Committees of the Senate are established and operate pursuant to the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, the Standing Orders, other enabling legislation, Resolutions of the House and established practices and procedures of Parliament. Article 124(1) of the Constitution of Kenya empowers each House of Parliament to establish Committees and to make Standing Orders for the orderly conduct of its proceedings, including the proceedings of its Committees. Article 124(2) further empowers Parliament to establish Joint Committees consisting of members of both Houses and to jointly regulate the procedure of those Committees.
The Standing Orders provide for the following broad types of select committees namely-
- Rules and House Business committee;
- Standing Committees;
- Sessional Committees; and
- Joint Committees.
Each of these categories of Committees is briefly discussed below
The Rules and Business Committee
Standing order 174 establishes the Rules and Business Committee consisting of–
- the Speaker as the chairperson;
- the Senate Majority Leader;
- the Senate Minority Leader; and
- not more than nine other Senators, reflecting the relative majorities of the seats held by each of the parliamentary parties in the Senate who shall be nominated by the parliamentary parties and approved by the Senate at the commencement of each Session.
The Rules and Business Committee shall be appointed within seven days on assembly of a new Senate. In nominating Senators to the Rules and Business Committee, each parliamentary party shall include its whip into the membership. The Rules and Business Committee –
- shall prepare and, if necessary, from time to time adjust the Senate Calendar with the approval of the Senate;
- shall monitor and oversee the implementation of the Senate business and programmes including the legislative programmes;
- shall implement the Standing Orders respecting the scheduling or programming of the business of the Senate and the functioning of its Committees;
- may take decisions and issue directives and guidelines to prioritize or postpone any business of the Senate in consultation with the Speaker, as the case may be;
- may consider and report on all matters relating to the Standing Orders and may propose amendments to the Standing Orders and any such amendments shall upon approval by the Senate, take effect at the time appointed by the Senate;
- may propose rules for the orderly and effective conduct of committee business and any such rules, shall upon approval by the Senate, continue in force until amended or repealed by the Senate but any rules so approved shall be annexed to the Standing Orders and shall be as binding upon Committees as are these Standing Orders;
- shall consider such matters as may from time to time arise in connection with the business of the Senate and shall have and perform such powers and functions as are conferred on and ascribed to it by these Standing Orders or from time to time by the Senate.
The Chairperson and four other members of the Committee shall form a quorum. If, for any reason, a Senator of the Committee is unable to attend, the whip of the nominating party may appoint another Senator in that Senator’s place for the period for which the Senator is unable to attend. Unless the Rules and Business Committee otherwise resolves; meetings of the Committee shall be held in camera.