FE Editorial : Parliamentary business

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Jul 29 2010, 02:30am hrs
The second day of the monsoon session of Parliament was adjourned after Opposition MPs interrupted proceedings agitating on the issue of price rise. The Opposition plans to do the same tomorrow. Let us hope that this kind of disruption doesnt define the monsoon session. Incredibly enough, despite the frequent interruptions to the regular business of Parliament, the legislative record of the last session of Parliament wasnt that bad. The fourth session of the 15th Lok Sabha, intermittently held in the four months between February and May 2010, had 14 government Bills pending at the commencement of the session and the government introduced another 27 new Bills during the period. The records show that the house passed as many as 21 Bills in 32 sittings and that there was only 23 government Bills pending at the end of the session, including 3 laid on the table after being passed by the Rajya Sabha. However, what usually gets sacrificed even as Bills are passed is debate and discussion. That does not reflect well on Parliament.

In the monsoon session, the major Bills that need to be ratified at the earliest include the nuclear liability Bill, land acquisition amendment and rehabilitation Bill, Bills on foreign universities and capitation fee, a Bill on rating agencies and the womens reservation Bill. Additionally, there are also three ordinances that need to be replaced with legislative Actsone on the Medical Council of India, a second on enemy property, and a third on financial regulation that addresses the dispute between financial regulators Sebi and Irda, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it isnt simply an agitating Opposition that stands in the way of important legislation being discussed and passed. On some proposed legislation, there isnt enough consensus within the ruling UPAthe Trinamul Congress is, for example, staunchly opposed to the land acquisition amendment Bill. On the womens reservation Bill, it isnt clear that the government has drummed up the requisite political consensus. One of the governments problems in getting legislation passed is the lack of a majority in the Rajya Sabha. Unfortunately, the UPA hasnt been at its best reaching out to opposition parties to try and get at least some important legislation passed. It is time for the UPA to shape up its floor management. And for the sake of its own credibility, the Opposition must allow parliamentary business to be conducted.