Brief history

At the Eighth meeting of the Standing Orders Committee held on July 1970, a resolution was adopted that Members of Parliament should be provided with research services. The Department was to be established after the recognition of the following:-

1.    that in parliamentary democracy Members of Parliament needed to be well informed by the provision of readily processed and factual information to enable them carry out their duties; especially that Members were too busy to do their own research given their multifarious functions; and

2.    that information was power because it was necessary in decision making and that research services were therefore weapons that Parliamentarians could use against the challenges which threaten parliamentary democracy.

However, it was not until 15th May 1971 that the Research Department was established with the appointment of the Research Officer.

At inception, the Hon Mr Speaker prescribed the following duties as part of the job description of the department:

(i)   provision to Members of Parliament of precise information connected to their duties, which normally would require a written reply;

(ii)  provision to Member of Parliament of oral or written information on the multifarious matters or subjects that come before the House; and

(iii) provision of research work on international affairs and preparation of background papers on any legislation due to be introduced in Parliament.

The Research Department, therefore, added an important and new dimension of services offered to the parliamentarians which were previously restricted to those available through the expertise of the Librarians.

Location of the Research Department

The Research Department is situated in the adjacent Building located to the south-west of the main building and its offices are on the first floor of the southern wing of the Library Building.

Functions of the Research department

In addition to the functions prescribed by the Hon Mr Speaker, as stated earlier, the department is also entrusted with the preparation of background papers on any legislation due to be introduced in Parliament.

The Department’s services to Members of Parliament are based on the following guidelines; namely:-

(a)  that all work must be prepared in a scrupulously factual and modern form;

(b)  that only those enquiries, which are directly connected with the work of Members of Parliament, in their official capacity ought to be entertained; and

 (c)  that officers should not entertain requests, such as the preparation of press statements, writing of papers which may express a Member’s opinion on an issue or writing speeches for Members of Parliament.


Field Research

The other area of activity carried out by the Research Department is Field Research.  The term itself Field Work implies that aspect of Research carried outside the office.

In carrying out Field work, Research Officers leave their offices for other primary sources of information such as the United Nations Information Centre, the University of Zambia Library, the British Council, the American Information Centre, the Government Ministries, etc, to collect data of various kinds.

Publishing of Articles.

The department undertakes the writing of articles for publication, for example in the Parliamentarian.


Sessional Reviews

Each Parliament is divided into different sessions.  The “Sessional Review” contains the summary of the work of the House in a particular parliamentary session.  The documents cover information on Official Opening of Parliament, Questions dealt with in the House, Bills, Motions, Rulings by the Chair, Announcements, Ministerial Statements and any other matter of great importance covered by the House.  The document serves as reference material for Members and any other users.

The reviews may at times be sent to the CPA for publication in “The Parliamentarian”.

These among others are the miscellaneous duties the department undertakes.  There is really no limit to what an officer in the Department can be required to work on.  For this reason, officers are required to be flexible in attending to the various assignments.

Miscellaneous Research

The department may also be asked to conduct any other miscellaneous research work as may be required by the Office of the Hon Mr Speaker, the Hon Mr Deputy Speaker or that of the Clerk of the National Assembly or a Member of Parliament;

Significance of the information from the Research Department

Information or data that has been provided by the Research Department has assisted Hon Members in making the government more accountable especially with regard to Question Hour. Furthermore, the information and the research services serve not only as tools but also factors meant to facilitate the development and smooth administration of Parliament.