consisting of an individual sentence or statement. The text of a Bill is divided into a series of numbered clauses; each with a descriptive title known as marginal note or side-note printed in the margin. Once a bill becomes law, its clauses are referred to as "sections".

  • Clerk of House/ Clerk of the National Assembly
  • The chief procedural and administrative adviser to the Speaker and to Members of the
    House and the Chief Accounting Officer of the Parliament Office. Appointed by the President on the advice of the Speaker, the Clerk, as the senior permanent official of the House, is responsible for a wide range of administrative and procedural duties relating to the work of the House and its committees.
    The Clerk of the House is responsible for the management of the business of the House on a day to day basis and to offer guidance on procedures and practices of the House. He/She is also responsible for examining the form and content of public petitions prior to their presentation in the House. Only petitions certified by the Clerk to be in conformity with the requirements of the Standing Orders may be presented. The Clerk is also responsible for examining and reporting on the form of petitions for private bills following their filing.

  • Closure
  • A procedure preventing further adjournment of debate on any motion or on any stage of a
    bill and requiring that the motion come to a vote at the end of the sitting in which it is invoked. After a question has been proposed, a Member rising in his place may claim to move "That the question be now put", and unless it appears to the Chair that the motion is an abuse of the rules of the Assembly, or an infringement of the rights of the minority, the "That the question be now put", must be put forthwith.
    Distinguish: guillotine;

  • Code of Conduct
  • See: Conflict of Interest

  • Coming-into-force clause
  • The clause of a bill stating the date upon which an Act will come into effect. Such a clause may also indicate only that an Act or some part of it will come into force on a date fixed by order of the Minister.

  • Commissioner
  • An official named by the Speaker for the purpose of carrying out some official act. The Clerk, the Deputy Clerk, and the Sergeant-at-Arms are commissioners for the purpose of administering the oath of allegiance to Members.

  • Committee
  • A body of Members, selected to consider such matters as the House may refer to it or empower it to examine, including bills. The Committee of Selection establishes all committees and appoints the members to all committees. There are several types of committees: standing, sessional, special and joint as well as the Committees of the Whole.

  • Committee Clerk
  • A member of the professional procedural cadre who performs various administrative and procedural duties in the House. The Clerk acts as administrative officer and adviser on parliamentary procedure to a committee and its chair. The Committee Clerk takes the minutes of proceedings at all committee meetings and may draft rulings on procedural questions for the committee chair.

  • Committee evidence
  • See: Evidence;

  • Committee hearing
  • A meeting convened by a committee to receive oral evidence either publicly or in camera. Hearings may be held on a specific topic or concerning a particular legislative proposal.

  • Committee of Selection
  • The only standing committee appointed directly by the whole House to establish and appoint members to all committees. The Speaker chairs this committee.

  • Committee of Supply
  • A Committee of the Whole responsible for considering and approving the government's expenditure plans

  • Committee of the Whole (House)
  • All of the Members of the House sitting in the Chamber as a committee. Presided over by the Speaker, it studies appropriation bills and any other matters referred to it by the House.

  • Committee stage (of a bill)
  • Detailed study of the clauses of a bill by the House and if referred to a committee. At the latter stage, the committee may invite the public and or hear witnesses, and may propose amendments to specific provisions of the bill.

  • Complicated question
  • A motion that addresses distinct matters which neither lend themselves to being considered together, nor allow Members to vote separately on the different elements. If requested, the Speaker may divide a complicated question for debate and/or voting purposes.
    Compare: omnibus bill

  • Concurrence (in a report)
  • Agreement with a committee report, including the conclusions or recommendations it contains. Concurrence is arrived at in the House by the adoption of a motion.

  • Confidence convention
  • See: non-confidence motion

  • Conflict of interest
  • A conflict arising from any interest, pecuniary or other, which poses difficulties for Members to reconcile their private interests with their public duties and functions and which may interfere with a Member's ability to perform his or her functions. Such a conflict may prevent a Member from voting on a given issue.

  • Consensual mechanism
  • Formal bi-partisan procedural arrangements between the 2 sides of the house adopted by Resolution in the National Assembly to achieve consensus on critical matters of national importance or to bring into effect constitutional provisions.

  • Consent
  • See: unanimous consent

  • Consequential amendment
  • Subsequent amendment(s) to the text of a motion or bill made necessary for coherence following the adoption of an amendment.

  • Consolidated Fund
  • A national account into which all revenues from whatever source are paid.

  • Consolidated Revenue Fund
  • The government account which is drawn upon whenever an appropriation is approved by Parliament and replenished through the collection of taxes, tariffs and excises.

  • Constituency
  • See: electoral district

  • Contempt
  • Any act or omission which obstructs or impedes the Assembly in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member, or officer of the Assembly in discharge of his/her duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as a contempt, though there be no precedent of the offence. (See May, p. 108)

  • Contempt of Parliament
  • Any offence against the authority or dignity of Parliament, including disobedience to its commands or libel against it or its Members. Punishment for such an offence may take a variety of forms, up to and including imprisonment. Usually such matters are referred to the Committee of Privileges which reports to the House for adoption of its report.
    Distinguish: breach of privilege

  • Contingency Fund
  • A public fund of a specified amount from which advances are made to satisfy an urgent need for expenditure for which no other provision exists.

  • Corrigendum (plural corrigenda)
  • Term used in the Journals, Debates, Committee Minutes of Proceedings and Committee Evidence to indicate that a substantive correction has been made to a previous issue.
    Distinguish: erratum (plural errata)

  • Count of Assembly
  • If, while the Assembly, or Committee of the Whole, is sitting, notice is taken by a Member that a quorum is not present, the Speaker, or, in Committee, the Chairman, directs that Members be summoned as for a division. At the expiration of five minutes from this direction, the Speaker, or the Chairman, counts the Members present.

  • Count out
  • An adjournment of the House due to the absence of quorum. The Speaker determines that quorum is no longer present by counting the number of Members actually in attendance; their names are then recorded in the Minutes.

  • Cross the floor
  • To change political allegiance. With the amendment of the Constitution in December 2007 the Member can be removed as a Member of the House by his/her party as set out in the Act.

Glossary terms starting with "D"

  • Debate
  • A matter requiring a decision of the Assembly is decided upon by means of a question put from the Chair upon a motion made by a Member.

  • Debates of the House
  • The in extenso report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House and in a Committee of the Whole. The verbatim record of the Debates is prepared after each sitting. The Debates are identified as "Hansard" which is the name of the British family originally responsible for arranging the official reporting of debates in the British House of Commons.
    Synonym: Hansard

  • Decision
  • (1) (Of the Speaker): A ruling on the procedural acceptability of some matter before the House which, unless otherwise specified, serves as a precedent to govern future proceedings. Such rulings are final; they may not be debated or appealed.
    (2) (Of a chair): A ruling on the procedural acceptability of some matter before a committee which may serve as a precedent in future committee proceedings. A Chair's ruling may be appealed to the committee or, if delivered in Committee of the Whole, to the Speaker.
    Synonym: ruling

  • Declare null and void
  • Decision of the House or ruling by the Speaker invalidating any business which the House or one of its committees is or has been considering.

  • Deferred division
  • A recorded division which is not held at the close of a debate, but at a later time pursuant to various provisions in the Standing Orders or by a special order of the House.

  • Deputy Clerk
  • The senior official appointed to act as deputy to the Clerk of the House for procedural and administrative purposes.

