The parliament Building

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The Public Buildings, commonly referred to as the Parliament Building, is the structure in which the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana and its Committees meet. The Public Buildings is considered

to be one of the finest architectural structures in Guyana. Located in the heart of the capital city of Georgetown, close to Stabroek Market and the Demerara River, the two-storied brick building features a low dome, two wings and a portico. It was constructed in 1832, according to the plan of architect Joseph Hadfield,

and was formally handed over to the British colonial legislature on August 5th, 1834. Over the years, the building housed the Parliament Chamber and various public administration offices and ministries.

Today, most offices in the Public Buildings relate to parliamentary matters and are directed by the Clerk of the National Assembly. However, there are still limited facilities for Members of Parliament.cThe Parliament Chamber, the room in which debates of the National  Assembly take place, is located on the top floor of the eastern wing of the building. 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 which reflect, to some extent, the party’s hierarchy. There is a public gallery behind a rail, opposite the Speaker’s chair, with

a seating capacity for 72 persons. Seating is also available for the media and for special guests. Adjacent to the Parliament Chamber is a lobby where

Members of Parliament can discuss matters privately and make telephone calls. Behind the lobby, there is a Committee Room where Parliamentary Committees meet and where refreshments are served to Members during a suspension of a National Assembly sitting. In the center of the Committee Room is a large table made of the local greenheart wood, a gift from Willems Timber and Trading Company Limited. The table was in the center of the Parliament Chamber when it was used by the British Colonial State Council in 1953 and then by the Senate from 1961 to 1964. It was moved to the Committee Room when Guyana’s Legislature again became unicameral (consisting of a single legislative chamber) in 1964.

One of the most striking features of the Chamber is the ceiling, coffered and painted in 1875 by the Italian artist, Cesar Castellani. The Chamber

also features an elaborately carved Speaker’s chair made of teak wood, an Independence (1966) gift from the Government of India; a table and three

chairs for the clerks and a Sergeant-at- Arms’ chair, an Independence gift from the British House of Commons; two paintings, of Arthur Chung, Guyana’s first ceremonial President (1970- 1980) and of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, Guyana’s first executive President (1980-1985); and a gilded clock, depicting the rays of the sun, a gift from the Demerara Company Limited (1954). The Members of Parliament lounge area, which formerly housed the Registry Department, has been converted to a modernized lobby, kitchenette and offices for Members of Parliament. The renovation commenced in 2004 and was completed in 2005. On the upper floor, four new rooms were constructed for use by Chairpersons of Committees and two large offices for use by the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and the Leader of the Opposition Party, respectively. On the lower

floor, a large lobby was created for a Members of Parliament dining room and a kitchenette for the preparation of meals and snacks during sittings

of the National Assembly and Committee meetings.

Article Categories:
Issue 34 · Parliament Building · Political

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