This handbook was written in response to a request from the Vanuatu Parliament, after two workshops for Members of Parliament in 1997 and 1988. It does not pretend To tell you everything an MP needs to know. Rather, it is designed to introduce new Parliamentarians, and people planning to be candidates for election to Parliament, to the most fundamental aspects of the job. The serious student of Vanuatu politics will have to read more than this. However, I hope that new Members of Parliament will find this a useful document to keep beside them, to answer their many questions when they are first elected to the House of Representatives
The Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu came into existance by the virtue of the Constitution, which is the nation's supreme law: Articles 1 & 2 provide the framework for governing the Republic of Vanuatu and make it clear that the Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Vanuatu. This means that all other laws must be consistent with the Constitution.
Standing Orders are written rules of procedure which provide for the conduct of proceedings in the House including the passage of bills, rules of debate, the maintenance of order, appointment of committees, and the matters affecting the operation of the House.
Every Parliament in the world has rules. They have them to try to make conduct of their houses of representatives orderly and constructive. The rules of the Parliament of Vanuatu are in the standing orders of Parliament. These rules started to be used in Parliament in January 1982. They are published in French and English.
Every member of Parliament should be given a copy of the Standing Orders as soon as possible after they are elected. It is very important that all MPs know what is in the Standing Orders. They tell in detail how an MP can add to the life of Parliament. The authority of the Standing Orders is given by the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu 1988 under clause 21(5). This clause hands over to Parliament the right to "make its own rules of procedures".