  • Deputy Speaker (of the House)
  • Title given to the Member elected at the beginning of every Parliament. The Deputy Speaker replaces the Speaker when the latter is unavoidably absent.

  • Die on the Order Paper
  • To remain on the Order Paper at the end of a session without a final decision having been taken. Government motions and bills which "die" are lost and are not proceeded with further, unless they are re-introduced in the next Session.
    Compare: reinstate a bill

  • Dilatory motion
  • A superseding motion designed to dispose of the original question before the House, either for the time being or permanently. A motion to adjourn the debate and a motion to adjourn the House are examples of dilatory motions.
    A motion for the adjournment of a debate, or of the Assembly during any debate; or in Committee that the Chairman do report progress, or do leave the Chair. If the Speaker, or Chairman, is of the opinion that such dilatory motion is an abuse of the rules of the Assembly he may decline to propose the question thereon to the Assembly.

  • Discharge of Orders
  • On the order of the day being read for any stage of a Bill, an order may, on the motion of the Member in charge of the Bill, be made that the order be discharged and the Bill be withdrawn.

  • Disorder
  • Transgression of rules of debate, making of noise or disturbance while another Member is speaking, other breach of order or decorum not amounting to grossly disorderly conduct. On such an occasion it is the Speaker's duty to intervene and call Members to order.

  • Disqualification (for Membership of the National Assembly)
  • Aliens; persons who are: under 18 years, are insane; sentenced to death; holding specified offices, etc.

  • Dissenting opinion
  • A brief appendix to a standing committee report, provided for by the Standing Orders, containing dissenting or supplementary opinions or recommendations proposed by members of the committee. (It is not a synonym for minority report which does not exist in Commonwealth Parliamentary practice).

  • Dissolution
  • The bringing to an end of a Parliament, either at the conclusion of its five-year term or by proclamation of the President. It is followed by a general election.
    Compare: prorogation

  • Dissolution of Parliament
  • A Parliament ceases to exist after five years, that is five years from the date when the Assembly of a new Parliament first meets, unless sooner dissolved.

  • Distribution of Parliamentary papers
  • Copies of parliamentary papers are made available to Members of Parliament either before a sitting in hard copies or electronically or at the sitting. Copies are made available to the media at the sitting. Some papers may be available for sale by the agency submitting them to the Assembly. Copies may be given to certain approved bodies by Parliament Office.

  • Division
  • A vote; the dividing of the members into two groups (the yeas and nays) in order to reach a decision.
    Synonym: vote

  • Division bell
  • See: bell

  • Division list
  • A list giving the results of a recorded division, printed in the Hansard and the Minutes of the sitting of the House or committees. Members, identified by name, are listed under Yeas or Nays.
    Compare: recorded division

Glossary terms starting with "E"

  • Election
  • See: general election;

  • Electoral district
  • Any place or territorial area entitled to elect a representative to a local authority body or Regional Democratic Council or a seat for a Member of Parliament for a geographic seat.
    Synonym: constituency

  • Electoral quota
  • The average number of electors per electoral district in a given region, local government area or nationally, as established by the Guyana Elections Commission.

  • Embargo
  • A restriction on the distribution or publication of a document or the information it contains, until the time stipulated for its release. An embargo is often placed on documents given a limited distribution prior to their tabling in the House and on notices of motion prior to the release of the Notice Paper in which they appear.

  • Emergency debate
  • A debate held on a motion to adjourn, devoted to the discussion of a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration. When a Member requests an emergency debate, the Speaker decides whether or not the request will be granted; after weighing certain criteria such as whether the matter relates to a genuine emergency and whether it can be dealt with by the House in another way.
    Synonym: Request for Adjournment on Matters of Urgent Public interest.

  • Enabling clause
  • The part of a bill giving the appropriate authorities the power to bring the provisions of the bill into force.

  • Enabling legislation
  • Legislation which confers the power to do something; many government proposals, such as accession to international and regional treaties, require such legislation or a motion before they can be acted upon.

  • Enacting clause
  • A short paragraph preceding the sections of an Act, which indicates the authority by which it is made.

  • Erratum (plural errata)
  • Term used in committee publications to indicate that a correction (of a minor character) has been made to a previous transcript.
    Distinguish: corrigenthim (plural corrigenda)

  • Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice (Erskine May’s Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament)
  • A procedural authority providing a complete description of the rules, practices and precedents in the United Kingdom's House of Commons at Westminster. The original edition was prepared in 1844 by Sir Thomas Erskine May, Clerk of the British House. Commonly referred to as Erskine May or simply May.

  • Estimates
  • The departmental expenditure plans consisting of main estimates, tabled annually, and supplementary estimates, tabled as required. Consideration of the estimates is a major component of the business of supply.
    Estimates of revenue and expenditure are required by the Constitution to be prepared and laid before the Assembly within ninety days after the commencement of the financial year which begins on I" January. The estimates detail the specific sums that will be needed for the public service and the sources of revenue to meet the estimated expenditure. (The presentation of the estimates of revenue and expenditure imitates the cycle of the "Budget Debate").

  • Evidence
  • 1) The in extenso transcript of what is said during a committee meeting.
    Synonym: Verbatim record
    2) Answer or information given by a witness who is examined by a Committee.

  • Examiner of Private Bills
  • The Clerk of the National Assembly charged with examining and revising private bills before they are printed, ensuring that they conform to the requirements of the Standing Orders.

  • Ex officio member
  • Generally taken to be a person who, by virtue of an office or position held or because of an expertise, is unofficially attached to a committee in a capacity separate from the research staff or a consultant. They are not included in the quorum of a committee and are not allowed to vote and can only participate in the committee's deliberations by invitation of the chair.

  • Expanded negative
  • An amendment which, although it is not expressed in the same terms, would have the same effect as voting against the motion under consideration. Such an amendment is not in order.

  • Expel a Member
  • The action of the House in ridding itself of one of its Members who is, in its opinion, unfit for membership in the National Assembly.
    Compare: name a Member; suspend a Member

Glossary terms starting with "F"

  • Filibuster
  • An obstructive tactic consisting of the use of various methods to delay the business of the House or of a committee.

  • Filing of Vacancy in Committee
  • Where a Member resigns, no longer wishes to remain in a committee, or, where the party of that Member wishes to change their representation in that committee, that party will inform the Speaker as Chairman of the Committee of Selection of the proposed change and the Committee of Selection will be convened to address the proposed change.

  • Filing of vacancy in the House
  • Where a Member's seat becomes vacant the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition, or the Representative of the List will formally indicate to the Speaker and the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) GECOM that a vacancy exists and notify that another name has been selected from the List of candidates to fill the vacancy. The CEO will verify the name and so indicate to the Clerk of the National Assembly that the name is in order and the person will be invited to attend a sitting where he/she will be sworn in as a Member of Parliament.

  • First among equals
  • See: Prime Minister

  • First reading
  • A pro-forma stage in the passage of a bill, taken together with the order for printing. The motion for first reading and printing immediately follows the granting of leave to introduce the bill in the House and is deemed carried without question put.

  • Fiscal year
  • The twelve-month period, from January I" to December 3 1 used by the government for budgetary and accounting purposes.

  • Floor of the House
  • That part of the Chamber reserved for the Members and the officials of the House.

