A GUIDE TO TERMS
1. WHAT IS A BILL
A bill is a draft of an Act of parliament and includes both a private member’s Bill and a Government Bill. Simply put, a Bill is that document before Parliament passes it into Law. E.g Anti- Homosexuality Bill which has now become the Anti- Homosexuality Law.
2. WHAT IS A PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILL.
Under Article 79(1) of the Constitution of Uganda, parliament shall have the power to make the Laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda”. A private member’s Bill is moved by a backbench MP and not by Government e.g the Anti- Homo Bill was moved by MP Bahati.
STAGES OF DEBATE
1. A Committee chairperson moves motion seeking leave (permission) to present this Private Member’s Bill after which that Chairperson produces the proposed draft of the Bill.
2. Members of Parliament then debate and vote on motion. If the MPs reject the motion, then the private member’s Bill is dropped.
However, if the motion is approved, then Parliament will print and publish the Bill.
3. The Bill is published in the Gazette. The Gazette is the official government publication. After it has been Published in the gazette, it is said the Bill has been “Gazetted”.
4. After the gazette, the Private member’s Bill is introduced for the first reading accompanied by certificate of financial implication.
5. After the bill is introduced, the Speaker refers it to appropriate committee.
6. The Committee Committee scrutinizes Bill.
7. The Committee then calls responsible mover(s) of the Bill and various stakeholders and government in public hearings.
8. The Committee will also review relevant and related laws/documents and then write a report with proposed amendments to the plenary. It should be noted that in such circumstances, the committee can only propose amendments and changes to the bill BUT cannot make those changes directly. Those changes can only be made through the following steps:
9. The Movers of the Bill e.g MP Bahati for the Anti- Homosexuality Bill moves and justifies the motion for second Reading of the Bill.
10. The Committee chairperson presents a report on the Bill.
11. MPs then debate committee report on principles of the Bill and then Parliament votes for second Reading of the Bill referred to the committee of the whole house
12. After this stage, the Bill is then sent to the Committee of the Whole house, which means a committee composed of all the Mps headed by the Speaker, in case of the current Parliament, Speaker
13. MPs in charge of Bill then ask plenary to resume and then goes ahead to Report outcome of committee of the whole house
THIRD AND FINAL READING
14. Parliament the votes for Third Reading of the Bill and if approved, it is sent to the Clerk’s office.
15. The Clerk to Parliament then prepares copies for authentication and Assent of the president.
16. Basically, the president just has to sign the Bill after this stage to make it Law.
17. After the passing of the Third Reading, then the BILL officially becomes an ACT of Law and is no longer referred to as a Bill. E.g From Anti- Homosexuality Bill to Anti- Homosexuality Act.
18. After signing the Act i.e Assenting to the Act, then it becomes law.
19. HOWEVER, IF THE PRESIDENT REFUSES TO SIGN THE LAW, PARLIAMENT CAN STILL VOTE TO PASS IT INTO LAW WITHOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL ASSENT.
20. After the President Assents, then the Minister Responsible sets a date when the law will come into effect. E.g the Public Order Management Act was signed by the President, but since the Minister has not yet set a Commencement Date, it is not yet Law Applicable.
21. Afterwards, the Law is then Published in the Uganda Gazette and becomes Law Applicable, which means it comes into force.