for Special Purposes
In Sri Lanka Parliament there are eight Committees of this nature
functioning at present. They are as follows:
At the commencement of every Session, this Committee is appointed
to consider the number, function and constitution of Consultative
Committees and Legislative Standing Committees and to nominate
members to serve upon the Committees for Special Purposes. The
Committee of Selection consists of the Speaker, as Chairman,
and ten members including the leaders of political parties or
their nominees to be nominated by the Parliament at the commencement
of each session.
This consists of the Speaker as Chairman and nine members to
be nominated by the Committee of Selection to consider and advise
upon all matters connected with the comfort and convenience
Committee on Standing Orders
This Committee consists of the Speaker as Chairman, Deputy Speaker,
the Deputy Chairman of Committees and six other Members to be
nominated by the Committee of Selection. The duty of this Committee
is to consider matters of procedure and conduct of Business
of Parliament and to recommend any amendments to the Standing
Committee on Parliamentary Business
This consists of the Speaker as Chairman, Deputy Speaker, Deputy
Chairman of Committees, the Leader of the House of Parliament,
the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Government Whip, the
Chief Opposition Whip and five other members to be nominated
by the Committee of Selection. The duty of this Committee is
to consider and decide on the time allocation for the discussion
of Business of Parliament and other matters that the Speaker
in consultation with the Leader of the House of Parliament,
refers to the Committee.
Committee on Public
This is one of the two Financial Committees in the Parliament.
It consists of twelve members nominated by the Committee of
Selection. The duty of this Committee is to examine the accounts
showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament
to meet the public expenditure.
Committee on Public
This is the other Financial Committee in the Parliament which
consists of twelve members nominated by the Committee of Selection.
The duty of this Committee is to examine the accounts of the
Public Corporations and of any Business Undertaking vested in
These two Committees have the power to summon before them and
question any person, call for and examine any paper, book, record
or other documents and to have access to stores and property.
Committee on Privileges
This consists of ten members nominated by the Committee of Selection.
This Committee examines every question of Privilege that may
be referred to it by the Parliament on a Motion moved and approved.
The Committee, on every question of Privilege, has to determine
whether a breach of Privilege has been committed and if so,
the nature of the breach, the circumstances leading to it, and
make recommendations and state the procedure to be followed
in giving effect to such recommendations.
The Committee has the power to send for persons, documents and
other records and to do all such acts as are necessary for the
fullest investigation of the matters referred to it.
Committee on Public Petitions
This consists of ten members nominated by the Committee of Selection.
The duty of this Committee is to consider the petitions sent
by the public and referred to it by the Parliament and to report
back to the Parliament its opinion on the action to be taken
in respect of such petitions. This Committee has the power to
summon before it and question any person, call for and examine
any paper, book, record or other document and to have access
to stores and property.
Procedure of forwarding a petition to the Committee on Public Petitions in accordance with Standing Orders
|S.O. No. 25 A - PETITIONS
|| Every petition to Parliament shall be addressed to Mr. Speaker and shall be presented by a member.
|| Every petition shall be in respectful language and shall not contain irrelevant statements.
|| Every petition shall be clear and legible and shall conclude with a prayer reciting the relief sought.
|| Every petition shall be signed by the petitioner, or petitioners except in case of incapacity by sickness. A person unable to write shall affix his mark in the presence of a witness. The full name and address of every signatory to a petition shall be set out therein.
|| No letters, affidavits or other documents shall be attached to any petition.
|| No reference shall be made in a petition to any debate in Parliament.
|| It shall not be competent for a member to present a petition from himself but the same may be presented by some other member.
|| Every petition shall, before it is presented, be signed at the beginning thereof by the member in charge of it and deposited at least two clear days with the Secretary General who shall submit it to Mr. Speaker for approval and no petition shall be presented until it has been so approved.
||A member presenting a petition shall confine himself to a statement in the following form :-|
Mr. Speaker, I present a petition from ............................... (Name of Petitioner)
of ............................... and ............................... others’
No debate shall be permitted on this statement.
|| A petition having been presented to Parliament shall stand referred to the Committee on Public Petitions.
Committee on High Posts
The Committee on High Posts examines the suitability of persons who have been either appointed to any post or nominated to hold office in any post determined by the Cabinet of Ministers and to make recommendations in regard to such persons. At present the following categories of Officers are examined by the Committee.
1) All Secretaries to Cabinet Ministries
2) All persons proposed to be appointed as Heads of Sri Lanka Missions abroad
3) Chairmen of Boards, Corporations and other State Institutions
When a nomination is received by the Secretary to the Committee the nominee is required to submit his/her bio-data together with a Declaration of Assets and Liabilities in the prescribed form which is now available in the Parliament Website.
The Secretary to the Committee would take steps to publish advertisements in newspapers in all three languages inviting the public to send representations/petitions regarding such appointments if any to the Secretary to the Committee.
The Committee is empowered to report to Parliament from time to time and shall continue its examination although Parliament may be prorogued.
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.