Report of Task Team on Legislation on Legislation Process; Reviewing the Legislation Process; Consideration of Attendance/ Leave Policy for Members of Parliament

Joint Rules

08 May 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Sisulu (ANC)(Speaker of NA), Mr M Mahlangu (ANC) (Chairperson of NCOP)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to hear the progress made on the Recommendations of the Independent Assessment Panel which Parliament had adopted. It considered the Report of the Task Team on Legislative Process: Reviewing the Legislative Process (Annexure 2 and Annexure 3). There was a consideration of the Draft Attendance/Leave Policy for Members of Parliament in terms of Annexure 3.

In terms of the progress made on the Recommendations of the Independent Assessment Panel which Parliament had adopted Mr C Frolick (ANC) explained the background of the recommendations which were implemented as projects of the strategic plan of the 4th Parliament. A Task Team had been appointed to oversee the implementation a mechanism for the scrutiny of delegated legislation.

he JRC tasked its Rules Task Team to draft interim rules to guide the scrutiny mechanism. The scrutiny mechanism adopted would be an Interim Joint Committee whose establishment must be adopted by both Houses.

Members briefly discussed the Attendance/Leave Policy for Members of Parliament. The process had started from the first Parliament but had not been finalised. Members complained that the discussion document on this matter was long overdue it needed to become policy so that Parliament could engage on it.

Meeting report

Mr Sisulu read out few apologies from various Members who were not present in the meeting. Thereafter, he tabled the agenda for the meeting, which was accepted by all Members present.

Matters Arising
Ms S Kaylan (DA) asked for the progress made with regards to the Joint Committee Report on HIV/AIDS.

Mr C Frolick (ANC), National Assembly (NA) House Chairperson, replied there was a dedicated Committee that had been established to deal with this matter. That committee had a programme and would meet on Fridays. The first meeting was scheduled to take place on 4 May 2012, but due to the non-availability of Chairpersons the meeting could not proceed. The schedule of that committee would be distributed so that all political parties are aware of what was being done.
Mr Frolick informed Members that the Joint Rules Committee had instructed the Interim Committee on the Review of Delegated Legislation to proceed without the delegates of the smaller parties. That committee was proceeding with its work and an orientation session would be held for Members who were serving on that Committee so that they understand the scope of the work. The Joint Rules Committee would keep a very close eye because it seemed it would be a busy Committee.
Ms Kaylan asked for clarity on whether the Joint Committee on HIV/AIDS held a meeting to choose its chairperson.

Mr Frolick responded that that meeting was supposed to have taken place on 4 May 2012, but it would take place that coming Friday and the proposed programme would also be adopted.

Mr Sisulu noted that the other matter was the establishment of the Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation (JCSDL).
Mr Frolick replied that he had referred to this issue earlier. That Committee was proceeding and had elected its co-chairpersons on 2 May 2012. The JCSDL had been waiting on smaller parties to make representation but in line with the decision of the Joint Rules Committee it was proceeding with its work and orientation had been planned for Members to understand the scope of work and objectives of that Committee.

Report on progress made on Implementation of Recommendations of the Independent Panel
Mr Frolick noted that the JRC accepted that the recommendations be implemented by way of projects as incorporated in the 4th Parliament’s approved strategic plan and others were referred to political parties for further processing and reporting.

Mr Frolick noted that that the report sought to provide the JRC about the progress that had been made in implementing those recommendations. One of the projects which had been designed was the development of a mechanism for the scrutiny of delegated legislation.

Report of the Joint Task Team on the Legislative Process
Mr Frolick noted the report came from within Parliament. The JRC had agreed last year that the report would be referred to the respective Houses for consideration. There were several common issues raised in this report and the one developed by the Independent Panel.
Mr Frolick noted that the report governed areas such as stages in the legislative process, language requirements for Bills, tagging of bills, legal advisory services, public participation, etc. This document was formulated in 2008 and there had been a lot of movement in the legislative process in terms of both Parliament and Constitutional Court rules from 2008 to 2012.

Adv T Masutha (ANC) noted that there was general agreement in the whole aspect of the document and were only waiting for the green light to actualise that process.

Mr B Skosana (IFP) noted that it was not the first time he had viewed this document. It was not only about rules and amendments it touched on number of issues which impacted on processes of empowering Members of Parliament about the whole legislative process from where it began to where it ended. The document specified who developed a bill in the whole process, but it fell short to realise the aspiration of ordinary people because it had to emanate from the people themselves. He suggested that it should be considered as a working document and that there should be a one day workshop to analyse some of the rules that were being recommended in that document.

The Committee agreed that it should have a one day workshop before the adoption the document.

Consideration of the Draft Attendance/Leave Policy for Members of Parliament (Annexure 3)
Adv Masutha noted that the idea for an Attendance/Leave Policy for Members of Parliament started off as a need for Parliament to develop a policy on leave for Members. There was recognition that there should be an Attendance Policy in which the institution set minimum standards and created obligations on Members on attendance of parliamentary business. The leave policy should be left to individual political parties but this should be consistent with the policy framework of Parliament.
Adv Masutha noted that while the leave policy was still under consideration at the political level, an investigation was currently underway to identify an electronic system which could best meet the needs of Parliament for leave and attendance monitoring to be installed in all venues. It had been reported that a system installed in the revamped NCOP chamber was also being looked at for that purpose. However, the procedures to utilise the system for various parliamentary activities such as plenary and committee meetings would be developed once the leave policy had been passed.

Mr Sisulu asked when this would become an actual policy for discussion by Parliament because the document had been discussed since the first Parliament. What was holding up the process for it to becoming a policy.

Mr W Doman (DA) proposed that there should be further discussion on the document in the Chief Whip’s Forum because there were proposals that needed to be added political parties but in the next meeting of the JRC there should be finalisation of that process since there were too many discussions and referrals on that document which had gone back and forth.

Mr Sisulu agreed that at the next meeting of the JRC there should be a finalisation of the process because it was quite embarrassing that there was no policy for leave for Members of Parliament.

The Committee supported this view.
Minutes of the 15 March 2012
The Committee adopted the minutes.

The meeting was adjourned.


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