The Standing Orders of Parliament are the agreed rules under
which procedure, debate and the conduct of Members in the
House are regulated. The main purpose of the Standing Orders
is to prescribe the procedure for the functioning of Parliament
in an orderly and meaningful manner. It is the most important
source of Parliamentary Procedure and provide ample opportunity
for debate and enable decisions to be taken under consideration. The Standing Orders have the status
of rules under the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist
Republic of Sri Lanka.
According to the available records in the Library of Parliament,
the first set of Standing Orders was adopted by the then
Legislative Council in 1912. These were based on those of
the British Parliament at that time. Thereafter new such Standing
Orders were introduced at different stages in the history
Article 74 of the 1978 Constitution of the Democratic Socialist
Republic of Sri Lanka states that, Parliament can by resolution
provide for Standing Orders. The on going set of Standing
Orders was framed under the 1978 Constitution with suitable
modifications to the earlier Standing Orders and was adopted
in 1979. The Standing Orders can be amended from time to time
by the House. Under Standing Order 123 a Committee on Standing
Orders shall be appointed.
The Committee should consist of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker,
Deputy Chairman of Committees and six other members to be nominated by the Committee of
Selection. The task of the Committee on Standing Orders is
to consider matters of procedure and conduct of business in
Parliament and recommend any amendments to the Standing Orders
as it deems necessary. Any Member of Parliament may propose
amendments by giving notice of the same to the Committee which
may consider and include it in its report. The report should
be submitted to the House for formal adoption.
The current set of Standing Orders regulates the proceedings
of the first meeting after a General Election, Seating of
Members, Election of a Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Deputy
Chairman of Committees, Official Oath/Affirmation of newly
elected Members and fixing of date and time for meetings.
Quorum and Business of Parliament are also governed by the
Standing Orders. Procedure for Urgent Bill, Private Member’s
Bill, Appropriation Bill, voting and division are laid down
in Standing Orders. Standing Orders clearly direct the rules
for debate, rules for Members speaking as well as not speaking
in Parliament and the rules of Order in the House.
The procedure to be followed for the impeachment of the President,
Judges and other officials is specifically given in the Standing
Orders. Similarly, there is provision for the removal from
office, the Secretary-General of Parliament, Auditor-General,
Commissioner of Elections and Parliamentary Commissioner for
The Standing Orders contain guidelines for the conduct of
the business of the Committees such as the Committee of the
whole House, Select Committees, Consultative Committees and
also of Committees established for special purposes such as
House Committee, Committees on Selection, Standing Orders,
Parliamentary Business, Public Accounts, Public Enterprises,
Public Petitions, Privileges and High Posts.
The House is empowered to suspend Standing Orders by a motion
whenever necessary. If the Standing Orders are silent on matters
before the House, the Speaker has a residuary power to regulate
such matters. It is the duty of the Secretary-General of Parliament
to ensure compliance with the Standing
Orders by giving assistance to the Speaker and through the
Speaker to the individual members as to the correct interpretation
and the application of Standing Orders.
Download Standing Orders of Parliament.
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