LAHORE: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has demanded a thorough review of rules of parliamentary procedure to bring them in line with democratic traditions.
This was stated by Syed Kausar Abbas, programme manager at CPDI, while speaking at a press conference on proposed amendments on Tuesday.
He said the rules of procedure of assemblies, including Punjab Assembly, were part of common law originating from the British House of Commons, which has long introduced some revolutionary changes in its working and many Commonwealth countries had followed it. But Pakistani assemblies still lagged behind in efficiency, accountability and transparency.
He said a British member of parliament could expect answer to his/her question within two days, while in the Punjab Assembly one has to wait for months and, in some cases, years. Same was the case with general discussion, working hours, number of working days, budget sessions, quorum, and attendance of lawmakers and legislation process, he added.
The CPDI suggested installing biometrics system at the gates of assembly hall to register attendance of MPAs and electing one speaker and two deputy speakers during the first sitting of the assembly after general elections.
He lamented that Rule 24 of the rules of procedure clearly stated meeting time of the assembly was 9am to 2pm but this was seldom observed. The average meeting time per sitting was not more than two-and-a-half hours due to which many agenda items on order of the day were not taken up.
To improve the situation, the institute suggested increasing working hours from 9am to 5pm and increasing quorum of the house from 25pc to 50pc to make it representative. To make effective use of the question hour, all questions submitted by lawmakers should be answered on the floor of the house during the next session, while a ‘Chief Minister Question Hour’ should also be started as in all modern democracies, it suggested.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2016