Something extraordinary took place in the National Assembly last Tuesday.

The government introduced the Land Bill 2012 in the Assembly. But they did not move a motion to deliberate the Bill, as was expected. Nor did they move a motion to withdraw the Bill in accordance with legislative procedure. Instead, the government proposed that the next Parliament deliberate the Bill. And the National Assembly endorsed the government’s proposal.

So what’s out of the ordinary?

One, the government introduced a bill that they never intended to discuss. But why would the government go through the trouble of introducing a bill, if they did not want it to be deliberated? Probably because they felt that the National Council would not agree to the main amendments to the Land Act (that the Land Commission is revamped so its members are largely ministers, and that the cabinet is given powers to grant resettlement land). And probably because they felt that the Bill would not pass the joint sitting of the Parliament that would have to be convened because of differences between the two Houses.

Two, the government decided that the next Parliament should deliberate the Land Bill. The current government enjoys a huge majority. And they, most likely, will form the next government. But to plan lawmaking on that assumption is presumptuous. And it is preposterous. I’m not sure it happens anywhere else in the world.

Three, the National Assembly endorsed the government’s proposal, and resolved that the next Parliament would deliberate the Land Bill 2012. That, in spite of the fact that, according to Section 192 of the National Assembly Act: “All Bills before the Assembly or any committee on the last sitting day of a term of the Assembly or when the Assembly is dissolved shall lapse a the end of that day.”And, in spite of the fact that, according to Section 318 of the National Assembly Act: “If the consideration of a matter has not been concluded by the end of a session, it shall be continued in the following session, unless parliamentary elections have been held in the interim …”

It’s clear that discussions on bills cannot be carried over to the next Parliament. Yet that’s exactly what we resolved to do. Extraordinary.



9th Session

The 9th session of the Parliament begins tomorrow with a traditional ceremony, and will continue 11th of July. Here’s what we will be discussing…

Three bills will be introduced in the National Assembly:

  1. Domestic Violence Prevention Bill;
  2. Land (Amendment) Bill; and
  3. Road Bill.

Two bills that were introduced and endorsed by the National Council will be discussed in the National Assembly. They are:

  1. National Flag Bill; and
  2. Parliamentary Entitlement (Amendment) Bill.

The following three bills, which were endorsed by the National Assembly and subsequently discussed in the National Council, will also be discussed to resolve differences, if any, between the two Houses:

  1. Education City Bill;
  2. Disaster Management Bill; and
  3. Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Fund Bill.

If the two Houses are unable to come to an agreement on these three bills, His Majesty the King may command a joint sitting to deliberate and vote on these bills.

In addition to the bills, the following reports will be presented and/or discussed:

  1. The Prime Minister’s State of the Nation address;
  2. The Minister of Finance’s Annual Budget for 2012 – 2013;
  3. The Anticorruption Commission’s Annual Report;
  4. The Royal Audit Authority’s Annual Report;

And the following conventions will be presented for ratification:

  1. SAARC Seed Bank Convention;
  2. Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity; and
  3. Cape Town Convention and Aircraft Protocol.

If you wish to study the bills, they can be downloaded from the National Assembly and National Council websites. If you do study the bills, we, the members of the opposition party, will be happy to discuss them with you. More importantly, we will be delighted to receive your comments and suggestions.

Finally, the session will, as usual, have Question Hour. Please contact us, here or in our office, if you have questions for the Government that you would like us raise in the National Assembly.