... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: The Members should first go to their seats, then only I will ask the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs to react.

... (Interruptions)

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : The head of the Government, the hon. Prime Minister must answer. The Government is not coming forward with an answer.

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : Sir, the matter of Seattle is not a simple matter. The hon. Prime Minister should come and respond. There is nothing wrong in that. (Interruptions).

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : The Government is not discharging its constitutional duty. (Interruptions).

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: I would request the hon. Members to cooperate. Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav, please help me. I will not ask the Government to react until and unless the Members go to their seats. I am helpless. You are an elder Member of the House. This is most unfortunate.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKR: This is not the way. I am asking the Government to react. Shri Yadav, you will have to ask your Members to go to their seats. I will ask the Government to react. If you are not satisfied then you can raise it again.I am asking the Government. Please ask your Members to go to their seats.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: The Government will react.

SHRI RAJESH PILOT : My point is that the Government should have come on their own. (Interruptions). We have raised the issue. (Interruptiions).

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: I will request the hon. Members to go to their seats. I will ask the Government to react.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: This is not the way. This is most unfortunate. This is `Zero Hour'. Shri Pilot, you know that you are a senior Member. This is `Zero Hour'.

... (Interruptions)

SHRI RAJESH PILOT : I agree. But this is a serious matter. Let them say something. (Interruptions).

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: How can the House be conducted? I am sorry to say this. This is not the way the House is conducted.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: It is `Zero Hour'. They are not expected to be sitting here like this.

... (Interruptions)

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : It may be `Zero Hour', Sir, but if there is information that the country's interests have been compromised, is it not important?...(Interruptions)

SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (BOLPUR): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am sure, everybody in this country, not only in this House, will agree ...(Interruptions)

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THE MINISTER OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS AND MINISTER OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (SHRI PRAMOD MAHAJAN): Sir, the President of Vietnam is in the town. The Prime Minister is busy meeting with them. He cannot come immediately ...(Interruptions). The Prime Minister is meeting him. He cannot leave that diplomatic meeting with the Vietnam President and rush to the House. They must appreciate it...(Interruptions) I can contact him only after his meeting is over. How can I contact him just now when he is busy meeting the Vietnamese President?..(Interruptions) I am surprised why do they not call Shri Kamal Nath and ask him what is happening...(Interruptions)

SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : Sir, this is not the way. When a matter of such greatest historical importance is going to happen to this country, this should not be the attitude. Let him not show red eyes to anybody. The question is, is it a matter of concern for the country as a whole or not? Everybody knows what are the serious implications of WTO. Even the Minister concerned who has gone there, has been meeting people and even trying to get everybody's support for this. We have cooperated. Our Members have gone along with him. But the reports of what is happening there are very disquieting. The Government itself should have responded and come on its own with a statement here at the highest level. But the way the House is being treated shows as if the matter is of no importance to this country. What is the good of having this House then?...(Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: May I have a word on this?

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Will you please hear me also?

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Mulayam Singh, I request you to please resume your seat.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: This is not the way to behave.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Raghuvansh Prasad, I will not allow you like this.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: May I request all leaders to hear me? It is a very serious matter that has been raised. The Minister has already told you.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav, please ask these Members to go to their seats.

... (Interruptions)

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SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : Sir, let this House be adjourned ...(Interruptions).

SHRI ANIL BASU (ARAMBAGH): Sir, let the House be adjourned till the Prime Minister comes here.

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : Sir, the Congress Party will like to make it very clear that this matter has been very widely reported today by a number of news media, followed by the latest information on what is going on in Seattle. The Members have taken up this issue in the House considering the interest and importance of the basic interests of the nation itself, not only on the economic front but on various other things related to the Seattle Conference.

