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Week 3 - Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 23, 2009 9:08:06 AM PDT
Author: Brooke

Do you consider your parliament’s committee structure to be suited to the needs of your country?
Brooke Prater WBI Parliamentary Strengthening Program


Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 23, 2009 10:23:58 AM PDT
Author: Moderator

Let us review what we told ourselves in the related self test question on committee structure.

It was suggested that, in commenting on committee structure, we might begin with the nomenclature used in talking about committees in the parliament. There will always be standing committees and select committees but what exactly are their functions and how are they set up? What is the period of their existence?

Does the parliament consist of one chamber or two? If the latter, is there a possibility of joint committees being set up? What would be the manner of their reporting back?

What about the committees which look after the business of parliament and the services it requires for its own operation as a working institution?

It will be worthwhile giving special attention to the Public Accounts Committee and, if your parliament has one, the committee that examines the work of public enterprises or undertakings. How are they classified – are they select committees or special committees and does this classification have any implications for the selection of their members, their operation and their reporting?

Do the characteristics that you identify satisfy you that the committee structure can address the type of problem that the parliament is called upon to deal with and therefore is suited to the needs of the country? What improvements might be made?


Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 24, 2009 11:04:58 PM PDT
Author: karoli

In accordance with Article 90 of the Constitution of Uganda, the House appoints Parliamentary Committees necessary for the efficient discharge of its functions. The Rules of Procedure prescribe the powers,
composition and functions of Committees.

There are four types of Committees in Uganda's Parliament and these include Standing, Sessional(select- in most commonwealth countries), ad hoc and select Committees.
The rules stipulate that ehe Vice-President or a Minister shall not be a Member of a Standing or Sessional
Committee; and if a Member of any such Committee becomes the Vice-President or a Minister, he or she ceases to be a Member of the Committee. And except as provided in the rules, a Member may not be a Member of more than one Sessional Committee.

Standing Committees have a two and a half year term and Sessional Committee have a one year (a session of Parliament) term. The general functions of Committees in addition to their specific functions under the Rules are: (a) to discuss and make recommendations on Bills laid before Parliament;(b)to initiate any Bill within their respective areas of competence;(c)to assess and evaluate activities of Government and other bodies;(d)to carry out relevant research in their respective fields; and (e) to report to Parliament on their functions.

Members of Standing Committees are selected from among Members of Parliament and in this selection, the parties represented in Parliament designate through the Whips, Membership to Committees on the basis of Party representation in the House. The overall Membership of Committees reflects proportional Membership in the House taking into consideration the numerical strength of the Parties and the interests of the Independent Members.
Parties have powers to withdraw and relocate Members from individual Committees and the Party or Organization in Government shall designate the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of each Standing Committee of Parliament except for Standing Committees on Public Accounts, Local Government Accounts, Government Assurances and Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises which are chaired and deputized by Members designated by the Official Opposition Party or Organization.
In our case there are three Standing Committees which handle Public Accounts,; The Public Accounts Committee, The Local Government Accounts Committee and the Committee on State Enterprises and Statutory Authorities and all these are chaired by the opposition in the House.

there are several standing and sessioanl Committees and these are:

Standing Committee: Appointments Committee;Committee on Rules,Discipline and Privileges; Public Accounts Committee; Committee on Budget; Committee on National Economy; Committee on Equal Opportunities; Committee on Goverment Assurances;
Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises; The Committee on Local Government Accounts;
Committee on HIV/AIDS and Related Matters; The Committee on Science and Technology and the Business Committee

Sessional Committees: Committe on Information and Communication Technology; Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs; Committee on Physical Infrastructure; Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development;Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development; Committee on Social Services; Committee on Foreign Affairs;
Committee on Presidential Affairs;
Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Committee on Public Service and Local Government; Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; Committee on Natural Resources; and Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry

Our Committee system adquately address issues that parliament handles according to the Constitution of Uganda

As a Research I form part of the technical team that supports Committee work on day today basis. The team comprises of Legislative Counsel, Budget Officer, Clerk and a Researcher.
Last modified by karoli on Mar 24 2009 11:28PM


Week 3 - Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 24, 2009 11:49:28 PM PDT
Author: Asad

The Committees are a constitutional requirement to run the business effectively. the various Standing Committees,besides Functional Committeess and othe Select Committees etc to work for the Parliament.these committees are doing a good job in deliberating on various issues.An adequate representation is given to the political parties to give their point of view.the most important feature of the Committees is their working above the party or political divide.the sole aim is improvement in the system.


