These questions are what members of the parliamentary Opposition put to government ministers regarding public affairs. And Opposition Leader Marlon Penn raised concern about the continued delay when the House convened last Thursday.
“Concerning the shift that occurred [with] the questions that have been before this honourable House since the 22nd of December … They have been delayed for another two or three sittings because, if I foresee, we have 24 ‘first readings’ and 12 ‘second readings’ and resolutions (of various bills) so I just want to make sure that we honour the questions that are laid before this honourable House,” Penn said.
All bills go through an extensive process after being introduced in the House. A Bill must pass through several stages, known as ‘readings’. At the ‘first reading’, the ‘short title’ of the Bill is announced and a day is then appointed for the ‘second reading’, at which point the bill will be debated fully.
If the Bill passes its second reading, it moves on to the ‘committee stage’. During committee, which is closed to the public, the Bill is considered in very close detail. Every clause is carefully examined, and amendments to the Bill may then be moved and voted upon.
After the committee stage, there is the ‘report stage’ when the Speaker reports what has happened to the Bill in committee — whether there have been amendments or not. At the third and final reading, a Bill may be accepted or rejected by means of a vote.
As it relates to the ongoing delay to the questions, it is not uncommon for the House’s scheduled order of events to be reshuffled. Premier Andrew Fahie has given a 99 percent guarantee that the Opposition’s current list of questions will be heard before the House next adjourns.
“Given the urgency of some legal matters we moved up some of the bills of which I have stated to the Leader of Opposition. But he has my assurance that this sitting, whatever questions he asked that he placed on the order paper … they will be answered,” Premier Fahie promised.
A sitting can last several days.
Change before you have to.