A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES RULES COMMITTEE
24 July 2003
These minutes were provided by the National Assembly Table Staff
Pandor, G N M (Chairperson)
Mahlangu, M J (Deputy Chairperson)
Bhengu, M J
Kgoali, J L
Kolweni, Z S
Lubidla, E N
Makoela, M I
Majodina, P C P
Nyakane, R M
Sulliman, M A
Surty, M E
Themba, M P
Thlagale, J O
Van Niekerk, A E
Vilakazi, J N
Apologies: Dlulane, B N; Thompson, B N (Ms Majodina was standing in for Ms Dlulane); Setona, T S.
Staff in attendance: L L Matyolo (Secretary), B Matutle, L Sipoyo, M Tshaiviti, E van der Horst, B Nonyane, J Borien, F Jenkins, R Turrel, S Bowers.
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10:15. The Chairperson indicated that there were no reports from the subcommittees, as they have not had meetings. The Chairperson requested the Secretary to assist the subcommittees to meet and to decide on dates for the next Rules Committee meeting so that the process could be handled more efficiently for the third term. The Chairperson further requested the Whips to assist by proposing that the Joint Rules Committee meeting be postponed to the third Tuesday in the next term to allow the subcommittees and the Council Rules Committee time to meet. The Chairperson said that the subcommittees would have to meet early in the next term to enable the Council Rules Committee to receive the reports and to convene as well.
2. Adoption of agenda
The Agenda was adopted without additions.
3. Consideration of the minutes of the meeting
held on 3 February 2003
The minutes were amended by the following:
- On page 2, the word "advance" to be substituted with the word "advanced".
- On page 2, under 4.2, the word "that" to be deleted. In the second line to delete the word "was" and replace with "were".
- On page 3, under Agreed, the words "being used" to replace "are available".
- On page 3, paragraph 2, the correct phrase to be inserted i.e. "needs to be finalised".
- On page 9, under support for members, the word "busses" to be spelt correctly and the same under 9.3.
On the motion of Mr Ackermann, seconded by Ms Kgoali, the minutes were adopted as a correct record of the meeting of 3 February 2003.
1. Workshop in respect of the Powers and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Bill:
The Chairperson reminded Members that a workshop on the draft Powers and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures legislation had been requested and that a suggestion had been made that the provinces be invited thereto. The Chairperson proposed that a date for the workshop be finalised subsequent to the Joint Programming Committee meeting that was scheduled to take place 25 June 2003. The Chairperson added that it seemed that there would be some committee days at the beginning of August and that the National Assembly would be dealing with a great deal of legislation at that time. She said that it would be opportune for the Council to deal with such matters during that period.
The Deputy Chairperson proposed that the workshop be extended to include the interim report of the Joint Subcommittee on delegated legislation.
The Chairperson agreed that the workshop be divided between the two topics and that no primary discussions would be entertained but that parties and provinces should come prepared to give input on the day.
The Chief Whip agreed that this route would be cost effective as both issues would be dealt with and the Council would be able to get the perspectives of the provinces. He added that the Council as a House would also be able to develop a particular view before going into the discussions in the Joint Rules Committee meeting.
Mr Ackermann asked whether the workshop would be open to all members or whether invitations would be limited to the members involved with the Rules Committee. He said that the legislation impacted on all members and that the invitation should not only be extended to the members who were involved with the process.
The Chairperson responded by saying that the provinces have had the legislation with them from draft one and that the Speaker and two other members would be invited but that it was up to the provinces to decide who their delegates would be. With regard to the Council, the Chairperson said that members to the Council Rules Committee, specifically the members who had been deployed to the Powers and Privileges Subcommittee, would be a part of the workshop.
Mr Ackerman requested that the Council communicate to the Speakers of the provincial legislatures that their delegation should be as representative as possible since provinces differed from each other and some would want to include the minority parties.
The Chairperson said that she was wary of inviting too many members and having too big a process as that might delay the discussion process. The Chairperson said that provinces would be informed that three delegates were invited.
Mr Ackermann asked whether the Western Cape Legislature could be allowed to send more delegates.
The Chairperson responded by saying that since there would be no cost involved, more members could attend. If Whips were able to encourage more members to attend, she was sure that there would be no problem.
The Chief Whip said that he supported the proposal that the delegation should be limited to three members as it was anticipated that after the workshop there would be a broader discussion in which all members would be involved. He added that all members would then be able to discuss the issues that were collectively raised in the workshop. Provinces still had the responsibility of passing on the information and consulting with the other members.
