Glossary

  • Accountability
    Accountability can be broadly defined as the obligation of those in power to take responsibility for their actions. Accountability requires that those being held to account explain their decisions and actions; it also recognises the right of others to enquire about those decisions and actions.
  • Amendment (Legislative)
    A change proposed to a motion or bill with the intention of improving it or providing an alternative.
  • Annual Report
    An Annual Report is a company's yearly report to stakeholders, documenting its activities and finances in the previous financial year.
  • Appropriations-in-Aid
    Any revenue that a (Government) Department collects in the ordinary course of business, which has been approved by Parliament to be used by the Department.
  • Backbencher
    Backbenchers are MPs that are neither government ministers nor opposition Shadow spokespersons. They are so called because, in the House they sit in the rows of benches behind their parties' spokespersons who are known as frontbenchers.
  • Bicameral
    A legislature that has two separate chambers. In Jamaica they are the Senate (Upper House) and the House of Representatives (Lower House). Generally, the two are quite distinct from each other. This bicameral system has a significant impact on the way Parliament works.
  • Breach
    An infraction or violation of a law, obligation, policy, or standard.
  • Cabinet
    The Cabinet consists of all Ministers who are appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister from among the members of the House of Representatives, and from the Senate. The Cabinet decides the Government's priorities and policies, determines the legislation that will be presented to Parliament, and raises and spends revenues.
  • Chair
    The presiding officer at a meeting of the House or a committee.
  • Committee Stage
    Committee stage is where a Bill is considered line-by-line and is normally the next stage after a Bill's second reading. It is an opportunity for changes to be made to the wording or for new clauses to be added.
  • Constituency
    The specific geographic area in Jamaica that a Member of Parliament represents in the House of Representatives, also called an electoral district. During debate the Member is often identified by the name of the Electoral District rather than by his or her own name. The House of Representatives has 63 members, corresponding with the number of constituencies.
  • Corruption
    Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery
  • First Reading
    First Reading is the formal introduction of a Bill to the House of Representatives or the Senate. The Bill is not debated at this stage, but a date for its Second Reading in that House is set.
  • Green Paper
    A state document that indicates the general intent of the government in a particular subject area, and invites public comment before a law is amended or drafted. This is usually prepared by the particular Ministry or Agency dealing with the subject matter.
  • Hansard
    The daily official record of debates in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Hansard derives its name from the printer in England who began preparing reports of parliamentary debates in the 18th century.
  • Illicit Enrichment
    The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) defines illicit enrichment as a significant increase in the assets of a public official that he or she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his or her lawful income.
  • Joint Select Committee
    Joint Select Committees are committees consisting of MPs and Senators. They have similar powers to other Select Committees. They are most often set up for specific purposes, such as examining draft or existing legislation such as the NIDS bill or the Integrity Commission Act.
  • Mace
    The Mace is an ornamented staff used in Jamaican Parliamentary ceremonies and sessions; it represents the monarch’s authority over such proceedings. It is present at every session, as Parliament is not properly constituted without it being in the room. At the start of each sitting of Parliament, the Mace is carried in by the Marshal ahead of the entry of the Presiding Officer (The Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate). The Mace is placed on the Table of the House, where it remains until it is removed at the end of each session by the Marshal.
  • Member of Parliament
    A Member of Parliament (MP) is the person elected by those who live in a particular area (constituency) to represent them in the Lower House of Jamaica’s Parliament.
  • Parliamentary Counsel
    The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is the Law Office of the Government charged with the responsibility for the preparation of draft legislation. It consists of a cadre of attorneys-at-law headed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and supported by administrative and secretarial staff.
  • Parliamentary Privilege
    Parliamentary privilege grants certain legal immunities for Members of both Houses to allow them to perform their duties without interference from outside of the House. Parliamentary privilege includes freedom of speech and the right of both Houses to regulate their own affairs.
  • Permanent Secretary
    The Permanent Secretary (PS) is the most senior civil servant and thereby, the Chief Accounting Officer in a Ministry. As defined in Section 93 of the Constitution, he/she is responsible for the overall supervision of a Ministry, under the general direction and control of the Minister.