Week 3 - Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 25, 2009 11:26:14 PM PDT
Author: ekky

Karoli has given a detailed description of the committee structure in Uganda so i need not repeat this. I will just make a few comments. Members of Parliament are free to enrol on at least two committees. One standing committee and one sessional committee and this becomes a problem. The problem that arises is that of quorum in committees. Standing and sessional committees meet at the same time so members keep hopping from one committee to another. The Clerks department is suggesting that Membership to committees be limited to one in future. There have been attempts to restrict standing committees to one or two days a week but the request has fallen on deaf ears as some Chairpersons continue to schedule daily meetings. Two days a week would also not be appropriate for standing committees like PAC with alot of backlog.

I would like to comment on the structure of our Accountability committees instead of having just one PAC we have 3 as highlighted by KAROLI. Each of the three dealing with government Accountants, statutory Enterprises and local governemnt. This has greatly reduced Pressure on the the traditional PAC and increased efficency. I would recommend this for Parliaments who still have one single PAC.

I also commend the idea of sessional/ departmental committees who directly over see line ministries, this makes oversight much easier. They are especially relevant in budget scrutiny as they have substantial knowledge on the workings of government departments.

In conclusion am comfortable with the current committee structure in Uganda. There is however need to adequately facilitate them to enable them carry out their mandates effectivley


Week 3 - Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 26, 2009 3:22:37 AM PDT
Author: Asad

the committee structure not only suits the needs of my country but it also inculcates among the members a feeling of unity.All decision are taken unanimously on bipartisan basis.


Suitability of committee structure in Uganda
Date: Mar 26, 2009 3:51:05 AM PDT
Author: Tumu

I believe the structure of committees in Uganda is suitable for the needs of our people. Our committees almost covers any aspect of public administration and service delivery. Our committees are structured in such a way that some are able to concentrate on the scrutiny of policy, budgets, accountability, undertakings and monitoring and evaluation. Our committee structure also permits the scrutiny of cross-cutting issues like HIV/AIDS and Marginalization, for we have committee specifically in charge of HIV/Aids and related matters as well as the Committee on Equal opportunities. In addition, our committee structure permits interactions and sharing of experiences between committees. For example, the Budget Committee regularly interfaces with sessional committees. The National Economy committee when considering loans requests is supposed to involve other committees whose sectors will partake of the proceeds of the loans. PAC ought to share its findings with the budget committee and policy committees. The ultimate consumer of committee reports is the Plenary, except the appointments committee which reports its decisions to the appointing authority-the president. This arrangement sorts out reporting problems.


Week 3 - Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 26, 2009 7:44:53 AM PDT

Parliamentary Committees in Uganda

In Uganda parliamentary committees derive their authority and mandate from Article 90 of the Constitution of Uganda which states thus; the House appoints Parliamentary Committees necessary for the efficient discharge of its functions and The Rules of Procedure prescribe the powers, composition and functions of Committees.
The House has three types of committees, namely: Standing, Sessional and Select committees. My collegues have already named these as they operate in Uganda. I wish to discuss the functioning of the accountability committees which are responsible for over seeing government operations. The rules of procedure of the parliament of Uganda established four (4) committees to carry out the work of scrutinizing the audited accounts of various institutions. These include; the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Local Government Accounts Committee (LGAC), Committee on Government Assurances (GA), Committee on Commissions and Statutory Enterprises (COSASE). All these committees are headed as the practice is many commonwealth parliaments by the opposition members of parliament. This is meant to ensure effective scrutiny of all audited accounts without fear or favour. Although the composition has been mixed with the majority coming from the ruling party, the current PAC has been so effective to the extent of government discomfort in the way the members interrogate the accounting officers whose department are found with many audit queries.

