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Glossary

Parliamentary Terms

A
Act: A law passed by Parliament.
Adjournment: Termination of a sitting of the House.
Appropriation Bill: A Bill granting authority to spend public money or to incur expenses for the needs of the state .
Presidential Assent: The President’s consent to sign a Bill passed by Parliament thereafter it becomes law.

B
Backbencher: A Member of Parliament who is not a Minister and usually occupies a back bench in the National Assembly.
Bi-cameral Parliament: A title for a Parliament that consist of two Houses.
Bill: A proposed law.
Budget: A financial statement or document released by the Minister of Finance, outlining the Government’s proposed economic and fiscal policies. A plan of how money should be spent over a period of time.

C
Candidate: A person who stands for election to Parliament.
Casting vote: A vote by the Presiding Member that breaks an impasse when vote in the Chamber are equally divided.
Caucus: A closed meeting of Members of Parliament belonging to a particular political party to decide on a matter.
Chairperson of the National Council: The Presiding Officer of the National Council.
Chamber: A hall in which all Members of a House meet to debate.
Clause: An individually numbered item in a Bill or law.
Clerk-at-the-Table: The most senior administrative officer in the Chamber.
Coalition: A combination of two or more political parties for the purpose of getting more presentation.
Committee: A small group of Members of Parliament selected or appointed to perform a specific function.
Committee Clerk: A staff member appointed to serve as secretary to a parliamentary committee.
Committee Stage: A stage during which a House examines a Bill in detail with a view to making changes where necessary.
Constituency: An electoral area.

Constituency Office: The office of a Member of Parliament in an electoral constituency.
Constituent: A person having a right to vote, and living in an electoral area.

D
Debate: A discussion of a bill/issue or proposition.

E
Election: The process of selecting (voting for) individuals to public office e.g Members of Parliament.
Electorate: The voters.
Enact a law: Making a law.
Executive: The President and Ministers.

F
First Reading: A stage in the passing of a bill – the first opportunity for Members of Parliament to debate the intent of a Bill.

G
Gallery: Public-seating areas in the National Assembly and the National Council.
General Election: The election held to elect Members of Parliament.

I
Introduce a Bill: To present or table a Bill in Parliament.

L
Law: Binding rules by which society is governed.
Leader of Government Business: A Cabinet member who co-ordinates Government’s business in Parliament.
Leader of the Opposition: The leader of the largest opposition party in Parliament.
Legislation: Laws or statutes (Acts).
Legislative Process: The process by which laws are made.
Legislature: A law-making body – Parliament.

M
Mace: A ceremonial staff used in Parliament to symbolize the authority of a Presiding Officer overseeing the legislature.
Maiden Speech: The first speech made in the House by a new Member.
Member of Parliament (MP): A Member of the National Assembly or the National Council.
Minister: A Member of the Executive who is usually in charge of a government ministry.
Minority/Opposition party: A political party or parties which does or do not have a majority in Parliament.
Motion: A proposal by a Member to have a House discuss an issue.

N
Notice of motion: A notice by a Member of Parliament on his/her intention to move a motion.

O
Order Paper: The document which sets out the agenda for a House on a sitting day.
Order of the Day: The items of business written down on the Order Paper for consideration on a particular day.

P
Parliament: The national legislature, consisting of the National Council and National Assembly.
Parliamentary Procedure: The way in which Parliament conducts its business.
Petition: A document presented to Parliament, signed by a person(s), requesting that a certain course of action be taken or not be taken.
Point of Order: An interjection on the correct procedures to be followed.
Presiding Officer: The Member controlling the debate in the Chamber.
Press Gallery: The area in a Chamber set aside for accredited members of the media.

Q
Quorum: The minimum number of MPs required to start a meeting.
Quorum of the National Assembly: Thirty seven (37) members (50% +1), excluding non-voting members.
Quorum of the National Council: Fourteen (14) members out of a total of 26.

R
Recess: The period between Sessions of Parliament.
Referendum: A process for deciding on a matter of public policy through a public vote by registered voters.
Resolution: A decision by the whole House or a Committee.
Ruling: An authoritative decision made by a Presiding Officer on matters of procedure.

S
Second Reading: The stage in the passage of a Bill at which the House agrees to a Bill.
Secretary: The most senior staff member at Parliament who deals with daily administrative duties.
Sergeant-At-Arms: The officer, who leads the Presiding Officer in and out of the Chamber, and carries the Mace.
Session: The period between the time the House first meets until it is suspended for recess.
Sitting: The period between the time the Presiding Member takes the Chair and the time the House is adjourned for the day.
Speaker: The principal Presiding Officer of the National Assembly.
Standing Committee: A permanent group of Parliamentarians composed of members elected by each party to whom matters relating to a given subject may be referred for closer examination.
Statutes: Laws or Acts of Parliament.
State of the Nation Address: An annual speech by the President, to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council, outlining the state of affairs in the country and Government’s intentions.

T
Table: The table immediately in front of and below the Presiding Officer’s chair.
Tabling: A formal presentation of a document to the House by a Member.
Third Reading: The final stage during which a Bill is passed.
Title (Short): The title of a Bill or Act by which it is known.

V
Vacation of a Seat: The act of a Member ending his/her membership of Parliament.
Vote: *To choose a candidate or party in an election. *To take a stand for or against an issue. *Questions are put to a vote in the House. * The parts of an Appropriation Bill detailing the authority to spend public money or incur expenses are called votes.
Vote of no Confidence: the act of Members expressing their distrust in the ability of a Member or a party to continue with duties.

W
Whip: A Member of Parliament, elected by his/her party to maintain and enforce discipline among fellow Members, notably to ensure attendance and voting in debates.
White Paper: A document outlining and detailing how a law is intended to be carried out.

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