The Legislative Process
The Legislative Process
The Legislative Process takes place mainly at the Provincial Parliament and its fundamental aim is to make laws for the Western Cape Province.
A proposed law is known as a Bill and may be introduced by a Provincial Minister, committee or Member of the Provincial Parliament.
A Bill introduced goes through various stages in the Provincial Parliament before it becomes law. Each stage - called a reading - must be approved before the Bill can proceed to the next stage. This ensures careful consideration and allows for maximum input and participation by the public.
Upon introduction, Bills are read a first time and distributed to all Members of the House. The Secretary to the Provincial Parliament publishes the Bill for 21 days in the Provincial Gazette for public input. After the 21 days the appropriate portfolio committee considers the Bill, taking into account all comments received from the public and other interested groups. Having considered the Bill, the committee reports to the House. The next stage (second reading) deals with the objects and principles of the Bill. After second reading the Bill can be referred to committee of the whole House for final amendments.
The final stage is called the third reading and if the House agrees to the third reading, it agrees to the Bill.
A copy of the Bill as passed by the House is sent to the Premier for his/her signature (assent). Once the Premier has assented to a Bill, it becomes an Act of the Province.
Certain Bills dealing with financial matters, called money Bills, follow a slightly different route through the House. Such Bills may only be introduced by the Minister responsible for financial matters and are also not published for public comment. At this stage such Bills may not be amended.
How the House Works
The most important functions of the provincial Parliament are to make laws for the Province, to provide a forum for public debate, to oversee the Executive (government) and to hold the government to account.
After a general election, the provincial Parliament convenes to swear in the elected Members and to elect a Speaker who chairs meetings of the House and a Premier who heads the government.
At a special sitting of the House called the official opening, the newly elected Premier delivers the opening address setting out the policies the government intends to pursue and identifies some of the Bills it intends to introduce.
Business of Parliament is arranged by the Leader of the House and the Whips of the various political parties represented in Parliament. Mondays to Fridays are parliamentary working days and the hours of sitting from Monday to Thursday are from 14:15 to adjournment, and on Fridays from 10:00 to adjournment.
The parliamentary programme is published quarterly and contains the business the House will deal with for that period. On Tuesdays parliamentary questions, interpellations and questions without notice to the Premier are dealt with. Ordinary Members may put questions to Ministers relating to their portfolio as part of their oversight function.
The Secretary is the principal adviser to the Speaker and Members on procedural issues and is responsible for the publication of all parliamentary documents and for monitoring all records of the House.