Fri | Dec 1, 2023

New microphones will ensure efficiency

Published:Monday | September 25, 2023 | 12:06 AM


I am writing in response to the article, ‘Parliament Opposition concerned about new microphone system at Parliament’, published in The Gleaner on September 22.

I welcome the new microphone system in Parliament, which will record all proceedings.

All hearings of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and certain select committees hearings, are recorded in Parliament in the United Kingdom, and the Speaker of the Houses controls the microphone.

I believe the constitution of the UK only requires to keep a journal of all hearings. The United States of America requires all proceedings of the House of Representatives and the Senate to be recorded in Congress.

While the US Constitution mandates that “Each House shall keep a Journal of its proceedings,” no clause requires the verbatim recording of House and Senate debates. Still, members of Congress and their staff expect an accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased account of all floor activities.

In terms of the US mandates, it is the same for the Constitution of Jamaica. No clause in the Constitution of Jamaica requires the verbatim recording of the debates in Parliament. However, Jamaica’s members of parliament and their staff expect an accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased account of floor activities.

Control the microphone

US Speaker of the House of Representatives controls the microphone. Every person of both Houses is assigned a time (a.m./p.m.) when they should start to present their issue(s) in Congress.

For example, a Congress member starts at 11:30 a.m. to present their first issue(s) on the floor for a three-minute duration.

The Congress member can use all of their three minutes or yield some of their time to their colleague and use the remainder of their time at a later time, and the Speaker decides when the remaining time should be used.

Before the three minutes are up, the Speaker reminds him/ her how much time is left. The Speaker makes the decision when to move on to the next Congress member to speak on the floor, or whether more time should be given to the person who is on the floor speaking.

The Speaker also decides when to turn off the microphone if a Congress member fails to follow instructions and the three-minute duration to speak on the floor.

So, the use of microphones in Parliament is very productive. It helps the debates to be efficient, smooth, and saves time. It also coordinates with the constitutional reform.