Ministry Secretaries have raised issue over provisions in the Parliamentary Standing Orders regarding queries raised by MPs in the House. Addressing the party leaders meeting in Parliament last Tuesday, Mr. Gunawardena said that the Ministry Secretaries had asked for clarifications on specific Standing Orders under which the Secretaries are expected to provide answers to Parliament.
The issue had come in the wake of several of ministry secretaries delaying their responses to questions posed by MPs in Parliament during oral question time.
Mr. Gunawardena who answers many of the questions on behalf of ministers in his capacity as the Chief Whip said that none of the Secretaries had refused to answer the questions posed by MPs, but their problem was the time frame for the answer.
Mr. Gunawardena told The Sunday Times that the Standing Orders in Parliament do not specify a time frame under which answers should be provided to Parliament and therefore there was need to amend the Standing Orders mentioning a specific time frame.
Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera who was present at the meeting told The Sunday Times that Opposition members had pointed out that though the Secretaries were reluctant to promptly provide answers to questions posed by MPs, they would submit relevant reports to the COPE. The half an hour question time in Parliament is used mainly by Opposition legislators to raise questions from ministers on matters related to their ministries that are of public interest.