Probation Services Bill: discussion; Child Care Amendment Bill & Drug Dependency Amendment Bill: finalisation

Social Development

02 March 1999
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Meeting report

WELFARE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

WELFARE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 March 1999
PROBATION SERVICES BILL; CHILD CARE AMENDMENT BILL; DRUG DEPENDENCY AMENDMENT BILL

SUMMARY
Deliberations were reopened on the Probation Services Bill to effect one substantive change. Discussion was finalised on the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Bill and the bill with amendments will be voted on at the next meeting on 8 March 1999. The Child Care Amendment Bill was voted on and passed with amendments.

MINUTES:
Probation Services Bill
After a few apologies, one of the members wanted to reopen discussion on the Probation Services Bill. Although discussion of this had been completed last time, the report had not yet been published, which means that, provided an absolute majority of those present agreed to it, it could be reopened. Then, a normal majority would have to vote in favour of any proposed changes.

The first step of this procedure was somehow bypassed; the member said she had a problem with S 4(a) which provided for the mandatory assessment of arrested children within 48 hours of being arrested. She said there were potentially huge practical problems with this, particularly in rural areas where there are few facilities for this sort of thing. Also, S 4(a) interfered with subsections 40(4) and 40(5) of the Criminal Procedure Act, which gave police power to release children under 18 on bail or with warning. With S 4(a) in place, the child would have to remain in custody until the assessment had been done.

Mr du Toit suggested S 4(a) be preceded by something like "this section does not denigrate from any other law which allows the state to…"

Mr George of the NNP said he didn’t think the matter should be reopened then; the NNP needed time to prepare; but Mr Saloojee argued that it was not such a matter that needed preparation, especially since there were time constraints. Eventually Mr George agreed to this but said before they voted on it he wanted to see it in writing. Someone was sent away to put in in writing; it was later brought in and voted on and passed – the wording along the lines of Mr du Toit’s suggestion (see above).

Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Bill
The committee voted on the following proposed amendments:
1. On page 4, after line 27, to insert the following subsection:

(3) the members contemplated in (o) shall be appointed only after –
the Minister has through the media and by notice in the Gazette invited nominations of persons as members of the Drug Authority; and

the parliamentary committees for welfare of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces have made recommendations to the Minister in relation thereto after a transparent and open process of considering persons so nominated.

2. On page 4, in line 31, to omit all the words after "terminated" up to and including "so" in line 32 and to substitute:
"by the minister for reasons which are just and fair"

3. On page 4, in line 37, to omit "subsection (2)" and substitute "subsections (2) and (3)".

These were all agreed to, with no dissent.
The changes will be finalised on Monday 8 March.

Child Care Amendment Bill
Long title to be corrected to reflect the right date (1977 instead of 1975)
On page 2, in line 17, to omit "in a residential care facility that offers" and to substitute "offering"
On page 2 line 19, to omit "residential care"
On p 4, line 13, to omit "under any law and of children"

These changes are mainly to ensure that secure care remain distinct from any other kind of care facility.

Someone raised the question of the use of the terms "sexual exploitation" and "sexual act". After some discussion it was argued that despite not being perfect, these terms were still the best available ones and should be maintained – they are broad enough to encompass a wide variety of possibilities, but are probably not so broad as to be struck down by a court for vagueness.

There was some discussion about S 34 - it’s aim is to remove the minister’s power to move children from, for example, schools of industry to reform schools, which are very restrictive places. The minister should be able to move children within the system, not into the system; s/he should not be able to move children from Child Care Act - contemplated places into places contemplated by the Criminal Procedure Act.

Voting
The following were voted on and passed:
1. clause 1 (as amended)
2. clause 2 (as not amended)
3. clause 3 (as amended)
4. clause 4 to 7 (as not amended)

The committee will meet on Monday 8 March to vote on the Drug Bill.

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