  • Free vote or conscience vote
  • Non-procedural term, meaning a vote during which party discipline is not imposed on individual Members. This occurred in 1996 for the first time during the second and third reading of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill. The second time it occurred was on the vote on the constitutional amendment addressing anti-discrimination which included sexual orientation.

  • Front benches
  • The first row of seats in the House which, on the government side, are occupied by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and, on the opposition side, by the Leader of the Opposition and their principal spokespersons.

Glossary terms starting with "G"

  • Gallery
  • Balcony in the interior of the House set aside for the public, the press and distinguished visitors who wish to attend a sitting.

  • General election
  • An election, following the dissolution of the Parliament by the President, in accordance with the Constitution.

  • Government
  • (1) The sovereign political authority of a State, in which are vested the executive, legislative and judicial powers.
    (2) Often used to refer to the executive branch of the government.

  • Government bill
  • Any bill introduced by a Minister. They are all concerned with public policy and may contain financial provisions.

  • Government business
  • See: Government Orders

  • Government Member
  • A Member belonging to the Government party.

  • Government of the day
  • See: Government (2)

  • Government Orders
  • (1) Any bill initiated by a Minister or motion initiated by a Member of Government and placed on the agenda of the House (the Order Paper) under the rubric "Government Business"
    (2) A period set aside at each sitting for dealing with Government Orders.

  • Grandfather clause
  • A clause protecting a prerogative of an individual or a collectivity from being affected by the new legislation.

  • Grievance
  • A complaint concerning some situation, action or inaction for which the government is responsible. The House has traditionally claimed the right to have its grievances heard before granting supply.

  • Guillotine
  • A provision usually in the Standing Orders which requires that the House reach a decision on a given matter by a particular date or at the end of a specified period of time. Some guillotines are applied automatically; others are invoked at the request of the government.
    Compare: closure;

  • Guyana Election Commission
  • The Body established by statute which manages the elections at the national, regional and local government levels.

Glossary terms starting with "H"

  • Hansard
  • This is the name usually used to describe the official report (Verbatim) of the Assembly. T. C. Hansard was the first printer and later publisher of the Official series of U.K. Parliamentary Debates.
    See: Debates of the House

  • Head of Committees Division
  • The Clerk in charge of the Committees Division of the Parliament who overseas the proper functioning of all committees and assigns assistant clerks of committees to each.
    Synonym : Committee Clerk

  • Hear, hear Cries of
  • Words used to denote approbation of the sentiments expressed at the end of a sentence during a Member's speech. When used otherwise it can cause interruption and serious disorder.

  • High crime and misdemeanor
  • In parliamentary law, the characterization applied to the offence of offering to bribe or the acceptance of a bribe by a Member of Parliament, or to the spending of unappropriated funds.

  • House
  • Common term for the Assembly meaning a meeting place.

  • Housekeeping motion
  • A motion of a routine nature dealing with administrative or purely formal matters necessary to expedite House business.
    Compare: routine motion

  • House Leader
  • The Member of a political party responsible for its management in the House. Distinguish: leader of a party

  • House Official
  • An officer responsible to the House for the carrying out of duties assigned by statute or by standing or special order. Among those included in the designation are the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Glossary terms starting with "I"

  • Impute motives
  • Ascribe objectionable motives or motives to a Member different from those acknowledged by the Member.

  • In camera meeting
  • A meeting from which the public is excluded. There are five Committees which meet in public and the media in accordance with the Standing Orders. However, these committees can decide to meet in camera to address administrative matters, consider draft reports, examine witnesses or discuss sensitive issues as it so determines.

  • Inquiry of a committee
  • A study undertaken by a standing or special committee of the House. It may be initiated as a result of a standing or special order or, in the case of a standing committee, it may be initiated by the committee itself.

  • Instructions
  • Before the Committee to which a Bill or any other matter has been committed begins its consideration of the Bill or any other matter, or during its consideration, an instruction may be given, the purpose of which is either to empower it to do something which it could not otherwise do, or to define the course of action which it must follow. The first type of instruction, which is called permissive, may be given to a Committee of the Whole Assembly, or to any other Committee. The second type, which is called mandatory, may be given only to a Select Committee or to a Committee on Private Bill. (See May, pp 514-515)

  • Instruction to a committee
  • A direction by the House to a committee which has already received an order of reference, further defining its course of action or empowering it to do something additional. There are two types of instructions: permissive and mandatory.
    Distinguish: order of reference

  • Instrument
  • A statutory instrument issued by the President to give some power to act or to
    confer some right. Such a document is used, for example, for the appointment of the Clerk of the National Assembly.

  • Interest, Pecuniary
  • A Member who has a direct personal pecuniary interest in a matter is not allowed to speak on it without disclosing the extent of that interest.

  • Inter-parliamentary delegation
  • An officially recognized group of Members, representing Parliament or a parliamentary association at an inter-parliamentary activity in Guyana or abroad.

  • Interpretation clause
  • A clause of a bill which contains the definitions of certain terms used in the bill.

  • Interruption
  • Public business normally continues until the moment of interruption at 9:55 p.m., but it may be interrupted for suspension at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., or by a Member rising to move the closure of debate or a matter affecting the privilege of the House or on an approval for consideration of a Definite Matter of Urgent Public Importance.
    Besides these it may be interrupted by a Member rising to move the closure of debate, by a matter of order, which calls for immediate intervention by the Chair, sudden disorder in the Assembly, or on a matter affecting the privilege of a Member or the Assembly.

  • Introduction of a bill
  • The first presentation of a Government bill to the House for its consideration. Leave to introduce this bill is granted automatically, without debate, amendment or question put.

  • Invitation to appear
  • An invitation to a private individual or the representative of an entity to appear before a committee for the purpose of providing information about some matter to the committee. Distinguish: summoning a witness

  • Item
  • See: vote (2)

Glossary terms starting with "J"

  • Joint committee
  • Where two or more sectoral committees may determine that there is sufficient overlap in the area or agency or policy under consideration to meet together with the relevant authorities.

Glossary terms starting with "L"

  • Laying of documents
  • See: Presentation of papers and reports

  • Lay on the Table
  • See: Table

  • Leader (of a party)
  • The person chosen by a political party to provide leadership in Parliament and during election campaigns. Those so chosen are either already Members of Parliament or are expected to assume a seat in the National Assembly.

  • Leader of the Government in the House
  • The Minister responsible for managing the government's business in the House, including negotiating business with the Leader of the Opposition of the opposition parties. The Government House Leader determines a schedule of House business.
    Synonym: Government House Leader

  • Leader of the Opposition
  • The Leader of the Opposition is elected by and from among the non-governmental Members of the National Assembly at a meeting held under the Chairmanship of the Speaker who does not vote.

  • Leader’s Day
  • The first day of debate on the Address of the President to the National Assembly at the commencement of a new Parliament Session. Traditionally, the first speaker is the Leader of the Official Opposition, who may conclude by proposing an amendment to add words to the original motion.

  • Leave (of the House)
  • See: unanimous consent

  • Leave to introduce a bill
  • See: introduction of a bill

  • Legislation
  • The laws enacted by or on the authority of Parliament. These include orders, regulations and other statutory instruments adopted as a result of power delegated by Parliament to a variety of government departments, boards and commissions.
    Compare: delegated legislation

  • Legislative agenda
  • The government's legislative plans for the 5 year parliamentary Session, usually set out in the President's Address. The government is free to modify its legislative plans without notice during the course of the session.