That the programme for the workshop would be finalised after the Joint Programming Committee meeting on 25 June 2003.
- That invitations would be sent out to the provincial legislatures to attend the workshop.
- That the Speaker and 2 members from each provincial legislature would be invited.
- That all parties would come with views to the workshop to facilitate discussion thereon.
4. 2. Venues for committee meetings:
The Chairperson said that the Head of the Legislation and Oversight Division, Ms Keswa, was supposed to provide a report to the Rules Committee and the Chairperson of Committees.
The Secretary to the National Council of Provinces indicated that the report had been submitted in April 2003 and that it had been distributed.
The Chairperson asked whether members were aware of the report.
Ms Kgoali confirmed that her office had received the report but proposed that the report be re-circulated to all members.
The Chairperson requested that the document be re-circulated. The Chairperson asked whether all the caucus rooms of all parties were utilised for committee meetings.
The members indicated that not all caucus venues were utilised as committee rooms.
The Chairperson responded to a question by Ms Majodina by saying that firstly a report had to be received and then the process could be further considered.
Mr Ackermann asked whether there was a possibility to use offices in Regis House as committee rooms.
The Chairperson responded that there was a shortage of rooms and that such proposals could be considered.
Ms Majodina said that if reports could be confirmed that the SARS building and the British Council building might be utilised, that it should be considered to bring the staff that was currently located in Regis House closer to Parliament.
The Chairperson responded that the matter could be considered and said that the issue of venues should be seriously looked into since our Parliament could possibly be hosting the PAP.
That the report on the venues for committee meetings be re-distributed to members.
4. 3. Formula for delegations traveling abroad:
The Chief Whip reported that there was a difficulty with the smaller parties and that the crossing of the floor in particular resulted in some changes in terms of the permutations with regard to the smaller parties. He said that the old formula was being applied with due regard to the composition of minority parties in the Council. He said that they were awaiting the final outcome of deliberations in the National Assembly because the two Houses had been working together due to it being a party -political delegation. He also said that there had been a request to provide Presiding Officers with names of persons designated with specific tasks like IPU, AU etc. and that that had been done. The Chief Whip said that they were awaiting the ultimate finalisation of the process. He added that there seemed to be uncertainty and that it had been raised in the discussions of the previous day regarding the different categories of visits. He explained that there were three categories which consisted of the trips to IPU or inter- parliamentary associations, committee visits and a third category where Presiding Officers were invited on official visits. The Chief Whip was of the view that it was at the behest of the Presiding Officers to decide and that Presiding Officers in coming to a decision had due regard to criteria such as visits of members in the past, multi-party compositions and geographical spread. He said that the Chief Whip was generally consulted but that the decision rested with the Presiding Officers.
The Chairperson said that the Presiding Officers ensured provincial spread and not to disadvantage any political party. The Chairperson said that whilst a province should nominate, the Presiding Officers consider whether everybody in a province had attended to ensure fairness and opportunity to members generally. The Chairperson added that the process should be finalized. The Chairperson said that the difficulty might be to deal with the matter in a joint venture. The Chairperson further proposed that the Council come up with a formula and interface with the National Assembly once they were ready. The Chairperson said that she would do a model and present it at the next Council Rules meeting. The Chairperson requested the Chief Whip to do the same.
Ms Kgoali asked whether the provincial spread should be used in the Council instead of looking specifically at the party affiliation.
Mr Lever said that the meeting needed to recognize that there were three categories of trips and the motivation for dealing with them. He said that it needed to be taken into account that each delegation was representing the country and the institution. He said that he disagreed with Ms Kgoali and said that there was a need to ensure that parties were represented.
The Chief Whip said that they were not complaining about the process followed by the Presiding Officers and that Mr Lever's point was taken and that it had always been taken into account. He said that the difficulty had been with the first mentioned categories and that that was where the Chairperson's suggestion was a good one. He said that he would look at what the National Assembly had developed thus far and consider the Council's position and integrate it at the appropriate time.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Lever and said that while they take into account the provincial spread, they also ensured that there was a multi-party spread as South Africa is a multi-party democracy and that each delegation had so far been appropriately constituted. The Chairperson added that the constitutional mandate introduced a difficulty and that the Council was a complex and unique institution and that all the various aspects had to be accommodated.
That the Chairperson and the Chief Whip would develop a model and present it at the next Council meeting.
