Tourism Bill [B44-2012]: Final Mandates; Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill: proposal submitted by Mr A Lees (DA)

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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered final mandates from the provinces on the Tourism Bill. Seven provinces had final mandates voting in favour of the Bill. The Western Cape and Mpumalanga did not have their final mandates completed in time. The Committee was in agreement over the Tourism Bill.

Members engaged in a lengthy discussion over a letter which Honourable Mr A Lees (DA, Kwazulu-Natal) had written to Adv M Phindela, the Secretary of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), in which he proposed amendments to the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill. The issue for the Committee was whether to consider the amendments proposed. After much debate, the issue was put to a vote. The majority of the Committee voted in favour of rejecting the letter and in doing so, rejected the proposed amendments that it contained.

The Committee adopted minutes dated the 17 September 2013, unamended.
 

Meeting report

Consideration of the Tourism Bill
The Committee considered final mandates on the on the Tourism Bill [B44D-2012] from the provinces. The Chairperson placed the mandates before the Committee.

Eastern Cape Province:
The Chairperson read out the mandate and stated that the Province voted in favour of the Bill.

Free State Province:
Mr B Mnguni (ANC, Free State) read out the mandate, which was a vote in favour of the Bill.

Gauteng Province:
Ms B Abrahams (DA, Gauteng) read out the mandate, which was a vote in favour of the Bill.

KwaZulu-Natal Province:
The Chairperson read out the mandate, which was a vote in favour of the Bill.

Limpopo Province:
Ms M Dikgale (ANC, Limpopo) read out the mandate, which was a vote in favour of the Bill.

Northern Cape Province:
Mr K Sinclair (COPE, Northern Cape) read out the mandate, which was a vote in favour of the Bill.

North West Province:
The Chairperson read out the mandate and stated that the Province voted in favour of the Bill.

Mpumalanga Province:
Mr A Nyambi (ANC, Mpumalanga) stated that the Province’s final mandate was not yet ready to be submitted to the Committee. He however noted that the Province was in favour of the Bill but would deal with the detail of the final mandate in due course.

Western Cape Province
Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape) stated that the Province did not as yet have a final mandate ready but he had a letter from the provincial legislature.

The Chairperson having tallied the votes in favour of the Bill said that seven provinces had voted in favour of the Bill whilst two provinces had not as yet submitted final mandates. 

The Committee was therefore in agreement with the Tourism Bill.

Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill
The Chairperson stated that a letter had been forwarded to the Committee, which had been written by Honourable Member of Parliament Mr A Lees (DA, KwaZulu-Natal) to the Secretary to the National Council of Provinces, Adv M Phindela, raising alleged concerns on the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill [B 8B - 2010]. He noted that the Committee was open to address concerns raised by Members. Mr Lees, not being a Member of the Committee, should have earlier on in the process given the letter to one of his fellow DA colleagues who were Members of the Committee, so that they could have submitted it to the Committee.

Ms Abrahams wished to read out the contents of the letter and was in the process of commencing.

Mr Nyambi interjected and said that the Committee had to make a decision on what route it was to take regarding the letter. He did not feel it was in order for Ms Abrahams to read Mr Lees’s letter without the Committee having taken a decision over the matter. A decision needed to be taken by the Committee.

The Chairperson asked Ms Shamara Ally, Procedural Officer in the NCOP, what the proper procedure was.

Ms Ally responded that in terms of section 198 of the NCOP rules, Mr Lees was entitled to suggest the amendments and the Committee would then have to decide whether it wished to proceed on it. If the Committee decided to consider the amendments, the legal teams dealing with the Bill could then decide whether the amendments could be included in the Bill or not.

Mr Nyambi said that the issue was not about whether it was right or wrong for Mr Lees to have written the letter. The issue was more about the Committee having to decide to deal with the suggested amendments or not. He was of the view that the Bill could do without the amendments suggested.

Ms Ally suggested that the legal advisers present should pronounce on whether the suggested amendments were constitutional or not and thereafter the Committee could make a decision on it.

