ATC160524: First Report of the Rules Committee of the National Assembly, 2016

Rules of the National Assembly



The Speaker, as Chairperson of the Rules Committee of the National Assembly, presents the First Report of the Rules Committee of the National Assembly 2016, dated 24 May 2016, as follows:


A.         Background


A comprehensive review of the Rules of the National Assembly was originally initiated in 2012 and assigned to a Task Team of the Rules Committee. The Task Team also included former Members of Parliament.


The existing Rules on the committee structure and on the passage of bills and other papers tabled in Parliament were rewritten in 1996-1997 to give proper effect to the provisions of the Constitution, 1996. Those new Rules are contained in Chapters 12 to 15 of the Rule Book. The Rules on Questions (Chapter 10) were also extensively adjusted over time. However, the Rules in Chapters 1 to 9, which cover all aspects of sittings of the House, have not been revised or updated since their adoption as interim Rules in 1994, except for limited ad hoc changes. Those Chapters were therefore in particular need of thorough revision.


The review of the Rules had not been completed when the general elections of 2014 intervened, although the Task Team had by then completed a detailed examination of all the Rules and had also secured party submissions, public inputs and research into international best practices on a variety of subjects. The Task Team had compiled a comprehensive report including proposed rule amendments as well as supporting documents.


The project was accordingly resumed in the Fifth Parliament by the Subcommittee on the Review of the Assembly Rules. Given the new membership of the Assembly and the presence of new parties, the Subcommittee encouraged broad participation by members and parties and effectively re-examined all the Rules, using the original Task Team's draft rules as a base document.


Extensively revised Rules covering Chapters 1 to 9 were presented to the Rules Committee in February 2015. In the absence of the remaining chapters (Chapters 10 to 15), the Rules Committee decided to engage with the proposals as a Progress Report. It proceeded to a detailed discussion of the draft proposals. The Subcommittee was requested to engage with the further points raised in the discussion by parties and to finalise proposals covering all 15 chapters.


The Subcommittee thereafter proceeded with the review and in June 2015 distributed a complete set of draft revised rules to all parties with the request that they consider the proposals within their caucuses. Technical staff was made available to assist parties on request.


The Subcommittee then arranged a series of further meetings to receive and consider feedback from parties on the proposals. All parties, including those not formally represented in the Subcommittee, were encouraged to participate in this process so that all issues of concern could be examined in depth.     


The Rules Committee met on 18 and 20 November 2015 to consider Draft 8 of the amended rules, dated 1 November 2015. After lengthy consideration, the Committee adopted the new rules in principle.


Certain issues, however, were identified which required further attention at a party level and then further assessment in the Subcommittee on Review of the Assembly Rules prior to final approval by the Rules Committee and submission to the House. The draft rules also referred to guidelines which had to be agreed by the Rules Committee in order to operationalise some of the rules after their adoption by the House.


The Subcommittee conducted this work between February and April 2016 and on 17 and 24 May 2016 presented additional amendments and guidelines to the Rules Committee which agreed to the proposals.


The final rule proposals incorporate new approaches developed after lengthy deliberations involving all stakeholders; they are aimed at addressing procedural challenges that have been experienced over time and appreciably strengthening the National Assembly's ability to exercise its constitutional mandate to best effect. The schedule to the current rules on the procedure to be followed in the investigation and determination of allegations of misconduct and contempt of Parliament did not form part of the review process.


B.         Rule amendments


When the revised rules came before the Committee in November 2015, the EFF objected to them in their entirety.


The DA objected to proposed rule 29 (Sequence of proceedings) and the absence of provision for unscripted questions to the Executive.


The Rules Committee of the National Assembly, having considered proposals for the amendment of the Rules of the National Assembly, recommends the amendments to the Rules contained in the annexure.


Report to be considered.






No related documents