The Committee met to consider its position on the final mandate in respect of the National Health Laboratory Service Amendment Bill in question, with discussion going back and forth between the ANC and the DA on the precise wording of the former’s position regarding the Bill.
What initially looked like a sharp difference of opinion between the two parties on the legislative procedures governing the consideration of final mandates, turned out be a protest by the ANC that its position on the last Committee resolution on the matter had not been adequately reflected in the draft minutes.
The party demanded that this be rectified. Eventually the Committee agreed to support the Bill and the ANC minority view was accurately recorded in the adopted minutes of the previous meeting.
The Chairperson welcomed members and conveyed apologies from Ms P Lekker (ANC) and Ms M Wenger (DA). She then outlined the business of the day. She said the Committee had previously agreed as a negotiating mandate to support the Bill with amendments. As its final position on the matter, the Committee now had to decide to either support or not to support the National Health Laboratory Service Amendment Bill.
National Health Laboratory Service Amendment Bill: Western Cape final mandate
Mr D Mitchell (DA) proposed that the Committee support the Bill with amendments.
Ms M Gillion (ANC) said she wished to “state clearly” that the ANC supported the Bill.
However, before the next speaker, Ms P Makeleni (ANC), could also state her position, Ms Gillion interrupted to say that her point had not been made in full. The position of the ANC was that it supported the Bill in its entirety as it had been “produced to us excluding the amendments done by the Western Cape Committee”.
Ms Makeleni said the wording of the Committee’s last resolution on the matter actually misrepresented the ANC’s position. The correct position was that the ANC supported the Bill “as was presented, full stop”.
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee should vote on the matter. She said there were two conflicting positions: to support the Bill with amendments or to support the Bill without amendments.
Ms Makeleni asked the Chairperson to repeat the proposal.
The Chairperson said her understanding was that the ANC supported the Bill “without amendments to it”, while the opposing position was that the Committee supported the Bill with the amendments agreed to in the last meeting.
Ms Makeleni reiterated that the source of her confusion was the words: “with amendments”. The resolution should only say: “the ANC supported the Bill.”
Mr Mitchell disagreed with this, pointing out that at the last meeting, the Committee had voted for a motion supporting the Bill with the amendments submitted by the Department. His position was that the Committee could not deviate from its position at this final stage.
Ms Gillion said although the ANC had lost the vote on the matter in the last Committee meeting (25 September 2018), all it was asking for was that the party’s view should be recorded in the draft minutes.
The Chairperson responded by quoting from the minutes of the meeting. The ANC‘s view was recorded as follows: “In terms of Standing Rule 86 the ANC expressed its minority view to support the Bill without amendments.”
The Chairperson asked if that was not sufficient.
Ms Gillion replied that on the contrary, the ANC wanted it on record that it supported the Bill “as it was presented to this Committee” by the National Department of Health (DOH).
The Chairperson invited the Committee coordinator, to make a comment on the subject.
The Coordinator said in terms of the legislative procedure, the only choice at this stage was to either vote for the Bill or not vote for it. For voting purposes, the question of amendments had now become irrelevant.
Ms Gillion said she was still not clear on the issue. As she understood it, the Provincial Department had come up with amendments to the Bill and these had been agreed to by the majority of members in the Committee. But the question was whether the Committee was now agreeing to the Bill “in its entirety with the amendments” or only the version of it received from the DOH.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Gillion’s account of the Bill’s journey through Parliament, including the amendments that had been made. However, since the amendments were now being dealt with at the level of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) the only thing required of the Committee was to pronounce its support or lack of it.
Ms Makeleni thought the Chairperson’s explanation had cleared the confusion, which she felt could have been avoided if the Chairperson had been able to grasp the ANC’s essential position from the start.
The Chairperson replied that when the time came to adopt the minutes of the last meeting, the party’s minority view would be recorded in full.
Having confirmed that members were “on the same page” on the subject, the Chairperson then put the question back to the Committee: were members in support or not in support of the Bill?
Ms Gillion proposed that the Committee should support the Bill.
Mr Mitchell supported the motion.
The Chairperson then read out the outcome as follows:
“The resolution of the standing Committee on Community Development on the National Health Service Laboratory Bill [B15B-2017], National Council of Provinces (NCOP), dated 18 October 2018, was as follows:
“The Standing Committee on Community Development, having considered the subject of the National Health Laboratory Services Bill [B15B-2017], referred to the Provincial Parliament in terms of the rules of the NCOP, recommends that the House confer on the Western Capes delegation to the NCOP the authority to support the Bill.”
Members concurred with the above wording.
The meeting then moved to adopt the minutes of the meeting of 25 September 2018, with Ms Makeleni proposing and Mr Mitchell seconding the motion.
The meeting adjourned as the Committee wanted to discuss matters without the presence of the public.
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