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PAC Inquired On Government Borrowing;Get Tested-YWPG Take The Lead;BLC Conducts Hearing On Legal Profession Bill 2017 & Prescription Of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017;

Parliament Adjourned to Monday 9th October 2017

National Parliament of Solomon Islands

Business and Procedure

 
The Legislative Process

Legislative Process

The National Parliament is the law-making body (Legislature) of Solomon Islands. The Parliament is empowered by the Constitution 1978 to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Solomon Islands . The Constitution also sets out the basic process for law making and over time the Parliament has developed its Standing Orders which, amongst others, outline a detailed process of how laws are to be made.

The Legislative or Law Making Process therefore derives from two primary sources:

  • The Constitution of 1978; and
  • The Standing Orders of Parliament 1988

Drawing from these two sources, below is a brief explanation of the legislative process in Solomon Islands.

Conception of legislative changes

Laws come about either as a result of changes in society or to create desirable changes in society. Before the responsible authorities take up the idea to push for a new law, it is usually pressure from the society that sparks the process in the first place. Experience in Solomon Islands indicates that such pressure may simply be popular support for a specific change by the public or general sentiments (whether for or against) existing rules and circumstances. This kind of pressure would eventually form part of government policy depending on its policy priorities. Interest groups including non-governmental organizations, churches, village leaders and so forth also continue to push for changes in laws for the enactment of specific areas that have yet to be legislated for. Whatever form that such pressure takes, the ultimate outcome is that the wishes or dislikes of the public or interest groups may eventually be considered by the appropriate authorities.

Translating polices & ideas to a Bill

Once sufficient pressure or policy-based need exists, the next step would be to translate policies and ideas into a Bill. There are two channels through which a Bill may be drafted:

  • Through a Ministry and its Minister; or
  • Through a Member of Parliament who is not a member of the Government (i.e., a Private Member).

Ministry

Where the drive for a new law or changes in existing laws comes from the government of the day, technical personnel of the Ministry responsible for the area of concern would prepare instructions and forward it to the Office of the Attorney-General. Within that office, the officer responsible for legal drafting is the Legal Draftsman. On receipt of the ministerial instructions, the Draftsman will draft a Bill but with constant dialogue with the Ministry to ensure that the policies or ideas behind the Bill are fully captured by the wording of the Bill. When the Ministry and its experts are finally happy with the draft, the Ministry would then forward the draft Bill to the Cabinet for its blessings. Once the Cabinet has duly approved the draft, it is ready for presentation to the Speaker.

Private Member

On rare occasions, a Member of Parliament who is not part of the Government may wish to draft and present a private member’s bill . This may be as a result of pressures from his/her constituents, lobbying by major interest groups or simply a desire to introduce a new law. In the past, the MP seeking to draft a private bill would have to look to private legal drafters for assistance. Recently, however, the Parliamentary Strengthening Project now has the capacity to assist in this regard. As such, the MP may instruct team members of the Project to draft a private bill. This would also be an interactive process. When the draft bill is finalized, it is sent back to the MP for presentation.

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