Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu today expressed his concern in the House on the functioning of parliamentary Committees and urged the parties and Members to do needful to improve their functioning.
After the laying of papers in Rajya Sabha, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu seeking to voice his concern said, “Each Member of the Department Related Standing Committee represents 25 Members of Parliament while deliberating in the Committee. If one Member is absent, the voice of 25 MPs would not be heard. I hence, appeal to leaders of all parties and Members of this august House to ensure quantitative and qualitative functioning of these committees in whom the Parliament has vested an important responsibility of functioning on its behalf.”
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu also referred to the meeting he had earlier in the morning with the Chairmen of 8 Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) that are with Rajya Sabha in which Members of both the Houses are represented and also the Chairmen of 12 Standing Committees of Rajya Sabha and the statistical evidence he had given on the poor attendance of Members in the meetings of the Committees.
Stating in Rajya Sabha that the 8 DRSCs that are with Rajya Sabha have held 41 meetings since their reconstitution in September this year, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu informed the House that an analysis of attendance of these 41 meetings revealed a disturbing trend which was shared with the Chairmen of the Committees earlier in the day.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu noted that “Department Related Standing Committees have been conceived as an effective instrument of enabling detailed scrutiny of legislative proposals besides focused and detailed examination of various issues chosen by these Committees for reporting in a bipartisan manner which may not always be possible in both the Houses of Parliament. ”
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu informed the House that 80 Members of Rajya Sabha are represented on 8 DRSCs which are with the Upper House and 18 of them have attended all the meetings of respective committees held since September this year. He further said, “I thought that it would be appropriate to mention the names of the Members of this House who attended all the meetings of the Department Related Committees in the august House as a token of appreciation for them and also to motivate others to do so.” Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu read out the names of those 18 Members in the House expressing the hope that this number would further raise. He also stated that 18 of 168 Lok Sabha Members on these 8 Committees have also attended all meetings of respective Committees.
Earlier, addressing the Chairmen of all the Committees of Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu informed that the average attendance in each of the 41 meetings held by 8 DRSCs of Rajya Sabha was 48.54% with the attendance ranging from a low of 5 in case of one meeting of the Committee on Home Affairs to 25 in one meeting of the Committee on Human Resource Development. The average attendance in each of the meetings of these Committees ranged from 39% in case of the Committee on Home Affairs to 65% in case of the Committee on HRD. Members’ attendance has been below the half way mark of 16 in case of 23 of the total 41 meetings. Each DRSC has 10 Members including the Chairman from Rajya Sabha and 21 from Lok Sabha with the total number of MPs on 8 DRSCs of Rajya Sabha coming to 248.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu expressed concern over 28 Members accounting for over 11% of the total 248 Members not attending any meeting of the DRSCs so far and 100 Members accounting for 40% of the total skipping two or more successive meetings of respective Committees.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu also expressed concern over poor attendance in the meetings of the Standing Committees of Rajya Sabha like the Committees on Subordinate Legislation, Petitions and Papers Laid on the Table.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu made 9 suggestions to improve the functioning of the Parliamentary Committees which include firming up the schedule of meetings much in advance by fixing specific day of the week for the meetings of each Committee to enable the Members attend the meetings, targeting attendance of 2/3rd of the Members of the Committees, sufficiently longer duration of meetings of the Committees during inter-session period, Chairmen of the Committees keeping records of authorisation of absence of Members stating reasons etc.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu informed the Chairmen of the Committees of Rajya Sabha that he will share the details of attendance in the meetings of 8 DRSCs of Rajya Sabha with the Speaker of Lok Sabha and will have the benefit of similar assessment regarding the functioning of the 16 DRSCs that are with the Lok Sabha besides discussing the ways and means of improving the functioning of DRSCs.
15 of the 16 Chairmen heading the 20 Committees of Rajya Sabha attended the meeting and complimented Shri Naidu for holding such a meeting for the first time and assured him of their support in improving the functioning of the Committees.