Last week Thursday (February 15, 2018) saw the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament for the new Parliamentary year, with all the attendant pageantry.
This included the usual walk on Duke Street by Government and Opposition Members of Parliament, as they entered Gordon House for the first time for the 2018 – 2019 Parliamentary year.
The new year is always a good time to reflect on the performance of Parliament and its members in the past year. One easily tallied and basic marker is attendance. This is a very limited marker admittedly. It indicates nothing about other basic markers such as punctuality or length of stay at each sitting; it doesn’t indicate participation in debates or voting record. It doesn’t indicate whether or not MPs attended meetings of any Committees they were members of and whether they contributed anything useful during those meetings. There are many other aspects to an MP’s performance in Parliament. But attendance is a good starting point. So as I have for the past two years, I have compiled the attendance record for MPs and posted them on my blog.
TABLE SHOWING COMPILED ATTENDANCE RECORD FOR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT 2017 – 2018 (link to pdf document)
You can also access the actual records I got from Parliament, from which I compiled my table: ATTENDANCE RECORD FOR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT 2017 – 2018
There were 47 sittings of the House of Representatives in 2017 – 2018, including the Ceremonial Opening and the special sitting to honour retiring MP and former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. This is an increase over the 41 sittings in 2016 – 2017, though that was a shorter year, beginning in March 2016 after the General Election that February. Four MPs attended all 47 sittings – Dave Hume Brown, Delroy Chuck, Morais Guy and Franklin Witter. It is interesting to note that MP Ian Hayles, who had the worst attendance record last year (having attended only 19 of the 41 sittings), improved his record this year, having attended 36 of the 47 sittings. And despite the requirement in 81(1) of the Standing Orders for the House of Representatives that MPs give apologies for their absences, very few seem to do so, according to these records.
81. Absence of Members – (1) Any member who is prevented from attending a meeting of the House shall acquaint the Speaker as early as possible of his inability to attend, such notices to be in writing.
Do you care, however, if your MP attends Parliament? Or do you think it doesn’t much matter? One way or the other, you can – if you want to – check to see what their record was for last year.