Hour of Questions to the Government, June 9, 2017

Index of Effectiveness of the Hour of Questions to the Government of Ukraine

Hour of Questions to the Government, June 9, 2017

  1. Number of Government members.

Over and over again, the provision of part one, Article 230 of the Verkhovna Rada Rules of Procedure was violated, namely, the chair failed to announce the names of Government members not attending the parliamentary meeting; moreover, no explanation of the reasons for their absence was given, contrary to the requirement of the said provision of the Rules of Procedure. However, one can clearly conclude from the answers to MPs’ questions that the meeting was not attended by the Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs.

The Hour of Questions to the Government was attended by the Prime Minister of Ukraine.

  1. Critical remarks on the procedure of conducting the Hour of Questions.
  1. Yet again, just like before the previous Hours of Questions to the Government, the topic for the Hour of Questions was not discussed during the meeting of the Conciliation Board on June 6, 2017. Meanwhile, part three of Article 229 of the VRU Rules of Procedure provides that “on each week allocated for plenary meetings of the Verkhovna Rada, deputy factions (deputy groups) shall present to the Conciliation Board their proposals for the topic of the Hour of Questions to the Government.” The chair of the meeting of this working body of the Parliament failed to ask the participants to do this during the meeting.
  2. From the very beginning of this statutory event, one could observe practically total deviation from the provisions of Articles 229 and 230 of the Rules of Procedure. However, the chair did not use the provision of Article 50 of the said Rules of Procedure on ad hoc deviation from procedures set forth by the Rules. Instead, he announced a procedure that was not provided for in any way: hearing information from two members of the Cabinet of Ministers. That extra-procedural action took 31 minutes, amounting to 44 percent of the Hour of Questions, which lasted for a total of 70 minutes.
  3. At the beginning of the meeting, the chair announced in particular that 30 minutes would be allotted to written questions from MPs, though the Rules of Procedure set out a different form for conducting part one of the Hour of Questions, namely, “up to 30 minutes for questions from deputy factions (deputy groups) to members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and answers thereto.” Moreover, after hearing the reports by Mr. Zubko and Mrs. Hrynevych, the chair emphasized that the questions would be asked by MPs rather than by factions. He did so, even though part four of Article 230 provides for the opposite: “The Hour of Questions to the Government shall begin with oral or written questions to members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine from representatives of deputy factions (deputy groups).”
  4. The right of factions and groups to equal representation in the procedure of conducting the Hour of Questions was not implemented. This is the right provided for by part three of Article 230 of the Rules of Procedure: “Each deputy faction (deputy group) shall be guaranteed the right to one oral or one written question to members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.” Below we present the statistics for the factions whose representatives asked questions during this statutory event:
  • Unaffiliated      – 4;
  • BPP                 – 1;
  • NF                   – 5;
  • Batkivshchyna – 1;
  • RP                    – 1.

Thus, we can see that neither the factions of the Opposition Bloc and of Samopomich nor the groups Volia Narodu and Vidrodzhennia asked a single question. In view of that statistical data, can one talk of taking into account and ensuring the interests of opposition forces? This shows that provision of part six, Article 230 of the Rules of Procedure was disregarded: “Within the timeframe allotted for questions to members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, representatives of deputy factions (deputy groups) shall be provided with an equal opportunity for asking the same number of oral questions or for announcing written questions.”

In this connection, we would like to emphasize that questions were most often asked by the Narodnyi Front faction (42%, while it accounts for just 19% of the total number of MPs), while the Chairman of the VRU was elected to the Parliament from this party’s electoral list.

  1. Certainly, that violation of procedures specified by the Rules was bound to give a haphazard character to the Hour of Questions under review, which was conducted on June 9, 2017. Therefore, one more provision was violated, the one stated in the first sentence of part three of Article 229: “During the conduct of the Hour of Questions to the Government, only questions falling within the specified topic can be raised.” But how can one demand that this provision be complied with if the chair failed to announce at the beginning of the meeting the topic chosen to be discussed?
  2. Such a style of conducting this important event, which was undoubtedly designed to be a very efficient tool in the system of fulfillment by the Parliament of its constitutional supervisory function, leads to considerable reduction in the effectiveness of the Hours of Questions to the Government.

Estimates:        for organizing and conducting the Hour – 2 points (unsatisfactory) on a five-point evaluation scale;      
for information richness – 3 points (fair)

Alyona Hurkivska, Volodymyr Kryzhanivskyi