  • Lobby
  • Person(s) or group organized for the purpose of influencing the opinions and decisions of legislators with respect to some specific area of interest.

  • Lobbyist
  • A person or group who actively attempts to influence legislators with respect to some specific area of interest.

  • Lock-up
  • A closed-door information session arranged prior to the presentation of a major initiative such as a budget. Journalists are not permitted to leave the briefing room until the official presentation of the initiative has begun, although parliamentarians may.

  • Long title (of a bill)
  • The title of a bill that sets out in general terms the purposes of the bill. It must encompass all aspects of the bill and, if the bill is amended, it may be necessary to amend the long title to reflect those changes.
    Compare: short title (of a bill)

Glossary terms starting with "M"

  • Mace
  • A large, heavy and richly-ornamented staff which is the symbol of authority of the National Assembly. When the Speaker takes the Chair, the Sergeant-at-Arms places the Mace on the Table to signify the House is in session. Guyana's Mace was a gift from the Government of India at the time of independence.

  • Maiden speech
  • The first speech made in the House by a new Member. By tradition, the Speaker recognizes a Member rising to make such a speech in preference to others, and the Member may read from notes on this occasion. Traditionally it is considered discourteous to heckle this new member's first delivery in the House.

  • Majority government
  • A government formed by the party or the coalition of parties holding the majority of seats in the National Assembly.
    Compare: minority government

  • Mandatory instruction
  • An instruction that directs the work of a committee in an express and precise manner. The committee is obliged to follow a mandatory instruction from the House.
    Compare: permissive instruction

  • Marginal note
  • A short explanatory note inscribed in the margin of a bill to serve as a title for each paragraph. Marginal notes are not officially part of a bill and cannot be amended by motion, though they may be changed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel if amendments to the clause require it. A committee in its report may make proposals for new marginal notes or corrections to marginal notes.

  • Member of Parliament
  • A person elected to the National Assembly under the provisions of the Guyana Constitution and the Laws of Guyana. The votes received by the political parties on the basis of proportional representation informs on the number of seats allocated through the national top up or the geographic lists.

  • Message
  • A formal communication to the House from the President or a foreign Head of State at the invitation of the government.

  • Minister
  • See: Cabinet Minister

  • Ministerial responsibility
  • The principle that Ministers are responsible to the House for their actions and those of their departmental officials.
    Distinguish: Cabinet solidarity; responsible government

  • Ministers’ Statements
  • See: Statements by Ministers

  • Ministry
  • See: Cabinet

  • Minority government
  • A government formed by a party, possibly in a coalition with one or more other parties, which does not hold a majority of the seats in the National Assembly. While a minority government does not hold a majority of seats, it usually does hold more than any other party or coalition and must maintain the confidence of the House to continue in power.
    Compare: majority government

  • Minority report
  • See: dissenting opinion

  • Minutes of Evidence
  • Evidence of a witness before a Committee taken down by short-hand or tape-recorded for later transcription.

  • Minutes of Proceedings
  • 1) The formal printed or electronic record of business that occurred during a meeting of a standing, special or joint committee.
    2) A record of the business of each sitting kept by the Clerk. The Minutes of Proceedings record what is done or deemed to be done as opposed to what is said in the Assembly.
    Compare: Evidence

  • Model bill
  • A form provided by the Clerk of the House to those wishing to present certain types of private bills, such as a bill for an Act of incorporation.

  • Molestation
  • The obstruction of Members in the discharge of their responsibilities to the Assembly. It is a contempt to molest a Member of the Assembly while attending the Assembly or coming to or going from it, or trying by force to influence them in their conduct in the Assembly.

  • Motion
  • A proposal moved by a Member for the House to do something, to order something to be done, or to express an opinion with regard to some matter. In order to be placed before the House for consideration, a motion must be duly moved and seconded. There is no such requirement for a Minister tabling a motion. A motion can only be tabled with the approval of the Speaker. No seconder is required in committee.
    Once adopted, a motion becomes an order or a resolution.
    Compare: procedural motion

  • Mover
  • A Member presenting a motion in the House or in one of its committees. When debate is permitted, the Member speaks immediately following the proposing of the question to the House.
    Compare: right of reply

Glossary terms starting with "N"

  • Name a Member
  • A disciplinary procedure used by the Speaker to maintain order in the House. The Speaker names a Member for persistently disregarding the authority of the Chair. He or she uses the name of the Member, and the Member is then usually suspended from the service of the House for the rest of the sitting day.
    Compare: expel a Member; suspend a Member

  • National Assembly
  • The elected house, comprised of the 65 elected members, technocratic Members and parliamentary secretaries, the Speaker and the Clerk. The House alone is constitutionally authorized to introduce legislation concerned with the raising or spending of funds.

  • Negative resolution
  • In an Act, this expression, when used in relation to any regulation, means that the regulation shall be laid before the House within the prescribed period of time and may be annulled or approved by a resolution of the House introduced and passed in accordance with the Standing Orders.
    Compare: affirmative resolution

  • Non-confidence motion
  • A motion which, if adopted, indicates that the government no longer enjoys the support of a sufficient number of Members of the House to implement its policies, enact legislation or authorize expenditures from the public purse. Such support is usually referred to as "confidence". The government then either resigns or requests that the President dissolve Parliament and give orders for the issuing of election writs.

  • Notice of Motion
  • As a general rule every motion proposed in the Assembly requires notice unless exempted by Standing Order No. 30 (Exemption from Notice). Where notice is required
    of any intended motion it must be given inl writing and handed to the Clerk or left in Parliament Office.

  • Notice of motion
  • An announcement, either oral or written, of an intention to bring a substantive proposal before the House.

  • Notice of objection
  • See: notice of opposition

  • Notice of opposition
  • A formal motion giving notice opposing an item of the Estimates which necessitates the holding of a separate vote on that item prior to the vote on the main concurrence motion. Compare: opposed item

  • Notice of Questions
  • A Notice of a question to a Minister is placed upon a Notice Paper unless the question related to a matter of urgency (Oral Questions without Notice) and must be approved by the Speaker.

  • Notice of ways and means motion
  • A notice indicating the government's intention to introduce a ways and means motion at a later day. The notice gives the terms of the motion and is the first step in the process of authorizing a new tax measure. This may be done by way of announcement during the Budget speech or any other address in the National Assembly.
    Compare: ways and means motion

  • Notice Paper
  • A published document prepared and circulated by the Clerk containing bills, motions and questions for which notice has been given.

Glossary terms starting with "O"

  • Oath of office
  • An oath of office set out in the First Schedule of the Constitution, sworn by a Member before taking a seat in the National Assembly. The Member may choose to take the oath on any religious text or by affirmation.  An oath sworn by employees of the House to carry out faithfully the duties entrusted to them.
    See: solemn affirmation

  • Official Gazette
  • A periodical publication of the Government of Guyana consisting of orders, regulations and other statutory instruments; and Acts of Parliament.

  • Official Opposition
  • The party or coalition of parties holding the second largest number of seats in the House. It is accorded certain financial and procedural advantages over other parties in opposition

  • Official Report
  • The regular reporting of parliamentary debates commonly called "Hansard".

  • Omnibus bill
  • A bill consisting of a number of related but separate parts that seek to amend and/or
    repeal one or several existing Acts and/or to enact one or several new Acts.

