Chairperson, we would naturally have preferred to see these proposals proceed to the next stage. However, our opposition relates more to the process followed, or the process required to be followed by the Committee on Private Members' Legislative Proposals.
Without arguing whether it is constitutional or not to bar a member from introducing a Bill, we believe the Rules in their present form unjustly restrict members from submitting legislation. The practice has developed that the Committee on Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions is seen as a hurdle rather than a clearing house for proposals, and this is not necessarily through any fault of the committee itself. We believe the Rules do not adequately guide the committee.
What happens in practice is that detailed discussions on legislation take place. These discussions are often technical and specialised and often outside the field of expertise of members of that committee. Such discussions should take place in the portfolio committee.
Clear guidelines in the Rules to demarcate the committee's mandate are lacking. I would suggest the committee's task as a screening mechanism or clearing house should be limited to, inter alia, considerations such as: Is the proposal frivolous in nature? Is it clearly in conflict with existing law? Is it clearly unconstitutional? Will it involve excessive costs? Can it be implemented?
A further factor in respect of our opposition to these three reports is that we are not convinced that the required consultation between the Committee on Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions and the relevant portfolio committees has taken place as envisaged in terms of Rule 235(2). While this Rule invites members of the portfolio committee to sit in on a meeting of the Committee on Private Members' Legislative Proposals, only one or two ultimately attended, and that cannot be regarded as consultation. There should have been formal communication between the two committees.
Chair, I submit that, if we proceed, we may be in conflict with our own Rules. For these reasons and the reasons mentioned above, we will oppose the Orders. Thank you.
Question put: That the reports be adopted.
Motion agreed to (Democratic Alliance dissenting).
Report on Legislative Proposal to amend the South African Police Service Act, No 68 of 1995, accordingly adopted.
Report on Legislative Proposal to amend the Commission on Gender Equality Act, No 39 of 1996, accordingly adopted.
Report on Legislative Proposal to amend the Human Rights Commission Act, No 54 of 1994 accordingly adopted.