ISLAMABAD, December 28, 2010: The National Assembly left most of the agenda unaddressed during the sixth sitting of the ongoing 27th session as Points of Order took more than half (59%) of the sitting time.
The Private Members’ Day sitting with an ambitious list of agenda on the Orders of the Day, started 45 minutes late against the stipulated time of 1700 hours and lasted two hours and 35 minutes. Low attendance was observed during the course of the sitting, with 92 Members present at the outset, while only 47 were present when the sitting was adjourned. The Members mostly raised Points of Order to debate upon them and remained most of the regular agenda items unaddressed.
Two out of the total five Private Members’ Bills on the Orders of the Day were taken up by the House. The National Assembly did not debate upon the admitted adjournment motion on the hike in the prices of electricity and LPG. However, this issue was highlighted in many of the Points of Order.
The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition did not attend Tuesday’s sitting. With the exception of the Parliamentary Leader of the PPPS, all party heads in the National Assembly were not present during the 6th sitting.
Following are some key observations of the Parliamentary Business:
Members’ Participation in House Proceedings
- The National Assembly met for two hours and 35 minutes.
- The sixth sitting started at 1745 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1700 hours. The House proceedings started late by 45 minutes.
- The Speaker remained absent during the sitting. The initial 52-minute part of the sitting was chaired by a Member of Panel of Chairpersons, while the Deputy Speaker presided over the sitting for the remaining time.
- The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition remained absent during the course of the entire sitting.
- The Parliamentary Leader of the PPPS was the only one present, while the leaders of the PML, MQM, MMAP, ANP, PMLF, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- The Chief Whips of PPPP, PML, PMLN, MQM and ANP were present, while the chief whips of MMAP, PMLF, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- A total of 92 (27%) Members were present at the outset of the sitting, while 47 (14%) Members were present at the end of the sitting. Maximum presence of 147 Members (43%) was observed at one point of the sitting.
- Thirteen Members applied for leave to be absent from the sitting.
- A total of four out of 10 minority Members were present during the 6th sitting.
Representation and Responsiveness
- There were two Calling Attention Notices (CANs) on the Orders of the Day. The House took up one CAN.
- The taken-up CAN was regarding “discontinuation of gas supply to factories in Punjab”. The CAN was directed to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. This CAN was moved by five Members of the PMLN.
- There was no Question and Answer session as Tuesday’s sitting was a Private Members Day.
- There were five Private Members’ Bills on the Orders of the Day.
- The Right to Information Bill, 2010 was introduced in the House and was sent to its respective Standing Committee for further deliberations, while the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2010 was deferred till the next Private Members’ Day.
- Three Standing Committee Reports regarding the Privatization Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2009 and two Questions of Privilege were presented during the course of the sitting.
Order and Institutionalization
- A total of 23 Points of Order were raised, consuming 92 minutes (59% of total sitting time) of the sitting. However, none of the Points of Orders raised by Members attracted Speaker’s ruling.
- There was one admitted Adjournment Motion on the Orders of the Day regarding “increase in the prices of electricity and LPG”. The motion was not debated upon during the sitting.
- Two walkouts were staged during the course of the entire sitting. In the first instance a female Member of the PPPP staged a three-minute walkout in protest when she was not granted the permission to present a Private Member’s Bill. She was later granted the permission. On the second occurrence the parliamentary party of the PMLN staged a walkout against the ‘failure of government in protecting the rights of the Minorities in Sindh and Balochistan’. The walkout lasted 10 minutes.
- Orders of the Day were available to legislators, observers and others.
- Information on Members’ attendance was unavailable to observers and the public.
- The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages during the sitting. However, lack of quorum was not pointed out by any of the Members of the National Assembly.
The Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of the Senate proceedings conducted by Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a member organization of FAFEN
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