16 October 2001
AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORT ON FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO POLITICAL PARTIES & WORKSHOP PROPOSALS
Chairperson: M S Maine
Documents handed out
Notes On Processing “Substantive Motions” (See Appendix)
Minutes as compiled by Parliamentary Table Staff:
i) Parliament as a venue (Speaker)
ii) Additional tickets for members (Ms Seaton)
iii) Notices of motion (Speaker)
The minutes of the 21 August 2001 were adopted with the following corrections:
On page 2, delete the last paragraph which was repeated as first paragraph on page 3.
3.1 Report of the Public Protector
There were no submissions from parties.
3.2 Auditor-General’s report on Financial Support to Political Parties
Mr Doidge said that the ANC had engaged on the matter but had not concluded their discussions. He requested that parties be given an extension of time to consider the report.
Mr Bakker supported Mr Doidge and said that parties would use the document circulated by Mr Lucas as a basis.
It was agreed that the matter be deferred for possible discussion at the workshop.
The Speaker said that she had not received proposals from parties for the workshop. She added that the workshop could not be held during this session and proposed that it be scheduled for January 2002.
The Speaker asked whether the workshop should be restricted to members of the Rules Committee or whether it should be broader to allow parties to send additional people.
Ms Taljaard suggested that, depending on the parameters of the workshop that may include policy issues, members of the Joint Rules Committee could be involved.
The Speaker said that in some instances the principles could be taken up with the Joint Rules Committee. In the meanwhile the National Assembly Rules Committee could workshop the issues.
It was agreed that arrangements for the workshop would be finalized before the adjournment. It was further agreed that attendance to the workshop should be open to members of the Rules Committee, representatives of Chairpersons of Committees and that parties could proportionally bring in other members.
3.4 Role and Status of Committees
Mr Mahlangu reported that the Chairperson’s Forum was looking at the documents submitted at the previous meeting. The Forum will be ready with a report for the next meeting of the Rules Committee.
The Speaker said that the Forum should also look at the other proposals and circulate a report before the workshop so that it forms part of the discussions.
Mr Doidge proposed that the Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability be amalgamated.
Mr Mahlangu supported Mr Doidge and said that there is a link between the functions of the two Subcommittees.
The Speaker expressed concern at the proposal to amalgamate the Subcommittees and said that due their workload the Subcommittees had been kept separate so that they could quickly get on with their work. However these subcommittees had no submitted substantive reports for the past two or three years. If they were amalgamated it would take much longer for them to report.
Ms Taljaard supported the Speaker and suggested that the two Subcommittees should remain separate entities.
On the nomination of Mr Doidge it was agreed that M M Masutha be appointed Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation.
The Speaker said that a decision had been taken that the Old Assembly Chamber was not to be used for conferences especially during session. It could however be used for events directly connected to the work of Parliament. There was some relaxation of this decision that had led to assumptions, both by outside bodies as well as staff that the facilities could be used more broadly.
She said that the matter should be discussed at the Joint Rules Committee as it was about Parliament. She said that she raised the matter due to an outcry about a conference that had advertised that its opening would be held at Parliament. She said that during session, conferences were not allowed to be held in Parliament because that would be against Parliament’s policy.
She referred to a press statement made by traditional leaders that they had been excluded from Parliament. She explained that when the first House of Traditional Leaders was set up, the Presiding Officers explained to them that they were not part of Parliament. They were told to contact the Department of Constitutional Affairs that was prepared to give them offices. She said that there were no problems, until recently when there seemed to be a view that they should be meeting in Parliament during session. She said that she would meet with the traditional leaders again to find out what the problem was and on what basis they were saying that they had been excluded because the position was not different from the one that was made clear to them five years ago.
She said that holding conferences in Parliament seemed to give the conference some status and attract more people. However Parliament should not be used as a commercial venue. She asked parties to look at the matter for discussion.
It was agreed that:
During sessions no conferences should be held at Parliament
Presiding officers would report more fully to members in regard to the matter of
traditional leaders using parliamentary venues
The matter should go to the Joint Rules Committees for further discussion.
Ms Seaton appealed for 8 additional air-traveling tickets for members as they had run out of tickets and there were still five weeks before the end of the session.
The Speaker said that there used to be fairly ad hoc arrangements about ticket allocation. However when the Parliament Programme for 2001 was drawn up, it was agreed that there would be no need for additional budgetary provision for tickets for members. It would therefore be very difficult to say on what basis members would be given additional tickets.
Ms Seaton said that members were given 60 tickets and spouses had to use the same tickets to travel. As members had to go every weekend to their constituencies 60 tickets were not sufficient.
The Speaker said that the decision to give members 60 tickets was based on the fact that Parliament programme would not be changed. When members were called for additional meetings for any reason, Parliament provided tickets and that had not changed. If the argument was that members go home every weekend then that needed to be looked at for next year because it would mean a major policy change.
Mr Ellis supported Ms Seaton and said that the nature of the job of a member had changed because members have to be more accessible to a wider range of people.
Mr van der Merwe said that a mistake was made to underestimate the volume of work and travelling of members. He said that there is a crisis that needed to be rectified and it could not wait for next year as Parliament was in session for the next five weeks.
