Monday, December 9, 2019

Hansard is the traditional name for the printed reports of parliamentary debates in the Westminster system of Parliament.  It is the official edited reports of proceedings in the Parliament Chamber.  The Cook Islands Parliament still maintains this tradition.

Since self-government in 1965 Cook Islands Parliament has reported its proceedings in Hansard.  These reports are nearly verbatim as possible and are privileged.  They are also available for public reading at Parliament House.

Standing Orders 385 provides that all proceedings of Parliament are to be broadcast live over Radio Cook Islands.

Hansard Reports

History

Thomas Curson Hansard, an early publisher of parliamentary debates in the United Kingdom

Hansard is the traditional name for the printed reports or transcripts of parliamentary debates in the Westminster (UK) system of Parliament. It is the official edited reports of the proceedings in the Parliament Chamber.

Hansard take its name from Thomas Curson Hansard, an early publisher of parliamentary debates in the United Kingdom. Over time, the reports published by his firm came to be known as ‘Hansard’. Since then, other Commonwealth Parliaments around the world have used the same name for this service.

The Cook Islands Parliament still maintains this tradition and have adopted the name ‘Hansard’ for the Official Report of Parliament since self-government in 1965.

Since self-government in 1965 Cook Islands Parliament has reported its proceedings in Hansard. These reports are nearly verbatim as possible and are privileged. They are also available for public reading at Parliament House.

Production of Hansard:
Hansard is the official report of debate in the House of Parliament. It is produced by editors, and reporters who go into the debating chamber and report what members of Parliament (MPs) say. The report is then printed in a “Daily Report” for MPs approval. The Daily must be completed and ready for circulation to the MPs the following sitting day of parliament.

A bound volume of a number of sitting days report is produced which becomes the final Hansard report, its actual name is, Parliamentary Debates – Official Report (Hansard).

Editors follow strict rules on what changes they can make to what MPs said in the Chamber. This makes sure that Hansard is as close to verbatim (word for word) as possible.

What legal instruments give authority to Hansard?

The Constitution of the Cook Islands:
The Constitution Act of the Cook Islands Part III, Article 35, Languages sub clause (3), states – “The records of proceedings in Parliament, or in committee thereof shall be in the English language, and such of those records as are specified in the Standing Orders of Parliament…”

The Standing Orders of the Parliament of the Cook Islands:
In the Standing Orders of Parliament, Part XIII, Official Report, clauses 47 to 50, it provides for the preparation of the reporting of parliament.

Standing Orders, Part XLII, Broadcasting, clause 385, provides that all proceedings of Parliament are to be broadcast live over the radio.

Can MPs “improve” or make changes to what they said in the House?
The answer is No. MPs are provided draft copies of their speeches (what they said) in the Chamber, in the Daily Report, after each sitting day. They are required to sign the Daily Report to give their approval to Hansard. There are strict rules about what changes they can request.

They can ask for things like corrections to a wrong fact or figure or spelling of names, place etc. However changes to what they said on the Floor of Parliament cannot be altered.

Strict rules also decide what changes Hansard editors can make to what is said in the House.

Who are interested in Hansard?
It is important in a democratic system for the people to be able to see what their elected representatives are saying in Parliament. After all, the job of a Member of Parliament is to represent the people of their constituency.

Hansard gives the people a chance to read exactly what their politicians are saying about a Bill as it is considered by Parliament. As well as providing accountability to the public, Hansard is often used in court case to help clarify what Parliament intended when it passed a particular piece of legislation. If the reason for, or meaning of, words used in an Act are unclear, the debates in Hansard often provide the answer.

Hansard is a central part of parliamentary transparency and helps voters to hold politicians accountable for their words and actions; we need it today as much as we ever have.

Finally, Hansard is a historical record and document which can reveal many past actions of people and government.

Hansard Reports

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