After forty months, parliament approves its new rules of order

POSTED: 04/15/14 11:39 PM

St. Maarten – Parliament needed another two-and-a-half hours yesterday morning but then the curtain finally fell after around forty months of deliberating about its own rules of order. The ad hoc committee chaired by MP Dr. Lloyd Richardson concluded its work, but the Parliament still needed three adjournments to cross the last tees and dot the final i’s. Around 12.30 p.m. the Parliament approved the new version of the house rules that will from now on govern all proceedings.

The opposition got its way with an amendment to the rules. Initially the revised rules stated that Parliament could diverge from the rules of order if a majority voted in favor of doing so. But in the end the decision fell in favor of the opposition to leave everything the way it was: diverging from the house rules is only possible if all MPs agree to it. If there is a single objection, the rules stand.

Parliament agreed to some important changes. If three Members of Parliament request an urgent meeting, this meeting will be convened and held within 4 times 24 hours. In the old rules, it was up to the president of parliament to set the date and time for such a meeting.

This amendment was also applied to situation whereby a meeting lacks a quorum. These meetings will be reconvened and held within 4 times 24 hours. If that second meeting does not have a quorum either, it will be reconvened and held within 2 times 24 hours. That third meeting will go through, irrelevant of the number of MPs present.

When half of the MP plus one are no longer present in a meeting, the president adjourns the meeting to a later date. The new rules now specify that this meeting will have to be held within a fortnight.

The amended rules of order make sure that urgent meetings, as requested by Members of Parliament, cannot be postponed endlessly as has happened in the past.

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