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I wrote last week about the need to amend the Standing Orders of Parliament so that they provide clearcut guidelines about how Parliament should proceed. This is particularly important with regard to Consultative Committees, which now do very little of consequence.

Most Parliamentarians think they are a place to raise problems related to their electorates. Thus in the Education Committee questions are raised about Principals of schools, in the Justice Committee questions about whether there is a functioning lift in a particular Court, in the Cultural Affairs Committee whether Cultural Centres have been set up in particular places. Rarely are there discussions about policy.

It seems that no one has bothered to explain, either to Members of Parliament, or to the Ministers who function as Chairmen of these Committees their actual function. According to the Standing Orders, ‘The duty of a Consultative Committee shall be to inquire into and report upon such matters as are referred to it by the chairman or by Parliament, including any Bill, proposals for legislation, supplementary or other estimates, statements of expenditure, annual reports or papers.’

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Rajiva Wijesinha

October 2019
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