Wetang'ula Issues Guidelines On Introduction And Amendment Of Bills

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On Tuesday, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Moses Wetang'ula, issued guidelines to the House on the introduction of Bills and the Amendment of Bills through Parliamentary Initiative.

The Speaker issued the directions vide a Communication to House when he presided over the first Plenary Sitting of the House.

The new directives mean that any Member seeking to introduce a legislative proposal to amend the Constitution is expected to comply with the requirements of Standing Order 114(7A). This requires the attachment of the signatures of at least fifty other Members to the legislative proposal for approval by the Speaker.

The Communication was in response to several requests that the Speaker has received from legislators who wish to introduce legislative proposals to amend the Constitution.

"Since the commencement of this Parliament, I have received several requests from Members wishing to introduce legislative proposals to amend the Constitution. Among is a proposal from the Member for Gichugu Constituency, Hon. Robert Githinji Gichimu and the Member for Matungulu Constituency, Hon. Stephen Mule, MP. The two Members are proposing to amend the Constitution to anchor the National Government Constituency Development Fund in the Constitution," noted the Speaker.

Speaker Wetang'ula further informed the Members that the House had made crucial amendments to its rules in the twilight of the 12th Parliament, amongst them, the new Standing Order 114(7A), which prescribes a new procedure for conducting pre-publication scrutiny of legislative proposals seeking to amend the Constitution.

Standing Order 114(7A) provides that in respect of a proposal to amend the Constitution, the proposal shall be accompanied by signatures of at least fifty other Members in support unless it is sponsored by the Majority Party or the Minority Party.

Legislators who spoke on the matter observed that the new Standing Orders would enrich the legislative process.

The new House regulations seek to provide for consensus through the collection of views of other Members, the Attorney-General, constitutional commissions, and the Kenya Law Reform Commission on any proposed amendments to the Constitution by actualizing the provisions of Article 256(2) of the Constitution. This constitutional provision obligates Parliament to publicize any Bill to amend the Constitution and to facilitate public discussion.

As amended, Standing Order 114(1) also allows Members to co-sponsor Bills in the House. In this regard, Members with legislative proposals dealing with related issues may opt to co-sponsor legislative proposals for introduction in the House.

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