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Committee Overview

The Committee System

Parliamentary business is run through four major types of committees:

1. Committees of the whole house.

These committees usually involve all MPs and take three forms:

a) A committee of the whole house sits to discuss bills after their second reading unless it is assigned to an ad-hoc Select Committee of the Whole House on the Budget.

b) A committee of ways and means; and

c) A committee of supply Traditionally, the committees of ways and means and committee of supply sit in sequence to discuss the Minister of Finance’s budget speech.

2. Standing or Sessional committees;

These are a group of 7 committees - each consisting of between 5 and 20 members - nominated by the House Business Committee on a motion moved by the Leader of House Business to carry out either routine or in-house business. The lifespan of the committee membership is linked to the Session.

Committees grouped under this category are as follows:

i) The House Business Committee - prepares the weekly programme of the House;

ii) Public Accounts Committee – reviews the Controller and Auditor General reports on government expenditure;

iii) Public Investments Committee – reviews the Auditor General (Corporations) reports on State Corporations accounts;

iv) Speaker’s Committee:- oversees welfare of Members and the staff of the National Assembly;

v) Standing Orders Committee – checks matters relating to adherence to standing orders and the reviews them too;

vi) Liaison Committee:- oversees Departmental Committees operations;

vii) Powers and Privileges Committee - handles issues regarding privileges. The Public Accounts and Public Investments committees together with the Local Authorities and Funds Accounts committee also fall under the investigatory committees sub-set and are usually very powerful.

3. Ad-hoc Select Committees

Ad-hoc committees are set up whenever necessary to investigate, study and make recommendations on matters needing special consideration from the House. Other House Keeping and Select Committees include:

a) The Budget Committee

b) Committee on Delegated Legislation

c) Committee on Equal Opportunity

d) Committee on Implementation

e) House Broadcasting Committee

f) Library Committee

g) Catering Committee

h) Constituencies Development Fund

i) Procedures and House Rules Committee

4. Departmental committees –These are 12 committees tasked to review matters relating to the various ministerial dockets in government. These include:

i) Administration and National Security;

ii) Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives;

iii) Defence and Foreign Relations;

iv) Education Research and Technology;

v) Energy, Communications and Information;

vi) Finance Planning and Trade;

vii) Health;

viii) Justice and Legal Affairs;

ix) Labour and Social Welfare;

x) Lands and Natural Resources;

xi) Local Authorities; plus

xii) Transport, Public Works and Housing.

All chairpersons of departmental committee are also members of the Budget Committee.