When the issues were taken up in all seriousness by almost all the leaders of all the political parties here, excepting the Government, the propriety demands that the Government should have come out earlier with a statement. However, since the hon. Prime Minister is busy in his meeting with the Vietnam Prime Minister, we do not want that he should come out from the meeting. But his aides could have informed him and told us what time he will be available to come to the House and to make a statement taking the House into confidence. There was nothing wrong in it. I do not know why the Government is delaying these simple matters. ...(Interruptions) If the Government is not serious to respond to the issue by the hon. Prime Minister, it means something is going very wrong. ...(Interruptions) How can the Parliament keep quiet on it? ...(Interruptions)

SHRIMATI GEETA MUKHERJEE (PANSKURA): Sir, how is it that the hon. Minister is not aware of it? All over the world, everybody knows what is happening. We have to take up this issue. ...(Interruptions)

SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : Sir, let the House be adjourned till the hon. Prime Minister comes.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : Sir, when India has agreed to some proposal, is it not the duty of the Government to take the House into confidence? Otherwise why should the Parliament function without the Government? ...(Interruptions) Let the hon. Prime Minister come and answer. It has appeared in the Press. We came to know only through the Press. ...(Interruptions)

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL (HOOGLY): Sir, this is a very serious matter. Let the hon. Prime Minister come here. The Government cannot take the House for granted. ...(Interruptions)

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : This is an important matter with international ramifications. ...(Interruptions)

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : The House cannot be taken for granted. ...(Interruptions)

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : The Government cannot take the House for a ride.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : Sir, let the hon. Prime Minister come and clarify the position as to whether what has come out in the Press is true or not and how our national interest is going to be protected at Seattle. ...(Interruptions)

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : Sir, let the hon. Minister say that the hon. Prime Minister will come and make a statement. ...(Interruptions)

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : Sir, the Parliament is not in the ambit of the Executive. The Executive should submit to the House. ...(Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : Can the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs say something?

SHRI PRAMOD MAHAJAN: Sir, I will contact the hon. Prime Minister as soon as he comes out of the meeting and inform the House. What can I say at this juncture? ...(Interruptions)

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : Sir, this is a matter of prime importance. The hon. Prime Minister should come and tell us as to what he is doing.

SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : Sir, let the House be adjourned till he comes.

SHRI RUPCHAND PAL : The Prime Minister should come and clarify the position of the Government.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : Sir, the hon. Prime Minister has taken an oath. He should come here. ...(Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: The House is adjourned to meet again at 2 p.m.

12.47 hrs

The Lok Sabha then adjourned till Fourteen of the Clock.

14.03 hrs

The Lok Sabha re-assembled at three minutes

past Fourteen of the Clock.

(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)

SHRI TARIT BARAN TOPDAR (BARRACKPORE): Sir, there is no one in the Treasury Benches.

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs is there.

SHRI BASU DEB ACHARIA : Sir, before the House was adjourned, we raised the issue of Seattle - what happened there, what information has been sent to the Government, what has appeared in the Press - and we all, from all the Opposition Parties, demanded that the Prime Minister should come and inform this House. As this is a very serious matter, the information which is there with the Government of India should be shared with us. We demand so because it concerns the interest of our country and we do not want that the Government of India should surrender before the United States of America. Certain disturbing news items have appeared in the newspaper and we want that the House should be informed about this and the House should be taken into confidence as this concerns millions and millions of people of our country.

So, the Prime Minister should come and inform this House as to what has happened there, whether the Government of India has accepted certain conditions which are imposed by the United States of America, what are those conditions and what are those matters. This House should be informed about it.

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SHRI S. JAIPAL REDDY : Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the forenoon, apart from raising general questions relating to Seattle Round, we referred to informal clandestine understanding reached between the Government of India and the United States.

SHRI PRAMOD MAHAJAN: It was `reported' in that way. Please do not take the responsibility for that news item.

SHRI S. JAIPAL REDDY : I am prepared to take reasonable kind of responsibility for that fairly reliable report. That report quoted the US officials, and the items on which the Government of India agreed to relate fortuitously, though not fortunately, to the portfolio which is held by my good friend, Shri Pramod Mahajan. The Government of India agreed to zero tariff on electronic-commerce, and agreed to ratify information technology agreement too. You have agreed to all these, even before the Convention was formally inaugurated, without getting anything in return.

