117 hours wasted in Parliament

PTI, May 11, 2010

Frequent disruptions and walkouts in the just-concluded Budget session of Parliament led to wastage of 115 working hours out of the 385 of both the Houses.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said the Lok Sabha lost 70 hours or 36.6 per cent of its scheduled time due to walkouts and disruptions while Rajya Sabha lost 45 hours or 28 per cent of its time.

The session began on February 22 and ended on May 7 with a month-long recess.”Total productive time in Lok Sabha was 138 hours or 66 per cent of scheduled time, while it was 130 hours, or 74 per cent, in Rajya Sabha,” according to a report by PRS Legislative Research, a Delhi-based think tank.

During the Winter session in 2009, the productive time in Lok Sabha was 76 per cent and it was 88 per cent in the Rajya Sabha.

According to the report, bedlam over issues like price rise, 2G spectrum allocation, phone tapping, women’s reservation bill, Maoist attack in Dantewada and the IPL controversy led to disruption of proceedings of the House for several days.

The government could only get six of the 27 planned bills cleared during this session, the biggest of the year. Half of the bills were passed without discussion due to pandemonium on issues such as price rise, women’s reservation bill and the IPL controversy, says the study.

The bills passed included the Tamil Nadu Legislative Councils Bill 2010, the Employees State Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2009, and the National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009.

However, the session saw over 75 per cent attendance by MPs in both the houses, higher than the previous session.

The average attendance by MPs in Lok Sabha was 79 per cent, while it was 78 per cent in Rajya Sabha.

In the previous Winter session, the attendance was 66 per cent in the lower House and 68 per cent in the Upper House, says the report.

On the MPs’ participation in debates, 68 per cent of the men and 71 per cent of the women members participated in at least one debate this session in the lower House.

This was higher than the previous session, when 54 per cent of men and 47 per cent of women participated at least once in any debate.

However, 32 per cent of the MPs (excluding ministers) did not participate in any debates this session, compared to 47 per cent of such MPs in the winter session 2009.

There was no Question Hour on four days in Lok Sabha and seven days in Rajya Sabha, according to Bansal.

The report also says that all starred questions — which are orally answered by ministers during Question Hour — did not receive a verbal response from the ministers due to lack of time or because of interruptions.

Even some of the ruling party members disrupted proceedings. Of the total 620 starred questions admitted this session in the Rajya Sabha, only 92, or 14 per cent, were called in the House. In contrast, 30 per cent of starred questions received a verbal response in the House during the winter session.

In the Lok Sabha, only 12 per cent of starred questions received a verbal response, compared to that of 18 per cent in the Winter Session, says the report.

“In the Rajya Sabha no question could be answered orally on 13 days out of 30. This happened in the Lok Sabha on eight days,” the report adds.

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