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Parliamentary Glossary






  Parliamentary Glossary  

Term   Definition  
  Second Reading  

(See Passage of a Bill)

  Section   After a Bill is passed by Parliament and assented to by the President, the clauses of a Bill become sections of an Act of Parliament. (See also Article and Clause)
  Select Committees   A group of Members selected by Parliament to inquire into and report on a particular subject. Sessional Select Committees are appointed for each session of Parliament. There are seven such committees, namely, the Committee of Privileges, Committee of Selection, Estimates Committee, House Committee, Public Accounts Committee, Public Petitions Committee and Standing Orders Committee. A Special Select Committee is provided for under the Constitution to nominate candidates to the President for appointment as Nominated Members of Parliament. Other ad hoc Select Committees may be set up on a motion approved by the House to look into Bills or other matters.24

Select Committees on Bills and some sessional Select Committees are empowered to call witnesses and send for documents and records. The Committee may hold closed-door or public hearings. Once the Committee has made its findings and recommendations, it presents a report to Parliament. Any Member may move a motion to adopt or reject the report.

All questions in Select Committees are decided by a majority of votes. The process of voting in both Parliament and its Committees is quite similar. The Chairman will collect the voices of both the “Ayes” and the “Noes” and declare the result. If a division is claimed, the Clerk to the Committee will call each individual Member and record his vote. The results of the vote will be handed to the Chairman who will then declare the result. S.Os. 96-101.

24An example is the Select Committee on the Land Transport Policy which was constituted in 1989.
  Serjeant-at-Arms   The Serjeant-at-Arms is responsible for maintaining order in the precincts of the House. The Serjeant acts on the direction of the Speaker and may remove any person from the Chamber, if ordered to do so.

The Serjeant is the custodian of the Mace and performs a ceremonial function as the bearer of the Mace during the Speaker’s procession. (See also Mace) S.O. 56.

  Session   (See Parliamentary Reporter)
  Shadow Cabinet   A group of Members from the main opposition who acts as opposition spokesmen on the principal areas of government. (See also Leader of the Opposition)  
  Short Title   (See Titles of a Bill)  
  Simultaneous Interpretation  

A Member may speak in any of the four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin or Tamil. Simultaneous interpretation in all the languages is provided in the House.25 Art 53 of the CRS and S.O. 47.

25The system has its history in the Legislative Assembly when a Select Committee was formed in December 1956 to look into provision of simultaneous interpretation in the House. An expert was engaged to train and select the first batch of permanent interpreters. Simultaneous interpretation in the four official languages was first made available at the Opening of the First Legislative Assembly of the self-governing State of Singapore on 1st July 1959.

  Sittings of Parliament  

Sittings refer to the meetings of the House. Usually the House meets on a weekday that is not a public holiday. However, Parliament may by resolution agree to sit during the weekend or on a public holiday. Sittings begin and end at the times prescribed under the Standing Orders, unless notified by the Speaker or altered by resolution of the House.26 (See also Exempted Business and Moment of Interruption) Art 2 of the CRS and S.O. 1.

26 Under the Standing Orders, sittings begin at 12.30 pm [S.O. 1(3)] and the moment of interruption is 4.30 pm [S.O. 1(5)(a)]. At the time of publication, these times have been changed to 1.30 pm and 6.00 pm respectively by the Speaker under the powers given to him in S.O. 1(3).