The way these committees have performed more especially the PAC has improved the image of parliamentary work not only among the donors but also the citizenry who the tax payers.

For purposes of benefiting forum members I have given the details of the functions of two accountability committees as enshrined in The Rules of Procedure.

Composition and Functions of the Public Accounts Committee

(1) The Public Accounts Committee shall consist of twenty Members designated by Party
Whips on basis of proportional Party Membership in the House taking into consideration
the interests of Independent Members.

(2) The Public Accounts Committee shall be assigned the examination of the audited accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public
expenditure of the Central Government and the Judiciary.

(3) The Clerk shall receive the Auditor General’s report submitted under clause (4) of Article
163 of the Constitution relating to Central Government and shall deliver the same to the
Public Accounts Committee.

(4) The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee shall, upon receipt of the Auditor
General’s report under sub-rule (3), lay the report on the Table for purposes of debate by
the House under clause (5) of Article 163 of the Constitution.
These committees and others as well as the structure and functioning of the committee suits the needs of the countyry beacuse every aspect of life has a committee to handle it and individuals are free to petitions any committee on any matter.


Week 3 - Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 27, 2009 4:16:24 AM PDT
Author: DOCTOR

As a senior administrative staff and the chief of service incharge of parliamentary inquiries in the department of legislative and linguistic affairs of the parliament of cameroon,i work with all the 9 standing committees of my parliament including select and ad-hoc committees which my parliament deems necessary to create.
My duties are to provide them with technical advice,manage their secretariat,prepare auditioning,elaborate reports and resumes of inquiries and dispatch summons and invitations to the various parties concerned.
I am expected to be discreet,reserve and impatial in the discharge of my functions.
However,committees play vital role in my parliament because they are expected to study all bills;motions and petitions before parliament takes any decisions on them and a position on such issues.
Besides special select committees and ad-hoc committees,the 9 standing committees which are constituted at the begining of each legislative year each have 20 members,they have a bureau which is usually a president,a vice president and two secretaries(the finance and the budget committee alone has a general rapporteur).


Your Parliament's Committee Structure and You
Date: Mar 28, 2009 1:01:57 PM PDT
Author: Moderator

The discussions on the two committee-related topics (‘Your Parliament’s Committee Structure and You’ and ‘’Do Committees Work in Your Country?’) have tended to get intermingled and so as not to have to repeat myself, I ask participants to ensure they read my comments on both.

I might begin here by suggesting to you that you might like to attempt to classify your committees both horizontally and vertically, that is, as ‘select’, ‘standing’ etc on the one hand according to their set up in the legislature and as ‘legislative’, ‘accountability’, ‘business’ etc on the other according to their functional area. This could be an instructive exercise.

Do be careful of nomenclature. As several of you have pointed out, terms like ‘standing committee’ mean different things in different parliaments. Rodgers and Walters say in their book ‘How Parliament Works’ that in the United Kingdom context, ‘The very name ‘standing committees’ is misleading… (they) are not permanent, new members are appointed to a committee specifically for each bill and, when the committee has reported the bill back to the house, it is effectively dissolved’. Some of you will not recognise this description of a standing committee while others will say that that is exactly how it is in their parliament.

Most of our Commonwealth parliaments now seem to have dedicated committees to examine the work of public enterprises from a financial point of view – very understandable as much of their capital comes from government sources. These committees relieve the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of a sizeable portion of work.

One question that always crops up in debate is whether the chairs of the PAC and related committees should be chosen from the opposition. This was the old tradition and it is argued by its proponents that such an arrangement makes for greater openness. Many countries have now dispensed with it – Australia is one of the best known of the older parliaments that has done so.

The last point I want to bring to you attention is the genesis of parliamentary committees. In many countries the constitution does not even refer to them and they are set up entirely within the standing orders of parliament (and remember that standing orders can be changed at any time by parliament). In others they are mentioned in the constitution and so have a life separate from the standing orders.

Does your committee structure meet the country's needs? I hope these comments give you some food for thought. Feel free to contribute further if you wish.


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