Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1.       Publication in Gazette

A Bill must be published in the Gazette at least seven days before it is placed on the Order Paper of Parliament. This is for the purpose of publicizing it. Considering that law affects everybody the public should be aware of the laws which the government is expecting to pass, so that they can put forward their views and suggest changes to any undesirable aspects of the proposed law. If anyone wishes to challenge the Bill as being inconsistent with the Constitution, he or she must go before the Supreme Court within one week of the Bill being placed on the Order Paper, to have the matter determined. It is felt that a period of one week gives insufficient opportunity to interested persons to challenge proposed legislation.

2.      First Reading

The Bill is first presented to Parliament after due notice usually by a Minister or Deputy Minister by its long title being read by the Secretary-General. The Bill is than considered as read for the first time and to have been ordered to be printed. At this point there is no debate about the Bill.

3. Second Reading

A bill which has been read for the first time, shall stand for Second Reading. There will be at this stage a discussion of the general principles of the Bill. The Second Reading occurs after a week has passed from the date of the First Reading.

4. Committee Stage 

When a Bill is read for a second time, it must be referred to a Committee of whole Parliament whilst some Bills, if Parliament so decides, will be referred either to a Select Committee or to a Standing Committee. According to Standing Orders no further action could be taken regarding such a Bill until the Committee has reported on it. The Committee stage is the process of law-making. At this stage the principles behind the Bill cannot be discussed; the Committee has to restrict itself to examining the different clauses of the Bill. The Committee may make amendments, or delete or add new clauses to Bill. The Committee may admit members of the public to present their views and also obtain the assistance of experts in matters which are complex or technical. This is an important safeguard in a democratic system of government as it gives the public an opportunity to participate in the making of legislation. Outsiders cannot however be present when the Committee is deliberating.

5. Report Stage 

According to Standing Orders, when a Committee of the whole Parliament has completed the consideration of a Bill, the Chairman shall report the Bill with or without amendment to Parliament. A standing Committee or a Select Committee to which a Bill has been referred shall present a report to Parliament with any further amend them. At this stage Parliament can only look at changes (amendments, deletions, additions), if any, made by the Committee, it cannot reconsider any other aspects of the Bill. Parliament can also refer back to the Committee for reconsideration particular changes made by the Committee.

6. Third Reading

This is the final stage of the Bill. A bill having passed through Committee Stage and Report Stage is read a third time and passed. If any Member of Parliament wishes to make any verbal or drafting amendments to the Bill he or she may move to do so after giving notice.

7. Certificate of Speaker 

When a Bill has been passed by Parliament, the Speakers has to endorse on the Bill a certificate stating that it has been duly grammatical or typographical errors in the Bill. The Bill becomes law when the certificate of the Speakers is endorsed on it. Certain Bills can only becomes law after approval of the public at a Referendum. In the case of such a Bill the certificate of the Speakers must state that the Bill shall not becomes law until such a Bill the certificate of the order to become law finally requires a certificate endorsed by the President stating that it has been approved by the people at the Referendum.