Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Parliament is not just about technicalities, deference to process builds trust

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Parliamentary procedures

The article deals with the issue of importance of parliamentary procedures and how it has been neglected in the passage of several Bills recently.

2 contexts that explain the crisis Parliament faces

1) Neglecting the procedure

  • Three simple procedural matters are the cornerstone of parliamentary practice.
  • The first is Question Hour, which was suspended.
  • Even in taking that decision, the Speaker did not accede to the demand for a division.
  • The second is referring bills to committees.
  • It is increasingly the case with important pieces of legislation that they are not being either referred to committees, nor are they being fully debated in Parliament.
  • The third and most important is “division.”
  • If a member of a House asks for a division of votes, the Speaker needs to grant it.
  • The Speaker can refuse under some circumstances, but even then he has to take something like an informal headcount vote before refusing division.

2) Substantive context

  • There are three bills relating to agriculture that have occasioned serious protests.
  • There are three far-reaching pieces of legislation pertaining to labour reform.
  • Each of these bills can be improved and crafted in ways that make them more the object of consensus.
  • The bills pertaining to agriculture were debated, ffter the debate,  deputy chairperson refusesed a division.
  • By allowing a division we would at least record where each member of Parliament stood on a question of monumental importance.

Concerns

  • We seem to not want to give flexibility to states when it comes to farmers.
  • Flexibility is given to states, in the most unrestrained manner possible, when it comes to the interest of capital against labour.
  • It seems that the hurried interests of corporate India take precedence over farmers and labour, rather than a well negotiated social contract between all three.

Why the farmers are concerned

  • A lot of the farmers’ legitimate fear is that in a fiscal crunch, MSP will be rolled back or procurement curtailed.
  • There is genuine uncertainty over what private procurement will mean.

Way forward

  • It is also possible that in the case of the APMC, a more creative solution could have been found for concerns of the states, like an opt-out clause for them.
  • In case of amendments to labour laws, there is need to examine whether it fulfils the twin objectives of both protecting workers and being compliance-friendly at the same time.

Conclusion

Some deference to process can build trust because it is a sign of a government that listens. At least on the APMC this was a possibility. Let us hope on labour bills there is more reasoned deliberation. Parliamentary practice will not be able to knit an enduring social contract between labour, capital and farmers if it does not inspire confidence.

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