As per the data provided in the ‘Statistical Handbook 2021’, released by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, the number of short-duration discussions in the Lok Sabha has reduced in the recent terms with it falling below 50 in the 15th & 16th Lok Sabha terms.
The business conducted in both houses of Parliament is facilitated through various forms. In the earlier story, we analysed the trends relating to the bills presented, discussed and passed in the parliament. In this story, we look at the trends relating to other businesses carried out in the parliament, especially the Lok Sabha. As in the earlier stories, the data is sourced from the ‘Statistical Handbook 2021’, released by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
Significant fall in the number of Half-an-hour discussions in Lok Sabha
Half-an-hour discussions are one of the formats for conducting discussions in parliament. If a member of the house feels that the response provided by the government to a question is not complete, the speaker allows raising a discussion in the house for half an hour. This is termed a “Half-an-Hour Discussion.”. There are certain rules and procedures laid out to facilitate a Half-an-Hour Discussion.
The greatest number of such discussions were held in the 4th Lok Sabha with 183. The four successive Lok Sabha terms from 2nd to 5th are the only terms that have facilitated more than 100 such discussions in each term.
Over the decades, the number of such discussions has come down significantly in the Lok Sabha. Even the Lok Sabha terms that completed a full five-year term in more recent times have witnessed very few such discussions. The most recently concluded Lok Sabha term i.e., the 16th Lok Sabha has the second lowest number of Half-an-Hour discussions with just five. The lowest was in the 12th Lok Sabha, which had a tenure of only 13 months. In fact, both the 15th and 16th Lok Sabha terms were the only full terms when the total number of such discussions was in single digits.
Highest number of Short-duration discussions were held during 8th Lok Sabha
A short-duration discussion enables members to raise matters of urgent public importance without a formal motion. There are several rules in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha which determine the nature of the short-duration discussion.
In the Statistical Handbook 2021 data, the information from the 1st to 9th Lok Sabha was under the single head, ‘Short duration discussion held’. However, for the subsequent terms, the categorization specifically states – ‘Short duration discussion under Rule 193’. Rule 193 does not allow for any voting. However, a short-discussion can also be held under Rule 184, which allows for voting. Data on the discussions under 184 are also provided in the handbook without any specification on the type of discussion.
For this analysis, we have only considered the information under the head ‘Short duration discussion under Rule 193’. As per the data available in the handbook, the highest number of short-duration discussions were during the 8th Lok Sabha with 94. Among the Lok Sabha terms that have completed their full five-year terms, the least was during the 3rd Lok Sabha term, when only 17 short-duration discussions were held. In the last four full-year terms i.e.,13th to 16th Lok Sabha, there is a gradual decline in the number of short-duration discussions held.
4th & 5th Lok Sabha had the most Adjournment Motions discussed
An adjournment motion is for adjourning the business of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public impertinence, that is moved with the consent of the Speaker. The normal business of the house is set aside for discussion on the matter mentioned in the motion. In general, the adoption of an adjournment motion is regarded as a sort of censure of the Government, especially regards to a recent occurrence.
The highest number of Adjournment Motions was during the 4th Lok Sabha with 12, followed by the 5th Lok Sabha at 11. The 9th Lok Sabha whose term was only around 15 months and had two governments, had the next highest number of adjournment motions with 8. The 14th Lok Sabha of the UPA-1 government has 7 adjournment motions.
Highest number of no-confidence motions were discussed during 3rd & 4th Lok Sabha
A government remains in power as long as it enjoys majority support in Lok Sabha. When needed, it must demonstrate its strength on the floor of the Lok Sabha. This is done by moving a ‘Motion of Confidence’ and winning the confidence of the House. It is proposed by the government to seek the confidence of the house. None of the first eight Lok Sabha terms had any discussion on a ‘Confidence Motion’. The first confidence motion discussion was in the 9th Lok Sabha. There were 3 such motions moved during this term. As already indicated, the term was a short-lived one with a hung parliament. So was the case with the 11th Lok Sabha, where the United Front government was formed after the 1996 Lok Sabha elections threw up a hung parliament. The last confidence motion was during the 14th Lok Sabha, as the UPA-1 government had to face a confidence test when the Left parties withdrew their support.
On the other hand, a ‘No-Confidence Motion’ can be moved by any member of the house. It can only be moved in the Lok Sabha. Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Lok Sabha specifies the procedure for moving a no-confidence motion. This is an expression of no confidence in the government that it enjoys a majority in the house. Unlike the other discussions and motions discussed earlier in the story, there is no need for the member to give a reason for moving the no-confidence motion. However, such a motion must be supported by at least 50 members for it to be accepted.
The highest number of no-confidence motion discussions were during the 3rd & 4th Lok Sabha with 6 each, followed by the 5th Lok Sabha with 4. However, none of these no-confidence motions were successful, as the respective governments of the day proved their majority.
The first successful no-confidence motion was during the 6th Lok Sabha, where the incumbent Morarji Desai-led government could not prove its support on the floor of the house. During the 10th Lok Sabha, the government faced 3 no-confidence motions, where in it won all of them despite being a minority government with the outside support of certain parties. The most recent no-confidence motion was during the 16th Lok Sabha, which failed as the government was able to prove its majority in the house.