Question Hour to resume during Budget session

Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha to continue alternate sittings across halls

January 19, 2021 07:04 pm | Updated 07:04 pm IST - New Delhi

Lok Sabha in session. File

Lok Sabha in session. File

Question Hour, which had been suspended by the government during the monsoon session, will resume when Parliament meets for the budget session from January 29 .

The government had claimed that suspension of Question Hour, which gives the Opposition an opportunity to hold the government accountable, was an additional precautionary measures to tackle the COVID pandemic.

The suspension had been strongly criticised by the Opposition.

As during the monsoon session, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha will meet at alternate sessions to ensure that all the three chambers — Rajya Sabha hall, Lok Sabha hall and the Central hall — are available for both Houses to seat members in keeping with the physical distancing norms. Rajya Sabha will meet from 9 a.m. till 2 p.m. and Lok Sabha will function in the second half from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The two hours between sessions will be used to sanitise the area.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla detailed these arrangements and said, “Question Hour will be allowed during Parliament Session for already fixed time of one hour.”

Parliamentarians will sit in all the three chambers — Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Central Hall — when President Ram Nath Kovind will address the joint session of both Houses of Parliament at the start of the Budget Session. This will be the first time in history that the Parliamentarians will hear the President’s budget speech from three different locations.

The Central Hall of Parliament will be open only for sitting MPs.

Mr Birla said all Members of Parliament will be requested to undergo the COVID-19 test before the start of the budget session. He said all arrangements have also been made for RTPCR COVID-19 tests of MPs near their residences too.

In Parliament premises, the RTPCR tests will be conducted on January 27-28, while arrangements have also been made for these tests of families and staff members of MPs. Mr. Birla said the vaccination drive policy finalised by the Centre and States will apply to parliamentarians as well.

Subsidy withdrawn

In another key announcement, Mr. Birla said food served in Parliament canteens for MPs and visitors will cost more as the subsidy allotted for it has been withdrawn, though he did not clarify the financial implications of the move. The subsidy on food supplied at the canteen cost nearly ₹8 crore as per senior Lok Sabha officials.

The Parliament canteen which was being run by Northern Railways will now be run by India Tourism Development Corporation.

The last two sessions of Parliament were truncated, due to the rising number of COVID cases. The last Budget session, in Feb-March last year which was scheduled to have 31 sittings was brought to a close after 23 sittings. Similarly, the monsoon session which was to have 18 sittings could manage only 10 sittings.

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