Parliamentary Devices – Crucial in Law-making

 

Parliamentary proceedings may appear monotonous and the same to many who do not understand the nuances of law-making. But the truth is, there are important aspects of it that one needs to understand before one can distinguish important stages of parliamentary works. However, the point of today’s writing is not specifically on that but to introduce to a vital provision which lend avenues to law-makers in seeking out their mandated objectives. Chapter 8 titled Parliamentary Devices has 8 ways a law-maker can pursue an objective as listed out below (excerpt from the National Council Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008):

 

CHAPTER 8 – Parliamentary Devices

122. A member may secure an action sought by him through:

(a) Parliamentary initiative;

(b) Motion;

(c) Resolution;

(d) Postulate;

(e) Calling attention;

(f) Interpellation;

(g) Adjournment Motion ; and

(h) Motion of censure.

 

Based on the Act, the House Committee drafted the Rules of procedure of the National Council of Bhutan 2009. Under Chapter 8 – Parliamentary Devices read like this:

Parliamentary initiative

81. A member of the National Council may either submit  a Bill or general proposal seeking amendment of a section of law, or a decision.

82. The Chairperson shall notify the National Council of the receipt of government proposals and resolutions or ministerial decisions presented for review by the National Council and also notify the National Council of 13the withdrawal of any such government proposals and resolutions or ministerial decisions.

83. After the National Council admits introduction of a Bill or general proposal seeking amendment of a section of  the law or a decision, such Bill or general proposal seeking amendment of a section of the law or decision is then debated and put to vote of the National Council.

Motion

84. A motion shall be a formal proposal made by any member requesting the National Council to carry out an act, order an act to be done or express an opinion with regard to some matter.

85. Any member wishing to propose a motion shall give the Notice of a motion in writing addressed to the Secretary-General.

86. In order that a motion may be admissible it shall satisfy the following conditions:-

a) it shall raise substantially one definite issue;

b) it shall relate to a matter that has bearing on a significant portion of the population;

c) it shall not refer to the conduct or character of persons except in their public capacity;

d) it shall not revive discussion of a matter which has been discussed in the same session;

e) it shall not ordinarily relate to matters which are under consideration of a Parliamentary Committee;

f)  it shall not relate to a matter with which a Minister is not officially concerned;

g) it shall not refer discourteously to a friendly foreign country;

h) it shall not relate to or seek disclosure of information about matters which are in their nature secret such as       Cabinet discussions or advice given to the Druk Gyalpo in relation to any matter  in respect of which there is a constitutional, statutory or conventional obligation not to disclose information; and

i) it shall not relate to a trivial matter.

87. The Chairperson shall decide on the admissibility of a motion and may disallow a motion or a part thereof when in his opinion it does not comply with these rules.

88. The Chairperson may after considering the state of  business in the Council allot a day or part of a day for the discussion of any such motion.

89. The Chairperson shall at the appointed hour on the allotted day, or as the case may be, the last of the allotted days forthwith put every question necessary to determine the decision of the Council  on the original question.

90. The Chairperson may, if he thinks fit, prescribe a time limit for speeches.

Resolution

91. A resolution shall be a self-contained, independent proposal by any member for the approval of the National Council. Such a proposal must express the decision of the National Council.

92. A member who wishes to move a resolution shall give a notice to that effect at least two days before the day allotted for resolution.

93. A resolution may be in the form of a declaration of opinion by the Council or in such other form as the Chairperson may consider appropriate.

94. Subject to the provisions of these rules, any member may move a resolution relating to a matter of general public interest.

95. In order that a resolution may be admissible, it shall satisfy the following conditions, namely:-

a) it shall raise substantially one definite issue;

b) it shall relate to a matter that has bearing on a significant portion of the population;

c) it shall not refer to the conduct or character of persons except in their public capacity;

d) it shall not revive discussion of a matter which has been discussed in the same session;

e) it shall not ordinarily relate to matters which are under consideration of a Parliamentary Committee;

f)  it shall not relate to a matter with which a Minister is not officially concerned;

g) it shall not refer discourteously to a friendly foreign country;

h) it shall not relate to or seek disclosure of information about matters which are in their nature secret such as Cabinet discussions or advice given to the Druk Gyalpo in relation to any matter in respect of which there is a constitutional, statutory or conventional obligation not to disclose information; and

i) it shall not relate to a trivial matter.

96. The Chairperson shall decide on the admissibility of a resolution, and may disallow a resolution or a part thereof when in his opinion it does not comply with these rules.

97. A member in whose name a resolution stands on the list of business shall, except when he wishes to withdraw it, when called on, move the resolution, in which case he shall commence his speech by a formal motion in the terms appearing in the list of business.

98. A member may, with the permission of the Chairperson, authoring any other member in whose name the same resolution stands lower in the list of business, to move it on his behalf and the member so authorised may move accordingly.

99. If a member, when called on is absent, any other member authorised by him in writing in this behalf may, with the, permission of the Chairperson, move the resolution standing in his name.

100.After a resolution has been moved any member may, subject to the rules relating to resolutions, move an amendment to the resolution.

101.If notice of such amendment has not been given one day before the day on which the resolution is moved, any member may object to the moving of the amendment, and such objection shall prevail, unless the Chairperson allows the amendment to be moved.

102.The Secretary-General shall, if time permits, make  available to members from time to time lists of amendments of which notices have been given.

103.No speech on a resolution, except with the permission of the Chairperson, shall exceed fifteen minutes in duration:

104.Provided that the mover of a resolution, when moving the same and the Minister concerned when speaking for the first time, may speak for thirty minutes or for such longer time as the Chairperson may permit.

