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No longer Strangers in the House: New rules for Parliament

Rules—Chamber, Lobby, and Galleries


Mr SPEAKER: The rules governing visitors to the public and Speaker's galleries have been updated to modernise requirements about dress, to give clarity about items that can brought into the galleries, and to clarify the powers of security officers. The rules apply to the public and speaker's galleries, and not to the press gallery. The rules governing the lobbies and the Chamber update the provisions governing strangers in the Chamber to enable officials advising Ministers in the committee of the whole House to step on to the floor of the Chamber to speak briefly with the Minister in the chair. Officials will be allowed to bring electronic devices into the Chamber when advising Ministers. Whānau or staff members will be able to enter the lobbies in order to enable members to care for infants. An updated copy of the rules will be delivered to members this afternoon.

Office of the Clerk

Chamber and Lobby Rules 2017
Rules for admission to the Chamber and lobbies during sittings of the House.

1 Introduction
These rules apply to all people entering or present in the Chamber and lobbies during sittings of the House of Representatives, apart from members (whose rules of conduct are contained in the Standing Orders and the Speakers’ Rulings).
2 Definitions
The following definitions apply in these rules:
distinguished visitor includes former members, distinguished guests of the Speaker and other guests being introduced to the House
Serjeant-at-Arms includes any person directed and authorised under the Standing Orders to act as Serjeant-at-Arms
Speaker includes any presiding officer while in the Chair
stranger means a person who is not a member or an officer of the House
officer of the House has the meaning set out in rule 7.
3 Admission of distinguished visitors and other strangers to Chamber
(1) The Speaker can authorise any distinguished visitor or other stranger to enter the Chamber.
(2) The Minister or member who is responsible for an item of business before the House can request that a stranger attend to advise about that business when it is being considered. The stranger is authorised to attend for this purpose unless the Speaker decides otherwise.
4 Conditions of entry to Chamber
(1) A stranger can enter the Chamber only if the following conditions are met:
(a) the stranger is authorised to enter under rule 3
(b) dress must be of the standard required of members in the House
(c) satchels, briefcases, umbrellas and other large, disruptive or potentially unsafe articles are not permitted
(d) food and drink are not permitted
(e) the stranger’s behaviour in the Chamber must comply with rule 5 at all times.
(2) No stranger can enter the Chamber at the following times—
(a) within 30 minutes before the start of a sitting of the House except under the supervision of the Serjeant-at-Arms
(b) while the prayer is being read.
(3) No stranger can enter or remain in the Chamber while a sitting of the House is suspended (such as for a meal break), unless authorised by the Speaker or the Serjeant at-Arms.
5 Behaviour in Chamber
(1) While in the Chamber, strangers must—
(a) sit to the left-hand or right-hand side of the Speaker’s Chair, at the Speaker’s discretion
(b) not disturb or disrupt the proceedings of the House or undertake any activity that might do so
(c) not set foot on the floor of the House, even if asked to do so by a member, except as permitted under paragraph (3).
(d) not photograph or make a recording without the Speaker’s prior approval
(e) comply with all requests or directions from the Speaker, the Serjeant at-Arms, or a Chamber and Meeting Support Officer.
(2) Communication with and between strangers in the Chamber must always be very discreet and, subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), must comply with the following requirements:
(a) no oral communication is permitted between a stranger and a Minister or member who is on the floor of the House.
(b) a written note from a stranger can be passed to a Minister or member on the floor of the House only by a Chamber and Meeting Support Officer

(3) The Minister or member at the Table in a committee of the whole House can communicate quietly with a stranger who is advising about the business before the committee. The stranger may step onto the floor of the House if necessary for this purpose, but must take care not to disturb proceedings.

(4) Ministers, members and officers of the House who move onto the step by the Speaker’s Chair, off the floor of the House, can have quiet discussions with strangers seated there.
6 Admission to lobbies of Chamber

(1) When attending any of the lobbies of the Chamber, a stranger must not impede members, and must not disturb or disrupt the proceedings of the House. No stranger can enter or remain in a lobby when a personal vote is in progress.

(2) The following strangers can enter the Ayes lobby or Noes lobby as far as strictly necessary, through the lobby behind the Speaker’s Chair:
(a) a distinguished visitor or other stranger who is authorised to enter the Chamber
(b) Ministers’ or members’ staff, departmental officials and advisers, for access to meeting rooms.

(3) Staff of a Minister or member can enter the lobbies at either end of the House (between the Ayes and Noes lobbies) but, subject to paragraph (2), can do so only for the purpose of making a delivery or receiving an instruction or signature.
(4) Whānau or staff of a Minister or member can enter the Ayes lobby or Noes lobby for the purpose of enabling the Minister or member to care for an infant.
(5) The following strangers can enter and be present in the lobbies to the extent that it is necessary to do so when carrying out their duties:
(a) technical personnel (e.g. broadcasting technicians, or building services and facilities personnel)
(b) Parliamentary Security Officers
(c) Protection Officers of the Diplomatic Protection Service
(d) any other person authorised by the Speaker or by the Serjeant-at-Arms.
7 Officers of the House

(1) An officer of the House is authorised to enter and be present in the Chamber and lobbies when it is necessary to do so in performing the officer’s duties. An officer of the House can step onto the floor of the House if his or her duties require this.
(2) For the purpose of these rules, officer of the House means any of the following:
(a) the Clerk of the House, Deputy Clerk of the House, Clerks-Assistant and Clerks at the-Table
(b) the Serjeant-at-Arms and Chamber and Meeting Support Officers
(c) officers authorised by the Speaker, including the Speaker’s Assistant
(d) officers authorised by the Clerk of the House, for example, staff of Hansard, Nga Rātonga Reo Māori (interpretation and translation services), the Table Office, Bills Office, and Inter-Parliamentary Relations
(e) any technical or support personnel authorised by the Speaker or the Serjeant at Arms to enter for the purpose of assisting the sitting.
8 Requirement to leave

(1) The Speaker or the Serjeant-at-Arms can require a stranger to leave if the stranger—
(a) enters the Chamber or lobbies without being authorised to do so under these rules
(b) disturbs or disrupts the proceedings of the House or otherwise does not comply with these rules.
(2) The fact that a stranger has been required to leave under this rule does not prevent the House from also holding the stranger’s conduct to be a contempt.
9 Authority not limited by these rules
Nothing in these rules limits the authority of the Speaker and the Serjeant-at-Arms to control admission and maintain order.
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard

5 December 2017

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