Wed | Jul 28, 2021

Gallery note-taking ban archaic

Published:Monday | November 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM


In his column 'Parliamentary restrictions outdated', published on November 24, 2018, Jaevion Nelson raised the issue of members of the public not being allowed to take notes in the gallery in Parliament.

The current situation is particularly frustrating because in 2002, the Standing Orders Committee considered the ban on note-taking and recommended that it be abolished. On June 11, 2002, a motion to accept the recommendation was put to the House and was agreed.

All were present

According to Hansard, MP Peter Phillips put the motion to the House. He was leader of government business in the House and a member of the Standing Orders Committee. MP Karl Samuda responded on behalf of the Opposition, expressing wholehearted support for allowing the public to take notes. MPs Andrew Holness and Phillip Paulwell were also present in the House that day.

So, our current prime minister, leader of the Opposition, leader of government business, and leader of opposition business were all in Parliament when the ban on note-taking was lifted 16 years ago. It oughtn't to take them long to ensure that members of the public are once again allowed to take notes in the gallery of our Parliament.

This was an archaic and illogical rule in 2002. It is an archaic and illogical practice in 2018. It does nothing to improve transparency or the people's engagement with Parliament. It does nothing to protect the processes of Parliament. It needs to be abolished - again.