Senators propose rule changes
Senators are considering a raft of rule changes that would allow longer debates in the chamber, and make serveral current practices official in the standing orders.
Among the changes proposed are; allowing the senator who brings forward a motion the right to speak last; forcing senators seeking to modify legislation being debated to circulate the changes in writing; and proposing an extention to the time limits on speeches.
Senate President Carol Ann Bassett said several of the proposed changes simply enshrine elements of current procedure into law.
The Senators also agreed to implement the same rules regarding the use of technology as in place in the House of Assembly. The move would mean that senators would be able use electronic devices for parliamentary business while the Senate is in session.
Opposition Senator Diallo Rabain, meanwhile, introduced several proposed extensions to the time limits on speeches.
The changes included allowing the first speaker, and first opposition responder, to speak for an hour each, while the original speaker will also have 30 minutes to offer a rebuttal at the end of debate.
Other speakers will now be allowed to speak for 45 minutes, as opposed to 30 minutes. After five hours of debate, that time limit will be reduced to 30 minutes. According to the existing rules, the time limit for speeches falls to 20 minutes after four hours of debate.
And on the motion to adjourn, Senators would be allow to speak for 15 minutes rather than the ten minutes currently allowed.
The proposed changes also include giving the senate president the power to order the removal of a senator from the senate chamber if they repeatedly refuse his, or her, orders.
All of the senators approved the proposed changes, but reserved a vote until a full, printed draft of the new rules is available.