• The proposals by the panel, chaired by Speaker Amazon Kingi, also provide guidelines for the appearance of CSs and procedures for asking and responding to questions.
• If approved, the CS will be required to appear in the chamber in person to respond to specific questions raised by senators regarding their dockets.
The Senate has set the stage for Cabinet secretaries to appear in the chamber to respond to members' questions with an amendment to the House rules.
The Senate procedure and rules committee has proposed amendments to the Standing Orders to allow CSs to personally answer questions on the floor of the House.
The proposals by the panel, chaired by Speaker Amazon Kingi, also provide guidelines for the appearance of CSs and procedures for asking and responding to questions.
The amendments are being debated by members.
If approved, the CS will be required to appear in the chamber in person to respond to specific questions raised by senators regarding their dockets.
“A Cabinet Secretary shall appear in person on the day on which the respective question is listed for response,” a report by the panel on the amendments states.
The report states that besides answering the specific questions, a CS, with the permission of the Speaker, may make a statement on any other matter pertaining to the respective state department.
The move by the Senate to tweak the House rules to allow CSs appear in the chamber follows a letter by President William Ruto last year.
In the letter, Ruto petitioned Parliament, through the speakers of the bicameral Parliament, to consider changing the Standing Orders to allow the CS to show up in the chamber.
This, he argued, will enhance accountability of the CS and the Executive through direct parliamentary oversight.
Currently, CSs answer questions by members through their respective standing committees.
In the report, the committee proposed that a CS who will fail to appear to answer questions and concerns by the members will face dire consequences.
“The Senate may, where a Cabinet Secretary fails, without reasonable cause, to appear and respond to questions, move a motion to censure the Cabinet Secretary,” the report states.
Interestingly, the report is signed by four, including the Speaker, out of the nine members.
Others who signed the report are senators Hillary Sigei (Bomet), Mohammed Abass (Wajir) and Joseph Nyutu (Nyandarua).
Those who did not sign are vice chairman and deputy speaker Kathure Murungi (Meru), Veronica Maina (nominated), Catherine Mumma (nominated) and Beth Syengo (nominated).
The report stipulates that a senator who wishes to address a question to a CS shall hand to the Clerk a written notification of the matter signed by the senator.
The clerk shall in turn submit the notification to the Speaker for approval.
“The Speaker may refuse to allow a request for a question unless that the matter may properly be discussed in the Senate,” reads the report.
The Clerk shall then prepare and submit a list of the questions to be asked to the relevant CS and the Senate Business Committee for scheduling in the Order Paper (business of the day).
“The Senate Business Committee shall schedule a date and time for the appearance of the relevant CS before the Senate to respond to the question,” the report states.
“In scheduling the date for response, the Senate Business Committee shall provide at least seven days’ notice to the respective CS.”
A senator shall ask his or her question on the day scheduled in the Order paper.
“A senator may in writing nominate another senator to ask a question on his or her behalf where the senator shall be absent on the day on which the question is listed,” it states.
Where a senator is absent and has not nominated another senator to ask a question on his or her behalf, the question shall be dropped.