Parliament has introduced a mandatory roll call to be conducted at the start of each sitting.
This new measure, captured as Order 14 in the Parliament’s revised Standing Orders, aims to publicly acknowledge the presence of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the chamber, immediately following the opening prayers.
This initiative aims to enhance transparency and accountability among members.
Speaker Alban Bagabin, on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, during the first day of Parliament’s resumption for the first sitting of the first meeting in the fourth session of the 8th Parliament, highlighted the importance of this new procedure to the House.
“Roll call! Hon. Members, pursuant to Order 14 (1) of our Standing Orders, a roll call will be taken, and a member is expected to respond to the roll call, which shall be evidence of attendance,” he stated.
He then instructed the clerks at the table to proceed with calling out the names of the MPs, marking a formal shift towards ensuring and recording member attendance more transparently.
The Speaker underscored the significance of this new order, emphasizing the importance of MPs’ presence being acknowledged publicly.
During the discussion, concerns were raised about the public perception of MPs’ attendance and the handling of absences due to official duties or approved leaves.
The Speaker was asked for guidance on how these situations would be reflected in public records for MPs who might be engaged in committee meetings or other sanctioned activities outside the sitting.
However, acknowledging potential logistical challenges, the Speaker offered alternative options for members unable to respond to the roll call due to late entry or other commitments.
Members have the flexibility to sign an attendance record either in the chamber or at the committee level, ensuring their participation is documented without the need to interrupt proceedings for a repeated roll call.
The new system aims to strike a balance between the formal documentation of attendance and the practical realities of parliamentary duties, ensuring that MPs’ commitments and contributions are accurately represented in public records.