‘None other than family, staff should accompany MP on official tour’

Rajya Sabha MPs taking any other person than spouses, family members or staff on official tours by Parliamentary Committees will face the music.

The Upper House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has now issued fresh instructions to the MPs by revising the norms for taking spouse or companion by MPs on Parliamentary committee tours. If an MP violates the direction, he stands the chance of being debarred from undertaking any future tours organised by the committees.

The existing ‘Directions by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha under the Rules of Procedures of and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha’ allows the MP to take “any other person” on tour in exceptional situations if his spouse is not able to accompany him. For this, the prior permission of the Chairman should be obtained through the chief of the concerned Parliamentary panel.

Naidu has now revised this direction to allow only family members or one of the persons engaged for obtaining secretarial assistance whose name has been intimated to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to accompany the MPs during such tours.

As per procedure, no member is allowed to take anyone during official tours but an exception is given on medical grounds that his or her spouse can accompany.

“The companion/attendant should strictly be a family member, which includes his/her son, daughter, brother or sister only, or any one of the persons engaged by the Member for obtaining secretarial assistance, whose name has been intimated to the Secretariat by the Member. In case of an unmarried or widow or widower Member or a Member without any issue, a family member may also include his/her parents or brother/sister and their children,” the latest direction said.

However, the MPs will have to bear all expenses, including lodging and transport, of the person accompanying him. Also, they would lose opportunity to be part of official tours in the future if they take a companion without prior permission.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 18, 2018)

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