P’ment committee to investigate MP privileges

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday decided to allow the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges to investigate lawmakers’ complaints of the CID obtaining phone records that were later published by the media.

Announcing his decision in Parliament, the Speaker said: “During the last few days, many lawmakers expressed their opinion on the matter pertaining to the Treasury bond issuance. Several members mentioned the breach of their privileges. So I believe the matter should be handed over to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee. However, I am planning to discuss the matter in detail with the party leaders.”

Disagreeing with the violation of parliamentary privileges, the UPFA Joint Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardena stated that no privilege was violated. 

“The Criminal Investigations Department conducted their investigations on par with the directions of the Commission. The Chairman of the Bond Commission has confirmed that the CID did not listen to telephone conversations of any Parliament Member. So the Leader of the House has misled the House on Monday by mentioning the hearing of telephone conversations,” said MP Bandula Gunawardena.

Meanwhile, the UPFA Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena criticised the Speaker’s decision of not allowing a debate on the bond issuance investigation. 

“Opposition lawmaker Vasudeva Nanayakkara brought in an adjournment debate on the bond scam. But you have rejected it signing Clause 78 of the Standing Orders. We request you to stop the arbitrary use of the Standing Order provisions. Ideally you should have allowed the adjournment debate, but could have removed unrelated parts of it if there were any,” he charged.

Joining the heated exchange, Minister of Higher Education and Highways and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella stressed that the Government was not against the investigations. “We are not against investigations. But what the Police obtained should have been kept confidential. But they have leaked the information to the newspapers. How did it end up in the newspapers? The information was with the Police and the Attorney General,” he said. (AH)