Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity.
Madam Speaker, I believe this business relating to Urgent Questions, we must confront it and see the best way forward because our rules of procedure, that is Order 60 (3) provides that a Minister shall not take more than three weeks to respond to a Question from the House. That is the normal regular Question. It stands to reason by extension of reasoning that a Question which is deemed to be urgent should therefore not go beyond three weeks; it should come before two weeks to be answered in the House.
Madam Speaker, you determine the urgency of a Question, and once it is done then I believe it should not take more than three weeks, otherwise, its status then changes. If it should stay for three weeks, its status automatically changes to an ordinary Question.
Madam Speaker, the next thing that I guess we may also have to address relates to Order 64 (1) which provides that and I quote:
“A Question shall not be asked without notice unless it is of an urgent character relating either to a matter of public importance or the arrangement of business, . . .”
in this case, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I believe that a proper
reading of this may mean, or may suggest that an Urgent Question may not have to be advertised. And so, we may have to look at how to have the status of an Urgent Question reflected in the transaction of Business in the House.
Again, if you read Order 69 (1), and with your indulgence I read:
“As soon as a Question is answered in the House, any Member, beginning with the Member who asked the Question may without notice, ask a supplementary Question for the further elucidation of any matter of fact regarding which the answer has been given, . . .”
Madam Speaker, the combined effect of Orders 69 (1) and 69 (4) in my view, would suggest to us that an Urgent Question may not even have to be advertised, so that is another strand. The first strand which is of utmost importance to me now, is the time limit, that is the three-week time period within which an Urgent Question may necessarily have to be answered.
This is because as I have indicated, even an ordinary Question, it is provided for an ordinary Question that a Minister shall not take more than three weeks. It is obligatory for the Minister not to take more than three weeks, at least, once notice is given to him of the Question.
So Madam Speaker, I believe we have to really apply critical thinking to establish the urgency of a Question and have it accordingly so treated.
Madam Speaker, I thank you.