4.4. Time limit for reply to questions
The Chief Whip reported that the rules allowed for a response of four minutes by a Minister. He said that with regard to the follow-up question, that it had been agreed that 3 minutes would be the limit for reply to follow-up questions. In consideration of the number of questions that could be asked during the follow-up, Whips felt that the issue had been managed quite well by the Presiding Officers. He added that Whips felt that given the fact that there was one question time per month, discretion should be with the Presiding Officers to decide how many follow-ups would be permitted. The Presiding Officers would then exercise their discretion accordingly.
The Chairperson referred to the Council rules and said that the rules allowed for four follow-up questions. She said that the problem was with the time limits. The Chairperson said that the initial response by Ministers were lengthy because they were not given an indication as to their time limit. The Chairperson said that a formula was required so that when Ministers come to answer questions, they would know that they had a specific time in which to respond.
The Chief Whip said that the time limit for reply to questions in terms of the rules was three minutes and three minutes for a follow up. He said Whips would be quite happy to accept if the four follow- up question rule was applied. The other suggestion with regard to the issue of questions was that the one-hour might be extended to an hour and a half given the volume of the questions. He said that Whips would table a document proposing that one and a half hour be allocated for question time. He added that the other issues with regard to questions to the Deputy President were still under discussion.
The Chairperson requested the Chief Whip to submit the proposals in writing so that there could be some record thereof for further consideration. With regard to the extension of question time to one and a half hours, the Chairperson proposed that question sessions be done in two clusters and that there be one session per month or twice per term for each cluster. The Chairperson said that this would also prevent all the Ministers from having to come to question time in one sitting and the possibility of the questions of some Ministers not being addressed in the session. The Chairperson said that clustering was in line with the Council's organization of committees and was thus something that should be looked at. The Chairperson requested Mr Sulliman to assist in looking at the possibility of clustering of questions.
Mr Lever said that there had been a similar debate originally when questions came up in the National Assembly and the Leader of Government Business argued for one question day per month on the basis of commitments of Cabinet. He said that there might be a problem in terms of co-coordinating clusters within the framework of the National Assembly and Ministers being made available and that it might complicate matters. He said that Whips suggested that there should be a plenary for questions only. He added that there were two potential approaches that needed discussion.
The Chairperson said that it was certainly something that should be looked at. The Chairperson said that the clusters would differ from those of the National Assembly, as the Council would have two instead of four. The Chairperson said that it was workable and something to consider. The Chairperson further said that she was pleased that more questions were being asked but cautioned members that questions should be not be a repetition of questions that were asked in the National Assembly. The Chairperson said that the committee would focus on questions again in the next Rules Committee meeting. The Chairperson said that the Presiding Officers would inform Ministers through their Offices that there were time limits so that they could shape their responses accordingly.
4.5. Powers and Responsibilities of structures in Parliament
The Chairperson said that the matter would be considered during the deliberations on the Financial Administration of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures (FAPLA) Bill. The Chairperson added that the issue was essentially a question of who had fiduciary responsibility.
4.6. Issue of Joint Meetings
The Chairperson said that before discussing the matter, she wished to raise the concern that she was surprised at the content of the previous minutes in respect of this item. She said that conferring was not a matter for Whips to decide. The Chairperson said that conferring was a responsibility of the Presiding Officers as it directly related to implementation of the rules. She said that it was very much related to a rule-based House notion. She said that she was a bit surprised that in terms of the minutes the view was that it was Whips that mandated committees in both Houses to confer. She said that the resolution on conferring might appear as a resolution that the Chief Whip moved but that it was a decision of the House. She said that the rules were quite clear that conferring was the domain of the Presiding Officers.
The Chief Whip said that conferral was not discussed in a formal context in the previous meeting. He said that the rules provided quite informally for conferral for example, if there were Public Hearings taking place in the National Assembly and a committee had an interest in the matter, that that committee could confer with the other committee, whether it be in the same House or another House. He said that this process did not require a resolution of the House, as it was an informal conferral. He said that in the case where there was a resolution passed in terms whereof the committees would confer formally in order to have a joint decision in relation to a particular matter, that it would be at the behest of the Presiding Officers. He said that the discussion revolved around operational and time management issues and not in terms of the formal process of legislation.
The Chairperson thanked the Chief Whip for his explanation and said that the Rules Committee was a formal institution of the House and that the minutes of the Rules Committee made no mention of the word "informal". She was concerned that the wrong impression might have been created. She referred to the minutes and said that it said that the Chief Whip had raised the concern of joint meetings with the Chief Whip of the majority party in the National Assembly and that they had agreed that conferral was not an automatic process. She said that conferral was formally contained in the Joint Rules and the use of the term is formal and that the formal process lies at the behest of the Presiding Officers.
