Committees for Special Purposes

In Sri Lanka Parliament there are nine Committees of this nature functioning at present. They are as follows:

No member shall be appointed to a Committee if he is not willing to serve on it. The Whips and the Leaders of the parties are also consulted before nominating members to the Committees. The Committee of Selection normally nominates the members to various Committees in proportion to the strength of the parties in the Parliament.

The number of members in each Committee also varies. The majority of Standing Committees have 20 members each. The minimum number is nine in the case of the Committee on Standing Orders.

The Chairmanship of a Committee normally goes to a member belonging to the party in power. The Speaker is the Chairman of the Committees such as House Committee, Committee on Standing Orders and Committee on Parliamentary Business. The Chairmen of the rest of the Committees for special purposes are elected from among the members of the Committee. The Chairmen of the Select Committees are appointed by the Speaker.

Unless otherwise specified in the Standing Orders the quorum shall be three members and shall be the duty of the Chairman of such Committee not to function without the required quorum.

The Sri Lanka Parliament has devised a well-knit Committee System, working under a uniform set of rules. These Committees, apart from the obvious advantage of saving floor time, have made a distinct contribution to the effective functioning of parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka.

The effectiveness of a Committee is very much dependent on the personality of the Chairman of the Committee. If the Chairman wants to harness the energies of all the Committee members, he can find ways and means to do so. He can even cast a sort of obligation on the members by appointing sub-committees and making some of the members Chairmen of those sub-committees.

In all the Committees, there is always a group of members taking a special interest in their work. They are the members who really take an interest in the Committee work and attend meetings regularly. This fact should be taken into consideration because it will be an advantage for the effective functioning of the Committees if developed properly.

The Committee System of Sri Lanka, though British in origin, has changed its character in keeping with the changing developments in the Sri Lanka Parliament and the society. The Committees have acquired more power and do enjoy wide jurisdiction too. At the same time, they have provided greater and valuable contribution to the day to day business of the Parliament.

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