Castries, Saint Lucia, Tuesday November 30, 2021:– Newly-elected parliamentarians in the Philip J. Pierre-led administration’s Cabinet of Ministers will, over the next three days, learn to walk the tightrope of balancing their challenging responsibilities to engage in constituency work, with the equally-demanding duties of their ministerial portfolios.
The lessons will be offered by local and international experts on parliamentary affairs during a Post-Elections Parliamentary Seminar.
The seminar, starting today at the Parliamentary Chamber in Constitution Park, will also include presentations by representatives of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the UK House of Commons.
Speaker of Saint Lucia’s House of Assembly Claudius Francis, who announced the seminar at the Fourth Session of the new parliament earlier this month, says it aims to sensitize parliamentarians about their roles, functions and responsibilities in accordance with the Constitution, local law and international best practice.
Topics include: Balancing Constituency Work and Ministerial Portfolios, Purpose and Running of Parliaments (in Saint Lucia and the UK), Parliamentarians and the Legislative Process, Fostering Effective Member-Clerk Relationships, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as Ethics, Behavior and Standards.
Francis told Saint Lucia News Online (SNO): “The CPA and the House of Commons will be participating by Zoom and they’ll look at all the aspects to be considered, including roles of Parliamentary Subcommittees.”
He said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is expected to get special attention, with emphasis on a need to activate this important but highly under-utilized parliamentary sub-committee.
Indeed, he said, there’s a strong feeling among some members that the PAC “should not be limited only to MPs” and should include non-parliamentarians (like the Director of Audit).
Another likely to gain attention is the Privileges Subcommittee, which some MPs feel should be headed by “someone like a retired judge…”
Also likely to be explained is who’s Leader of Government Business in the House, as it’s usually assumed it should be the Prime Minister.
But in the current dispensation, it’s the MP for Castries South, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, who holds the position, as did Gros Islet MP Mario Michel between 1997 and 2006.
The Speaker says the seminar is both “timely and useful” as it’s intended to be “an initiation for the new and reaffirmation for the old.”
Such seminars usually follow General Elections and all parliamentarians have been invited.
The training session continues until Thursday.