The committee in its report observes that even when the proposal is a desirable practice, it would contravene Article 93 of the Constitution since it would be creating a constitutional position that would require facilitation and other perks.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga chairing the afternoon plenary session.
The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has rejected a
proposal seeking to establish a Speaker’s panel.
In his Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Shadow Attorney-General
Wilfred Niwagaba proposed a new Article in the Constitution introducing a
The Bill proposed to restrict the appointment of the Speaker's penal to only
backbench Members of Parliament and to allow such persons appointed on the
Speaker's penal to preside over sittings of the House in the absence of the
Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
Currently, the Constitution provides for two persons to preside over the
House and these include the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. Article 82 of the
Constitution also prescribes how these will be elected, how they leave office,
their emoluments and their subscriptions of their oaths of office.
But the committee in its report observes that even when the proposal is a desirable
practice, it would contravene Article 93 of the Constitution since it would be
creating a constitutional position that would require facilitation and other
The introduction of the Speaker's Panel was first discussed during the
Constitutional amendment of 2015, among the proposals that the opposition had
sought to include in the Constitution.
“The Committee notes that there is need for the appointment of persons to
assist the Speaker and Deputy Speaker in presiding over the House especially
where the Speaker and Deputy are indisposed or are not available to preside
over the House. This will ensure that Parliamentary business is not affected
when the Speaker or Deputy Speaker is unavailable to preside over the House.
The Committee also notes that it is now considered an international best
practice in most Commonwealth countries to have additional persons who can
preside over the House in the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker,” reads
part of the report yet to be discussed by parliament.
However, the Committee chaired by West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth
recommends that this should be taken up for consideration during the
Constitutional Review process.
Some of the countries with a Speaker’s Panel are Australia, Kenya,
United Kingdom, India and others.
In Australia, at the commencement of every Parliament the Speaker nominates a
panel of not less than four members to assist. Generally, the Speaker appoints
both opposition and Government members to the Speaker's panel, with Government
members being in the majority.
On the other hand, Kenya’s Constitution under Article 107 (1) (c)
provides other persons who can preside over the House other than the Speaker or
Deputy Speaker. The Article provides that in the absence of the Speaker and the
Deputy Speaker another member of the House elected by the House presides.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has in the past called for a panel of
Speakers to help preside over parliament sittings. Parliament’s afternoon
sittings are scheduled to start at 2 pm but the Speaker often fails to appear
on time due to several other meetings.
In her recent appeal made in October 2019, Kadaga appealed to Members of
Parliament to plan and move a motion about having in place a panel of speakers
who will be charged with presiding over the House when the Speaker and Deputy
Speaker are attending other engagements.
After the June 2019 State of Nation Address, Kadaga said that government needed
to consider as a matter of urgency, the review of Article 82 of the
Constitution, which concerns the Office of the Speaker of Parliament. Kadaga
then noted that the Article gives the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker the
mandate as the only officials to preside over Parliament.
Since the 6th Parliament, MPs and members of the public have been engaged in
the discussion and have proposed that the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker should
be assisted by a speaker’s panel.
Failure for a Speaker or the Deputy to appear for a plenary
session affects the way parliamentary business is conducted.