  • Opening of Parliament
  • The opening of the first session of a new Parliament at which the Speaker and Deputy
    Speaker are elected and Members of Parliament are sworn in. It is followed by the President's Message which outlines the policy of the new government.

  • Opposed item
  • An item of the main or supplementary estimates to which a notice of opposition has been
    filed. In consequence of such a notice, a separate decision must be taken on the opposed item.

  • Opposition party
  • A political party that is neither the government party nor part of the coalition of parties
    forming the government.

  • Oral question period
  • A 40-minute period at every sitting of the House during which questions for oral reply
    submitted and approved by the Speaker may be addressed to Ministers. Ministers may be questioned only about the responsibilities of their current portfolio

  • Oral vote
  • See: voice vote

  • Order of Business
  • A heading on the Order Paper under which are listed all items of business to be dealt
    with that day.

  • Order of the Assembly
  • Every question when agreed to becomes an order or a resolution of the Assembly. By its orders the Assembly directs its Committees, its Members, its Officers, the order of its own proceedings and the acts of all persons whom they concern.

  • Order Paper
  • The official agenda of the House, published with the Notice Paper for each sitting day, listing all items that may be brought forward on that particular day.

  • Order Paper and Notice Paper at Dissolution
  • Published with the Order Paper at the dissolution of a Parliament it includes all the questions remaining unanswered.
    See: die on the Order Paper

  • Orders of the Day
  • Items of business placed on the agenda of the House (the Order Paper). The ordinary public business of the Assembly consists of orders of the day, that is a stage of a Bill or other matter which the Assembly has ordered to be taken into consideration on a particular day.
    Compare: Order Paper

  • Organization meeting
  • The first meeting of a committee at which it deals with matters of routine business, including, where appropriate, the election of a chair and vice-chair.

  • Out of order
  • Contrary to the rules of parliamentary procedure. The expression may be applied to motions, bills or to any intervention which runs contrary to the rules of the House.

Glossary terms starting with "P"

  • Parliament
  • (1) A period of time during which the institution of Parliament exercises its powers. A Parliament has a constitutionally-determined maximum lifespan of five years. These periods are numbered consecutively (for example: 8"' Parliament, 9th Parliament, etc.).
    (2) Legislative branch of government, composed of the President, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the National Assembly.

  • Parliamentary Association
  • An international association, whose Guyanese component is composed of Members of Parliament, which provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and for the sharing of knowledge and experience through person-to¬-person contact. The main activities of these associations include exchanges, conferences and seminars on various subjects.

  • Parliamentary Exchanges
  • A programme involving the making of official visits to Guyana by foreign parliamentarians under the auspices of the Speaker of the House and visits abroad by Guyanese Members at the invitation of a Legislature of another country.

  • Parliamentary Precinct
  • See: precinct of Parliament

  • Parliamentary privilege
  • The rights and immunities enjoyed by a Member, necessary for the carrying out of parliamentary duties. They include: freedom of speech in the House and its committees; freedom from arrest in civil cases in the precinct of Parliament; exemption from jury duty and appearance as a witness; and, in general, freedom from obstruction and intimidation.
    Compare: privilege

  • Parliamentary Procedure
  • The rules by which the House conducts its business, based on statutes, the Standing Orders, precedents, practice and convention. Decisions by the Speaker on points of order and questions of privilege are based on these rules.

  • Parliamentary Secretary
  • A member of the government party named to assist a Minister as the Minister directs. A Parliamentary Secretary may table documents or answer questions on the Minister's behalf, but may not present government bills.

  • Parliamentary Secretary
  • A member of the government party named to assist a Minister as the Minister directs. A Parliamentary Secretary may table documents or answer questions on the Minister's behalf, but may not present government bills.

  • Parliament Office
  • The Secretariat of the National Assembly

  • Party discipline
  • The control exercised by a party over the positions held by its members and over the way in which they vote. The enforcement of party discipline is one of the whip's duties.

  • Party vote
  • A division on a question during which Members follow the instructions of their respective whips so as to reflect the official positions of their parties. The Speaker calls first the yeas, then the nays and the votes are taken.
    Compare: free vote or vote of conscience

  • Passage (of a bill)
  • The process by which a bill obtains parliamentary approval and becomes law. The principal steps in the passage of a public bill by the House are: introduction/ first reading; second reading; committee stage; report stage; and third reading. After completing similar stages in the Senate, the bill goes forward for assent by the President.

  • Permissive Instruction
  • An instruction by the House that gives a committee the power to do something it would not otherwise be able to do, but does not compel the committee to use that power.
    Compare: mandatory instruction

  • Petition
  • A formal request made to Parliament by citizens of Guyana for redress of a grievance. Such a request can only be presented to the House by a Member.
    Petitions may be presented during Routine Proceedings at every sitting or may be filed with the Clerk.

  • Petition for a private bill
  • A petition signed by the promoters of a private bill which must be filed with the Clerk by the Member sponsoring the bill and be approved by the Assembly to allow for the Bill to be laid.

  • Plea (of a petition)
  • That part of a petition in which the petitioners present their request for action in response to an alleged grievance. The plea must be concise, clear and respectful.

  • Plebiscite
  • An official consultation conducted by a government on a specific issue by way of a ballot. The results of a plebiscite are not binding.
    Compare: referendum

  • Point of order
  • A question raised by a Member with respect to any departure from the Standing Orders or customary procedures, either in debate or in the conduct of House or committee business. Points of order are decided by the Speaker whose decision is final, or, in committee, by the chair, whose decision may be appealed to the committee.

  • Political party
  • A group of people sharing a particular ideology and set of goals that nominates candidates for election to Parliament

  • Portfolio
  • The responsibilities of a Cabinet Minister, especially the subject matter or government department(s) with which he or she is charged. Portfolios are assigned by the President.

  • Postponement of a clause
  • Under certain conditions, a committee puts off a decision on a clause until later. For example, the short title of bill is usually postponed until the end of clause by ¬clause consideration.

  • Prayer
  • At every sitting of the House, the Clerk of the National Assembly reads prayers before any business is entered upon. No one is admitted to the galleries until the reading of the prayer is completed

  • Preamble
  • The part of a bill preceding the main text that states the reasons for its introduction and the ends which it seeks to attain. Preambles are required in all private bills.

  • Precedent
  • A Speaker's ruling or a practice of the House taken as a rule for subsequent cases of a similar nature. Not all decisions and practices constitute precedents.

  • Precinct of Parliament
  • Building(s) accommodating Members, the Chamber, and the rooms reserved for
    committee meetings. As parliamentary privilege recognizes the right of each House to regulate its own affairs, the parliamentary precinct is outside the jurisdiction of domestic regulatory control.

  • Presentation of papers and reports
  • The laying of documents such as government or committee reports and orders, regulations or agreements on the Order Paper.

  • Presidential Prerogative
  • The rights, powers and privileges enjoyed and/ or exercised by the President as provided for in the constitution and any statute.

  • Presiding Officer
  • See: Chair

  • Press, accommodation of
  • (1) A space or spaces allocated in the House reserved for accredited members of the media.
    (2) Members of the media accredited to cover the proceedings of Parliament and so granted access to the areas reserved for them.

  • Previous Question
  • A debatable motion preventing any further amendment to a motion or bill before the House. If the previous question is passed, the main motion is immediately put to a vote; if negatived, the main motion is superseded.

