Order, hon members! In the course of members' statements on Thursday, 25 August, the hon M J Ellis raised a point of order about remarks made by the hon K B Manamela during his statement.
Mr Ellis contended that the statement by hon Manamela was unparliamentary, and asked the Speaker to rule on it. I undertook to study the Hansard and return to the House with a ruling.
Having had the opportunity to study the unrevised Hansard, I wish to rule as follows: Rule 63 deals with offensive language or, as it is otherwise known, unparliamentary language. This is a broadly-framed rule that allows a presiding officer to take into consideration, inter alia, the context and tone of a particular remark or reference. In its interpretation, this rule is further elucidated by years of established practice and convention.
Hon Manamela's statement reflected on a political party and not on any particular member of this House. A reflection on the actions of a political party, as perceived by an opposing party's member, is not out of order, as long as that member does not cast aspersions on the character of members of this House.
This approach is consistent with previous rulings by presiding officers of this House. Reference to a political party in this manner is not out of order. The statement made by the hon Manamela was therefore not unparliamentary.
Having said that, I would like to conclude by urging members to refrain from making inflammatory, divisive or unsubstantiated statements in the House. Having said that, hon Ellis has made a number of points of order in this House during his lifetime in Parliament! [Laughter.] This is one of those that was not quite in order. [Laughter.] [Applause.]