Monday, October 31, 2011

Ugandan MPs pass motion to retain Bills

By Alfred Wandera

Bills that were tabled in the Eighth Parliament but were not passed into laws will be saved and retained in the Ninth Parliament, thanks to the motion MPs approved last week.
The motion to save the 23 Bills was tabled in the House by the UPDF representative Sarah Mpabwa and seconded by Oyam North MP Krispus Ayena (UPC).

“Much as there are strong arguments advanced for the lapse of Parliament Bills upon dissolution of Parliament, these arguments should be applied with exception to the Bills before Parliament. Before a Bill is tabled in Parliament for first reading, it has been subjected to so many processes including consultations.

A lot of time and resources are committed to these bills at these stages, let alone the cost of publishing and gazetting them,” said Mpabwa in her motion.

She added: “We also know that the practice in most Parliaments is to save the Bills of the previous Parliament. It is for these reasons that this Parliament (Ninth) should find it fitting and proper that the bills of the Eighth Parliament are saved and considered by the relevant committees.”

Seconding the motion, Ayena said a lot of resources had been invested in the Bills, and argued that some of the Bills are based on common sense and therefore their importance ought not to be overemphasized.
Workers MP Sam Lyomoki moved an amendment to the motion saying Bills that had not been included in Mpabwa’s motion should not be left out.

Speaker Kadaga said there is no rule, as quoted by Mpabwa that says that a Bill lapses with the end of a session of Parliament.

Isingiro Woman MP Grace Byarugaba Isingoma said there should be an amendment to the rules of procedure to provide for automatic carrying forward of the Bills of the previous House without moving a motion.

Kadaga approved the idea and directed the chairman of the committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges to consider the proposal.

The saving and retaining of the Bills of the Eighth Parliament gives a life line to some of the controversial draft legislations that drew heated debates from human rights activists and moralists like the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 that was privately sponsored by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati.

Other Bills returning to the House are the Anti-money Laundering Bill, 2009; the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill, 2007; the Regional Governments Bill, 2009; the Transfer of Convicted Offenders Bill, 2007; the Geographical Indications Bill, 2008; the Implementation of Government Assurances Bill, 2008; the Industrial Property Bill, 2009; the Chattels Securities Bill, 2009; the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010; the Plant Variety Protection Bill, 2010; the Plant Protection and Health Bill, 2010; the HIV/Aids Prevention and Control Bill, 2010; and the Uganda National Metrological Authority Bill, 2010.

Others are the Pharmacy Profession and Pharmacy Practice Bill, 2006; the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (Amendment) Bill, 2010; the National Council for Older Persons Bill, 2010; the National Council for Disability (Amendment) Bill, 2010; the Uganda Forestry Association Bill, 2010; the Retirement Benefits (Sector Liberalisation) Bill, 2011; and the Anti-Counterfeit Bill, 2011.

The handling of the Bills forms the core business of the House committees that scrutinize the draft laws before they tabled in Parliament for debate and final passing into laws.

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