Gordon House
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From time to time, we hear objections to questions being asked in the Jamaican House of Representatives, on the basis that they are not in keeping with the Standing Orders. In my last post here, I looked at what the Standing Orders say about the manner of asking questions in the House.

In this post, let’s continue to look at how questions are to be asked (or not!)

Section 16 PROHIBITS asking questions that:

  •  raise an issue already decided in the House, or which has been fully answered during the current session, or for which an answer has already been refused;
  • seek information about matters which are, by their nature, secret;
  • raise issues that have come up in a Committee, but which have not yet been reported to the House in a  report;
  • raise matters related to a Commission of Enquiry or which are within the jurisdiction of the Chairman of  a Select Committee;
  • raise matters dealing with the character or conduct of any person except in his official or public capacity;
  • reflect on the decision of a Court of Law, or which is likely to prejudice a matter being tried before a Court;
  • reflect on the character or conduct of any person whose conduct can only be challenged in a substantive  motion under section 35, which deals with the conduct of speeches;
  • ask whether statements in the press, or made by private individuals or unofficial organisations are correct;
  • for which the answer can be found in an official publication;
  • which refer discourteously to, or seek information about the internal affairs of any territory within the Commonwealth or a friendly foreign country;
  • deal with the actions of a Minister for which he is not responsible to the legislature;
  • seek, for matters of argument, information of past history;
  • raise questions of policy too large to be dealt with in the limits of answer to a question.

A question shall not solicit an opinion, or the solution of an abstract legal question or a hypothetical proposition.

Many people believe that it is time for a comprehensive review of the Standing Orders, and we will look at that in the future. Watch out for my next post on the Standing Orders. Which, if any, of these would you want to see revised?