Parliament functioning in Winter Session 2018

The Winter Session of Parliament ended on January 9, 2019.  The session had 20 scheduled sittings, of which 17 were held.  Further, Rajya Sabha met for an additional day at the end of the session.  In Lok Sabha, 49 MPs were suspended by the Speaker for five sittings for wilfully disturbing the House.  This is the penultimate session of the 16th Lok Sabha, with the interim budget to be presented in the next session ahead of the upcoming general elections.

Parliament sat for about a third of its scheduled time this session

Actual hours of sitting as a percentage of available hours

·   During the session, Lok Sabha worked for 46% of its scheduled time, while Rajya Sabha worked for 26%. 

·   Due to interruptions Lok Sabha adjourned earlier than its scheduled time on 14 out of 17 days, and Rajya Sabha on 16 out of 18 days.  Time was lost due to disruptions and protests on various issues, including: (i) demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into the Rafale deal, and (ii) construction of a dam on the Cauvery river.

·   So far in this Parliament, Lok Sabha has lost a sixth of its time to disruptions, while Rajya Sabha has lost a third of its scheduled time.  Over the last three Lok Sabhas, the average productivity of the Lower House has recovered after seeing a dip.  However, the productivity of Rajya Sabha has continued to decline.

Overall, proportion of time spent on legislation has been increasing

Percentage of productive time spent on legislation

·   Compared to the 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas, this Lok Sabha spent more of its productive time on legislative business.  Over the same time period, time spent on legislation in Rajya Sabha has remained consistent. 

·   In this session, Lok Sabha spent 52% and Rajya Sabha spent 44% of their productive time on legislative business.  Historically, however, lesser productive sessions have seen lower time spent on legislation.

·   Supplementary demand for grants of Rs 15,065 crore were also discussed for 6% of the time (less than three hours).

·   Due to disruptions, this session saw the lowest number of non-legislative discussions in the 16th Lok Sabha.  Two general discussions were held on: (i) issues relating to the Rafale deal, and (ii) imposition of President’s rule in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

While discussion on each Bill has increased, fewer Bills are being referred to Committees…

Time spent discussing Bills

 >2 hours           30 mins to 2 hours         <30 mins

·   At the beginning of this session, 23 Bills were listed for consideration and passage, and two for withdrawal.  An additional 20 Bills were listed for introduction, consideration, and passage.  Altogether, 16 Bills were introduced and four Bills were passed by both Houses.  The Bills passed by one House include: (i) the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, (ii) the Surrogacy Bill, 2017, and (iii) the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016.

·   In the current Lok Sabha, 62% of the Bills have been discussed for more than two hours.  This is an improvement from the previous 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas, where 30% and 44% Bills were discussed for more than two hours.  Time spent discussing a Bill in Rajya Sabha has remained consistent, with about 25-35% Bills discussed for over two hours.

…and more Bills have been introduced and passed in the same session

·   The current Lok Sabha has also seen more Bills being introduced and passed in the same session as compared to the previous two Lok Sabhas.  During the last two days of the session, the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced and passed by Parliament.

·   Note that, a Bill introduced in Lok Sabha will lapse at the end of its term if it is pending passage in either House.  A Bill introduced in and passed by Rajya Sabha will also lapse if it remains pending in Lok Sabha at the end of its term.  At present, 74 Bills are pending in Parliament. 

8% questions were answered orally in Lok Sabha, and 11% in Rajya Sabha

·   This was one of the least productive Question Hours of the 16th Lok Sabha.  Due to disruptions, Question Hour in Parliament functioned for its entire duration on only two days. 

·   In Lok Sabha, a total of 30 questions were answered orally, against the 400 listed questions.  In Rajya Sabha, no questions were answered orally on 13 out of the total 17 scheduled Question Hours.  Towards the end of the session, on two days, all 15 listed questions were answered orally in Rajya Sabha.

Data sources: Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha websites as on January 9, 2019; PRS.

 

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