Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

What does ‘Guillotine’ refer to in legislative parlance?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Guillotine Motion

Mains level: Not Much

Central idea: Amidst the ongoing stalemate in Parliament, some MPs said the government may guillotine the demands for grants and pass the Finance Bill without any discussion in the Lok Sabha.

What is a Guillotine?

  • A guillotine is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading.
  • It consists of a large, weighted blade that is raised to the top of a tall, erect frame and released to fall on the neck of a condemned person secured at the bottom of the frame, executing them in a single, clean pass.
  • The origin of the exact device as well as the term can be found in France.
  • The design of the guillotine was intended to make capital punishment more reliable and less painful in accordance with new Enlightenment ideas of human rights.

Guillotine Motion in Parliament

  • In legislative parlance, to “guillotine” means to bunch together and fast-track the passage of financial business.
  • It is a fairly common procedural exercise in Lok Sabha during the Budget Session.
  • After the Budget is presented, Parliament goes into recess for about three weeks, during which time the House Standing Committees examine Demands for Grants for various Ministries, and prepare reports.
  • After Parliament reassembles, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) draws up a schedule for discussions on the Demands for Grants.
  • Given the limitation of time, the House cannot take up the expenditure demands of all Ministries; therefore, the BAC identifies some important Ministries for discussion.
  • It usually lists Demands for Grants of the Ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, Agriculture, Rural Development and Human Resource Development.

Why use such a motion?

  • Members utilise the opportunity to discuss the policies and working of Ministries.
  • Once the House is done with these debates, the Speaker applies the “guillotine”, and all outstanding demands for grants are put to vote at once.
  • This usually happens on the last day earmarked for the discussion on the Budget.
  • The intention is to ensure the timely passage of the Finance Bill, marking the completion of the legislative exercise with regard to the Budget.


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