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The National Assembly of Guyana
Parliament | National Assembly | Heads of State | Prime Ministers | Cabinet | Opposition Leaders

The National Assembly is the parliament of Guyana. The National Assembly has a total of 65 members elected using the system of proportional representation. Twenty five are elected from the 10 geographical constituencies and 40 are awarded at the national level on the basis of block votes secured, using the LR-Hare Formula as prescribed by the elections Laws (Amendment) Act 15 of 2000 (Sections 11 and 12).

The current Parliament traces its colourful history back to the time of the Dutch, with the earliest parliamentary bodies established by this coloniser, known as the Council of Policy, the Court of Policy, the Court of Justice, and the College of Keizers. With the arrival of the British, modifications began, constitutions were introduced, that eventually bring us to what is definitely a modern parliamentary system, modelled after the Westminster system.

The current Parliament came into existence by the 1966 Constitution of Guyana, as embodied in the Schedule of the Guyana Independence Order, of the Independence Act, 1966. The first sitting of the National Assembly of the First Parliament was held on 26 May 1966.

Before Guyana achieved its independence, the policy speech that outlined government’s policies and plans, was read in the Chamber of what was then described as the legislative Assembly, by the Governor, who was the representative of the British monarch.

This practice came to an end when Guyana changed its status to that of a Republic, with the Head of State, of ceremonial type, performing the task of announcing government’s policies.

However, in 1980, the national constitution was amended. This created an executive President as both Head of State/Government, who on the opening of every new Parliament, goes to the National Assembly, and addresses its members. In accordance with this constitution, the sitting of the National Assembly is only referred to as Parliament when the President visits.  On all other occasions it is referred to as the National Assembly.

Parliaments of Guyana
Name First Meeting of Parliament Dissolution of Parliament
First Parliament Thursday, May 26, 1966 Tuesday, November 5, 1968
Second Parliament Friday, January 3, 1969 Friday, September 7, 1973
Third Parliament Thursday, July 26, 1973 Saturday, October 25, 1980
Fourth Parliament Friday, January 30, 1981 Thursday, October 31, 1985
Fifth Parliament Monday, February 3, 1986 Saturday, August 29, 1992
Sixth Parliament Thursday, December 17, 1992 Wednesday, October 29, 1997
Seventh Parliament Thursday, February 26, 1998 Thursday, February 15, 2001
Eight Parliament Friday, May 4, 2001 Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Ninth Parliament Tuesday, September 26, 2006 Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tenth Parliament Thursday, January 12, 2012 Saturday, February 28, 2015
Eleventh Parliament Wednesday, June 10, 2015  
Speaker of the National Assembly

After each general election, the Members of Parliament elect a Speaker from among any Member (not being a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary) or any other suitable person to preside over the proceedings of the House.

The Speaker oversees the administration of the House and chairs several committees including the Parliamentary Management Committee. The Speaker ensures the orderly conduct of matters within the House. He can be described as a referee, interpreting rules in an impartial manner; and defending the rights and privileges of members, including the right of speech. He does not participate in debates, and can suspend a sitting in the case of serious disorder. The Speaker is also the spokesperson and representative of the National Assembly in its relations with the executive and other bodies outside of the House.

The fact that the Speaker sits in an elevated, middle position, with both sides of the House flanking his chair, underlines his authority. His/her entry into the Chamber is preceded by the Sergeant-at-arms, who carries the Mace, the symbol of the Speaker’s authority. The entire chamber rises on his entry, and takes their seats after him/her. The Sergeant-at-Arms then places the Mace on the table in front of the Speaker. This means that the House is in session. Whenever he leaves the Chamber, the Sergeant-at -Arms removes the Mace. This signals that the House is no longer in session.

The current Speaker is Hon. Dr. Barton U.A. SCOTLAND, C.C.H, MP.

Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker is elected in a similar manner to the Speaker, except that the Speaker, if present, presides over the elections. The Deputy Speaker replaces the Speaker when the latter is unavoidably absent.

