Compliance with the Law of Ukraine “On the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” during the plenary week June 19-23, 2017

Even though there were no gross violations of the Rules of Procedure during this plenary week, it should be mentioned that the efficiency of the Parliament in the sphere of its lawmaking activity continues to be rather low. Except for that part of its work which relates to putting new draft laws and resolutions on the agenda, which is rather lively, the processing of legislative acts pending consideration cannot be described as successful. Of the 67 legislative acts included in the agenda of the June 19-23 plenary week, only 21 were considered. Of these, three were sent to repeated first reading; one, to repeated second reading; and three were dismissed.

We took note of the following deviations from the provisions of the current Rules of Procedure that had a negative impact on the work of the Verkhovna Rada during this year’s June 19-23 plenary week:

  1. One can say that, firstly, the Conciliation Board has turned into a place for PR statements by representatives of parliamentary factions and groups. Secondly, in most cases MPs other than Petro Poroshenko Bloc representatives presented proposals for the agenda in a rather vague way; eventually, the agenda remained practically unchanged after the meeting of the Conciliation Board. Thirdly, quite strange is the logic used by representatives of parliamentary Committees, who try to introduce additional draft laws directly at the meeting, although Article 73 of the Rules of Procedure requires that they do so four days prior to a CB meeting.
  2. In terms of content, the CB mechanism is taking on a directive character, since the CB has practically been deprived of any real influence on the formation of the Parliament’s weekly agenda. It is even more surprising that members of the Conciliation Board take no measures to change the situation: apparently, they are satisfied with the role of marginal participants assigned to them under the current circumstances.
  3. It makes sense to once again emphasize that the announcement on the website of the VR of Ukraine refers to a meeting of the Conciliation Board of deputy factions (deputy groups) as a meeting of an entity not mentioned in any regulatory acts: Conciliation Board of heads of deputy factions and heads of Committees.
  4. Again, traditionally, none of the factions and groups presented any proposals at the CB meeting regarding the next Hour of Questions to the Government. It may be assumed that this is so because CB members are unaware that they enjoy such a right; otherwise, they would have taken measures to comply with the procedure for conducting the Hour, which is systematically violated. As a result of these violations, this highly important lever for supervising the activities of the Government has been brought to naught; the meetings are conducted in a rather haphazard way, with violation of practically all of the provisions of Articles 229 and 230 of the Rules of Procedure of the Ukrainian VR.
  5. The chairs of the meetings fail to apply the prescribed provisions in connection with the behavior of representatives of some of the factions – in the first place this pertains to MPs speaking on behalf of the Batkivshchyna and Radical Party factions, who focus in their statements almost entirely on political issues of a general nature instead of presenting their views on matters on the Rada’s agenda. The chairs never passed any critical remarks on these speakers; nor did they interrupt such statements, though the Rules of Procedure authorize them to do so.
  6. During the plenary week under review, four draft laws and one draft resolution were discussed according to the complete hearing procedure. However, somehow this made the discussion excessively long. Therefore, it is quite strange that the chairs never resorted to the provision of part 3, Article 32 of the Rules of Procedure, which allows to specify at the beginning of the discussion the overall “time for considering each item on the agenda of a plenary meeting of the Verkhovna Rada … depending on the number of persons that signed up for speaking. Should People’s Deputies object to the proposal made by the chair of a plenary meeting, the Verkhovna Rada shall take a procedural decision on the length of discussion of the item in question.”
  7. There are many violations of the procedure for conducting the Hour of Questions to the Government, which is set out absolutely unambiguously in the parliamentary Rules of Procedure. This practice has been made “traditional” by the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada, with the MPs showing silent agreement with this situation – they seem to be quite satisfied with it (though it is unclear why).

Once again, the list of absent members of the Cabinet of Ministers was not time, the event began with information by a member of the Cabinet about the state of his sector, though such a report is not provided for by the Rules. After that, the Hour went on in a chaotic way, in particular as regards giving MPs the floor for voicing questions. We have drawn up a table presenting the questions from deputy factions and groups under this procedure.

  1. It should be noted that no draft law from factions and groups that are not part of the coalition was put on the agenda. It is quite remarkable, however, that no bills of this sort were introduced. Yet practically all of the draft laws initiated jointly by MPs not belonging to the coalition and MPs that are members of the coalition were placed on the agenda. It is deemed expedient to amend the Rules of Procedure in a way allowing draft laws to be included in the agenda in case of being supported by one third of the VRU’s constitutional composition.
  2. In conclusion, we can only repeat the critical remarks we made when discussing the agenda of the previous plenary week: “this week, similarly to previous weeks, the low throughput capacity of the Parliament resulted not from any kind of arbitrariness on the part of the chairs or obstruction by the MPs but from flaws in the very law on the Rules of Procedure. In the first place, this pertains to the procedure for conducting second reading, when the discussion of proposals and amendments leads to procrastination. It is necessary to consider as fast as possible amendments to the Rules of Procedure, so as to allow the adoption of intermediate decisions by a simple majority of the MPs that took part in the voting, i.e. among those that pressed the buttons.

Secondly, it is necessary to change the procedure for confirming proposals and amendments that were taken into consideration. Implementation of the current procedure results in disregard for the opinion of experts – MPs that are members of the lead Committee. Recently, this practice has been causing substantial deterioration of adopted legislative acts, resulting in the passing of laws on amending recently adopted laws.”

Below we present, as an appendix, a statistical table reflecting the work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine during the session week under review.

Processing of acts by the Verkhovna Rada on June 20, 2017

Type of decision

Draft laws

Resolutions

Holder of legislative initiative

People’s Deputy of Ukraine

President of Ukraine

CMU

People’s Deputy of Ukraine

President of Ukraine

CMU

Included in the agenda

8

1

2

 

 

 

Not included in the agenda

3

     

 

 

First reading: approved as the basis

3

2

 

 

 

 

First reading: returned for repeated first reading

1

1

1

 

 

 

First reading: dismissed

 

1

 

 

 

 

First reading: approved as the basis

3

 

 

 

 

 

First reading: approved as the basis and as a whole

 

 

1

1

 

 

Second reading: returned for repeated second reading

1

 

 

 

 

 

Second reading: dismissed

2

 

 

 

 

 

Second reading: approved as a whole

1

 

1

1

 

 

Total number of processed drafts

21 normative legal acts

Table of questions asked during the Hour of Questions to the Government,
June 23, 2017

Factions

Number of MPs

Percentage of the total number

Number of questions

Percentage of the total number of questions

BPP

140

33.2 %

1

8.3 %

People’s Front

81

19.2 %

2

16.7 %

Opposition Bloc

43

24.1 %

1

8.3 %

Self-Reliance

26

6.2 %

1

8.3 %

Renaissance

26

6.2 %

0

0 %

Radical Party

20

4.7 %

1

8.3 %

Batkivshchyna

20

4.7 %

1

8.3 %

People’s Will

17

4.0 %

1

8.3 %

Unaffiliated

49

27.5 %

4

33.3 %

As can be seen from this Table, the number of questions from factions and groups does not conform to the membership ratio among these groups; moreover, the Renaissance (Vidrodzhennia) group was not provided with the opportunity to ask even a single question.

Alyona Hurkivska,

Volodymyr Kryzhanivskyi