Parliament has received The Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2018 for the first reading and sent it to the Committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to be handled expeditiously.
The contentious Bill which has seen both the government and opposition chief whips siding to fight it is among other objectives aimed at providing for the election of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament as well as the four back bench Commissioners.
The Bill seeks to amend the Administration of Parliament Act to increase the membership of the Commission, to allow the representation of Independents on the Commission. It also seeks to provide for the criteria for choosing the back bench Members of Commission, the Leader of Opposition, the Chief Opposition Whip and party whips.
The Bill was tabled by Independent Kabale Municipality MP, Andrew Baryayanga Aja who requested that Parliament waives the rules of the House to allow the committee report back in a shorter period as opposed to the 45 days provided for in the Rules of Procedure.
“Given the period we are in, I request that the 45 days rule be suspended so that the Bill can be considered faster. The matter is urgent and the Bill is small, consider it for a week,” Baryayanga requested.
The request by the Baryayanga was objected by the Opposition Chief Whip, Ibrahim Senujju Nganda who noted that he was not comfortable with the request to have the rules suspended.
“There are rules governing the process of a Bill. I am not comfortable when the rules are not respected, the committee is mandated to look at the Bill and report after 45 days, but even before the committee looks at the Bill, the one presenting it wants to tell when it should be processed which is unfair,” Nganda said.
However, Nganda was put to order by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga noting that the House has the capacity to waive time upon request.
This prompted the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa to raise a similar objection to that of Semujju, noting that she saw no cause for Parliament to suspend its rules over the Bill.
“I have a copy of the Bill and I read the object and intentions. It concerns how parties are to be administered in Parliament. I attended IPOD and the issue of independents was raised,” Nankabirwa said.
Nankabirwa advised that, “Let us let the Bill go through the process without waiving the rules to allow MPs consults. What we are introducing concerns the authority of political parties in the country. Let’s allow MPs to consult and deliberate on the Bill. There is no justification in rushing it.”
Kadaga thus ruled that the Bill be sent to the committee with an order that it be handled expeditiously.