105.The discussion of a resolution shall be strictly relevant to and within the scope of the resolution.

106.A member in whose name a resolution stands on the list of business may, when called on, withdraw the resolution in which case he shall confine himself to a mere statement to that effect.

107.A member who has moved a resolution or amendment to a resolution shall not withdraw the same except by leave of the Council.

108.If a resolution which has been admitted is not discussed during the session, it shall be deemed to have been withdrawn.

109.When any resolution involving several points has been discussed, the Chairperson may divide the resolution, and put each or any pointseparately to the vote, as he may think fit.

110.When a resolution has been moved but no resolution  or amendment raised substantially, the same question may be moved within one year from the date of the moving of the earlier resolution.

111.When a resolution has been withdrawn with the leave of the Council, the same question shall not be moved during the same session.

112.A copy of every resolution which has been passed by the Council shall be forwarded to the Ministers concerned.

Postulate

113.A postulate shall request the government to examine the necessity of a law, decision or a measure in a particular case.

Calling attention

114.The National Council may call the attention of a minister to any matter of urgent public importance.

115.A member may, with the previous permission of the Chairperson, call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance and the Minister may make a brief statement or ask for time to make a statement at a later hour or date, provided that no member shall give more than two such notices for any one sitting.

116. There shall be no debate on such statement at the time it is made.

117. Not more than one such matter shall be raised at the same sitting.

118.In the event of more than one matter being presented for the same day, priority shall be given to the matter which is, in  the opinion of the Chairperson, more urgent and important.

119.The proposed matter shall be raised after the questions and the laying of papers, if any, on the Table and before any other item in the list of business is taken up and at no other time during the sitting of the Council.

Special Mention

120.A member who wishes to mention a matter of Public Importance in the Council shall give notice in writing addressed to the Secretary-General in the prescribed form; provided that no member shall  give more than two such notices for any one sitting.

121.In order that a notice may be admissible, it shall  satisfy the following conditions, namely:-

a) it shall be accompanied by a text of the special mention not exceeding 250 words.

b) it shall not refer to a matter which has been discussed in the same session or which is substantially identical to the matter already raised by a member under this rule during the session;

c) it shall not raise more than one issue and the issue shall not pertain to trivial matters;

d) it shall be restricted to a matter of recent occurrence;

e) it shall not refer to proceedings of a parliamentary/consultative committee;

i)  it shall not refer to the conduct or character of persons except in their public capacity;

f) it shall not refer discourteously to a friendly foreign country.

122.Notices received up to 5.00 p.m. on a day shall be  placed before the Chairperson, for his consideration, for the day on  which there is next sitting of the House.

123.Notices on subjects that have not been selected for a particular day shall be carried forward for consideration of the Chairperson for the next sitting of the House.

124.Notices not selected during the week for which they have been given, shall lapse at the end of the week and no intimation thereof shall be given to the member giving the notice.

125.Members concerned may revive their notice(s) for the following week if they so desire by giving a fresh notice.

126.Unless the Chairperson otherwise directs, no member shall make more than one Special Mention during a week.

127.Total number of Special Mentions to be admitted for a day shall not ordinarily exceed seven.

Interpellation

128.A member shall question the Government during the Question Time, which shall be held such number of times and for such duration during each session, as the National Council deems expedient.

129.An interpellation requires the government to present an opinion either orally or in writing. Any member of the National Council may submit a question orally or in writing worded in precise terms to the Chairperson.

130.The question must refer to specific fields for which the government is responsible. It must be concise, brief and must not contain subjective statements or evaluations.

131.The Chairperson may admit the questions submitted under section 73 of these Rules and shall give adequate time to the concerned ministry or organization, as the case may be, for furnishing the reply to the questions.

132.Questions of national importance shall be listed in category I and shall require written answers to be given. All other questions shall be listed in category II and oral answers shall suffice.

133.If the interpellator is not satisfied with the answer, he may with the permission of the Chairperson call a debate in the  National Council, in which the appropriate authority of the government shall participate.

Adjournment motion

134.The Adjournment Motion shall be moved by giving a written notice stating reasons for submitting the motion, supported by not less than half of total members of the National Council. A motion for adjournment of the business of the National Council shall be made with the consent of the Chairperson.  Motion of Censure

135.The National Council may challenge government policy through a motion of censure.

136.The motion of censure must be proposed by not less than half of the total number of members of the National Council.

137.The motion of censure may not be voted until 10 days after it has been submitted. During the first seven days of this period, alternative motions may be submitted.

138.The motion of censure shall be deemed to have been  passed by the National Council if passed by a two third majority of the total numbers of the National Council.

139.If the National Assembly does not pass the motion of censure as passed by the National Council by a two third majority, the same shall be null and void.

Point of Order

140.A point of order shall relate to the interpretation or enforcement of these Rules or such Articles of the Constitution to regulate the business of the House and shall raise a question, which is within the cognizance of the Chairperson.

141.A point of order may be raised in relation to the business before the House at the moment or the Chairperson may permit a member to raise such a point of order during the interval between the termination of one item of 20business and the commencement of another if it relates to the maintenance of order or arrangement of business before the House.

142.A member may formulate a point of order and the Chairperson shall decide whether the point raised is a point of order and if so, the decision given by him shall be final.

143.No debate shall be allowed on a point of order, but the Chairperson may, if he thinks necessary, hear members before giving his decision.

 

Hope this was helpful.

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About Sangay Khandu

Sangay Khandu is a Member of Parliament, serving his 2nd term representing the people of Gasa Dzongkhag to the National Council.
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