Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The Hon Leader of Government Business has raised a legitimate issue, and in all fairness to you, you have repeatedly demanded punctuality and attendance upon the House by Hon Members, and it is important that we respect that.
Mr Speaker, I recall that the last time this matter was raised, the Hon Mubarak had said that we should take advantage of this digital platform that I am holding now, so that Hon Members would be digitally recognised as they enter the Chamber. Probably, it should be one of the future considerations and directives that you and the Clerk, who must have possession of this thing, should give and get it more functional.
Mr Speaker, there was an earlier ruling by the Rt Hon Speaker in the past as to what constituted attendance onto the House. I am sure that we would have to revisit it and see whether it was a matter
that was limited to just signing the register or actual physical presence in the Chamber, and whether even by extension, an Hon Member could come in here and walk away to do other Business at the level of the Committee. It is also another matter.
Mr Speaker, once the Hon Leader has raised it -- As the Hon Yeileh Chireh said, there have been times that we rely on our numbers in order to take a decision, and sometimes it is so heavy an issue that even decisions we take in this House can be questioned any day by any citizen, as to whether it complies with the constitutional provisions.
For instance, by article 268, the requirement may be two-thirds of Hon Members of Parliament present. Now, if we go and determine it based on a fake registration or attendance, we would have taken a decision that may not be strictly speaking binding on us legally .
Mr Speaker, however, to be fair to you, there has been no opportunity at your opening or closing remarks, where you have not indicated to Hon Members that we should come on time, at exactly 10.00 a. m.
You have indicated it repeatedly, so it has now gone beyond us trying to use it -- As the Hon Yieleh Chireh said, when it is convenient, those numbers can serve a purpose, but when it does not serve a purpose, then it is wrong. I do not believe that is the way to go.
Mr Speaker, I would however, want my Hon Colleagues to know that integrity is important in what we do. Recently, when there was a matter we were discussing -- To quote the Hon First Deputy Speaker, he said that even the matter of privilege and immunity, which is enjoyed as an additional right of an Hon Member of Parliament is contingent on an Hon
Member of Parliament attending upon the Business of Parliament.
So when is an Hon Member entitled to invoke that they deserve the benefits of those rights, when indeed, they are not in Parliament, and are not attending upon the Business of Parliament?
Mr Speaker, we would need to take it as a serious rule, guided by you, but I would want my Hon Colleagues to know that if we cannot be sincere with coming to this House, then how can we be sincere with the work that we do? I believe that this is a serious indictment on us, and as I have said, it is good that the Hon Majority Leader raised it.
Maybe, we should, for the time being, accept that appearance in the Chamber is the mandatory requirement to meet participation of Business in this House, and not just limit it or narrow it to the register.
We should also get the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Department -- I know once you are convinced, this would be a matter of decision. They can activate this process.
Mr Speaker, the beauty of it is that, once it is a person's thumb, and they have a data that they would hold on to, nobody can corrupt that data in order to say that he or she was that person who attended upon Parliament. So we should move on to the digital platform.
I noticed that the testing of the digital gadget was limited only to Leadership, but we should expand it for all Hon Members in order that when we arrive, the first thing would be for us to apply our thumbs to announce that we have arrived in the Chamber, and it would be digitally recorded.
It would be like the phone text message. One cannot recall it, and one cannot change it. So we would await your guidance, as you have consistently done, that Hon Members uphold high levels of integrity when it comes to matters of punctuality.
I thank you.