The Parliament Chamber
07 May, 2018
Hi there Guyana, for those of you who are interested in visiting the Parliament Chamber, but for one reason or the other is unable to, here is a brief guide of what the Chamber looks like.
The largest room in the Public Buildings is the Parliament Chamber. It is the room in which debates of the National Assembly take place. The Chamber is arranged according to the Westminster tradition, with government and opposition members facing each other across wooden tables.
Members of the party obtaining the most votes in a general election form the Government and sit to the right of the Speaker. Members of the opposition parties sit to the left of the Speaker. Members of Parliament sit in assigned seats.
There are some items of special importance in the Parliament Chamber.
The Speaker’s Chair
The Speaker’s Chair is an elaborately carved chair made of teak. This was a gift from the Government of India in 1966 when Guyana gained her Independence.
The Clerk’s Table
Another Independence gift is this table and three chairs, one each for the Clerk of the National Assembly and one for his. These were gifts from the British House of Commons.
The ceiling of the Chamber
One of the most striking features of the Chamber, however, is the highly decorative, sunken panelled ceiling. This ceiling was designed, coffered and painted in 1875 by an Italian artist who migrated to British Guiana in 1860 with a group of Italian priests. His name was Cesar Castellani.
A Mace is a ceremonial symbol of authority and it is used in Commonwealth Parliaments.
In Guyana, a Mace was used for the first time on 10th September, 1957. It was made of silver gilt and depicted British Royal Arms.
When Guyana became a Republic on 23rd February, 1970, the head of the Mace was replaced with one of Guyana's symbols of nationhood the Coat of Arms. The head of the present mace was designed by a team from the Guyana Ministry of Information and Culture. The original stem, which is one hundred and forty-five and a half centimetres in length, depicts a Victoria Regia Lily, one of the largest water lilies in the world, first discovered in British Guiana during the reign of Queen Victoria, and our National Flower, hence the name given to it. The stem also includes representation of a rice stalk in full bearing and a sugar cane stalk in blossom, representing two of Guyana's principal products.
The Mace is the most significant symbol in the National Assembly. It represents the authority of Parliament. When he enters or leaves the Chamber, the Speaker is preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms bearing the Mace on his right shoulder.
When the National Assembly is in session, the Mace is placed on the Clerk's table, with its head pointing towards the Government side of the Chamber.
When the Assembly is sitting as a Committee of the Whole Assembly, the Mace is placed below the Clerk's table.
The chair of the Serjeant-at-Arms
The chair of the Serjeant-at-Arms sits at the end of the space between the Members of the Parties in Government and the Members of the Opposition. This chair is made of mahogany from then British Honduras, now known as Belize, and was presented as an Independence gift on October 22, 1968 from the British House of Commons.
The Public Gallery
You can visit the public gallery of the Parliament Chamber in the Public Buildings at any time when the House is sitting. Please come to Parliament’s main entrance, speak with Security, and ask for directions to the public gallery.
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