The Parliament of Sri Lanka today without a vote approved its amended Standing Orders and a “Code of Conduct” for Members of Parliament.
Accordingly, the Reports of the Committee on Standing Orders that were presented on November 07th, 2017 and today were considered and passed by the House. The Final Drafts of the amended Standing Orders and Code of Conduct were presented to the House last year, for the perusal of the Members of Parliament.
Standing Orders of Parliament were last amended about 25 years ago, on the 26th of February 1993, when provisions for the Committee on High Posts etc. were incorporated among other amendments.
Amending of Standing Orders and drafting a Code of Conduct is the outcome of a nearly two-year long process that commenced at the end of 2015. The Committee on Standing Orders chaired by the Speaker, met for twelve times during this period, where it deliberated & discussed inputs from recommendations of the previous Committees appointed in Sixth and Seventh Parliaments, Members of Parliament, local & international scholars and experts in the field. Additionally, a four-member Special Committee was also appointed to look into special matters and report to Parliament.
The need for a revision of Standing Orders was felt for some time to meet contemporary legislative requirements and to utilize modern technology for proceedings of the House and Committees. Some of the new amendments to the Standing Orders are;
• Provisions for live broadcasting of House and Committees over electronic means
• Provisions for electronic voting
• Sitting times of Parliament
• Adjournment Questions
• Questions to be asked from the Prime Minister
• Incorporation of Sectoral Oversight Committees, Ministerial Consultative Committees, Committee on Public Finance, Backbencher Committee, etc.
The objective of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament is to assist the exercise, perform and discharge by them of their powers, functions and duties in order to fulfil their responsibilities to the Parliament, to their constituents, and the public at large. Every Member is expected to uphold the Code of Conduct, and any alleged unethical conduct by a Member or breach of any provision of the Code may be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, which in turn may investigate the matter and impose a sanction.
The Revised Standing Orders and the Code of Conduct will come into operation after a Speaker’s announcement.