Special types of Bills.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Private Bills

These are Bills of private or local interest, intended to affect specific individuals or bodies. The statutes setting up Banks and various Boards fall into the category of Private bills, for example the People’s Bank Act. The Member of Parliament proposing such a Bill has to first obtain leave from Parliament before he or she can introduce the Bill in Parliament. Unless it concerns a matter of principal or policy, a Private Bill is not usually opposed at the second reading, unlike a public Bill.

In the case of a Private Bill the proceeding at the Committee stage are quasi-judicial. The facts set out in the Bill must be proved, by evidence led before the Committee if necessary. If these facts are not proved the Committee will report so to Parliament. If they are proved, the Committee will consider the different clauses of the Bill and can make changes and then “report” the Bill back to Parliament, as in the case of a Public Bill. Where any individual’s rights or interests may be affected by a Bill he or she is entitled to appear before the Committee either in person or represented by a lawyer and be heard.

Recently there has been a marked increase in Private Bills involving the incorporation of associations and societies which from the majority of Private Bills in this country, in contrast to other Commonwealth countries.

Private Members’ Bills

These are bills which are introduced by private Members of Parliament as opposed to Bills introduced through government departments and generally presented to Parliament by the Minister or Deputy Minister concerned by Private members could be either public or private in nature. At the sitting of Parliament on the first Friday of every month priority is usually given to Private Members’ Bills.

A private Member must obtain leave from Parliament before he or she can introduce a Bill. If leaves is granted the Bill is ordered to be printed. The Bill is considered read for the first time when leave is granted. It is not discussed at this point but is referred to the Minister or Deputy Minister in charge of the subject, who is to report to Parliament, and the Bill is taken up for its Second Reading.

Private Members’ Bills generally deal with particular, not very large issues, which the Member presenting the Bill has a special interest in. For instance recently there have been Private Members’ Bill for the prohibition of the slaughter of cattle and for mandatory testing or persons for HIV/AIDS. They stand less chance of success than others, since they are not backed by the strength of a government department, and may not be as professionally drafted.