  • Prima facie breach of privilege
  • See: breach of privilege

  • Prime Minister
  • The Leader of the Government of the party having the greatest number of seats in the National Assembly. Appointed by the President, and is responsible to the House for the administration of public affairs.

  • Principal or parent act
  • In relation to a bill, the parent act is the statutory law(s) which the bill is amending.

  • Principal or parent act
  • In relation to a bill, the parent act is the statutory law(s) which the bill is amending.

  • Principle (of a bill)
  • The object or related objects which a bill seeks to achieve. The principle of a bill is adopted at second reading.

  • Private bill
  • A bill designed to exempt an individual or group from the application of the law, such as a bill to incorporate a private company. A private bill can only be introduced by a Member who is not part of the Cabinet.
    Distinguish: Private Member's bill

  • Private Member
  • A Member who is not a Minister. Parliamentary rules also specifically exclude the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and Parliamentary Secretaries from this designation. Distinguish: backbencher

  • Private Member’s bill
  • A bill sponsored by a Member who is not part of the Cabinet. The term usually refers to public bills.
    Distinguish: private bill

  • Private Members’ Business
  • Bills and motions sponsored by private Members including items on the order of precedence and those outside the order of precedence. A period is devoted to the consideration of this business on the Order Paper.

  • Private Members’ Day
  • The day allocated in the Standing Orders for the order of precedence given to Private Members business, every fourth sitting once there is business on the Order Paper.

  • Privilege
  • Those rights and immunities enjoyed by the House as a collectivity and by each Member individually, without which Members could not carry out their duties and the House could not fulfill its functions.
    Compare: breach of privilege; contempt of Parliament; parliamentary privilege

  • Privileged motion
  • A motion arising from and dependent on the subject under debate; it may be moved without notice and takes precedence over the motion then before the House. Privileged motions are of two kinds: amendments and superseding motions.

  • Procedural authority
  • A work dealing with the procedure and practices of the House which may be referred to for guidance in resolving points of order and questions of privilege.The most frequently cited work is Erskine May.

  • Procedural motion
  • A motion that deals with a purely routine matter, such as the first reading of a bill or its reprinting following amendment in committee

  • Proceeding
  • The actions taken by the House or by a committee. The most important parts of the proceedings are the decisions that are taken.

  • Proclamation
  • An official notice or order issued by the President. The Parliament session is begun and ended by proclamation.

  • Promoter (of a private bill)
  • The person or group of persons seeking to have a private bill adopted. They must be directly affected by the bill and be signatories to the petition for its introduction. Distinguish: mover; parliamentary agent; sponsor (of a bill)

  • Promulgation
  • The act whereby the President assents to a bill by Parliament and proclaims it in force through its publication in the Official Gazette.

  • Propose the question
  • The formal reading of a motion from the Chair which places it before the House. Until the question is proposed, it cannot be debated, amended or voted upon.
    Distinguish: put the question

  • prorogation
  • The ending of a session of Parliament. Prorogation also refers to the period of time a Parliament stands prorogued. Under article 70(l) of the Constitution Parliament may be prorogued by the President at any time. The effect of a prorogation is at once to terminate all current business of Parliament.
    Compare: dissolution

  • provisional standing order
  • A standing order adopted by the House for a certain period of time. This type of order is often used for the purpose of trying out some new or modified procedure.

  • Public Accounts
  • A report on the financial transactions of the government prepared by the Auditor General of Guyana. The Auditor General presents an annual audit to the Speaker which is tabled in the House and automatically referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

  • Public bill
  • A bill concerned with matters of public policy; it may be sponsored either by a Minister (government bill) or by a private Member (private Member's bill).

  • put the question
  • To put the motion before the House to a vote. At this stage, no further debate or amendment is possible. The question is put to the House by the Speaker, meaning that the Speaker reads the main motion, followed by any proposed amendment or sub-amendment in order.
    Distinguish: propose the question

Glossary terms starting with "Q"

  • question
  • The matter before the House or a committee, about which it is called upon to make a decision.

  • question of privilege
  • See: breach of privilege

  • question period
  • The heading of Questions on Notice on the Order Paper that allows for questions from private Members to Ministers requiring either a written or an oral reply. The question may be withdrawn or made an order for return at a later date.

  • Questions without Notice
  • A heading on the Order Paper that allows oral questions to be asked to a Minister without notice, twenty minutes is allocated for this and permission must be sought by the mover in advance of the sitting and only with the approval of the Speaker can it be asked. Only Questions of this nature that are urgent and important or relate to the business of the day are permitted. The questions must be precise and stated without argument or opinion. Only 2 supplementary questions per original question may be permitted at the discretion of the Speaker.

  • Quorum
  • The number of Members, including the Speaker, necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers. In the House, 22 Members including the Speaker, if he is an elected member, comprise a quorum; in a committee, three including the chair comprise a quorum.

  • quorum call
  • To draw the attention of the Speaker (or the chair, in a committee) to the absence of a quorum; the business under consideration in the House is interrupted and, if a quorum is not established, the House adjourns.

Glossary terms starting with "R"

  • reading of a bill
  • One of the stages of the passage of a bill. The reading stages (first, second and third) of each bill have their own individual function.

  • reasoned amendment
  • An amendment expressing specific reasons for opposing the second or third reading of a bill. A reasoned amendment is intended to prevent further progress on the bill.
    Compare: dilatory motion

  • Recall of a Member
  • The Speaker may be officially called upon by either of the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition or any leader of any political party in the House, indicating that that party has lost confidence in a given Member and call for their removal as a Member
    of the House. The Speaker will officially inform the House and that Member so recalled loses their seat in the House.

  • recall of the House
  • Pursuant to the Standing Orders, the Speaker may recall the House, when it stands adjourned during a session, to meet prior to the date that it is scheduled to reconvene.

  • recess
  • The period between August 10`h and October 10t" of each year where the National Assembly does not sit and which signals the conclusion of one session and the commencement of another in the 5 year cycle of the Parliament's Session.
    Distinguish: adjournment of the House; suspension of a sitting

  • recognizing visitors
  • The action taken by the Speaker in formally drawing the attention of the House to the presence of a distinguished visitor in the Chamber for that sitting.

  • recommittal (of a bill)
  • The referral of a bill back to committee for further amendment in a specific area or for the reconsideration of a certain clause or clauses. The recommittal is moved as an amendment to the motion for third reading of the bill.

  • recorded division
  • A vote where the names of those voting for and against a motion are registered in the official record of the House or of one of its committees. In the House, a recorded division may be requested by a Member.
    Compare: voice vote

  • recorded vote
  • See: recorded division

  • referendum
  • An official consultation conducted by a government on a specific issue by way of a ballot. The results of a referendum are binding on the government.
    Compare: plebiscite

  • referral (to a committee)
  • The sending of a bill (before or after second reading), a motion or resolution or a question to a committee for study and report. Depending on the objectives of the referral, it may be made to a standing, sectoral or special committee or to the Committee of the Whole.

