The role and powers of the Speaker of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu are provided for in the Constitution , the Rules of Procedure and the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of the Maneaba Ni Maungatabu Act of 1986. The Speaker is not an elected member and therefore has no casting vote when the Maneaba comes into a decision on any matter. When votes on a motion are equally divided, the Speaker declares it lost. He does however have a very important role to play in the conduct of the business of the Maneaba and is very much respected by its members and the public.
The Speaker is elected by the members of the Maneaba Ni Maungatabu at its first sitting after a general election. The session is presided over by the Chief Justice and begins with the members taking their oath of office. The Chief Justice then calls for nominations for Speaker. If there are two candidates, an election is conducted by secret ballot, in which a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes cast in order to be elected. If there are more than two candidates and no one receives a majority of the votes on the first ballot, then successive ballots are held in which half the candidates are eliminated each time until there are only two candidates remaining. The winning candidate is declared as Speaker by the Chief Justice, takes his oath of office forthwith in front of members of the Maneaba and then takes the Chair.
The term of office of the Speaker continues after the dissolution of the Maneaba Ni Maungatabu and following a general election. It ends on the day the new Maneaba first meets. The Speaker can resign from office at any time by announcing it to the Maneaba or by issuing a notice in writing address to the Maneaba. The Maneaba Ni Maungatabu may dismiss the Speaker by passing a resolution which is supported by at least two-thirds of all members. The Speaker may be re-elected.
The Speaker decides the place and time for meetings of the Maneaba including the first meeting after a general election. He can be asked to summon the Maneaba Ni Maungatabu by the Beretitenti or one third of the members. When the Maneaba sits, the Speaker’s decision on a point of order is final. He is fully entitled to regulate the conduct of business in all matters not provided in the Rules of Procedure. He has the specific power to decide whether a bill or a motion pertains to money matters, which then requires a minister’s signification. He may adjourn a sitting if there is no quorom after an objection is raised by a member.
Jointly with the Chief Justice, the Speaker advises the Maneaba Ni Maungatabu on the appointment and removal of the Chairman and members of the Public Services Commission. The Speaker receives notification from a member of the Maneaba of the resignation of his/her seat and sends to the Electoral Commission petitions calling for the removal of elected members. The Speaker receives annual reports from the Director of Audit and lays them on the table for consideration. The Chairman of the Public Service Commission consults with the Speaker on the appointments of the Salaries Tribunal for the members of the Maneaba. The Speaker also has the power to apply to the High Court to determine questions as to the interpretation of the Constitution.
The Speaker, along with the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, who is Chairman and the Chief Justice, is a member of the Council of State. The purpose of the Council is to perform the duties of the Beretitenti and other executive functions of Government when a motion of no confidence in the Beretitenti or the Government is supported in the Maneaba Ni Maungatabu.