Only seven MPs will be cleared to travel for field visits or public hearings on matters before the National Assembly departmental committees.

Speaker Justin Muturi, in the tough rules to tame spending by lawmakers, has asked MPs to form sub-committees for undertaking such trips.

Parliament has been gobbling up millions in local and foreign trips, and the Speaker’s move is seen as a bold attempt to contain the spending.

In the same rules, Muturi has directed that all chairpersons of committees and staff assigned to such committees will be required to preside over meetings from the precincts of Parliament.

“The chairpersons of a committee shall be physically present in the meeting room in the precincts of Parliament or at a venue approved by the Speaker for holding meetings,” the new protocols read.

Muturi has also cautioned MPs against aiding, facilitating or permitting strangers to participate or listen in to committee deliberations.

There have been instances where meetings have been disrupted by activities around the places where members log in to attend sessions.

In this regard, members attending committee meetings virtually will be required to be within the precincts of Parliament or at their designated offices.

This can be at offices in Nairobi, at the constituency office, or at such a place as may be approved by the chairpersons.

He said this follows the fact that all committee proceedings, even when conducted virtually, are covered by the parliamentary privileges and immunities.

The speaker further directed that members attending virtual meetings must dress decently as would be the case of physical meetings.

Muturi directed National Assembly clerk Michael Sialai to communicate the guidelines to all committees and ensure compliance with the directive.

The Controller of Budget report for the last financial year showed Parliament expended Sh5.3 billion on local travel.

This comprised Sh1.5 billion in respect of the Parliamentary Service Commission and Sh3.84 billion for the National Assembly.

Boxed out of foreign trips by the restrictions on movement following the Covid-19 pandemic, local travel has always come in handy for MPs to earn that extra coin.

Members are normally paid Sh2,500 per day in per diem after tax for local trips, since accommodation is catered for by the PSC.

In the current budget, Parliament had its costing reduced by Sh2.8 billion in the face of cuts to free more cash for the Covid-19 response.

The budget cuts are among measures House leaders have taken up to make committees more efficient.

Outstanding issues revolve around attendance of meetings by members and committee leaders as well as delays in executing private members’ bills.

Some 21 bills were flagged as among those that have overstayed with committees during the 12th session of Parliament.