HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT

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Query: What is the role of the National Council, since it seems like they only rubberstamp what the National Assembly has decided?

Response: The National Council reviews Bills passed by the National Assembly. The National Council may approve the Bill as it is, or recommend changes and send it back to the National Assembly. The National Council can also object to the principle of a Bill and send it back to the National Assembly, which must then vote on the principle again. The National Assembly may not agree with all suggestions, but it must hear the suggestions and vote again. If two-thirds of the National Assembly still wants the Bill it can go forward through the next stages. If not, the Bill cannot become a law. If approved by both Houses and signed by the President the Bill becomes law. If the President refuses to sign, the National Assembly may still approve the Bill by a two-thirds majority. It is then published in the official government newspaper, the Gazette, as an Act of Parliament. It comes into force from the specific date indicated.

Query: Are members of the public allowed to attend parliamentary sessions and committee meetings?

Response: Members of the public can attend sessions of the National Assembly and National Council Chambers, or committee meetings, except when a motion to exclude the public has been adopted and supported by a two-thirds majority of Members of Parliament.

Citizens are encouraged to participate by communicating with members of parliamentary committees whose functions cover their area of interest. One can attend any committee meeting or hearing in parliament, as an observer or witness. If you wish to make a presentation or submission in writing, phone or write to the Committee Clerk to make an arrangement. The calendar for committee meetings can be obtained from Committee Services at parliament.

* These responses relate to issues raised by members of the public through The Namibian SMS section, as well as directly with specific government institutions.

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