Learn more about the Speakers of the National Assembly of Guyana »

Other Members of Parliament

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister is the Leader of the Government of the party having the greatest number of seats in the National Assembly. He is appointed by the President, and is responsible to the House for the administration of public affairs. Learn more about the Prime Ministers of Guyana »

Cabinet Ministers

In accordance with article 106 of the Constitution there shall be a Cabinet for Guyana, which shall consist of the President, the Prime Minister, the Vice – Presidents and such other Ministers as may be appointed to it by the President. The Cabinet shall aid and advise the President in the general direction and control of the Government of Guyana and shall be collectively responsible therefor to Parliament. Learn more about the Cabinet »

Chief Whips

There are two Chief Whips: one on the Government’s side and one on the Opposition’s side. In carrying out his/her duties, he/she is directly responsible to the Prime Minister and Leader of the House and/or Leader of the Opposition, respectively. He/she sits on the Government’s side with his/her counterpart of the largest Opposition Party constitutes the usual channels through which consultations are held with other parties and Members about business arrangements and other matters of concern of the House.

House Leader

The Member of a political party responsible for its management in the House.

House Officers

Seated at a table in front of the Speaker are the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, other procedural officers are seated at the right of the Clerk. The Clerk is the senior official of the Parliament Office’s administration and keeps the official records of proceedings. At the end of the table lies the Mace, the symbol of authority of the House. At the end of the chamber opposite the Speaker, sits the Sergeant-at-Arms. This person is responsible for the security and maintenance of the Parliament Buildings and has ceremonial duties. House officers and Members are assisted by parliamentary office assistants, who carry messages to Members in the Chamber.

Parliamentary Secretaries

Parliamentary secretaries are appointed by the President to help Cabinet Ministers. They table documents or answers questions for a Minister, participate in debates on bills, speak to the committees on government policies and proposals, and serve as a link between parliamentarians and Ministers.

The Mace

The Mace is the symbol of the Speaker’s authority. It is borne on the shoulder by the Sergeant-at-Arms, who walks in front of the Speaker as the latter enters the Chamber.

When the Mace is placed on the Speaker’s table, the House is in session; out of the House, matters cannot be addressed.

Parliament Buildings

Guyana’s Parliament is housed in what can be described as an imposing structure, designed by architect Joseph Hadfield, and built at a cost of 50,000 sterling. Completed in 1834, this August Assembly is housed in a well maintained structure known as the Public Buildings and occupies an entire bloc, bounded on the South by Hadfield Street; on the North by Brickdam; on the East by the Avenue of the Republic, and on the West, by Water Street.

The buildings, done with slave labour, were used to house several government offices of the colony’s administration. The need for other buildings resulted in a Court hall and Registrar’s Office being constructed. Upon completion, the offices of the Public Buildings were arranged as such: The Court of Policy Hall with offices for the Governor’s secretary, assistant, and clerks. The Supreme Court of Criminal and Civil Justice were in the Western upper wing, with the lower floor divided into offices for the Registrar and staff. The central portion of the buildings consisted of apartments for barristers, the Administrator General, Financial Representatives and the Governor of the Colony. The lower floors housed offices of the Administrator General, Auditor General, Provost Marshal, Deputy Provost Marshall, deputy post Master General, Financial Accountant, Receiver General and other functionaries.

The flowered cast iron picket fence was constructed in 1873, and previously the entire compound was opened. The forecourt of the building was used during this time for the execution of criminals. Slave rebellion leader Damon was executed in the yard for his role in the Essequibo uprising, in 1834. His revolt was against the apprenticeship system introduced by the planters after the freeing of slaves in that same year.

In 1875 Maltese born Cesar Castellani completed the installation of a sunken panelled ceiling of the Parliamentary Chamber in the eastern wing. The carved teak chair of the Speaker is sited in these chambers, an Independence gift from the Government of India. A table and three chairs for the Clerks and the Sergeant-at-Arms were given as Independence gifts from the United Kingdom’s House of Commons. A gilded clock from the Demerara Company Limited hangs in the Chambers whose walls of are panelled with Mahogany.

The Parliament Buildings are described as an excellent example of 19th century Renaissance architecture, and is one of two domed buildings in Georgetown. The forecourt of the building has two canons from the Crimean War and a statue of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, OBE (1884-1958) regarded as the father of the Trade Union Movement in Guyana.

Standing Orders

Standing Orders are the formal written rules that govern the proceedings of the each House of Parliament and set out the arrangement of the business to be conducted as well as the rules for debate. Standing Orders (Rules) may be suspended, if the House agrees, in order to allow a certain item of business to be conducted.

Standing Orders of the National Assembly of Guyana - revised (1992) Download
Standing Orders of the National Assembly of Guyana - revised (2011) Download
* died in office
source: http://www.parliament.gov.gy
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