Service and Accountability - Public Hearing Manual

Sunday, November 1, 2009

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Being a Member of Parliament is not easy. In fact the reality is quite the opposite and the effectiveness of an MP often depends upon how well the Member achieves, and maintains, balance and purpose in the wide range of roles and responsibilities they have to carry out.

An effective MP is an accomplished legislator, a diligent committee member and a committed public servant; and in carrying out these three roles, an MP has to balance the demands of the party with the views of the constituents that voted for them, as well as with their own personal opinions and conscience.

An MP’s various roles and responsibilities often come together in committee and through the public hearing process. Effective committee work depends upon effective public hearings. Legislative hearings examine the need for, the quality of and the potential effectiveness and consequences of proposed legislation. Oversight hearings monitor the implementation of legislation and put the role of Government under scrutiny, and investigative hearings guard the public interest by investigating potential wrong doing by government departments and public officials.

The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs has developed this manual as one in a series of manuals, entitled Service and Accountability, that focus on aspects of good governance. This specific manual, Service and Accountability, Public Hearing Manual, is intended for use by Presidents of Commissions, committee members and committee clerks to help them in the organization and management of effective public hearings. The manual was developed with input and advice from presidents of parliament and chairs of parliamentary committees. The manual draws on NDI’s experience to date, in working with parliament on the provision of public hearings, and on best practice in Europe, the United States and elsewhere in the world.

The public perception of Parliament and MPs in Macedonia, and the work they do, is a critical one. This comes through clearly in the results of opinion polls. Public hearings can help improve public opinion for they are not only held in the public domain but also allow invited experts, interested bodies and members of the public to appear in front of the hearing and give evidence and contribute to the review and scrutiny process of a range of issues connected to good governance. They allow the public to be part of the process and understand a little more about the work of MPs and Parliament.

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