Speaker of the House of Assembly Dr. Kendal Major said yesterday there is a need for a recall system to remove poorly performing MPs, and a process that would allow private citizens to address Parliament.
Major indicated that these changes would help make the parliamentary process more participatory and relevant to changing times.
“Our House rules should also be upgraded to become more in line with the changing dynamics,” he said in an address to the Rotary Club of West Nassau.
“Additions such as urgent questions, question time, and a determination of the consequence of committee reports should be effectuated.
“One of the bold steps we should advance is a process for constituents to recall MPs, who they feel are derelict in their duties.
“This option would be a shot in the arm for accountability, a sense of justice and performance based employment.
“Another recommendation is instituting a policy where private citizens can address Parliament from the bar of the House. This would allow the public the opportunity to address Parliament or oversight committees.”
Major said there is a “palpable disconnect” among Parliament, the press and the public.
He called for an improvement in the connection between Parliament and civilians as the world has modernized.
He referenced the South African government as an example that should be followed.
“Parliament is not only the guardian of democracy, but also an institution that must shape and give meaning to it,” Major said.
“Placing people at the center of development should be a principle that emanates from the important role of Parliament in representing the people.
“The South African constitution addresses this interesting idea of participatory democracy.
“Parliaments must therefore become activists for change through education, access and participation in our work.
“The SA constitution speaks to public access to the National Assembly. The National Assembly must facilitate public involvement in legislation and other processes of the Assembly.”
Major also suggested the need for a Freedom of Information Act to assist with this process.
“Secondly, Parliament should conduct its business and committees in an open manner,” he said.
“As it relates to impending bills, the legislature should provide adequate mechanisms to encourage wider consultations and public submissions on bills introduced.
“Thirdly, we should actively regulate public access, especially to the media. Of course, an effective Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will assist in this endeavor.”