The understanding among all the political parties, when the Government did consult the political parties, was that the Government of India's priority would be to raise the question relating to implementational difficulties arising from Uruguay Round itself, and the Uruguay Round itself mandates that the patent regime should be reviewed by 2,000. So, why are we not taking advantage of this millennial Round, and why are we trying to concede on agriculture and other things? My friend, Shri Pramod Mahajan, would say: "How do you know all this? The Convention has not been started."

SHRI PRAMOD MAHAJAN: Actually, you are making my speech also.

SHRI S. JAIPAL REDDY : Let me have the privilege of anticipating and pre-empting your speech, dear Sir. In all these international negotiations, there are bilateral negotiations that go on between Governments. Let us not forget, the mightiest man in the world, Mr. Bill Clinton, he may be a lame-duck President of the USA, but he is sitting right in Seattle breathing down the neck of every country.

MR. SPEAKER: Shri Jaipal Reddy, please conclude now.

SHRI S. JAIPAL REDDY : Therefore, there is a need for the Government to come forward and say that no agreement, formal or informal or open or clandestine, has been reached.

Shri Murasoli Maran was asked by the journalists of Star TV last night whether India was trying to assume the leadership of the developing countries. He could not give an assurance. I heard him on Star TV and the journalists of Star TV further asked him whether Shri Murasoli Maran would succeed in delinking trade from such issues as environment and labour. He was not able to give an assurance. I also heard the BBC and spokepersons from Britain and America. They were very insistent on these things. We really do not know what is happening there. We have faith in this Government but not in the will of the Government. What is required is will and commitment.

SHRI VARKALA RADHAKRISHNAN : Sir, I have given notice. I may be allowed.

MR. SPEAKER: No, no. This is not `Zero Hour'.

Yes, Shri Dasmunshi.

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : Mr. Speaker, Sir, you would kindly recall that in the first Leaders' meeting convened by you, I, on behalf of my Party proposed to the hon. Prime Minister that since the Seattle agenda is on, let the Government come out with their viewpoints as to what business they would like to transact and what should be the stand of the Government. Rightly or wrongly, the last Session of Parliament continued for a shorter period. The Government perhaps thought that that was not the appropriate time and they would make their viewpoints known at the time of the departure of the delegation.

Sir, the delegation left before the 29th of November, 1999 and this Session of Parliament commenced from the 29th of November. Right after the departure of the delegation, in the media -- not only in the Indian media but in a number of major Asian news media as well -- it has been reported that controversial issues have come up in WTO. It has been reported, quoting US officials, that before we approached the Seattle, some kind of understanding had been reached and arrangements were made with the United States on areas of agricultural tariff regime. It has caused a serious kind of apprehension and tension in the minds of the Indian farming community about their future.

Sir, secondly, it has further been reported that over and above the agenda of the Uruguay round of talks which was concluded as the first and final agenda of the GATT negotiations, converted into a WTO arrangement, more new chapters are being planned and propagated by the US Trade Department which is being monitored and piloted by no less a person than His Excellency Mr. Bill Clinton. Individual nations were brought into the net and they got from them an oral assurance or made some other arrangement to placate those things against the respective interests of the developing world.

MR. SPEAKER: Shri Dasmunshi, the Chair is this side and not that side. You are not addressing the Chair.

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : Sir, I am addressing you only.

MR. SPEAKER: No, you are not addressing the Chair.

SHRI S. JAIPAL REDDY : Sir, whichever side he may sit, he is addressing you only.

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI : Sir, this House has genuine reason for concern on the report which was published today, specially in The Hindu.

All these reporters who are publishing these reports are not useless people. They are very competent people. They keep track of all the proceedings of the WTO including the proceedings at the Seattle. Further, this morning it was reported that not only in Seattle, even in the United States, huge demonstrations are going on against the new agenda and the new kind of arrangements which are against the consent of the respective nations. The result of it has been so bad that the host authorities at Seattle had to impose Civil Emergency and curfew in the entire city and even the Ministers had difficulties in entering the venue.