Knesset Speaker Kadish Luz:
|Prime Minister David Ben Gurion plants|
trees with children on Tu Bishvat, 1963
Members of the Knesset. In the traditional speech of the Speaker given in honor of the Knesset’s anniversary, I would like to focus the discussion on the Knesset’s budget, within a limited framework and noninvolvement in the differences of opinion. One of the speakers suggested that in the future, to arrange a debate on this subject in the sitting before the Tubishvat party, and to allot more time for it. I second that suggestion. This day is also an appropriate time to discuss the budget of the President and his office, for Chaim Weizmann was elected as the first President of the State on today’s date, the 17th of Shvat. Today is the fourteenth year that the institute of Presidency exists in the State of Israel. I would like to use this opportunity and express my feelings of admiration towards the President and his noble and hearty manner in his fulfilling his duties, and I extend greetings for good health to him and his household members.
As I have said, I will not interfere with the differences of opinion that were raised in concern with the Knesset Rules of Procedure. I would like to deal with a phenomenon that may serve as an obstacle to the work of the Knesset, which is the contradiction between the customs that have evolved, and the principles in the Knesset Rules of Procedure.
I will bring into several examples:
After the Knesset Rules of Procedure details the areas of concern of each of the permanent committees, it defines the duties of the committees in the following way:
"(A) The duties of a permanent committee within its jurisdiction are: Consideration of bills, regulations that have been made, petitions by inhabitants submitted to the Knesset, or that have been submitted to the Government and were referred to the Knesset for consideration and drawing of conclusions, and any other matter referred to the committee for its consideration by the Knesset.
(B) The Committee is entitled to call upon the Minister concerned for explanations and information on an issue referred to it, or which falls within its jurisdiction, and the Minister, in person or by means of his representative, is obliged to give the requested explanations or information."
Having said that, according to the Knesset Rules of Procedure, a committee is only authorized to discuss issues (bills, petitions by inhabitants and other matters) that have been referred to it by the Knesset, and on those matters it is authorized to demand explanations and information from the ministers. The Rules of Procedure do not acknowledge debates that a committee holds on its own initiative, and do not acknowledge its authority to demand explanations on matters beyond those specified. That same article does not acknowledge the Knesset committees’ ability to initiate legislation. The chapter on legislation also mentions only two kinds of bills: 1) Government Bills; 2) Private Members’ Bills; it does not acknowledge committee bills. On the other hand, in accordance with the custom, committees initiate discussion, require explanations and information from ministers, and initiate legislation (the Finance Committee – State Comptroller Law; House Committee – laws relating to salary and immunity).
A second example – article 30 determines:
"(A) Motions for the agenda for biweekly sittings will be submitted by the member of Knesset in writing to the speaker of the Knesset, and approved by him. (B) The speaker and the deputy speakers shall determine the agenda for the biweekly sittings, taking into account the order in which the motions were approved."
In spite of that, the adopted custom is that the motions for the biweekly sittings are discussed without taking into account the order of their presentation, and neither the Speaker or his deputies determine which motions will be debated, for the parliamentary groups choose those desired by them, and the Speaker and his deputies only organize them for allowing each parliamentary group to raise one or two motions. This allocation is not required in any way by the Rules of Procedure.
|The Knesset's birthday party and celebrating |
Tu Bishvat, February 11, 1963
A serious deviation from the Rules of Procedure in matters of importance, such as the roles of the committees or the order of presentation for motion for the agenda, and the implicit acceptance of the deviation – these might cause the Rules of Procedure to become nullified. There are times that a unintentional deviation from the Rules of Procedure is committed two or three times by the Speaker, and then they become entrenched as strict custom.
I must note here that upon my becoming speaker, I have studied the Rules of Procedure and immediately noticed the contradictions between the rules and the conduct. I have asked those who preceded me who dealt with issues connected to the duties of the Speaker, and I have been told that there is no possibility to uproot those customs which have taken root.
It should not be understood that I demand to return to the written rules in the cases where custom has taken over according to the will of the Knesset members. However, in those cases, I think that we should adapt the Rules of Procedure to the prevailing custom, and not keep the Rules as they are while conducting ourselves in a different manner. Each case of contradiction should be examined immediately in order to adjust the rules to follow our conduct, or to decide to change our conduct and return to the written rule.
I will not tire the Knesset with further examples and other matters of the Rules of Procedure that are in need of adjustment. I have appointed the House Committee to attend to it. As in any other field, the Rules of Procedure are in need for constant care and treatment, or it will grow wild weeds that must be uprooted.
As Member of Knesset Zadok said, as well as the chairperson of the Finance Committee, this year we witnessed great progress in the discussions over the State Budget and the regularity of ministers answering parliamentary questions. We are now in the midst of the winter session. Its first half was fairly efficient, and a new arrangement on the budgetary discussion will enable the budget’s approval before the end of the fiscal year.
We shall wish the Knesset – its members and employees – fruitful work and good health.
Members of the Knesset, you are invited to a party for the 15th of Shvat at 21:00.
The next sitting is tomorrow at 16:00. This meeting is adjourned.
This material is an unofficial translation of
the "Divrei Haknesset" minutes.