Standing Orders are clear that there cannot be a secret vote for a No-Confidence Motion (NCM), Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of Parliament Neil Iddawala said.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday he said secret votes can be requested only on two occasions as per the Standing Orders, that is when selecting the Speaker and when appointing a President if the position suddenly fell vacant.
Parliament Assistant Director (Administration) Janakantha De Silva pointed out that there had been no instance in Parliament history where a secret vote was taken on a no-confidence motion, and no such provision is provided in the Standing Orders.
He pointed out the last secret vote was taken in April 2004 to elect the Speaker when the names of both W.J.M. Lokubandara and D.E.W. Gunasekara were proposed for the post.
“The sittings went on around 11 pm and three rounds of vote had to be conducted as it was a tie at the previous two occasions,” he recollected.
He pointed out the vote on No-Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister scheduled for April 4 would be taken by name or by row.
The Party Leaders who met yesterday decided not to use the newly installed electronic voting system during the NCM against the PM due to its technical faults experienced in Parliament last Friday.
A special Party Leaders’ Meeting chaired by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya was held at the Parliamentary Complex yesterday to discuss about the NCM.
It was decided at the meeting to revert to the old system of voting till the technical errors of the e-vote system are sorted out. According to the agreement at the Party Leaders’ Meeting, the United National Front will receive 40 percent of the total time allocated for the debate on the NCM, while the UPFA, TNA and JVP will receive 60 percent of the total time.
Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella had pointed out that the person holding the position of Deputy Speaker must act independently as per the Westminster parliamentary tradition, but going against this tradition Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala had made media statements on the NCM. Kiriella had raised concerns over the recent media statements by the Deputy Speaker.
Deputy Minister Ajith P Perera, who took part in the meeting, had stated that the JO’s NCM as printed in the Order Book is not only against Prime Minister Ranil Wicrekremesinghe but also against the Government.
Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, Minister Mano Ganesan, MPs Ravi Karunanayake, Dinesh Gunawardena and Anura Kumara Dissanayake also took part in the meeting.