Committee Programme

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Meeting report

PRIVATE MEMBERS LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL AND SPECIAL PETITIONS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 February 2003
COMMITTEE PROGRAMME

Chairperson:
Mr PC Hendrickse (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Bell's Memorandum to amend the Medical Schemes Act
Gibson's Memorandum to amend Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act
Mr Tony Leon's Pardon Investigation Procedure Bill
IDASA comment on Regulation of Private Funding to Political Parties (Appendix 1)
Minister of Justice comment on Pardon Investigation Procedure Bill (Appendix 2)
Proposed Committee Budget (e-mail
info@pmg.org.za for the document)
Information on Australian Legislation and Private Members Bill (e-mail
info@pmg.org.za).
Petitioning Parliament in New Zealand
Info on Australian Parliament: House of Representatives
Info on Australia Parliament: Senate Committees
Information on Australian Parliament:
Information on New Zealand Palriament


SUMMARY
The Committee Programme for this session was finalised:
05 March 2003:
Feedback on proposed legislation amendment to Patents Amendment Act by Ms Kalyan. Submission by Ms Semple on an amendment to the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from an Unlawful Occupation Land Act.
19 March 2003: Deliberation on Kalyan's Patents Amendment Bill and Medical Schemes Amendment Bill.
02 April 2003: Deliberation on Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Bill.
16 April 2003: Deliberation on the Pardon Investigation Bill

MINUTES
Medical Schemes Amendment Bill by Mr Bell
The Chair noted that after it had been pointed out that this is a labour issue and not a health concern, it had then been referred to the Minister of Labour for his comment. The Committee is still awaiting the Minister's input on the matter.

Patents Amendment Bill by Ms Kalyan
The Chair noted that the proposed amendment to this Bill forwarded by Ms S Kaylan had been removed from the Committee agenda at her request until such time as the Patents Amendment Bill had been enacted. Ms Kalyan has now requested the Committee consider the amendment as the Bill has been enacted. The Committee would deal with this matter on 5 March 2003.

Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Bill by Mr Gibson
The Chair noted that the Committee had agreed in its previous meetings to invite political parties and civil society to comment on the matter. However since no comment has been received from political parties, they should be reminded to do so. He added that IDASA had submitted a comment on private funding of political parties. The Committee would deal with this matter on 2 April 2003.

Pardon Investigation Procedure Bill by Mr Leon
The Chairperson noted that after the Committee had been informed that Mr Delport would make a representation on behalf of Mr Tony Leon it had been decided to defer the matter to this year. The Committee would consider this matter on 16 April 2003.

Report back on Petitions:
Ms M Botha
The Committee noted that in its previous meetings, it had supported Ms Botha's petition and therefore Treasury was supposed to pay the agreed amount. The Chair would consult with Treasury to ascertain progress with this matter.

Mr G Clarke
The Committee noted that it had approved Mr Clarke's petition. The Chair was asked to meet with the Portfolio Committee on Finance to ascertain the status of the approved petition since its referral to Treasury.

Mr BD Brown
The Chair noted that he has arranged a meeting with the Chief Director of Finance in order to discuss Mr Brown's petition. The meeting takes place on 5 March. He would report back to the Committee on 19 March.

Mr A Ainslie (ANC) asked if these are the only petitions received by the Committee.
The Chair responded that so far these are the only petitions before the Committee, however he would verify if there are any further petitions to be dealt with.

Budget for the Year
The Chair noted that R80 000 00 had been put aside for the Committee. However he would only be able to confirm the exact amount at the next meeting.

Ms P Coetzee-Kasper (ANC) expressed her dissatisfaction with the manner in which budget allocation is being conducted. She said that some committees overspent their budgets with the hope of getting a share from the budgets of other committees that had used their budgets rationally. This practice should be halted.

The Chair promised that he would express this concern to the Chair of the Chairpersons Committee.

Report on Overseas Study Tours
The Chair noted that as the Committee had decided to undertake study tours to New Zealand and Australia this year, information on the workings of the Private Members Committees of these two countries has been collected and circulated to the members. The Committee agreed that it should visit these countries when their Committees are in session. The Committee Clerk would establish when they are in session.

Mr L Kgwele (ANC) noted that it would be beneficial for the Committee to visit Gauteng Provincial Legislature since it has a private members committee similar to that of the National Assembly.

