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Question hour: Monsoon Session: Government may drop Question Hour to conduct business in short time


New Delhi: As the government gears up for the Monsoon Session of Parliament in second week of September, it is mulling doing away with the Question Hour to conduct the full business in truncated working hours.

According to highly placed sources, the government is working on a tentative date of September 10 to begin the session. The parliamentary affairs ministry has conveyed it informally to the Opposition parties and the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats.

The ministry is working out the modalities and is seriously considering truncated working hours to conduct the business. Sources indicated that Parliament may be run in two shifts – a morning shift for one House and an afternoon shift for the other House. In between two hours would be kept for complete sanitisation of the parliamentary premises. This would mean effective working hours for each House would be 2-3 hours.

A senior official who did not wish to be identified told ET, “The government is exploring whether it can do away with Question Hour to pass the business in the truncated working hours.” If done, then this would not be extraordinary as commemorative sessions or special sessions do not have Question Hour.

At the same time, the Opposition parties would have to be taken on board for this move. Doing away with the Question Hour would also help the government in logistics of holding the session. During the session, the government wants to keep the number of visitors to Parliament House complex to the bare minimum.

In case of Question Hour, it would have to allow ministry officials to come to Parliament House. At present, the ministry officials are being issued passes only to attend parliamentary committee meetings in Parliament Annexe.

No outsiders have been allowed to avoid overcrowding The government’s Monsoon Session agenda includes three major issues – border dispute with China, Covid-19 pandemic and 11 Bills to replace Ordinances brought during the lockdown phase.

Sources said the government would discuss the border dispute and its response to the Covid pandemic in detail. The 11 Bills that would come before Parliament would replace Ordinances – viz. the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Ordinance, the Salaries, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Ordinance, the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, the Farmers Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment And Protection) Agreement On Price Assurance And Farm Services Ordinance, Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) and Taxation and Other Laws (relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance.

The detailed agenda is likely to come before the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs next week. The government is treading carefully on the final dates of Monsoon session especially after a number of ministers have tested Covid positive.

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