As Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee came under attack from Opposition over her absence from Lok Sabha during a discussion, Speaker Meira Kumar said since the Cabinet is collectively responsible, the task of a minister not present can be carried out by his colleagues.

“Since it is the collective responsibility of the Cabinet, some other minister or the Minister of State can fulfill the responsibility (of the minister not present in the House) during Question Hour or when required,” Ms. Kumar told reporters outside Parliament House.

The Railway Minister was not present in the House during discussion on motormen’s strike in Mumbai as she is in Kolkata in connection with municipal polls.

She said if it was urgent, ministers do not attend the proceedings. “Out of courtesy, they inform us before leaving,” Ms. Kumar added.

When asked whether Ms. Banerjee had informed her before leaving for Kolkata, she said, “She always does.”

To a poser on the behaviour of Trinamool Congress’ Sudip Bandopadhyay in the Lok Sabha, the Speaker said the member had “expressed regret” over his behaviour. “By nature, he is not like that. I have seen him in the House all these days,” she said.

On the frequent disruption of the Question Hour and her plans to shift it in the evening, Ms. Kumar said she had “various ideas in my mind to try to improve (the system).”

“A consensus is required among members of various political parties,” she said, refusing to elaborate.

Ms. Kumar said members have informed her that they are not against the Question Hour as such.

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