Fire Brigade Services Amendment Bill: voting

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

08 February 2000
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 February 2000
FIRE BRIGADE SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL [B63-99]

Documents referred to:
Proposed Amendments to the Bill (email info@pmg.org.za for a copy)
Fire Brigade Services Amendment Bill

SUMMARY
The proposed amendments to the Bill suggested the previous day were discussed and adopted with minor refinements. A further amendment, a new section 2A, would be inserted and it will read 'the Board must comprise women and men'. The Bill was voted on and was passed.

MINUTES
The Chair, Mr Y Carrim (ANC), provided an overview of the previous day's discussions and resolutions. There had been a suggestion that the Council should include technical members, particularly a representative from the Emergency Services Institute. He noted that there were many aspects in the principal Act which were not satisfactory. The Memorandum needed to be reworked and a number of technical adjustments needed to be made.

Dr Bouwer from the Department went through the amendments briefly and the Chair invited discussion.

The formulation of the "new clause" (the amendment to the definition of 'Minister' in section 1 of the principal Act) was approved.

The amendments to clause 1 of the Bill (the reference to 'principal Act' instead of the 'Fire Brigade Services Act', the deletion of 'and' from line 13, page 2 of the Bill and the inclusion on the Board of a person designated by the Emergency Services Institute) were all approved.

The amended memorandum includes a new sentence beginning 'It is envisaged…'. The Chair suggested that the word 'further' be inserted before 'technical advice' as there will now be technical members on the Board who will give technical advice.

Mr Smith (IFP) noted that 'of' (after 'comprised') should be deleted.

Mr Sithole (ANC) proposed that a clause be included requiring the board to reflect gender diversity. Mr Smith remarked that such a clause would be difficult to apply in practice as each province nominates one member and single members cannot be gender-representative. The Chair noted that there could be diversity amongst the members designated by the Minister.

Mr Selfe (DP) remarked that this type of clause belongs in the new principal Act and that if the committee were to get into this issue, it would need to engage in the other problems of the principal Act. The Chair rejected this and remarked that the issue of gender diversity related to the composition of the board - the central focus of the Bill. He continued that it would be possible to implement the clause in practice - the Minister would state in the meetings at MINMEC that there should be no hesitation in appointing women to the Board.

The Chair proposed a loose formulation - 'in the composition of the Board, recognition is to be given to gender representation'. Mr Bouwer raised the concern that it is not indicated who is to give this recognition - there is no actor identified and identifying an actor is required for determining legal responsibility. The Chair remarked that the clause should communicate a political meaning and need not be legally binding - requiring that a person or body be singled out as having to give this recognition.

He continued by stating that, in principle, a clause to this effect should be included and that the question was how it should be formulated. Mr Sithole suggested including such a clause in the Memorandum. The Chair questioned the legal force of the Memo. Mr Bouwer noted a difficulty with mentioning something in the Memo that had not been addressed in the principal Act. He stated that it would be better to include such an injunction in the Report.

Mr Selfe (DP) suggested using the phrase 'the Board must comprise women and men' in the Act. The Chair supported this suggestion and expressed reservations about only making provision for gender representation in the Report.

It was agreed to adopt Mr Selfe's formulation. Mr Bouwer noted that in the Act it would constitute a new section 2A.

The Chair requested that a draft be made available before the Bill goes to the NA. He asked whether the committee could vote on the Bill on the basis that this clause would be included substantially in the form proposed by Mr Selfe.

The NCOP members were asked to leave the meeting and the Motion of Desirability was read. Mr Smith moved for the Motion and Ms Southgate (ACDP) seconded.

Turning to the new amendments, particularly the proposed new section 2A. There was an attempt to open a debate on the involvement of the Gender Commission. Mr Nonkonyana (ANC) pointed out that this was a new issue and that the formulation had been agreed upon. The Chair agreed, noting that Mr Selfe's formulation had been adopted.

It was agreed that the Bill as it is was passed. The Chair read out the Report. Mr Nonkonyana moved for the Report and Mr Selfe seconded.

The Chair reminded the members that the following Tuesday's meeting would be a joint session and that there would be an interactive debate involving television and electronic links with the provincial legislatures. Mr Sutcliffe would address the Committee.

It was agreed that there would be no debate in the National Assembly on the Bill and that it would simply be tabled. The Chair concluded by thanking the members for their time and attention and requested the names of the proposed members of the sub-committee discussed the previous day.

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