Fourth Draft of Bill: deliberations

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


19 February 2002

Chairperson: Mr P.R. Mokaba

Documents handed out:
Fourth Draft on Powers and Immunities of Parliament & Provinicial Legislatures Bill

The meeting began by considering what stance the Committee should take with regard to the proposed options and amendments to certain clauses in the Bill. However it was suggested by the Parliamentary Law Adviser that already too much has been discussed and debated with none of the proposed optional changes placed on paper. The Committee agreed that a fifth draft be drawn up with the proposed amendments and options incorporated. The Committee will next meet on 1 March. It was noted that the NCOP should attend these deliberations particularly their relevance to the powers and privileges of provincial legislatures.

Mr E Palmer (Parliamentary Law Adviser) advised that that Mr Meyer (now retired as Parliamentary Law Adviser) cannot be replaced as drafter of this Bill as his expertise is invaluable. He advised that Mr Meyer is available for another month or so to assist with the Bill even if it means his not being paid. Mr Palmer noted that the numerous proposals for amendments to the fourth draft of the Bill by the Committee made the draft difficult to read and understand. He suggested that it would be better to have a policy decision on what changes are being proposed and re-draft them into a fifth draft which could then be presented to the National Council of Provinces.

The Chairperson remarked that at this meeting the Committee had expected to look at the wording proposed for inclusion as well as reconsidering the options discussed previously.

Mr Elgin (DP) suggested that it would be difficult for another Law Adviser to take over. The Committee had gone through the fourth draft and what was needed was a working draft incorporating the suggestions made to date.

Mr Palmer pointed out that to date there has been no quorum to make decisions and reach finalisation on the options presented to the Committee.

Mr Mahlangu (ANC) said that Mr Meyer's further assistance would be of great help to ensure that the work of this Committee be completed, even if it means that he is paid for another month. It was now time to project everything discussed into writing. He suggested that the Committee agree on the flagged issues so when the Committee reconvenes only a few outstanding issues are raised for discussion.

Mr Schmidt (DP) agreed that a further draft is needed with all the proposed options listed.

Mr Elgin (DP) suggested that the problem was that the powers and privileges were already stated in the Constitution. What this Committee is dealing with is additional powers and priveleges and not the powers and privileges as stated in the Constitution. In the first draft of the Bill, phrase from the Constitution had been copied verbatim. He suggested that the constitutional provisions included in the Bill must be identified and stated as such, and to that one must add on the additions. Mr Meyer had already agreed to this proposal. Mr Eglin gave the example of Clause 6: Freedom of speech and proceedings in legislature. Clause 6(1) has the phrase "of the Constitution", and other clauses taken from the Constitution should be identified as such. He was opposed to legislation not making reference to the Constitution.

Mr Schmidt (DP) complained that the Committee should be presented with the exact wording of the optional clauses in order to be able to debate their desirability. He gave the example of Option (a) of Clause 16 which is too vague. Rather than having vague statements about the intention of the option, one should have concrete options on paper in the fifth draft.

The Chairperson asked the Committee if the options should be made concrete.

Using Clause 16 as an example, Mr Hendrickse (ANC) said the following questions should be posed by the Committee:
- Do we want to make provision for this clause?
- Do we need to change this provision?
- What are the options?

Mr Schmidt (DP) suggested that it might prevent another round of debate if the Committee is presented with something concrete on paper.

The Chairperson noted that the following issues have been agreed to:
(1) Clauses taken from the Constitution for insertion into the Bill, reference should be made that the clause comes from the Constitution;
(2) The manner in which options are to be dealt with;
(3) The issue of disciplinary mechanisms discussed at the previous meeting needs to be reconciled in the Bill.

Mr Palmer asked where the correct place for the insertion of the disciplinary procedures should be? Section 57 of the Constitution was broad enough and spelled out the disciplinary procedures which also makes provision for the suspension of unruly members. This impacts on the freedom of speech provision in the fourth draft.

Mr Elgin also referrred to Section 58 of the Constitution.

The Chairperson raised the issue of payment of subsistence fees and said that they need to look at the phraseology of other legislation and see how it impacts on this Bill.

The Chairperson said that if there should be need for cross-referencing, it should be done. This Bill must be reconciled with all other legislation such as the Promotion of Access to Information Act. He also raised the issue of the Powers and Privileges Acts of Provinces and what similarities and differences they share with this Bill. He noted that the NCOP would like to discuss the complete bill with the Committee once it has finalised deliberations.

Mr Elgin stated that he is concerned about the relationship with provinces and he wondered why the NCOP is not attending the meetings. In fairness they should be fully aware of the Committee's deliberations and there should be integration of the work with the National Assembly and the NCOP.

The Chairperson said that he will enquire about this. However, the Committee's investigation into the powers and privileges of provincial legislatures should continue so that when the Committee meets again, all relevant issues have been considered.

Mr Cassim (IFP) raised the issue of the Character of Public Representatives, noting that there was an article in the Speaker's boardroom pertaining to this subject and they should enquire if this is relevant to the Bill.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting until 1 March in order for a fifth draft of the Bill to be finalised.


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