The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had completed its work on the Protection of Information Bill on 29 November 2012. The NCOP had proposed several amendments before the Bill was sent back to the National Assembly for review on 26 February 2013. The House had passed a resolution constituting the Ad Hoc Committee with the same composition and powers it had in the beginning of the process. The Committee was therefore instructed by the National Assembly to consider the Bill in terms of rule 271 and to report to the House by no later than 20 June 2013. The purpose of the meeting was therefore to approve the Committee Programme.
Members debated when to hold their next meeting, whether the meetings from this Committee should prioitise their other meetings and Rule 270 of the National Assembly Rules.
The Committee agreed to adopt the report and meet the next day.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson stated that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had completed its work on the Protection of Information Bill on 29 November 2012. The NCOP had proposed several amendments before the Bill was sent back to the National Assembly for review on 26 February 2013. The House had passed a resolution constituting the Ad Hoc Committee with the same composition and powers it had in the beginning of the process. The Committee was therefore instructed by the National Assembly to consider the Bill in terms of rule 271 and to report to the House by no later than 20 June 2013. The purpose of the meeting was therefore to approve the Committee programme, which was not going to be a quick and simple process; Members would therefore even find themselves working during odd hours. He also pointed out that the programme was also important for the Committee to be able to hire a venue for meetings.
Consideration of Committee Programme
Ms M Smuts (DA) questioned whether such a high number of meetings was necessary, because the quality of the work of the NCOP was questionable. Some limitations with considering the programme were that under Rule 270(2)(b) the National Assembly (NA) the Committee “may not propose any amendment which is not strictly relevant either to the Council’s rejection of the bill or to the amendments proposed by it”. She asked that the President refer the Bill back to the NA.
Mr M Sonto (ANC) raised a point of order against Ms Smuts arguing that the matters that were being raised were not relevant for the current meeting.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Sonto and informed Ms Smuts that there would be another opportunity for Members to raise such concerns. Members were then asked to deal with the Committee Programme before them.
Mr L Landers (ANC) stressed that consensus on the Committee Programme was important, seeing that there could be no meetings if there was no agreement on it. However he proposed that the Committee accept the programme as it was and no further adjustments be made to it.
Ms Smuts replied that the Committee was scheduled to sit with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on 26 March, but the Portfolio Committee on Justice was also scheduled to meet on that day.
Mr Landers agreed with Ms Smuts that the Committee meeting scheduled for 26 March had to be reconsidered.
The Chairperson asked whether there were any objections to meeting the following day, Thursday 14 March.
Mr M Oriani-Ambrosini (IFP) objected to the proposal and stated that he would not be available and argued that he was not in favour of meeting while the House was in session.
The Chairperson asked whether Members were available on Friday, 15 March instead.
Mr Oriani-Ambrosini replied that he had a meeting to that day and was not available.
The Chairperson responded that there were bound to be discussions about the availability of all Members and that it was expected that not everyone would be able to attend.
Mr D Maynier (DA) argued that these meetings were arranged at short notice and that it would be difficult to reprioritise meetings which had been scheduled long in advance.
Prof L Ndabandaba (ANC) stated that on Fridays the other committee he served in held their meetings and would not be available.
Mr Sonto argued that the Committee would not reach maximum consensus on which dates would suite all Members. Members should therefore try to reprioritise their schedules so that progress could be made.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) stated that a letter was sent through to the Chairpersons’ office indicating which dates she would be available for meetings. The Portfolio Committee for Police’s meeting schedule was very tight and could not be changed.
Mr Sonto proposed that Members adopt the programme and apologies be accepted for Members who would not be able to attend some meetings.
The Chairperson argued that Members try to avail themselves for the meeting on Thursday, 14 March as the meeting would give a clear indication of which meeting members were available for in the programme. The parliamentary legal advisor will present his opinion on rule 270 to the Committee the next day. A proposal was made that Members meet the whole day the next day.
Ms H Mgabadeli (ANC) supported the Chairpersons’ proposal that the Committee meet the following day, Thursday 14 March
The Chairperson ruled that the Committee would meet on 14 March. He argued that there was understanding between Committee Chairpersons’ that matters concerning legislation took priority over other meetings. A second proposal was that the Committee also meet on Friday, 15 March.
Mr Oriani-Ambrosini stated that he would not be available for the meeting.
The Chairperson ruled that there would be meetings on Thursday 14 March and Friday 15 March. Clarity on the way forward on the programme would then be reached in these meetings.
The Committee agreed to adopt the report.
The meeting was adjourned.
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