- Implementation Plan for the recommendations contained
in the Report of the Joint Subcommittee on Oversight and
The Chairperson said that the matter would have been discussed at the special meeting of the Joint Rules Committee which was scheduled for 23 June 2003. The Chairperson informed the members that the special meeting had been cancelled at the request of the Whippery as they had indicated that parties needed more time to consider the matter.
The Chairperson asked that parties consider the proposals that had been prepared by the staff.
Parties to consider the proposals prepared by staff.
- Interim Report of the Joint Subcommittee on Delegated
The Chairperson said the report would be incorporated in the workshop which was to be held on the Draft Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Bill.
5. Appointment of Chairperson for Subcommittee on Review of
the Council Rules:
The Chief Whip reported that Ms Barbara Thomson had been nominated as the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Review of the Council Rules. There was no objection to the nomination. In terms of Rule 127 the Rules Committee therefore agreed that Ms Thomson be appointed to the position.
The Chairperson said that the Rules Committee required a report from the subcommittee and asked the Chief Whip to assist the subcommittee in that regard.
That Ms Thomson be appointed as Chairperson of the Subcommittee.
- That the Chief Whip assists in providing a report of the Subcommittee to the Rules Committee.
6. Report of the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements:
The Deputy Chairperson said that there was no report since all issues that were reported at the last meeting had been raised at the Joint Rules Committee meeting.
The Chairperson informed the meeting that during the refurbishment of the Chamber, the old Coat of Arms had been removed so that it could be restored and displayed at a proper location. The restoration process had been very successful and that space was being identified where the Coat of Arms could soon be displayed.
- Report of the Subcommittee on International Relations:
The Chairperson said that there were no new matters and that a report had been submitted to the Joint Rules Committee.
The Chairperson informed the meeting that the South African Parliament would be hosting the meeting of African Parliamentarians during the following week.
A delegation of 6 members from the South African Parliament would be representing South Africa. The Council would have to decide which of its members would form part of the delegation. The Chairperson added that since South Africa would be the host, any interested members would be able to sit in the back- benches to observe the meeting.
The Chairperson also informed members that the SADC-PF would be meeting in Cape Town over that weekend. The Forum would discuss the possible establishment of a SADC Parliament. The Chairperson added that the Council needed to consider the replacement of Ms Ntlabati as the representative at the SADC-PF.
Ms Kgoali said that in deciding which members should form part of the delegation, it would be useful to consider the list of members in the Council who had been allocated to various parliamentary structures, such as the AU working group, since these members would have a good understanding of the issues.
The Chairperson said that the list would be looked at. The Chairperson also informed members that the CPA Africa Region conference would be taking place in Kenya at the end of July 2003. The Chairperson asked the Whips to nominate members by 26 June 2003. This would make it possible for the delegation to meet and to prepare for the Conference. The Chairperson indicated that the International Relations Section had been asked to write to Whips to request them to nominate members to attend the Conference.
Whips to nominate members to attend the CPA Africa Region Conference by 26 June 2003.
8. Report of the Subcommittee on Support for Members:
The Chairperson informed the meeting that a new tender was on offer for rendering of the transport services. The Chairperson also said that L19 was being revised and a more "user-friendly" version would be distributed.
The Chairperson also informed the meeting that the airport parking cards had not been distributed because there were a number of steps which still needed to be finalized before implementation could take place.
9. Report of the Subcommittee on the Council Budget:
The Chairperson said that the time frames in respect of the compilation of the budget were announced at the last meeting of the Joint Rules Committee.
The Subcommittee would be expected to report at the next meeting of the Council Rules Committee.
- The Subcommittee to report at the next meeting.
10. Any other business:
Ms Kgoali said that a report on the strategic planning session that had taken place on 12 May 2003 would be circulated and tabled for discussion at the next meeting of the Council Rules Committee. The matter would therefore be on the agenda the next meeting.
Mr Bhengu asked whether support for Members also included the issue of housing that had been allocated to Members.
The Chairperson said that she was aware of the reports in the newspapers relating to the housing issue and the allegations that members were renting out parliamentary houses. The Chairperson added that the issue of the air-vouchers was also of concern. The Chairperson urged members to be cautious and said that these issues could harm their potential to hold public office.
The Chairperson concluded by saying that the issue of security was also important and cautioned members that if everyone were allowed to enter the parliamentary villages, there would be difficulties in providing the necessary security.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:08 am.
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