By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Soon after the House commenced sittings yesterday, the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees J.M. Ananda Kumarasiri adjourned Parliament until 10.00 a.m. this morning as he was unable to continue the session due to a lack of a quorum.
The Parliament commenced the scheduled sitting at 10.00 a.m. yesterday with 16 lawmakers present in the Chamber. However, UPFA Joint Opposition member MP Bandula Gunawardane raising a point of order proposing to ring the quorum bell in the absence of adequate numbers in the Chamber led the House to conclude its sitting within 11 minutes of its start.
As per Standing Order 11, the quorum of Parliament required in terms of Article 73 of the Constitution is 20 members including the person presiding. If at any time the attention of the Speaker or other member presiding is directed to the fact that a quorum is not present, the Speaker or other member presiding will order the division bells to be rung and if at the expiration of five minutes a quorum is not present, the Speaker or other member presiding shall adjourn Parliament.
According to Parliament research, a day’s parliamentary sittings costs a minimum of Rs. 5 million in public funds. Reminding the House of the importance of continuing the sitting despite the quorum issue, Minister of Public Enterprise and Kandy City Development and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella said: “I request MP Bandula Gunawardane to ignore the quorum requirement and to continue with the sitting. It is a waste to adjourn the Parliament early.”
In response Deputy Speaker Kumarasiri held that he was unable to allow the sitting to continue ignoring the Standing Orders. “It is a must that 20 members are present to continue the sitting. So the House is adjourned until 10.00 a.m. on Friday,” he said.