PARLIAMENT

OF SRI LANKA

SinhalaSriLankaTamil-SriLanka

Rules for Parliament Debates

What is the Importance of Rules?

In order to facilitate the proper functioning of Parliament, rules and procedure are made and followed. By enforcing these rules the standard of debates in the House could be raised. In passing laws, approving the annual budget and other matters the Members of Parliament have to take part in Parliamentary debates. In a Parliamentary system, on the floor of the House, all views, opinions, ideas and concepts are voiced in an orderly manner. Thereafter acceptable conclusions are arrived at.


What are the Rules for Members speaking in Parliament?

A Member who speaks should always address the Speaker. He/She should be standing whilst he/she makes the speech. Members should avoid speaking on irrelevant matters. They are required not to indulge in repetition. The members should not impute improper motives to other members. They should not refer to any matter which is sub-judice. Other than the mover of a motion a member is not allowed to speak more than once on any Bill or motion. But, in a Committee of the Whole House, a member may be allowed to speak more than once. In addition, an affected member is entitled to make a personal explanation even though there is no motion before the House. However, debates are not allowed on such explanations. The members must take special care not to use unparliamentary language.


What are the Rules for Members Not Speaking?

They must enter the House with decorum and should not cross the floor unnecessarily. They are not allowed to read newspapers, books or letters inside the Chamber. They must maintain silence and should not interrupt a member who is addressing the House unless the member speaking gives way. Smoking within the Chamber is prohibited. The members should not bring various items to illustrate their arguments. Using cellular phones and tape recorders in the Chamber are disallowed.


What are the Speaker's powers with regard to Debates?

The Speaker can request a member to withdraw any derogatory or objectionable remark. The Speaker also can expunge objectionable words from the official records (Hansard). He may warn a member who persists in obstructing or disturbing the proceedings. He can also "name" or request the Sergeant-at-arms to remove the disturbing member. A member may be suspended for a few weeks. If a member's conduct is utterly disorderly the Speaker can order him to withdraw immediately from Parliament during the remainder of the day's sitting.


Who prepares the Lists of Speakers?

The Government and Opposition Whips are responsible for preparing the lists of speakers. The lists are submitted to the Speaker in advance and he calls upon those members to address the House.


What are Points of Order?

If a member feels that a procedural disorder has occurred he can raise the matter then and there. The member on his feet should give way when a Point of Order is raised. After the Speaker or the presiding officer gives his ruling , the member can resume his speech.


Can a Member speak after the vote is taken?

At the end of a debate, the members express their agreement or disagreement by saying "Aye" or "No". If a member is not satisfied with the decision on the voice vote he may ask for a division. A division can be taken either by counting those in favour and against row by row or calling their names and recording their preference. The decision as to the way in which the count is to be taken lies with the Speaker.


What is the Quorum?

The quorum is twenty members including the Presiding Officer. If a quorum is not present and if the attention of the Presiding Officer is drawn to this fact the Presiding Officer must cause the quorum bells to be rung and at the expiration of five minutes if a quorum is not present he can adjourn Parliament.


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Last Updated on 19-06-2012

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