Speaker sees no need to store parliamentary gibberish

Marian Männi
, reporter
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Photo: Mihkel Maripuu / Postimees

All future audio recordings of discussions at Riigikogu committees may be destroyed. According to the soc dem President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor, this is a good idea as the committees contain gibberish unworthy of preservation. If ratified, the new law will enter into force as of March 1st. Meaning: all talk at future Riigikogu committees will be destroyed once the mandate is over.

Why the need to delete committee audio recordings?

Because they lose value when the record (written minutes, these are public – M. M.) covers what happens at committee.

Is it such a bother to preserve them?

But how long will they be preserved? For what?

When mistakes occur and in order to contest what is contained in the record, asking to hear the audio recordings (in the weekly Eesti Ekspress, they have reached up to the Supreme Court with the request to hear the audio recording). How do we avoid situations like that?

By storing the recordings till the end of the current membership of Riigikogu. They won’t be thrown away immediately, you see. At the moment, no provision of the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure Act talks about storing the recordings. In reality, some of the committees have recorded these sessions.

But why not agree, then, that all will record?

Riigikogu operates on basis of law, not agreements.

But this can be inserted in the law.

To begin with, the idea is to write in the law what is a recording, why this is done and what will become of it later. The recordings done up to now need to be handed to the archives and the archives will decide what of these should be preserved and what not.

Based on what?

Based on whether there’s any value to them or not.

Maybe there’s no value at the moment, but maybe there is in 20 years time?

The people at the archives can assess that. At the moment, Riigikogu Rules of Procedure Act says that records are written on committee meetings and these are public. The act does not specify requirements to the records. And that’s the way the committees are acting. Some write the more diligent records, some write the agenda and names of participants. The other idea was to provide in the act the requirements regarding records. That it would reflect what was happening at the committee during the deliberation of a bill, why the committee arrived at such and such conclusion. In that regard, the records (minutes) have the larger role in publishing the work at the committee, not the recordings.

There may arise questions regarding in which context or with what tone of voice things were said. Then, it would also be good to hear the recording.

Who needs that?

The public.

The record is a public document. The recording is basis for the preparation of that.

This immediately breeds the doubt that perhaps there was something to hide.

There’s nothing to hide. What will it add to the discussion if somebody says «Please give me a pen» or «Dammit, I poured coffee on my pants!»? Like at any meeting, there’s this other gibberish, so to speak, unrelated in any manner with the bill.

But there is also stuff people accidentally say that can afterwards be deleted from the record.

Nothing can be later deleted from the record.