Committee Par liament

System in of Pakistan:

Presentation Oppor tunity to Inter act with Civil W indows of by : Society Marvi Sirmed
National Project Manager Strengthening Democracy through Parliamentary Development in Pakistan (SDPD) Project (UNDP / IPU / Parliament of Pakistan)

The Committee System
 Legislative committees (in some countries called commissions) are units of organization within a legislative chamber that allow groups of legislatures to review policy matters or proposed bills more closely than would be possible by the entire chamber.

Types of Committees
NA
 Standing Committees (46)  Public Accounts Committee  Committee on Rules of Procedures & Privileges  House and Library Committee  Special Committees (4)

Senate
 Standing Committees (28)  Functional Committees
(Committee on Govt. Assurances, Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas, Committee on Human Rights)

 Committee on Rules of Procedures  House Committee  Library Committee

Standing Committees
 These are permanent responsibility committees corresponding to Federal Ministries and Divisions.  Empowered to view all matters pertaining to the ministries of the Federal Government  The committees of both the Houses can invite or summon any member or any person having a special interest in relation to any matter under consideration of a committee and may hear expert evidence and hold public hearings
(Senate Rule 165: pp 71, NA Rule 208 (3): pp 78).

Standing Committees - - - - contd.
 The committees can also call for the production of such papers and records as may be required and considered necessary for the discharge of their duties.  Committees in their process of enquiry can appoint sub-committees, which are enquiry or fact-finding committees and cease to exist upon the completion of the task assigned.

Standing Committees - - - - contd.
 Once a committee report is presented in the House (NA), the committee chairperson or any other member of that committee may move that the report be taken into consideration (some times despite the government's reluctance to do so) whereupon, before putting the question to the House, the Speaker may permit a debate on the motion, not exceeding half-an-hour in duration. After the motion is carried out, the Speaker may allot one or more days for discussion on the report (NA Rule
218: pp 81-82).

Mandate of the Committees
 The rules empower the committees of the National Assembly to “examine the expenditures, administration, delegated legislation, the public petitions and policies of the ministry concerned and its associated public bodies” and forward their findings and recommendations to the concerned ministries, and the ministries shall submit their reply to the committees (NA Rule 184 (4)).

Public Hearings
 National Assembly Rule 208 (3) stipulates that the committees can hold public hearing.  On the other hand, Senate Rule 164 and National Assembly Rule 207 stipulate, that “The sittings of a Committee may be held in camera if so determined by the Committee”.  Historically - committee sessions have been held in camera ,
as a way of avoiding a partisan approach and also reaching agreements with a comparative ease.

 In secret sessions, the environment changes significantly: Treasury Bench is able to be more critical and opposition members do not fear to vote in favor of a reasonable motion, though proposed by the ruling party.

Needs for Advocacy
 With the changing times and in the interest of transparency and fostering public trust, the Parliament in Pakistan needs to adopt a practice where its committees should hold public hearings which are also televised.  Since committees are inherently constituted by representatives of the public, their hesitation in holding public hearings should not stand in the way of free and easy public access to committee meetings.

References
 Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 1988 (As amended up to 6th February – 2006)  Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in The National Assembly 2007  Parliament Committee System in Pakistan: Comparison with American, Australian, British and Indian Systems By PILDAT

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