Parliamentary Conduct UPSC NOTE

 Parliamentary Conduct - Issues

Disruption of the Parliament procedures:

  • This practice, sadly, is often par for the course in India’s Parliament, many of whose members (and not only in the Opposition) appear to believe that the best way to show the strength of their feelings is to disrupt the lawmaking rather than debate the law.

  • Some of the State Assemblies witnessed scenes of furniture overthrown, microphones ripped out and slippers flung by unruly legislators. Fisticuffs and garments torn in scuffles among politicians inside the assembly.

  • The code of conduct that is imparted to all newly-elected MPs — including injunctions against speaking out of turn, shouting slogans, waving placards and marching into the well of the house — is routinely breached.

  • Pepper spray was once released in the well by a protesting MP, resulting in the hospitalisation of some MPs and the then Speaker experiencing discomfort. 

  • On several occasions now, MPs in the Upper and Lower Houses have been suspended from membership for such transgressions as charging up to the presiding officer’s desk, wrenching his microphone and tearing up his papers.

  • Adjournments being preferred to expulsions.

  • Many worry that such conduct has so thoroughly discredited the legislature in the eyes of the public that the credibility of the institution is beyond redemption.

  • Currently, all major parliamentary committees dealing with sensitive issues are chaired by MPs of the ruling party or its allies, in disregard of the practice whereby, for instance, the External Affairs Committee was always chaired by an Opposition MP, to show that the nation was of one mind on foreign policy.

Reforms needed

  • There are two British parliamentary procedures that were curiously never adopted by India — which, if brought into our practices, could remove any incentive for disruption.

Allow the Opposition a day a week to set the agenda:

  • The first is to allow the Opposition a day a week to set the agenda, since disruptions are always sought to be justified as required to force the government to debate an issue it does not want to. 

  • In Britain, “Opposition Day” permits Opposition parties to select specific policy areas or issues they want to bring to the floor of the House for debate. 

  • These debates allow the Opposition to focus on matters of political significance that the government would rather sweep under the carpet, and they provide Opposition parties with the opportunity to draw attention to issues they believe are important, criticise government policies, and propose alternatives. 

  • The number of Opposition Days in a parliamentary session is typically determined by the government and Opposition parties through negotiation and agreement. 

  • This arrangement ensures that the Opposition has a designated platform to express its views and priorities within the parliamentary schedule. 

Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQs):

  • It is a significant and widely watched parliamentary event in the United Kingdom, where MPs have the opportunity to question the Prime Minister about various issues. 

  • PMQs take place every Wednesday when the House of Commons is in session, usually at noon, and typically lasts for about 30 minutes, though the exact duration can vary. 

  • The order of questioning alternates between the Leader of the Opposition and backbench MPs from both government and Opposition benches. 

  • The Leader of the Opposition starts by asking several short questions, followed by supplementaries, and then other MPs have a go. 

  • Each question is relatively short, and the Prime Minister responds in kind. 

  • PMQs are known for spirited exchanges and are immensely popular television viewing in Britain.

  • Both are key aspects of the British parliamentary system’s tradition of executive accountability.

Other reforms needed:

  • Speakers should change his current habit of

    • rejecting every single adjournment motion moved by an Opposition MP.

    • clubbing all proposed amendments to Bills into one and rejecting them by voice vote without discussion; 

    • and refusing to even notice requests for recording dissent through “division”. 

  • Parliamentary reforms are needed, essential for Opposition members to feel they are valued members of an institution rather than irrelevancies who can always be disregarded and outvoted. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Parliamentary Conduct UPSC NOTE
Parliamentary Conduct UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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