Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
UNLIKE FORMER Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who allowed himself to be questioned in Parliament without notice, Portia Simpson Miller will be sticking to the letter of the parliamentary guidelines.
Under the rules of Parliament, members must give notice in order to ask questions in the House of Representatives.
Questions may be asked of the prime minister during the second sitting of the House in each month on matters of national importance and national interest.
These questions require at least seven days' notice under the Standing Orders, but Golding made himself available to be questioned without such notice.
On Tuesday, following questions by the Leader of Opposition Business Delroy Chuck, it was revealed that Simpson Miller will not be following the Golding trail.
"We will maintain that the proper notice be given for the prime minister or any other minister, not earlier than seven clear days, as is in the Standing Orders," said Phillip Paulwell, the leader of government business.
"So, the practice is not being maintained," Chuck retorted.
Golding took oral questions during Prime Minister's Question Time, but Paulwell said, "For the time being, we are going to maintain the rules of the Standing Orders and therefore we would require notice to be given."
In July 2010, the Standing Orders Committee of Parliament recommended that the Prime Minister's Question Time would no longer be reserved for those matters of urgent public importance but should also take into account those special matters which, though not urgent, are related to current or topical issues.
The committee also proposed that 15 minutes be allocated during the Prime Minister's Question Time for members to ask the prime minister questions to which the prime minister is required to give immediate oral responses.
"We agreed that although it would be in good order for members to indicate these questions beforehand, it was not necessary, as the prime minister could defer answering a question if he or she felt more time was needed to make an appropriate response," the report said.
It added: "We felt that spontaneity of responses was an important part of the Prime Minister's Question Time and, if absent, would emasculate the process and cause it to become worthless."