As a quorum of six members was required, there was a substantial delay before the meeting could start. The Parliamentary Legal Adviser took the Committee through some technical corrections that the State Law Advisers had made to the Bill. Besides these, no other corrections were made to the Bill which remained as the version that had been published for public comment. It was noted that the Committee had decided that the proposals made in the public submissions should rather be incorporated into the Rules of the Refugee Appeal Board rather than into the legislation itself. The Committee was reminded that a major review of the Refugees Act was currently being undertaken by the Department
The Committee Bill, its Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill and the Committee Introduction Report were all adopted unopposed by the Committee.
Committee Report introducing the Refugees Amendment Bill
[Report available once published in the ATC]
The Chairperson noted that in the previous meeting it was agreed that the proposals from civil society submissions should be inserted into the Rules of the Refugee Appeal Board rather than be incorporated into the provisions of the Bill. Members should not spend too much energy on the Bill given that the Committee was anticipating a major review of the Refugees Act, 1998 by the Department. For that reason, Members should merely consider a couple of corrections that were made to the text for it to be legally sound and coherent.
Ms Daksha Kassan, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, noted that there were some technical corrections to the Bill. The Bill that was deliberated on in the previous meeting, bearing the unchanged text of the Bill as published for public comment, was sent to the State Law Advisers who had made some technical corrections. These technical corrections were important given that once the Bill was tabled to the National Assembly; no further corrections could be made.
Ms Kassan went through the technical corrections: on page 1, the Government Gazette number was included and the clause rephrased; on page 2, 'the Refugees Act, 1998' replaced “the principal Act.”; some commas were inserted in page 3; on page 4, under Object of the Bill, the clause was rephrased from “Bill will address…” to “Bill addresses…”. On page five, 'traditional practices' was replaced by “customs of traditional communities” to align the text with section 18(1)(a) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003.
The Chairperson noted that technical corrections would not affect the substance of the Bill. He asked if Members had any comments on the technical corrections. There were no comments on these.
The Committee then considered the Bill, clause by clause, and adopted each clause.
The Chairperson commented that the Bill had no bill number yet. The number would be allocated by the Bills Office before it was tabled in the National Assembly.
Mr A Figlan (DA) sought clarity about the submissions made by civil society.
The Chairperson explained that it had been decided that the civil society inputs should be incorporated into the Rules of the Refugee Appeal Board rather than into the legislation.
The Committee adopted the Memorandum on the Objects of the Refugees Amendment Bill.
The Chairperson put the whole Bill before Committee and they adopted it.
The Chairperson declared that the Bill was officially adopted. He went on to say that the Committee secretariat should submit the Bill to the Bills Office to get the Bill number. For the Bill to be tabled in the Parliament, it should be accompanied by an introductory report by the Committee. He noted that there was no change made to the Committee Report but Members should go through it to see if it complied with the Rules of Parliament.
The Chairperson took the Committee through the Committee Report, page per page.
After reading all pages, the Chairperson stated that the Committee Report should indicate that the Bill was published for comment and that the Committee received submissions from civil society organisations. These submissions were considered and deliberated on by the Committee on 28 July 2015. It was concluded that the civil society inputs should be incorporated in the Rules of the Refugee Appeal Board, leaving unchanged the text of the Bill as published for public comments.
Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Content Advisor, agreed with the Chairperson and noted that this wording would be incorporated into paragraph five of the Committee Report.
The Committee adopted the Committee Report.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would table the Committee Report without a debate in the National Assembly. Members collectively agreed and remarked that there was nothing of substance to debate on.
The meeting was adjourned.
[Apologies: Ms O Maxon (EFF), Ms S Nkomo (IFP), and Dr C Mulder (FF+). Ms D Gumede (ANC)]
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