Consideration and adoption of amendments made by NCOP on Statistics Amendment Bill

Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

10 May 2024
Chairperson: Mr R Dyantyi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

ATC240423: Report of the Select Committee on Health and Social Services on the Statistics Amendment Bill [B31b-2023] (National Assembly – Section 75), Dated 23 April 2024

In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation convened to consider and adopt amendments made by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the Statistics Amendment Bill [B31-2023].

The Committee was taken through the NCOP amendments by their staff and legal advisor.

 The Statistician-General confirmed support for the amendments.

Members expressed support for the minor amendment, moving to endorse it, which was unanimously agreed upon.

Discussions ensued regarding the report, including the addition of the C-list and clarity on wording, with a consensus reached on procedural matters. The corrected report, reflecting amendments, was adopted.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed all Members present on the platform, including the support staff and the media. He noted the presence of the Statistician-General and expressed his welcome. He then mentioned that the date was 10 May 2024. He highlighted the purpose of the special meeting, which was to review amendments made to the Statistics Amendment Bill [B31-2023] previously passed in the National Assembly. He explained that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had made some slight amendments, prompting the need for the meeting to consider whether to accept the changes or maintain the original position. He mentioned that the final decision would be presented to the National Assembly the following week. Anticipating a brief meeting, he proceeded to inquire if there were any apologies from Members, to which the Committee Secretariat confirmed that none had been received.

Ms S Graham (DA) greeted the Chairperson and expressed her pleasure at being back in Parliament, even if only briefly. She conveyed apologies from Mr J McGluwa (DA), who could not attend the meeting, and thanked the Chairperson on his behalf.

The Chairperson acknowledged the apology and confirmed there were no issues with it, proceeding with the meeting. He then invited the secretariat and Ms Phumelele Ngema, or Mr Ngoepe to present the amendments considered by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Overview of NCOP Amendments: Statistics Amendment Bill [B31-2023]

Mr Julius Ngoepe, Committee Content Advisor, commenced by acknowledging the Chairperson, Members, colleagues, and officials from Statistics SA (StatsSA). He provided background information on the presentation, referencing the rules of the National Assembly and the amendments made by the NCOP. He reminded the Committee of the report tabled to the National Assembly on the Statistics Amendment Bill [B31-2023] in February 2024. He explained the subsequent adoption of the Bill and its referral to the NCOP, where further amendments were made by the Select Committee. He highlighted the rules governing the process, including Section 307(1) and Joint Rule 2322. He clarified the implications of the amendments, particularly focusing on Clause 9, which aimed to strengthen protections against potential abuse by statisticians or authorised officers. He deferred to the Parliament's legal adviser for elaboration on the NCOP amendments.

Statistics Amendment Bill [B31-2023] C-List

Ms Phumelele Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, addressed the Committee, expressing gratitude to the Chairperson and extending greetings to all present. She explained that she was concurrently attending two meetings, one for the Select Committee and the other for the current session. She requested the officials to present an overview of the amendments made by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) regarding the Statistics Amendment Bill [B31-2023]. Ms Ngema clarified that the amendment focused on ensuring that subsection two under Section 15, which pertains to the authority of the statistician general or appointed persons to access premises, did not alter the existing legislation. She emphasised that the amendment aimed to maintain the constitutionality of the original Act and preserve the rights and deliberations previously approved by the Committee. Specifically, she highlighted that the amendment did not remove the provision requiring consent or judicial process for entry onto premises. Ms Ngema concluded by expressing appreciation for the collaborative efforts of both the NCOP and the National Assembly in safeguarding the integrity of the legislative process.

The Chairperson expressed gratitude and then addressed the possibility of the Minister or Deputy Minister's presence in the meeting. Noting their absence, he suggested that StatsSA share its comments first, allowing all viewpoints to be heard before Members provided their input. He emphasised the significance of listening to StatsSA, as they would be responsible for implementing the amendment, with the Statistician-General playing a crucial role.

Mr Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General, expressed gratitude and confirmed the absence of both the Minister and Deputy Minister. He reassured the Chairperson that the amendment presented by the legal advisor did not pose any disadvantage to the work of StatsSA. He mentioned that the Bill had been made available for public comment again, with no objections received, indicating their comfort with the amendment.