Ms Chairmaine van der Merwe, Senior Parliamentary Legal Adviser, stated that the amendments proposed seemed to correct a perceived error in the Bill. It was an error regarding the year printed on the Act after the Bill was passed. The amendment was proposing to change the year on the Act from 2011 to 2010. She explained that a bill was assigned a number in the year it was introduced. Hence the Bill was introduced in 2010 and was a 2010 bill. Once a bill was passed, the date on which it was passed was taken into consideration by the Presidency when it was given a number. It was an administrative issue. In her view it was perceived mistakes being corrected by the amendments. She was of the opinion that the amendments should not be accepted.

Adv Johan Strydom, Legal Adviser in the Department of Trade and Industry, felt it best that he be guided by what the Committee wished to do. He could not recall another bill that had gone through so many parliamentary meetings. It went through fifty meetings. He noted that he and his colleagues had literally reached the point of saturation. Having said this, he would consider the amendments proposed, if asked to do so. He pointed out that Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon Rob Davies, had written a response to the Chairperson of the NCOP in regards to the proposed amendments and the Minister’s stance was very clear. It was now up to the Committee to decide whether to deal with Mr Lees’ letter or not. He noted that the letter had in any case been addressed to the Secretary of Parliament and to the Minister, and not to the Committee. He further pointed out that not a single one of the proposed amendments had motivations attached to them. The Bill had been referred back to Parliament by the President to deal with specific issues. He pointed out that the issues raised by Mr Lees had already been dealt with.

A representative from the State Law Adviser’s Office added that there were technical issues regarding the Bill that could be taken care of.

The Chairperson said that there was nothing wrong with Mr Lees’ letter, procedurally. The Committee needed to make a decision.

Mr Adams said that Members had seen the letter. He did not see any merit in the letter. In his view, the letter was more of a political undercurrent. He proposed that the Committee reject the letter.

Mr Nyambi supported Mr Adams’ proposal.

Ms Abrahams asked on what grounds Mr Lees’s letter was rejected.

The Chairperson said that there was nothing wrong with the letter procedurally.

Mr Sinclair confirmed that the Minister had responded to the letter. But, he was concerned about Mr Adams’ use of the term “political undercurrent”. The letter addressed other issues too, which were fundamental. The issues of “owner” and “author” were two such issues.
He stated that if the text in the Bill was correct then he had no problem. Another fundamental issue was “indigenous knowledge”.

The Chairperson stated that there was a proposal made by Mr Adams that had been seconded by Mr Nyambi. He asked whether there was a second proposal being made by Mr Sinclair to deal with the proposed amendments as contained in Mr Lees’ letter.

Mr Sinclair confirmed that he was making a counter proposal to deal with the issues as contained in the letter.

Ms Abrahams supported Mr Sinclair’s proposal.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee follow procedure. There were now two proposals on the table. The letter from Mr Lees had been addressed to the Secretary of the NCOP. The letter had been forwarded to the Committee for information purposes. He suggested that the Committee vote on the two proposals. There was a majority vote of four Members in favour of Mr Adams’ proposal to reject the letter. There was one vote in favour of Mr Sinclair’s proposal to deal with the proposed amendments. The majority vote by the Committee was thus to reject the letter. In so doing the proposed amendments would not be discussed by the Committee.

Mr Sinclair remarked that in the five years that he had been on the Committee it was the first time the Committee had taken a vote. He was concerned that fundamental issue was not being discussed by the Committee and that later on it could end up in the Constitutional Court.

The Chairperson considered the matter closed.

Ms Ally asked that the Committee vote on the proposed amendments and not the letter itself. She suggested that Members could vote on the proposed amendments as a whole or each one separately. Doing it as a whole would be easier.

Ms Abrahams suggested that the Committee deal with the letter and the amendments separately.

Mr Adams said that the Committee should not be even discussing the proposed amendments as the letter containing them had been rejected as a whole. 

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Adams. The letter was an official document that had been addressed to Adv Phindela. It had been referred to the Committee and had now been officially rejected. Procedurally the Committee was correct.

Minutes
The Committee adopted minutes dated the 17 September 2013, unamended.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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