  • Procurement
    Procurement refers to the formal, official process of purchasing and obtaining materials, supplies, or equipment, especially in the context of business or government.
  • Prorogation
    When a parliamentary session comes to an end the House is prorogued until the next session begins. Prorogation is the formal end to the parliamentary year.
  • Quorum
    A quorum is the minimum number of MPs or members of the Senate needed for a division (vote) to be valid or for a parliamentary committee to function. Quorums for different types of meetings are set out in the standing orders for each House.
  • Recess
    A recess is a break during the parliamentary session (year) in which neither House of Parliament meets to conduct business. There are usually several recesses throughout a session, including Christmas and Summer.
  • Referendum
    A referendum is when a question is decided by putting it to a public vote. Referendums (also pluralised as referenda) are an example of direct democracy. Some provisions of our constitution are referred to as "entrenched"; these require a referendum (among other steps) prior to removal or modification.
  • Report Stage
    The Report Stage is the next stage of a Bill after its Committee Stage. The whole House, either the House of Representatives or the Senate, reviews the amended form of the bill and can make further changes.
  • Royal Assent
    Royal Assent is the Monarch's agreement, which is required to make a Bill that has passed both Houses of Parliament into an Act. In Jamaica, Royal Assent is provided by the Governor General, in his role as the Monarch's representative.
  • Schedule
    A Schedule is a part of a Bill or a part of an Act. Bills may have a number of Schedules that appear after the main Clauses in the text. They are often used to spell out in more detail how the provisions of the Bill are to work in practice. If a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, its Schedules become Schedules of that Act.
  • Second Reading
    The Second Reading is normally the first opportunity for a Bill to be debated in either House and is the stage where the overall principles of the Bill are considered. If the Bill passes Second Reading it moves on to the Committee Stage.
  • Senator
    A Senator is a member of the Upper House of Parliament. All 21 Senators are appointed by the Governor General – 13 on the advice of the Prime Minister and 8 on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.
  • Shadow Cabinet
    The Shadow Cabinet is the team of senior spokespersons chosen by the Leader of the Opposition to mirror the Cabinet in Government. Each member of the shadow cabinet is appointed to lead on a specific policy area for their party and to question and challenge their counterpart in the Cabinet. In this way the Opposition seeks to present itself as an alternative government-in-waiting.
  • Speaker
    The Speaker is a Member of Parliament (MP) who has been elected by other MPs to act as Chair during debates in the House of Representatives. They are responsible for ensuring that the rules are observed and order is maintained in the House. When a Speaker is elected they are expected to become politically impartial.
  • Standing Finance Committee
    The Standing Finance Committee is a Committee consisting of all Members of Parliament, whose role, among others, is to deliberate upon the Estimates of Expenditure as presented to the Parliament. Its deliberations shall be in public.
  • Standing Orders
    Standing Orders are the written rules which regulate the proceedings of each House of Parliament.
  • Surcharge
    Surcharge is a provision of the Financial Administration and Audit (FAA) Act, which allows for the recovery of moneys lost or recovery of the value of the loss of assets/property that have been destroyed/stolen because of negligence on the part of public officers. Surcharge allows for the recovery of the amount or value from the person(s) found being negligent.
  • Tabling
    Tabling is the act of formally putting forward a question, a motion, a report or an amendment in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
  • Third Reading
    Third reading is one of the stages that a Bill must pass in each House before it can become law. It is normally the final opportunity for the Upper or Lower House to decide whether to pass or reject a Bill in its entirety.
  • Whip
    Whips are MPs or members of the Senate appointed by each party to inform and organise their members in Parliament. One of their responsibilities is to make sure that members vote in divisions, and vote in line with party policy.
  • White Paper
    This sometimes follows the Green Paper, and is a report formulated by the government about a particular subject with details of planned or future laws. This is a statement of government policy on a topic of significance; typically they take the form of Cabinet submissions, prepared at the direction of a Minister for Cabinet approval.