It’s all pay, less work in the House
Members of Parliament (MPs) are set to vote for themselves a five-fold salary hike this year. However, there are no signs of improvement in the working hours of parliament.
The government could only get six of the 27 planned bills for the recently concluded budget session, the biggest session of the year, according to a study by Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research. The number of pending bills in both Houses has gone up to 70.
Half of the bills were passed without discussion due to pandemonium on issues such as price rise, women’s reservation bill and the IPL, says the study.
During the session, however, a joint parliamentary committee recommended that MPs’ salaries be raised from the existing Rs 16,000 to Rs 80,000. It is likely to be approved by both Houses in the Monsoon session. Perks for MPs like the constituency allowance and the daily allowance are also likely to be doubled.
The salary hike for MPs was long overdue, but a look at the working hours of the parliament session shows the Lok Sabha met for less than an hour on eight of the 32 days during the budget session. The Rajya Sabha met for less than an hour on nine days.
“The productive time in Lok Sabha has come down to 66% of the scheduled time as compared to 76% during the winter session. In Rajya Sabha it came down to 74% from 88% in the winter session,” states the study.
In the Rajya Sabha, no question could be answered orally on 13 days out of 30 during Question Hour. This happened in the Lok Sabha on eight days.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee is the lone dissenter on the move to hike MPs salaries. “India is the only democracy in the world where MPs decide their own salaries, judges appoint themselves and the Lok Sabha runs its own channel,” he said.
Chatterjee said he was not opposed to the hike, “but why should MPs do it themselves? Let there be an independent commission to do it. I am only talking about propriety”, he said.