The hottest topic discussed, in Parliament, offices, homes and in the street, is the unruly behaviour of our politicians and especially the threat of a no-confidence motion against Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and his response -- ready to wear jumpers if he had overstepped his powers. With that picture before us, I was curious to find out the functions and duties of the clerk to the House of Representatives, as I felt that the Speaker, an ordinary Member of Parliament, elevated to the high post as Speaker should be guided and advised by some knowledgeable body, of responsibilities and conduct of the person so elected as Speaker. And that responsibility falls on the clerk to the House of Representatives. Here is what I gathered in browsing the internet -- This will be of interest to the public to judge whether our representatives in Parliament are worthy to govern.
The office of the clerk is the legislature’s secretarial services. The office of the clerk is a politically-independent organisation, providing services to Parliament, as distinct from services to the government, and providing services to members in their parliamentary role, rather than in their party or electorate capacities. Although the office of the clerk’s primary client group is Members of Parliament and its principal relationship is with the Speaker, with other presiding officers and with committee chairs, it also deals with office holders such as the Leader of the House, party leaders and party whips and with staff members.
The office of the clerk is a politically-independent organisation, providing services to Parliament, as distinct from services to the government, and providing services to members in their parliamentary role, rather than in their party or electorate capacities
The office of the clerk carries out the functions required under Section 3 of the Clerk to the House of Representatives Act 1988 which provides that –
The functions of the Clerk to the House of Representatives shall be:
[a] To note proceedings of the House of Representatives and any committee of the House.
[b] To carry out such duties and exercise such powers as may be conferred on the Clerk of the House of Representatives by law or by Standing Orders and practices of the House of Representatives.
[c] To act as the principal officer of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and in the capacity to manage that office efficiently, effectively and economically.
[d] To ensure that the staff of the Office of House of Representatives carry out their duties including duties imposed and;
[i] Proper standards of integrity and conduct
[ii] Concern for the public in brief
[e] To be responsible, under the directions of the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the official reporting of the proceedings of the House of Representatives and Committees.
In view of the above, it could be presumed, the Speaker would have consulted the clerk to the House of Representatives when he acted. It would have been sensible, if those creating this ugly situation, discussed the matter with the clerk, unless of course their intention was to disrupt parliamentary proceedings, giving the impression to the public that the government has no majority in Parliament.
Whatever it maybe, the public awaits anxiously the verdict of the judiciary, which will put an end to these despicable tom foolery denounced locally as well as internationally and usher in a stable government. That is the only hope.