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PRIVATE MEMBERS’ LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS AND SPECIAL PETITIONS STANDING COMMITTEE
2 March 2005
COMMITTEE FUNCTIONS TRAINING
Chairperson: Ms M Mentor (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Guidelines on submission of legislative proposal to Committee
Private Member’s Bill currently before Committee:
Magistrates’ Courts Amendment Bill (Mr L Joubert) (ATC 18/02/05) – Awaited from Controller
Represented Political Parties’ Election Fund Bill (Mr F Smith) (ATC 28/02/05) – Awaited from Controller
The Committee discussed their role, and briefly looked at the two bills currently for their consideration. The Committee’s training needs were identified as research, legal drafting and report-writing skills.
The Committee Controller, Ms Hajiera Salie, explained that Section 73 of the Constitution provided for public participation in the democratic Parliament. A Private Member was any Member of Parliament who was not a Minister or Deputy Minister, and who could introduce a ‘Private Member’s Bill’. Members of the public could petition Parliament to introduce a bill, but such a special petition had to be ‘sponsored’ by an MP. A sponsor needed to assist such person with research on issues related to the special petition. That Member needed to obtain permission from the National Assembly before his/her bill was considered by the Committee.
The Standing Committee could not consider private bills if they were being considered by other Committees They had to consult any other relevant committees to which the bill could be linked. The Constitution set limitations, and thus Private Members could not introduce a bill with financial implications or that imposed taxes. There are two forms of petitions, namely ‘general’ and ‘special’. The Committee was mandated to deal with only special petitions.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) raised concerns over lack of Committee study tours. Such tours provided guidance about other state departments and provinces are handling petitions. He proposed that the Gauteng Model of Petitions be studied, as this allowed ordinary people to petition their legislatures in their own languages. Gauteng had a Help Desk where legislative proposals and petitions were translated into various languages.
Ms Mentor warned against using Gauteng as the only model, and that they could use models from other less affluent provinces like the Northern Cape. Provinces with less resources might not be able to follow the Gauteng model, however good it was.
Mr Mangwanishe (ANC) recommended that document outlining the role and function of the Committee be circulated amongst all Members of Parliament.
Mr Tsenoli (ANC) cautioned that members of public who were petitioning the Committee should show that they had explored other remedies. The Committee should used as ‘a last resort’.
Mr Mshudulu asked clarity on the status of incomplete legislative proposals at the end of a term of Parliament. Ms Salie replied that whenever such a situation arose, the bill was reintroduced in National Assembly at the beginning of the new term.
Mr M Dikotsi (PAC) said that training for the Committee was necessary. He asked that previous work and proceedings before the Committee be made available to Members. The Committee would have meetings on Wednesdays to allow Members to perform other Parliamentary duties
The meeting was adjourned.
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