FAFEN Report on 27th NA Session 69% Agenda Left Unaddressed

  • Points of Order Consume 40% of Session Time
  • 165 Members Actively Participate in Session

ISLAMABAD, January 9, 2011: The National Assembly left more than two thirds (69%) of the items listed on the agenda, unaddressed, primarily due to the excessive use of Points of Orders, which consumed 40% of the total Session time during 27th Session of National Assembly, which concluded here Friday.

According to FAFEN’s Session-wise report, released on Sunday, the Members were observed to use Points of Order as means to express their opinion and concerns over the increase in petroleum prices, energy crisis and the assassination of the Governor, Punjab, leaving two Government Bills, five Private Members’ Bills, 154 Starred Questions, 15 Resolutions, 15 Motions Under Rule 259 and three Matters of Public Importance unaddressed. Listing too many agenda items on the Orders of the Day, especially for the Private Members’ Days was among other major reasons behind leaving many business items unaddressed.

The Session was, however, productive in terms of law-making, passing four out of the total seven Government Bills which came on the agenda. While one Government Bill was deferred, the remaining two bills were not taken up by the House. Out of the eight Private Members’ Bills listed, three were discussed on the floor. As many as 13 Standing Committee reports were also presented during the course of the Session. One motion was moved during the course of the Session, seeking amendments to certain provisions of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the National Assembly, 2007.

Besides legislation, the House expresses its opinion through Resolutions. However, none of the 15 Resolutions on the Orders of the Day were taken up during the entire session. All the Resolutions were tabled by the Members in their Private capacity.

While the attendance of Members was observed to be relatively better than the previous Session, a total of 165 Members (49% of the total NA strength) took part actively, in one form or other, in the proceedings of Session. As many as 125 male Members and 40 female Members took part in the twelve sittings of the Session. The female members appeared to be relatively more active than their male counterparts. Female participation was 53% of their total membership at 76 and Male participation remained 47% of their total membership at 264.

The MQM’s 89%, the PMLN’s 58%, the MMAP’s 57%, the PML’s 46%, the PPPP’s 39% and the ANP’s 31% legislators participated actively in the 27th Session. As many as 44% independent Members along with single-Member party of the PPPS also participated during the Session. The Members of the PMLF, BNAP and NPP did not participate during the entire Session.

On average, 87 Members were present at the onset and 82 Members at the end of each sitting during the 27th Session. The Prime Minister attended eight out of the total 12 sittings, being present for 333 minutes or 21% of the total Session time. The Leader of the Opposition was absent during five sittings, being present for 321 minutes or 20% of the total Session time. The Speaker chaired the proceedings for 686 minutes of the Session time, while the Deputy Speaker presided over the Session for 622 minutes. The remaining 281 minutes were chaired by the Members of Panel of Chairpersons. Parliamentary Leaders of PMLF, NPP and BNPA did not attend any of the sittings, while those of PPPS attended 10 sittings, PML five sittings and MMAP, MQM and PML attended one sitting each.

The Members raised 130 Points of Order utilizing 632 minutes, out of the total Session time of 1,589 minutes. None of the Points of Order raised attracted Speaker’s formal ruling, which is required under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. The Members exchanged arguments over increase in the Petroleum Prices, the Law and Order situation in the country, the Business of the House and the assassination of the Governor, Punjab, etc.  As many as 42 POs were raised by Members of the PPPP, 24 by the PMLN, 22 by the PML, 17 by the MQM, eight by the MMAP, 11 by the Independents and one each by the ANP and PPPS.

The Adjournment Motion on the price hike of electricity and LPG, admitted for debate during the Session on the initiative of the PML Members, was only debated up for six minutes during the eighth sitting.

Of 24 Calling Attention Notices listed on the Orders of the Day, the House took up only 11, raised by 18 male and 18 female Members – five sponsored by PMLN members, two by PPPP members, one by MQM members and three jointly tabled by PPPP, PMLN and PML Members.

The House witnessed seven walkouts by various political parties during the Session. Members of the MMAP and MQM staged walkouts on the price hike of petroleum products. PMLN members protested on ‘the failure of government in protecting the rights of the minorities in Sindh and Balochistan’, while one Independent Member staged a walkout on ‘the kidnapping of people by government agencies in Balochistan’. A female parliamentarian of the PPPP staged a token walkout when she was not granted permission to table her Private Members’ Bill, while at  another instance another female parliamentarian of the same party staged a brief walkout on the issue of ‘threats to parliamentarians by non-elected people’.