Parliamentary Terms

Question Hour:

The day’s business normally begins with the Question Hour during which questions asked by the members are answered by the Ministers. The different types of question are:

1. Starred Question: is one for which an oral answer is required to be given by the Minister on the floor of the House. Supplementary decides if a question should be answered orally or otherwise. One member can ask only one starred question in a day.

2. Unstarred Question: is one for which the Minister lays on the table a written answer. A 10-day notice has to be given to ask such questions and no supplementary questions can be asked with regard to such questions.

3. Short Notice Question: is one for which can be asked by members on matters of public importance of an urgent nature. It is for the Speaker to decide whether the matter is of urgent nature or not. The member has also to State reasons for asking the question while serving notice.

Zero Hour: This period follows the Question Hour and it generally begins at noon. Usually the time used by the members to raise various issues for discussion.

Different Types of Motion in Parliament:

Cut Motion

A motion that seeks reduction in the amount of a demand presented by the Government is known as a cut motion. 'Cut Motion' can be introduced after the presentation of the Railway and General Budget. Such motions are admitted at the Speaker’s discretion. It is a device through which members (generally of the Opposition) can draw the attention of the Government to a specific grievance or problem.

There are three types of cut motions:

1. Disapproval of policy cut: which is to express disapproval of the policy underlying a particular demand, says that ’the amount of the demand be reduced by Re. 1.

2. Economy cut: asks for a reduction of the amount of the demand by a specific amount. The aim is to affect economy in the expenditure.

3. Token cut: is a device to ventilate specific grievances within the sphere of the Government’s responsibility. The grievance has to be specified. Usually the motion in the form, "the amount of the demand be reduced by Rs. 100''.

Adjournment Motion:

It is a motion to adjourn the proceedings of the House so as to take up for discussion some matter of urgent public importance. Any member can move the motion and, if more than fifty members support the demand, the Speaker grants permission for the motion. The notice for such a motion has to be given before the commencement of the sitting on the day.

Calling Attention Motion:

A member may, with prior permission of the Speaker, call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public interest or ask for time to make a Statement.

Privilege Motion:

It is a motion moved by a member if he feels that a Minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or of any one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving a distorted version of acts.

No-Confidence Motion:

According to the Constitution the Council of Ministers stays in office only so long as it enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha; once the confidence is withdrawn the Government is bound to resign. The rules of parliamentary procedure accordingly provide for moving a motion to ascertain this confidence. The motion is generally known as the 'no-confidence motion'.

Censure Motion:

A censure motion differs from a no-confidence motion in that the latter does not specify any ground on which it is based, while the former has to mention the charges against the Government for which it is being moved. A censure motion can be moved against the Council of Ministers or against an individual Minister for failing to act or for some policy. Reasons for the censure must be precisely enumerated. The Speaker decides whether or not the motion is in order, and no leave of the House is required for moving it.

Point of Order:

A member may raise a point of order if the proceedings of the House do not follow the normal rules. The presiding officer decides whether the point of order raised by the member should be allowed.

Vote on Account:

As there is usually a gap between the presentation of the Budget and its approval, the vote on account enables the Government to draw some amount from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet the expenses in the intervening period.

Guillotine:

On the last of the allotted days at the appointed time the Speaker puts every question necessary to dispose of all the outstanding matters in connection with demands for grants. This is known as guillotine. The guillotine concludes the discussion on demands for grants.

Quorum:

It is the minimum number of members whose presence is essential to transact the business of the House. Article 100 provides that the quorum of either House shall be one-tenth of the total number of members of the House.

Lame-duck Session:

Session held when a new parliament has been elected but the old parliament meets for the last time before it is dissolved. The lame-ducks are the members of the parliament who have not got re-elected.

Shadow Cabinet:

A Parliament practice prevalent in the UK where senior members of the Opposition cover the areas of responsibility of the actual cabinet. They will form the cabinet if their party is elected to the government.

Leader of the Opposition

  • Government has given statutory recognition to the leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • Necessary legislation to this effect was passed by parliament in 1977 and the Rules framed there under were brought into effect on November 1, 1977.
  • For the first time Y.B. Chavan of the Congress (I) was given the official status of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha with the rank of a Cabinet Minister.

The Funds

  • All money received by or on behalf of the Government of India is credited to either the Consolidated Fund of India, or the Public Accounts of India.
  • The Consolidated Fund of India consists of:

i   All revenues received by the Government of India

ii  All loans raised by the Government of India.

iii All money received by Government in repayment of loans.    [Ref. Art 266 (1) ]

iv All other public money received by or on behalf of the Government of India is credited to the Public Accounts of India.

V  Art. 267 of the Constitution empowers Parliament and the Legislature of a state to create a 'Contingency Fund' for India or for a State, as the case may be for meeting unforeseen expenditure. This Fund was created by the Contingency Fund of India Act 1950.

Extents of the Powers of Rajya Sabha

  • A money Bill can not be introduced in Rajya Sabha.
  • The Rajya Sabha has no power to reject or amend a Money Bill.
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha has sole and final power of deciding whether a Bill is a Money Bill.
  • Though the Rajya Sabha can discuss, it cannot vote for the public expenditure and demands for grants are not submitted for the vote of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha and not to the Rajya Sabha.  [Ref.: Art. 75(3)]
  • Rajya Sabha suffers by reason of its numerical minority, in case of a joint session to resolve a deadlock between the two Houses.    [Art. 108(4)]
  • Parliament can legislate on a State subject only if Rajya Sabha resolves for this by a 2/3 majority. [Ref. Art. 249]
  • New All-India services can be created only after Rajya Sabha resolves for this with a 2/3 majority. [Ref.: Art. 312]

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