In an unusual deviation from parliamentary traditions and standing orders, copies of bills presented in Parliament had been delivered to the residence of United National Party (UNP) MP Ajith P. Perera and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) office on Saturday, party officials said yesterday.
According to Standing Orders, copies of bills presented in the House should be placed on the tables of each MP. However, when the Government presented 20 finance bills in Parliament last Friday, sufficient copies were not available to be placed on the MPs’ tables. After objections raised by the opposition, the government promised to hand over separate sets of bills to each member, but that too did not happen.
At the end of day’s business, UNP MP Ajith P. Perera raised this issue. He said he had received only 15 copies and therefore the remaining five bills could not be considered as presented in Parliament.
“If a bill is presented, a copy should be kept on our tables. This is the tradition.
There are no such copies tabled,” he said.
JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti also raised the same issue, and expressed his concern over the delay.
Meanwhile, Mr. Perera told Daily Mirror yesterday that the office of the Leader of the House had delivered some of the copies at 1.00 am on Saturday.
“A vehicle had arrived near my residence and my neighbours had noted the occupant behaving in a suspicious manner.
When the alarmed neighbours had made inquiries one of the occupants had handed over the parcel containing the copies of bills to be handed over to me. Is this how parliamentary officials act,” he asked. “The UNP will object to this act when Parliament meets on February 19. There is callous disregard of the Standing Orders.”
The JVP also said it had received the copies of the bills at midnight on Friday.
JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake told a news conference that these Bills had not been presented to the House in keeping with Standing Orders. He said all members should receive copies of the Bills beforehand so that they could file objections if necessary.
“Therefore this is a clear violation of Standing Orders,” he added. Mr. Dissanayake said Parliament Proceedings cannot be blatantly violated in this high handed manner. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)