Monday, 17 June

Can a committee of Parliament make changes to bills?

Feature Article

1. The answer is NO!

2. Per Articles 103 and 106 of the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament, Committees play a crucial role in the legislative process of Parliament but they have no law-making powers.

3. When a Bill is introduced in Parliament and read for the first time, the Speaker is enjoined to refer the Bill to an appropriate Committee for consideration and report. 

4. The Committee to which the referral is made would usually publish in the newspapers to solicit inputs from the general public and proceed to hold stakeholders' forums to discuss the inputs.

5. The Committee then proceeds to undertake a clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill with the sponsoring Ministry and experts.

6. During the clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill, the Committee would propose amendments based on the inputs from the public and experts and Hon Members of the Committee. 

7. The Clerk to the Committee would prepare the Committee report under the direction of the Chairman of the Committee. The report essentially would capture the issues raised during the consideration of the Bill including the proposed amendments. 

8. Upon laying of the Committee report and distribution of same to all Hon Members of Parliament, the Bill is scheduled and read the second time, during which the Chairman of the Committee presents the Committee report.

9. The next stage is the consideration stage where each Clause is debated and proposed amendments by the committee and other Hon Members are considered by the House.

10. The House may agree to the proposed amendments or disagree to the same. Only the amendments agreed to by the House would form part of the Bill. The Bill is thereafter read the third time and passed by Parliament. 

11. The Clerk and Officials of the Table Office would under the marking up process prepare the Bill passed by the House for Presidential assent.


Source: Lawyer Benjamin Tachie Antiedu, Author of READING THE LAW