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Bill Origination

How Does a Bill Originate? 


Public Bills generally go through preliminary stages before they are brought to parliament.This comareouly with the responsible Minister first presenting proposals to cabinet.Once cabinet is satisfied that the proposals are in line with government policy the responsible Minister is directed to prepare a draft Bill along the agreed lines.The Legal Drafting Department in the Attorney General's office prepares a draft bill for consideration by the cabinet Committee in Legislation.Once the Bill has been approved by Cabinet it is then published in the Government Gazette about 14 days before its introduction in Parliament. The process described above relates only to Bills introduced by Members of the Executive.Private Members Bills have to be brought in by motion.If that motion is approved by the House the Bill is then printed and introduced in Parliament.

Stages of a Bill in Parliament 

Upon gazetting, the Bill stands referred to the Portfolio Committee that shadows the Ministry responsible for administering the Bill. The Portfolio Committee can then consult the public through public hearings or oral evidence interviews to get their input on the Bill. The Committee prepares a report that is presented at Second Reading Stage.

First Reading
The responsible Minister gives a written notice to the House of his/her intention to present a bill.On the approved day, the Minster introduces the Bill in the House by reading the long title of the Bill.No debate takes place during this stage, as it is a formal way of introducing the Bill in Parliament.Once the Clerk of parliament has read the Bill for the first time the Bill is referred to the parliamentary legal Committee.The parliamentary Legal Committee will determine whether the Bill, if enacted, will contravene the Declaration of rights or any section of the Constitution. Constitutional Bills are not referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

Second Reading
When a non-adverse report from the P.L.C. has been received or the adverse report has been disposed of, the Bill is set for second reading.At this stage the responsible Minister explains the principles of the Bill.The Chairperson of the relevant Portfolio Committee presents the Committee's report on the Bill.Members are given opportunity to debate the general principles of the bill and on conclusion of debate, the Bill is read a second time.If any amendments are to be made to the Bill, the amendments have to be placed on the Order Paper at this point prior to the Committee Stage.

Committee Stage
At this state the House resolves itself into the Committee at the Whole House.The Speaker/president of the senate leaves the chair and the Chairperson of Committees resides.The Bill is the considered clause by clause.Any proposed amendments made the Minister, relevant portfolio Committee or individual members are considered during debate on the relevant clause.

Report Stage
The President of the Senate/Speaker resumes the chair and the chairperson of the Committee of the Whole House reports the Bill with or without amendments.If a bill is reported with amendments, it is referred back to the Parliamentary Legal Committee which considers the amendments and reports back to the House.Once a non-adverse report is received from the PLC the Bill is then set for consideration to formally adopt the recommendations.If a Bill is reported from the committee of the Whole House without amendments, it is set for third reading.

Third Reading
For an ordinary Bill, a simple majority of the members present and voting is sufficient to pass the Bill.For a constitutional Bill, Section 52(3) of the Constitution requires that for a Bill to be deemed to have been passed,it should get at the final vote in either House, the affirmative support of at least two thirds of the total membership of the House. After this stage, the Bill is transmitted to the other House.

Transmission to and Passage in the Other House
Once a Bill has been passed in the House in which is originated, it is transmitted to the other House and is set for second reading.The Bill then goes through all the other stages described above.If the other House adopts amendments to the Bill, the Bill is thenreferred back to the House of origin for concurrence.On Money Bills, the senate can only proposed amendments and the decision of the House of Assembly prevails.

Disagreement between the Senate and the House of Assembly
The Constitution provides mechanisms for the resolution of disagreements between the two Houses on Bills.Paragraph 3 of Schedule 4 to the Constitution states that if a disagreement between the Whole House is not resolved by the two House, within 90 days, the bill may be presented to the President for assent in the form in which it was passed in the House of Assembly, except for minor changes required by the passage of time,together with such amendments if any, as the Senate and the House of Assembly may have agreed on.This process applies to all other Bills except Constitutional Bills.

In terms of section 53 (3) of the Constitution, a constitutional Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by parliament if at the final vole there are in either House, it receives the affirmative vote of not less than two thirds of the total members hip of each House.However, if the Senate does not comply with subsection (3) within a period of one hundred and eighty days of the introduction into the Senate,of a Constitutional Bill passed by the House of Assembly, the bill shall be deemed to have been passed by parliament, if the House of Assembly.

Presidential Asent
Once a Bill has been duly passed by Parliament in terms of the Constitution and the provision of the Standing Orders and is the authenticated by the Clerk of Parliament.The Bill is then presented to the Head of State for assent. The President is required to assent to the Bill within a twenty-one days or if he withholds his assent, he shall return the Bill to Parliament.The copy of the Act with his signature and attaches a Public Seal.

Enrollment of the Act
After the Presidential assent, the Clerk of Parliament shall cause the authenticated copy of the Act to be enrolled on the record in the office of the registrar of the High Court.Such copy shall be conclusive evidence of the provisions of such Act.