  Speaker   The Speaker is the presiding officer of Parliament. He is elected by the House at the beginning of each new Parliament. He may be elected from among persons who are not Members or from among Members who are not Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries. If he is not a Member, he must be at least someone who qualifies under the Constitution to stand for election as a Member. The Speaker regulates debates in the House and enforces the rules governing them. He calls upon Members to speak (see Catching the Speaker’s Eye). He proposes and puts the question for the House to debate and vote upon respectively. The Speaker is the guardian of the privileges of Parliament. Members look to him for guidance on matters of practice and procedure and he decides on points of order and gives rulings when required. The Speaker occupies the Chair when presiding over the sittings of the House, and leaves it to take the extreme right seat at the Clerk’s Table when chairing the Committee of the whole Parliament. He does not take part in the debates of the House or its Committees, but can exercise the right to abstain or to vote for or against a motion. However, if he is elected from among persons who are not Members, he cannot vote. The Speaker has no casting vote. He holds office from the moment he is elected by Parliament until the first meeting of a new Parliament. (See also Parliament and Speaker’s Chair) Arts 40 and 42 of the CRS.  
  Speaker's Chair   The high-back chair occupied by the Speaker when he presides over the sittings of Parliament.
  Speaker’s Ruling   A formal decision of the Speaker on the practice and procedure of the House and the conduct of its proceedings.
  Speaking in Parliament   Speeches must always be addressed to the Chair and made from the lecterns provided at the Table or along the benches. No Member may speak unless called upon by the Speaker or Chairman. Members may only speak from their places when raising points of clarification, questions or supplementary questions during Question Time. A Member is required to speak in one language throughout his speech. However, a reply may be given in any or all of the languages. (See also Simultaneous Interpretation and Right of Reply) S.Os. 45 and 46.
  Special Select Committee   A Select Committee set up to nominate persons for appointment as Nominated Members of Parliament by the President. (See also Select Committees) Fourth Schedule of the CRS.
  Special Sitting   For reasons of public interest, the Leader of the House may request that the Speaker calls for a sitting on an earlier date than that to which Parliament was adjourned. If the Speaker is satisfied that public interest does require Parliament to meet earlier than scheduled, he will give notice of the special sitting. The business set down for the special sitting shall be appointed by the Leader of the House. At the end of the special sitting, Parliament shall stand adjourned to the day it has originally been adjourned to, unless otherwise decided. S.O. 5.
  Standing Orders   Rules approved by the House to regulate its proceedings. These orders do not expire with the session in which they are made, but remain in force until they are amended or repealed by the House. They may be suspended by resolution either temporarily or for a particular purpose (See also Moment of Interruption and Exempted Business). The Standing Orders Committee reviews the Standing Orders and recommends amendments and reports to the House on all matters relating to them.
  Standing Orders Committee   A sessional Select Committee which reviews the Standing Orders from time to time, recommends amendments and reports to the House on all matters relating to them. It has no powers to send for persons, papers and records unless Parliament so resolves. S.O. 96(4).  
  Statute   Derived from the Latin word statutum, meaning “it is decided”, the term refers to an Act of Parliament.
  Statute Paper (also known as “S. Papers”)   A paper or document which a ministry or statutory body is required by law to present to Parliament, for example, the annual reports of town councils.
  Strangers   Persons who are neither Members nor officers of the House. Their admission to the House is controlled by the Serjeant-at-Arms, subject to the rules made by the Speaker. S.O. 104.
  Strangers’ Gallery   Visitors are accommodated in the Strangers’ Gallery to observe the proceedings of Parliament. They are to observe silence and decorum in the Chamber and be appropriately dressed.
  Sub Judice   Under consideration or awaiting decision by a court of law. Except in the consideration of a Bill, reference should not be made in Parliament to matters which are sub judice. S.Os. 20 and 48  
  Subsidiary Legislation   Any orders, regulations, notifications, by-laws or instruments made under any Act, Ordinance or other lawful authority. All subsidiary legislation made must be presented to Parliament. (See also Parliamentary Paper)  
  Subsidiary Motion   A motion dependent upon or related to a substantive motion, or which is procedural in nature. It does not require notice, unlike a substantive motion. The mover of a subsidiary motion has no right of reply. (See also Substantive Motion)  
  Substantive Motion   A self-contained proposal which is drafted in such a way as to be capable of expressing a decision or opinion of the House. Substantive motions generally require notice. The mover of a substantive motion has a right of reply. (See also Subsidiary Motion)
  Supplementary Estimates   Where the Government has expenditures which are not included in the Budget, it would have to ask Parliament for additional funds. The requirements are drawn up and presented by the Government to Parliament as supplementary estimates. The supplementary estimates are similar in form to the main estimates, detailing the amount and purpose for which the extra money is required. After the supplementary estimates have been considered by Parliament it is passed in the form of a Supplementary Supply or Final Supply Bill. (See also Budget and Estimates of Expenditure) Art 148 of the CRS.
  Supply Bill   At the end of the consideration of the annual Budget, the House passes a Supply Bill. The law controls the amount of money, issued from the Consolidated and Development Funds, that the Government may spend in the coming financial year. It also specifies the purposes for which the money may be spent. If more money is required in a financial year, the Government must obtain Parliament’s approval through the passing of one or more Supplementary Supply Bills or a Final Supply Bill. (See also Budget and Supplementary Estimates)  
  Supporter   A Member who supports a private Member’s motion. A private Member’s motion must be supported by at least one and not more than five Members by signing the notice of motion or by rising in support of it in the Chamber. (See also Motion) S.Os. 32(2) and 36(1).  
  Suspension of Member   A punishment imposed on a Member by Parliament for instances of gross disorderly conduct, gross disregard of the authority of the Chair, or persistent and wilful obstruction of the business of the House. The Member suspended will be directed by the Speaker to vacate his seat and withdraw from the precincts of Parliament. The suspension may last for such a period as may be determined by the House. (See also Naming a Member)

The punishment can be imposed by the Speaker or Parliament summarily. Any suspension of a Member may also be recommended by the Committee of Privileges and imposed by Parliament pursuant to the provisions under the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act (Cap. 217). S.Os. 56, 57 and 58 and S. 19, 20 and 21 of the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act (Cap. 217).

  Suspension of Sitting  

Under the Standing Orders, a sitting may be suspended at any time after 2.15 pm by resolution of the House upon a motion which does not require notice and, when so suspended, shall be resumed at 2.45 pm.27 The Speaker may also suspend a sitting of Parliament at any time for such period as he may deem fit. S.O. 1.

27 At the time of publication, these times have been changed to 3.15 pm and 3.45 pm respectively by the Speaker under the powers given to him in S.O. 1(3).


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