Mr Ainslie said that it would not be appropriate to visit only one province but the Committee should visit all the Provincial Legislatures, especially Kwa-Zulu Natal, to see how their private members committees function.

The Chair asked members to forward suggestions and information on how the study tours should be conducted to the Committee Clerk.

Mr P Gerber (ANC) informed the Committee that during the SCOPA visit to India, they had noticed that it had a very good private members system and India was asked to forward any information relating to that to South African Parliament.


The Chair thanked Mr Gerber for the information and asked him to make a follow up to that effect. The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
From: Ms Judith February, Manager: Governance Unit, PIMS, IDASA
To: Mr PAC Hendrickse, Chair of PC on Private Members
28 January 2003

RE: REGULATION OF PRIVATE FUNDING TO POLITICAL PARTIES
We refer to the above and our letter addressed to you in December last year as well as your subsequent informal conversation with my colleague, Mr Richard Cal land about this matter in Stellenbosch recently.

As you may be aware IDASA, together with 5 other civil society organisations made a submission to Parliament in August last year in the context of the Prevention of Corruption Bill. The main thrust of our argument was that while South Africa has an impressive arsenal of anti-corruption legislation, there is a glaring lacuna. There is no regulation of private funding to political parties. We are of the opinion that creative, innovative regulation would serve to reduce the vulnerability of elected representatives to receiving secret donations.

Our full argument is made in the body of our submission, which we attach hereto far your kind attention. We are also attaching a copy of the law that we drafted and presented to the Justice Portfolio Committee. In it we attempt to explore regulatory options in the South African context. We are hopeful that your committee would initiate legislation in this regard.

We would be pleased to meet with you to discuss this matter further and look forward to hearing from you in relation to the above.
Appendix 2:
From: Dr PM Maduna, Minister of Justice
To: Mr PAC Hendrickse, Chair of PC on Private Members

10 December 2002

REFERRAL OF PARDON INVESTIGATION PROCEDURE BILL FOR COMMENT
With reference to the previous correspondence between yourself and my Ministry, I would like to inform you that I have studied the Pardon Investigation Procedure Bill and would like to offer some general comment in respect thereof.

Pardoning of offenders historically fell within the prerogative powers of the English monarch. In South Africa the power of the President to pardon offenders flows directly from section 84(2)(j) of the Constitution and it is therefore regarded as a presidential prerogative. It is clear that such presidential prerogative does not derive its authority from, and it is not dependent upon, legislative enactment.

Unlike the Interim Constitution, the Constitution places no obligation on the President to either consult before he exercises his power of pardoning offenders or to exercise that power together with the other members of the Cabinet. However, a practice has developed by means of which the President, in particular cases, approaches the Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice for advice or recommendations. In such instances that Cabinet member acts merely as an extension of the Office of the President. In many other cases the President exercises his prerogative without approaching any Cabinet member for advice or recommendations.

The Office of the President and my Department have developed guidelines which are followed when considering applications for pardon before advising the President or making recommendations to him or her in respect of such applications. I am of the opinion that it is unnecessary to incorporate those guidelines in legislation.

Should the proposed Bill be enacted, it will only apply in cases where the President approaches the Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice for advice or recommendations. That Cabinet member must, in terms of the Bill, follow a very cumbersome procedure before he or she could advise the President or make any recommendation to him or her. The effect thereof could be that the President may in future decide more often, or even in every case, to exercise his power to pardon offenders without approaching the Cabinet member concerned for advice or recommendations. This could result in financial implications for the Office of the President as the establishment of that Office will have to be expanded in order to deal with the increased number of applications for pardon which have not been referred for advice or recommendations.

As pointed out in the previous paragraph, it will be possible for the President to circumvent the provisions of the Bill, if enacted, thereby making the Bill meaningless. In this regard I would like to draw your attention to one of the presumptions of the interpretation of statutes, namely that the legislature does not intend to make any provision, which is futile, nugatory, unnecessary or meaningless.

A question which comes to mind is whether a decision by the President to grant or refuse an application for pardon will be invalid or subject to review by a court of law where the President, in making that decision, has acted on the advice or recommendations of the Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice and that Cabinet member, in providing that advice or making that recommendation, has failed to comply with the provisions of the Bill.

Lastly, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my views on the Bill. With kind regards

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