25 July 2019

BRIEF EXPLAINER: LAPSED BILLS IN PARLIAMENT

There were 39 unfinished bills when the Fifth Parliament ended.

According to National Assembly Rule 333 (2), these bills lapsed automatically when Parliament was dissolved on 7 May 2019

Find a list of lapsed bills here: https://pmg.org.za/blog/BillsActivityFifthParliament

Parliament has the power, in terms of the Constitution, to determine and control its procedures and proceedings. Therefore, any lapsed business may be revived, and this is done by way of a House resolution

It is established practice that the House can revive a bill from the stage it reached before lapsing but this is only in respect of bills that lapsed at the end of an annual session of the Assembly. (See Assembly Rule 333(1))

An example of this is the Political Party Funding Bill https://pmg.org.za/bill/744/

However, the procedure to revive bills that lapsed when Parliament is dissolved is not so clear.

As a result, there has been debate about which House is responsible for reviving a Bill and at which point the Bill is revived https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/28599/

The National Assembly Programming Committee heard on 18 July 2019, from Parliament’s Chief Legal Advisor, that the motion to revive a bill should come from the House in which the bill was introduced – all bills tabled in the Fifth Parliament were introduced in the National Assembly. It was however highlighted that motions to revive a bill should be done with the concurrence of the NCOP.

The NAPC agreed that there is a need for the Rules around lapsing of bills to be explicitly considered to make the process around revival absolutely clear

Regarding Private Members’ Bills, any Member can put forward a motion to revive his/her Private Bill. If the Member who originally introduced the bill is no longer a Member, another MP can propose the motion.

The NAPC agreed that the revival of lapsing Bills could still take place while the Rules are being amended

In a prior NAPC meeting, it was stated that all parties would have the opportunity to comment on bills they would like to see revived. The Executive would have the same opportunity. It was said this would take place in consultation with the Speaker and the Office of the Leader of Government Business – it is the latter that is responsible for prioritizing the legislative programmes of the Executive.

On 23 August 2019, Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Services Office presented a legal opinion on the Lapsing and Revival of Bills and recommended that both Houses continue to follow practice to date, for the sake of consistency. Should a House be of the view that this practice should not be followed, it was further recommended that a record be kept with a rationale for the change in practice.

Since the start of the Sixth Parliament, only the Appropriations Bill has been revived by the end of the First term https://pmg.org.za/bills/current/

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