by Linda Straker
- 1999 standing order mandated Senate members not appointed by Government to become member of PAC
- No members shall be member of Cabinet, Minister or Parliamentary Secretary, reads current amendment
- Standing Orders provide for naming all other committees at first sitting following ceremonial opening
Phillip Telesford, Leader of Government Business in the Lower House, has instructed the newly named Standing Orders Committee to amend the language of the Standing Orders so that members of the Upper House or Senate will not be appointed to serve on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Following the 1999 General Election when the then New National Party (NNP) won all 15 seats in the Lower House, an amendment was made to the standing order that mandated the inclusion of members of the Senate who are not appointed by Government to become a member of the PAC.
“There shall be a Public Accounts Committee which shall consist of not less than 3 members and not more than 5 members. None of the members shall be a member of Cabinet, a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary,” reads the amendment which is currently the language of the Standing Order.
However, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Mitchell is complaining that because of the current elected members of both sides of the House, the rule that provides for Senators to be part of the PAC should not be applied.
“We need to do the traditional thing of having only members of the Lower House as members of the PAC,” he argued, but Telesford is contending that the language of the Standing Order does not provide such instruction and thus the rule must be applied until there are changes.
The members of the PAC for the session of the 11th Parliament are Dr Keith Mitchell as Chairman and other members Dr Clarice Modeste and Kate Lewis from the Lower House, and from the Upper House are Roderick St Clair and Salim Rahaman.
Initially, Telesford announced that Peter David and Quin Britton would be members, but when members of the Opposition complained that they were not consulted before the announcement, a decision was taken to put the sitting into recess for an unprompted consultation. When the members resumed after about 20 minutes, all the names were finally agreed to unopposed.
The Standing Orders provide for naming all other committees at the first sitting following the ceremonial opening. The members of the new standing order committee are Speaker Leo Cato as Chairman with Delma Thomas and Clarice Modeste as members.
Cato is also chairing the House Committee and the other members are Emmalin Pierre, Dr Clarice Modeste, Kerryne James and Joseph Andall. The Committee of Privilege members are Speaker Cato as the Chairman, while the 2 opposition members are Peter David and Kate Lewis and the 2 government members are Andy Williams and Ron Redhead.