The Speaker said that an assessment needed to be done because the allocation of tickets could not be done on ad hoc basis as it affected the Parliamentary budget. She said that on request of parties constituency periods were changed so that members do not go home every weekend. If it is the intention of parties, to go back to that practice then the debate could be resumed.
Mr Ellis suggested that whips should ascertain which members of their parties require additional tickets. He said that parties knew which of their members had been more active than others.
Mr van der Merwe supported Mr Ellis.
Mr Doidge supported the Speaker and suggested that Ms Seaton should make an assessment and indicate what mistakes were made when it was decided on 60 tickets. He appealed to the Presiding Officers to be sympathetic because members were in need of additional tickets.
Mr Nhleko said that the concern for additional tickets should be looked at carefully for next year.
Mr Frolick expressed concern at the long delay in members being reimbursed for using their tickets for committee work.
In response the Speaker said if a member used his or her ticket for committee work and there was a problem in regard to reimbursement such issues should be referred to her.
It was agreed that the Speaker would look at the budget and report back to members.
A document on notices of motion was presented to the committee by Mr Hahndiek.
The Speaker said that parties should not use notices of motion for other purposes than those intended. She said that matters that are of substantive nature or an attack on a member should be treated differently. Currently the Rules do not allow debate on a substantive motion unless a member gets a majority and that puts Parliament in a vulnerable position in the long term. She said that procedures that would allow Parliament to function should be in place.
It was agreed that parties should look at the document and the matter would be discussed at the workshop in January 2002.
The meeting was adjourned.
Speaker (Chairperson) Maine, M S
Deputy Speaker Masutha, M
Bakker, D M Mbuyazi, L R
Cassim, M F Modisenyane, L J
Chauke, H P Montsitsi, S D
De Lange, J H Moonsamy, K
Doidge, G Q M Nel, A C
Ellis, M J Nhleko, N P
Frolick, C T Ripinga, S S
Greyling, C H F Seaton, S A
Kota, Z Taljaard, R
Mahlangu, M J Van der Merwe, J H
Staff in attendance: Mr K Hahndiek, Ms L L Matyolo, Ms N Keswa, Ms M Raphela,
Mr R O Yako, Mr K Mansura, Ms Z Mene
Mr F Bhengu, Mr Y I Carrim, Mr D H M Gibson, Mr A H Gaum, Mr P A C Hendrickse, Mr J Selfe, Ms E Thabete
NOTES ON PROCESSING “SUBSTANTIVE MOTIONS”.
(prepared by K Hahndiek, Secretary to NA)
(1) Members currently have the opportunity on each sitting day to give oral notice of motions in the House. The Notice of Motion period is limited to 15 minutes, each member being allowed 1 minute. Members are given the opportunity on the basis of an agreed party rotation.
(2) The Notices of Motion are subsequently printed on the Order Paper and in Hansard.
(3) Although presented as draft resolutions, the Notices of Motion in practice have developed into a mechanism for members briefly to air their views on topical issues, and there is no expectation that they will be programmed for formal consideration by the House.
(4) Problem: The problem arises that there is no process to distinguish Notices of Motion that are in fact intended for formal consideration, including for instance –
· Substantive motions containing charges or allegations against a member.
· Censure motions.
· No confidence motions (for which there is constitutional provision).
A process needs to be developed to deal with such Notices of Motion.
(1) The identified problems could be overcome if Notices of Motion regained their original purpose of giving advance notice of motions which members intend should be formally considered by the House.
(2) The current “Notices of Motion” could then be properly identified as Members’ statements.
(3) NA Rule 105, which provides for statements by members, has not yet been implemented. It could be adapted to accommodate the current Notice of Motion practice.
(4) Apart from members’ statements, there would then be an opportunity daily of giving Notice of Motions. Such “proper” Notices of Motion would have to meet agreed criteria:
a. Text: If the Notice of Motion is proposed as a draft resolution, then unlike current Notices of Motion, it should be “short and succinct and framed so as to express with as much clarity as possible the distinct opinion or decision of the House” (quoted from Australian Senate Practice).
b. If the Notice of Motion is intended to propose a subject for discussion, the wording should be limited to identifying the topic, which should be clearly established.
c. “Substantive motions” dealing with allegations against members would, as at present, require Speaker’s approval (in terms of such allegations being properly motivated and adequately substantiated, etc).
(5) Processing of “proper” Notices of Motion: “Proper” Notices of Motion could be processed as follows:
a. All Notices of Motion to be routinely referred to the Programme Committee and the weekly Chief Whips Forum with a view to the Forum making a recommendation on scheduling to the Programme Committee.
b. The Programme Committee takes a final decision on scheduling Notices of Motion. If no agreement can be reached, the Notice of Motion remains on the Order Paper and individual members, or parties, can formally have their support for the Notice of Motion printed. When sufficient support has been obtained (by agreed formula), the Notice of Motion must be scheduled. (This alternative is based on practice also followed in other parliaments).
(6) Printing: If the proposed distinction between Notices of Motion and Members’ statements is approved, I would further recommend that Notices of Motion be printed on the Order Paper, and that members’ statements only appear in Hansard.