In 2006 approximately ten (10) years ago, on September 29th to be exact, the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago launched, The Parliament Channel via television. Only Parliamentary proceedings, including Committee meetings were broadcast live initially. Thus the channel served to act as a medium of transparency as it pertains to the work of the Parliament. However, the Channel’s portfolio was expanded and so they were mandated to produce Public information programmes that not only educated the public but which also added value to the work of the Parliament.
The Channel came about as a direct result of a lack of sufficient coverage or reporting by the general Media, on the goings on of parliament, including coverage of each sitting. A radio channel has since been added and both are managed and operated internally by the Broadcasting Unit of the Office of Parliament. As part of their tenth (10) anniversary celebrations the unit hosted a number of events including conducting tours of the Parliament Chamber, located at Tower D, The Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre, 1A Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain Trinidad.
Imagefingerprint needless to say, took the opportunity to take our camera (cellphone) into the Chamber, usually this is not allowed. The shots are not one hundred percent perfect but they do tell the story. We were fortunate to be ably assisted, at times by one (1) of the group members from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Programme, who were also there to take the tour. The young student took all the shots of me, that you would see in this blog she and the others in her group were quite knowledgeable on the topic of the Parliament and so were able to answer most of the questions posed to us by the Parliament Channel Staff, who gave us the guided tour.
The tour which lasted for about just under one (1) hour was packed with information on the House of Representatives and Speaker of the House, The Senate and President of the Senate and Rules of the Parliament which are all recorded in the Standing Orders book. We also saw the typewriter type machines used to record the proceedings before they are gazetted.
Unfortunately we only saw photographs of the House of Representatives gold mace as well as the silver mace which is used when the Senate is sitting. Our guide explained that they were both real gold and silver and so are very expensive and needed to be secured properly when not in use. We also saw photos of the House Speaker and Senate President. Most note worthy of all the information given to us by our Guide was the fact that it was in the very Chamber that we were standing and at times sitting, that legislation was debated and voted on as in most countries.
We did get to sit in the Speaker’s Chair, as well as the Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley’s chair.
This was a very interesting and worthwhile experience. Hopefully the Parliament Channel Team will do this again soon and I hope more people are now encouraged to watch the debates live on television. What goes on in our Parliament is everybody’s business and members of the public are allowed to visit when Parliament is in session and this is done so of course, under specific rules. At the end of our tour we got an information package and for those of you who would like much more information on our Parliament including information on the fact that Parliament was first held in the Red House, also located in our nation’s capital of Port of Spain, fell free to visit their website at http://www.ttparliament.org/ and view Parliament live, on this same website when it is in session.
You can also visit the Civilian Conservation Corps website at http://ccc.sysptt.org/. Those young people were well behaved and informed and this is a testament to the programme they are participating in.
Imagefingerprint also grasped the opportunity to take some shouts at the end of the tour. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful country.