ISLAMABAD, December 31, 2010: The National Assembly met for an hour and 53 minutes with low-attendance during the eighth sitting of the ongoing 27th session. There were only 45 Members present at the outset, and 82 were present when the sitting was adjourned. The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the sitting, but it was not pointed out by any of the Members. A maximum of 119 Members’ attendance was recorded at one point during the sitting.
The House did not take up the only bill which was on the Orders of the Day. The admitted Adjournment Motion regarding the increase in the prices of electricity and LPG was only debated upon for a total of six minutes.
The Prime Minister attended the sitting’s proceedings briefly for 20 minutes, while the Leader of Opposition was present for 23 minutes. The Parliamentary Leaders of the ANP and PPPS were the only ones present, while the leaders of other parliamentary parties remained absent.
Following are some key observations of the Parliamentary Business:
Members’ Participation in House Proceedings
- The National Assembly met for an hour and 53 minutes.
- The eighth sitting started at 1045 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1000 hours. The House proceedings started late by 45 minutes.
- The Speaker was not present during the sitting. A Member of Panel of Chairpersons chaired the sitting for 22 minutes, while the Deputy Speaker presided over the sitting for the remaining time.
- The Prime Minister attended the sitting briefly for 20 minutes, while the Leader of Opposition attended the sitting for 23 minutes.
- The Parliamentary Leaders of the ANP and PPPS were present, while the leaders of the PML, MQM, MMAP, ANP, PMLF, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- The Chief Whips of PML, PMLN and ANP were present, while the chief whips of PPPP, MMAP, MQM, PMLF, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- A total of 45 (13%) Members were present at the outset of the sitting, while 82 (24%) Members were present at the end of the sitting. Maximum presence of 119 Members (35%) was observed at one point of the sitting, when the Prime Minister was present.
- Eleven Members applied for leave of absence from the sitting.
- A total of five out of 10 minority Members were present during the 8th sitting.
Representation and Responsiveness
- There were two Calling Attention Notices (CANs) on the Orders of the Day. Both the CANs were taken up by the House.
- The first CAN was regarding “borrowing of millions of rupees from two commercial banks by the CDA to give financial cushion to the investment made in Stock Exchange in violation of Rules”, which was directed to the Cabinet Secretariat. This CAN was moved by five Members of the PMLN.
- The second CAN was regarding the ” increase in the cases of Swine Flu in the country “. This CAN was directed towards the Ministry of Health, and was moved by four Members of the MQM and an Independent Member.
- A total of 22 questions were listed to be taken up during the Questions Hour. However, only 12 were raised and responded to by the relevant minister.
- A total of 32 Supplementary Questions were raised in the House during the eighth sitting.
- There was one bill [The Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2008] on the Orders of the Day, which was not taken up by the National Assembly.
- Two Standing Committee reports were presented to the House during the sitting. The reports were regarding the Recognition and Enforcement (Arbitration Agreements and Foreign Arbitral Awards) Bill, 2010 and the Annual Report of the Federal Public Service Commission for the year 2009.
Order and Institutionalization
- A total of nine Points of Order were raised, consuming 27 (24%) minutes of the sitting time. 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 the “increase in the prices of electricity and LPG”. This motion was debated upon for just six minutes. One PMLN Member was the only one to speak on the issue.
- There were no instances of protests, boycotts and walkouts during the course of the entire sitting.
- 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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