FAFEN Parliament Monitor Senate of Pakistan 122nd Session Report

Thirteenth Parliamentary year of Senate witnessed another longest session (122nd session) spanning over 13 sittings from December 14, 2015 to January 1, 2016. The heated debates between the ruling PML-N and Opposition parties mainly PPP were witnessed over various issues including controversial PIA Ordinance, National Action Plan, rejection of the Sindh government’s summary about curtailing powers of the Rangers in the province and water distribution among provinces.

Earlier, 115th session had 13 sittings that continued from May 4, 2015 to May 20, 2015. With an average of 12% Senators present at the start and 22% at the end of each sitting, the 122nd session of Senate passed four bills and adopted sixteen resolutions.

Out of 13 sittings, eight sittings were held on time while five others started with little delay against the scheduled time.  On average, each sitting started two minutes behind the schedule and lasted three hours and 28 minutes.

The Prime Minister did not attend the entire session. It is stated in sub-rule (2A) of Rule 61 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate that Prime Minister shall attend the Prime Minister’s Zero Hour (last hour of sitting) at least once a week when the Senate is in Session.

The Chairman, however, attended nine sittings and presided over 63% of the session’s time. He did not attend the remaining sittings because he was serving as Acting President.  The Deputy Chairman attended seven sittings and chaired 17% of the proceeding. Fourteen percent of the time was presided over by the Panel of Presiding Officers while six per cent was consumed in breaks. The Leader of the House attended 33% of the session’s time by making his presence in five sittings, while the Opposition Leader attended 52% of the Session’s time and remained present in nine sittings.

The House passed one private bill – the Islamabad Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers Bill 2015 – and three government bills including the Islamabad Subordinate Judiciary Service Tribunal Bill 2015, the Federal Judicial Academy (Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Federal Judicial Academy (Amendment) Bill 2015.

Eleven bills including nine government and two private bills were also introduced in the session which were referred to the relevant Standing Committees for further deliberations. The private bills introduced in the House included the National University of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2015 while nine government bills were the Minimum Wages for Unskilled Workers (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Pakistan Health Research Council Bill, 2015; the Publication of Laws of Pakistan Bill, 2015; the Pakistan Halal Authority Bill, 2015; the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Futures Market Bill, 2015; the Electoral Rolls (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Delimitation of Constituencies (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Patents (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The House took up eight CANs appearing on the list of agenda. Three CANs were related to Ministry of  Finance, Revenue, Economics Affairs, Statistics and Privatization while one each was related to Ministries of Parliament Affairs;  Water and Power; Interior and Narcotics Control; National Health Services Regulation and Coordination; and Petroleum and Natural Resources.  Three CANs were not taken up by the House while one was rejected as issue raised through it is under judicial consideration.

The House adopted sixteen resolutions as the six each were about tributes and solidarity with various persons and on governance issues. One resolution each adopted by the House was on women issue, Islamic issue, law and order and energy sector. Four resolutions on the agenda were deferred and three were not taken up.

A total of 37 reports of the Senate Standing Committees were presented, five Standing Committees were given extension in presentation of their respective reports and one was not taken up.

The House consumed 300 minutes on discussing 198 points of public importance. According to sub-rule (1) of Rule 277, any person may submit a petition to the Chairman Senate containing clear suggestion relating to the business before the House, business before a Senate Committee or matter of public importance concerning the Federal Government.

The House also took up 132 out of 235 (56%) starred questions on floor of the house, while the Senators addressed another 244 supplementary questions. Of these questions, 39 were raised to Ministry of Water and Power followed by Ministries of Narcotics Control (25), CADD (24), Information (20), Railways (12), Petroleum and Natural Resources and Communication (11 each).

The House adopted the Motion of Thanks to the President for his address to the Parliament. The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs gave winding-up speech on the motion. The House approved amendments in rules 43, 65, 86 and 158 and insertion of new rules 172C, 172D, 172E and 212A in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012.

Twelve motions under Rule 218 were debated by the House which were on the range of issues including foreign affairs, governance, law and order, human trafficking and energy sector.  Similarly, seven AMs were discussed by the House while seven others were admitted by the Chair for discussion.  One AM was deferred and 13 were not taken up by the House.

The House witnessed four instances of walkout that consumed 47 minutes of the session time. The lawmakers of JI, PML-F, PTI and PkMAP walked out of the house for two minutes during third sitting over non-implementation of National Action Plan. MQM and PTI lawmakers walked out for eight minutes against the remarks of PML-N Senator against Sindh government during 5th sitting. The 6th sitting witnessed walkout for 34 minutes by MQM lawmakers over unsatisfactory reply of Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs over a question. ANP and PPP lawmakers staged walkout for three minutes against the decision of federal government for extending special powers to Rangers in Karachi.

A PPPP lawmaker pointed out the quorum during 5th sitting following which the Chair ordered the bells to be rung for five minutes. However, it was found complete upon counting and proceeding resumed.

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