  • regulations
  • A form of law, often referred to as delegated or subordinate legislation, which sets out rules that are usually of general application, rather than rules that apply to specific persons or situations. Regulations are not made by Parliament but by persons or bodies to whom Parliament has delegated the authority to make them, such as a Minister , departments, boards or agencies by virtue of the power conferred on them by some Act of Parliament.
    Some regulations are subject to negative or affirmative resolution of the National Assembly as provided for in the specific principal act.
    Regulations which are subject to negative resolution are required to be sent to the Standing Statutory Instruments Committee for review as provided for in the Standing Orders and then returned to the House for decision.
    Synonym: subordinate legislation

  • reinstate a bill
  • To return a government bill to the Order Paper at the stage it had attained prior to prorogation (it is not necessary in the case of private Members' bills). Bills may be reinstated either by unanimous consent or by government motion.
    Compare: die on the Order Paper

  • report progress
  • To report to the House from a Committee of the Whole, indicating that the Committee has not concluded its deliberations. Such a report is necessary because a Committee of the Whole has no power to adjourn its own sitting or to adjourn consideration of a matter to a future sitting.

  • report stage
  • The stage at which the House considers a bill as reported by a committee, with or without amendments. At this stage, all Members may propose amendments to the text of the bill, subject to the criteria set out in the Standing Orders.

  • report to the House
  • A written or oral statement by a committee to the House, giving the results of an inquiry, the status of their work or assignment or requesting additional powers, time etc. For a committee studying a bill, the bill itself, and any amendments made thereto, constitutes its report.

  • reprimand
  • Pursuant to an order of the House, a formal reproof addressed by the Speaker to a person adjudged guilty of a breach of privilege or of a contempt of the House.
    Compare: admonition

  • rescind a resolution
  • To cancel the effect of a resolution previously adopted by the House. A motion to rescind does not deal a second time with a question already decided during the session.
    Compare: discharge an order

  • resolution
  • 1) A motion adopted by the House in order to make a declaration of opinion or purpose. A resolution does not have the effect of requiring that any action be taken.
    2) A decision of the House giving a direction to any committee, Members or officers, or regulating its proceedings.
    3) An order of the House to a committee instructing it to consider some matter or defining the scope of its deliberations. It may form a part of the Standing Orders or be specially adopted to deal with an issue as it arises.
    Distinguish: instruction to a committee

  • responsible government
  • The principle that Ministers are collectively responsible to the House for the actions of the government.
    Distinguish: Cabinet solidarity; ministerial responsibility

  • right of reply
  • 1) The right of the mover of a substantive motion or a motion for second reading of a bill to speak a second time in debate prior to the question being put. This second speech closes the debate.
    2) The right of a Minister to close the debate on any motion which is critical of the government or reflects adversely or is calculated to bring discredit upon the Government or a government officer.

  • routine motion
  • A motion required for the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the establishing of the powers of its committees, the correctness of its records or the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment. In committee, it is a motion adopted in order to establish a practice for committee members to follow throughout a session of Parliament. The committee may thus agree on items of routine business such as a notice requirement for new business, document distribution, time for opening remarks and questioning of witnesses, etc.
    Compare: housekeeping motion

  • Routine Proceedings
  • Business of a basic nature for which a daily period is set aside in the House. It includes such items as tabling of documents, presenting petitions, introduction and first reading of bills and statements by Ministers.

  • ruling
  • See: decision

Glossary terms starting with "S"

  • schedule
  • An appendix to a bill that contains matters of detail not suitable for inclusion in a clause, or the text of an agreement that the bill brings into effect. Schedules form part of a bill and are subject to amendment, with the exception of treaties and agreements, which fall within the prerogative of the executive.

  • seat
  • (1) The desk in the House assigned to a Member. Members are accorded seats in the House not as individuals but in their capacity as representatives of their political parties. The seating order is determined by the Leaders of the House and the Opposition on the respective sides of the House. Geographic Members seats represent the regional allocation.

  • seconder
  • A Member who formally supports a motion or amendment of a bill. Ministers tabling motions or amendments to a bill do not require a seconder. Motions in committee do not require seconders.

  • second reading
  • The stage in the passage of a bill at which the principle and object of a bill is debated and either accepted or rejected. Detailed consideration is not given to the clauses of the bill at this stage. A bill can be sent to special select or sectoral committee at this stage.

  • section of an Act
  • Each separate division of an Act, numbered with an Arabic numeral. The clauses of a bill become sections once the bill is assented to.

  • sectoral committee(s)
  • There are four (4) standing committees ( Economic Services, Social Services, Natural Resources and Foreign Services) of the House which oversee the executive policies, programmes and performance which are chaired on a rotational basis annually between the government and the opposition. No Minister may sit on these committees but Ministers can be invited to come before these committees. These committees are open to the public and media

  • Sergeant-at-Arms
  • A senior official of the House appointed by the Speaker, the Sergeant-at-Arms assists the Clerk, performing certain ceremonial functions and being responsible for security services in the Chambers of the Assembly.

  • session
  • 1) One of the fundamental time periods into which a Parliament is divided, usually consisting of a number of separate sittings. Sessions are begun by a Speech from the President and are ended by prorogation or dissolution of the Parliament.
    2) This also refers to the period between October 10`" of one year and August 10`" of the next during which the National Assembly meets.

  • sessional paper
  • Any document tabled in the House or filed with the Clerk during a given session. All such documents are open to public scrutiny.

  • shadow Minister
  • A Member of a party in opposition, responsible for presenting that party's policies in a given area and commenting on those of the government. A Member is chosen to act as the party critic for each of the ministerial portfolios.

  • short title (of a bill)
  • The title of a proposed Act, used for purposes of citation. Short titles need not cover all of the provisions of a bill.
    sine die adjournment motion
    1) In committee, a motion which has the effect of adjourning the consideration of a matter without assigning a day for further consideration; the net effect is to end consideration of the matter.
    2) Term also used in the House at the end of a sitting when the Leader of the House does not name a date for the next sitting.

  • sitting
  • A meeting of the House within a session. Although usually a calendar day, a sitting may last for only a matter of minutes or may extend over several hours.

  • six (three) months’ hoist
  • An amendment at second or third reading of a bill which has the effect of a rejection of a bill. It proposes that the bill not now receive second (or third) reading, "... but that it be read a second (or third) time this day six (three) months hence "as proscribed in the Standing Orders.

  • solemn affirmation
  • A solemn affirmation sworn by a Member before taking a seat in the House. A solemn affirmation is an alternative to an oath on any religious text and has the same effect.

  • Speaker
  • The Member elected by the House to preside over its proceedings. In particular, he or she is responsible for maintaining order and decorum. The Speaker oversees the administration of the House and chairs several committees including the Parliamentary Management Committee. In addition, the Speaker is the spokesperson and representative of the National Assembly in its relations with the executive and other bodies outside the House.

  • Speaker’s Parade
  • A parade consisting of the Speaker and the Sergeant-at-Arms with the Mace which departs from the Speaker's Office for the House to signal the opening of the sitting.

  • special select committee
  • A Committee established by the House whose members are appointed by Committee of Selection to study a particular matter. Once it has made its final report, the committee ceases to exist.

  • special session
  • Brief session held for a specific purpose at a time of the year when the House does not usually sit. From a procedural standpoint a special session is like any other session.

  • sponsor (of a bill)
  • The Member or Minister who presents a bill in the House.

  • standing committee
  • A permanent committee established in the Standing Orders of the House. It may study matters referred to it by standing or special order or, within its area of responsibility, undertake studies on its own initiative.

  • standing order
  • A permanent order adopted by the House to regulate its proceedings. A Standing Order may be altered or repealed only by a subsequent decision of the House.

