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December 14, 2018

The long and short of a committee's work

"A committee of Parliament is guided by the rules of the House, which require us to adhere to some standard procedures."
"A committee of Parliament is guided by the rules of the House, which require us to adhere to some standard procedures."

The procedures and standard operations for all parliamentary committees are provided for under the law. A committee of Parliament is guided by the rules of the House, which require us to adhere to some standard procedures.

When dealing with approval hearings, we are guided by the Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approval) Act 2011. The Act requires the appointing authority to, upon nominating a person for appointment, notify the relevant House of Parliament through the Speaker.

The notification shall be in writing and lodged with the Clerk of the relevant House of Parliament. The Act states that a notification of appointment shall be accompanied by information concerning the nominee, having regard to the issues.

Upon receipt of a notification of appointment, the Clerk invites the committee to hold an approval hearing. The committee determines the time and place for the hearing and informs the Clerk, who then notifies the candidate.

The committee, in this case the Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations, notified the public at least seven days before the hearing.

As required of us under the law, all our public proceedings on public appointments are open and transparent. I don’t remember us deciding on our own motion or on the application of any candidate or any other concerned person, to hold whole or part of our sittings in camera.

They were all open and the media covered them live. We focused on the candidate’s academic credentials, professional training and experience, personal integrity and background.

The law requires that any person may, prior to the approval hearing, and by written statement on oath, provide the Clerk with evidence contesting the suitability of a candidate to hold the office to which he/she has been nominated.  

We received memoranda as usual, including one from Ahmednassir Abdullahi. The committee is not an investigating agency. Our work was to vet the nominee.

The law requires that once we receive memoranda, which must be in sworn affidavits, then the nominee is given an opportunity to reply in the form of sworn affidavits as well. There is no calling of witnesses to appear in person during vetting. That is the law.

The Defence and Foreign Relations committee chairman spoke to the Star yesterday.

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