The Chairperson then invited Members to provide their comments, noting the raised hand of Mr K Pillay (ANC) and welcoming any others.

Adoption of the C-List

Mr K Pillay (ANC) expressed his support for the minor amendment and moved to endorse it.

The Chairperson thanked him and indicated his agreement, moving for the adoption of the amendment.

He then sought input from other Members, starting with Ms Graham, who seconded the motion.

Mr B Yabo (ANC) expressed his intention to support the amendment, following the lead of other Members.

The Chairperson acknowledged their comments and formally clarified that Mr Pillay had moved to adopt the amendment, with support from Ms Graham. He concluded that the Committee unanimously agreed to support and accept the amendment proposed by the NCOP.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation on Statistics Amendment Bill [B31D – 2023], dated 10 May 2024

The Committee then read the report.

Ms Ngema sought permission to add to her earlier statement, explaining that due to the nature of the amendment being a Section 75 Bill, it could not be incorporated into the version of the Bill until concurrence was achieved. She requested that the Committee's adopted report include a listing of the C-list, which had already been presented, to facilitate the process when the report was brought before the House for plenary.

Mr Ngoepe affirmed Ms Ngema’s suggestion, referencing the heading of the document, and proposed including both the C-list and D-list as agreed upon by the Committee.

The Chairperson thanked them for their input and sought confirmation from Ms Ngema regarding the proposed addition.

Ms Ngema clarified that the addition of the C-list to the Committee's report would be in order and requested that it be inserted accordingly, ensuring that everything was properly accounted for when the report was presented to the National Assembly for consideration.

The Chairperson confirmed his understanding of the request and sought assurance that the report, as it currently stood, met the necessary requirements.

Ms Ngema confirmed that the report's content was satisfactory but emphasised the need to include the C-list as proposed and adopted by the Committee, ensuring completeness when presented to the plenary.

The Chairperson clarified that the addition of the C-list was not within the scope of the current meeting, stating that it was an operational matter.

Mr Ngoepe agreed, affirming that while there might be legal considerations by Ms Ngema, the standard procedure involved including both the C-list and D-list as attachments to the report. He mentioned that this approach had been validated by their manager and was consistent with their usual practice.

Mr Pillay moved for the adoption of the report as the issue regarding the C-list being an attachment had been resolved.

Ms T Tobias (ANC) sought clarification on the wording of the report, specifically questioning whether the term "to be considered" referred to the National Assembly or the Committee. She suggested that the legal team should address such discussions beforehand to avoid semantic debates. Ms Tobias also proposed that once adopted, the report should reflect the amendments appropriately to prevent unnecessary confusion during deliberations in the National Assembly.

The Chairperson responded, acknowledging Ms Tobias's point and explaining that typically, the framework or template used when adopting a report includes the phrase "to be considered," as this is how it would be presented to the National Assembly. He welcomed comments from Ms Giba (committee management) and Ms Ngema on the matter and affirmed that Ms Tobias's suggestion for ensuring proper procedure was well-received.

Ms Nomvula Giba, Acting Senior Manager, Committee Section, clarified that the report in front of the Committee had been corrected to reflect the B31D version of the Bill returned from the NCOP, rather than the previously mentioned B31C. She explained that the amendments presented by Ms Ngema would be included in the report as adopted by the Committee.

The Chairperson acknowledged Ms Giba's clarification, noting its alignment with Ms Tobias's earlier input and emphasising the importance of joint collaboration in future proceedings.

Ms Ngema concurred with Ms Giba's statement, emphasising the need for procedural correctness to avoid future disputes.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Ngema for her input, jesting about the potential confusion caused by her. He reiterated that Mr Pillay had moved to adopt the corrected report, with conditions addressed by other Members, and confirmed his support for its adoption. https://pmg.org.za/tabled-committee-report/5835/

He thanked the Members for attending the concise 30-minute meeting, emphasising the importance of formalising the Committee’s work. He informed them that the matter would be tabled in the House the following week, marking the completion of vital efforts to empower Stats SA.

He concluded by adjourning the meeting, wishing luck to those involved in election work and advising against burning banners, urging them to engage with voters directly instead.

Meeting adjourned.

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