  • Standing Orders
  • The collection of the permanent written rules adopted by the House to govern its proceedings.

  • Standing Orders Committee
  • The standing committee of the House charged with ongoing review of written procedures and practices. This committee goes into action on a request of the House.

  • starred question
  • A question on the Order Paper with an asterisk for which an,oral response is requested.

  • Statements by Ministers
  • A heading under Routine Proceedings during which a Minister may, if he or she desires, make a short factual announcement or statement of government policy or report on a matter of current importance.

  • statute
  • A law which has been formally approved by Parliament (an Act of Parliament) and published in the Official Gazette.

  • statutory instruments
  • Regulations, orders, commissions or other instruments issued by virtue of power conferred by an Act of Parliament or by the President. Some Statutory instruments are subject to review by the Standing Statutory Instruments Committee as defined in the Standing Orders.

  • statutory item
  • An item included in the estimates for information purposes only, for which legislative approval already exists.

  • Statutory Order
  • Order made pursuant to a power conferred by a statute.

  • statutory review
  • Review by a committee, as stipulated in a statute, of the provisions or operation of an Act of Parliament.

  • stranger
  • Anyone who is not a Member of the House or an official of the House. This includes diplomats, departmental officials and media personnel, as well as members of the public. Strangers are admitted to the gallery or designated seating areas but may be expelled if there is a disturbance or if the House so orders.

  • subamendment
  • An amendment to an amendment. A subamendment must be relevant to the amendment it seeks to modify, rather than to the original question.

  • subcommittee
  • A committee of a committee, to which the latter may delegate its powers, except the power to report to the House. Not all committees are granted the power to establish subcommittees.

  • sub judice convention
  • A convention whereby Members refrain from making reference to certain matters, particularly criminal cases, which are before the courts. It does not apply to bills.

  • subordinate legislation
  • See: delegated legislation

  • subsidiary motion
  • A motion that is procedural in nature, dependent on an order already made by the House, and used to move forward a question then before the House. Motions for the second and third readings of bills are subsidiary motions.

  • substantive motion
  • An independent proposal that is complete in itself. Such motions require written notice before they can be moved in the House.

  • summoning a witness
  • Ordering a witness to appear before one of its committees. Witnesses are summoned before committees only after they have declined an invitation to appear.
    Distinguish: invitation to appear

  • summoning Parliament
  • The convocation of a Parliament following a general election. Parliament is summoned by a proclamation issued by the President.

  • superseding motion
  • A motion moved for the purpose of superseding or replacing the question before the House. It may be either a dilatory motion or a motion for the previous question.

  • supplementary estimates
  • An expenditure plan introduced to provide funds to the government to meet new or increased expenses in the fiscal year. The government may introduce supplementary estimates in a given fiscal year as it deems necessary, in accordance with the constitution and statutes.

  • supplementary question
  • A question seeking clarification or further information following a Minister's response to a question during the oral question period. The Speaker has wide discretion in permitting the posing of supplementary questions.

  • supply
  • See: business of supply

  • supply bill
  • See: appropriation bill

  • supply motion
  • Any motion, moved under the order of the day for the consideration of the business of supply. Supply motions for concurrence in the estimates give rise to appropriation bills.

  • suspend a Member
  • The action of dismissing a Member from the service of the House and its committees for one or more days as a result of disorder. This action may be exercised by the Speaker alone, or as an order of the House.
    Compare: expel a Member; name a Member

  • suspension of a sitting
  • A pause during the course of a sitting of the House When the sitting is suspended, the Speaker leaves the Chair and the Mace is removed from the Table.
    Distinguish: adjournment of the House; recess

  • swearing in a witness
  • Requiring a witness to take an oath or make a solemn affirmation when testifying before a committee.

Glossary terms starting with "T"

  • table
  • 1) To place a document before the House or a committee for consideration or consultation.
    2) To table a document, which is required by statute, by order of the House or by Standing Orders, by filing it with the Clerk. A record of such tabling is kept by the Clerk.
    3) To table a document in the House. A Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary may do this during the period set aside during Routine Proceedings or at any other time during the sitting.

  • Table
  • (1)The Table in front of the Speaker's Chair at which the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk or a Table Officer sit. Copies of frequently consulted procedural authorities are kept on the Table for the convenience of Members and the Mace is placed on it when the House is sitting.

  • Tabling of Documents
  • The first item called by the Speaker on the Order Paper. At this time, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries have the opportunity to table returns, reports, responses to petitions or committee reports and other documents.

  • taxation bill
  • A Bill introduced by a Minister proposing to introduce a new tax, to increase an existing tax, to continue an expiring tax or to extend the application of a tax. This can only be laid with the Cabinet’s approval

  • third party
  • Generally, a political party or parties represented in the House that is smaller in size than the Official Opposition party

  • third reading
  • The last stage of consideration of a bill in the House, at the conclusion of which the bill as a whole is either finally approved or rejected.

  • time allocation
  • The allocation of a specific period of time for speakers during the debate on a bill or motion before the House.
    Compare: guillotine
    Distinguish: closure

Glossary terms starting with "U"

  • unicameralism
  • A parliamentary system in which the legislative power is vested in one chamber such as exists in Guyana

  • Unparliamentary Expressions
  • According to May, p. 386-387, unparliamentary expressions which call for prompt action by the Chair include
    (1) The imputation of false or unavowed motives.
    (2) The misrepresentation of the language of another and the accusation of misrepresentation.
    (3) Charges of uttering a deliberate falsehood.
    (4) Abusive and insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder.
    Several editions of May lists words that are deemed unparliamentary. These can also be found in the 1997 version of the Standing Orders of the Guyana Parliament.

  • unparliamentary language
  • Words or expressions contrary to the proprieties of the House. A Member who refuses to withdraw unparliamentary language may be named by the Speaker.

Glossary terms starting with "V"

  • vice-chair
  • The person elected as deputy to the chair of a standing or special committee.

  • visitors
  • Distinguished persons who are invited by the Speaker in the Chamber and recognized by the Speaker, or foreign heads of State or of government who address parliamentarians from the floor of the House.
    Compare: recognizing visitors

  • voice vote
  • An oral vote held without recording individual Members' votes or the number of yeas and nays.
    Compare: recorded division

  • vote
  • (1) The formal expression of opinion for the purpose of reaching a decision. In the House, votes are given orally by the Members.
    (2) An individual item of the estimates indicating the amount of money required by the government for a particular programme or function.
    Compare: appropriation
    See: business of supply
    See: division; recorded division; voice vote

  • vote by show of hands
  • In committee, a vote by show of hands is recorded in the minutes by indicating the number, but not the names, of the members who voted for or against a motion.

Glossary terms starting with "W"

  • Whips
  • Party officials who are Members of Parliament. Their common duty is to exercise authority over their Members to keep them organized, ensure discipline among Members, secure attendance in the House and committee meetings, supplied with information abut the business of the Assembly and knowledgeable about their parties' positions before the House or committees, coordinate the speakers' list to submit to the Speaker at each sitting and suggest Members to serve on Committees. The Chief Whips are also referred to as "whips"

  • Witnesses
  • Persons who appear voluntarily before or summoned by a Committee to be examined by the Committee. A Committee cannot require the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents without expressed authority from the Assembly as provided in the appropriate Standing Order or in the order relating to its appointment, or subsequently on a motion to give a Committee the power 'to send for persons, papers and records'.

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