The Ministry of Justice is moving to restructure the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, with the aim of improving the legislative support given to the Government.
Speaking on the JIS programme, ‘Issues and Answers’, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said there has been a problem in recent years with the slow rate at which Bills are brought to Parliament for debate and passage.
“One element of that will be a restructured and improved (system), in terms of staffing of the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. There is also the relationship between that office and the Ministries that actually design policies and give instructions to the Parliamentary Counsel for legislation, and there needs to be some capacity building there,” Senator Golding said.
He informed that the next step is to have Liaison Officers stationed in each Ministry, who will communicate major policy decisions to drafters in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.
“That will enable more efficient communication and tracking of where legislations are and each stage of development. That’s an area which I have overall responsibility for as Chairman of the Legislative Committee of Cabinet, and we’re working hard at getting that moving,” the Minister said.
The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is charged with the responsibility of preparing draft legislations. It consists of a cadre of attorneys-at-law, headed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, and supported by administrative and secretarial staff.
In carrying out these functions, the Parliamentary Counsel draft Bills and subsidiary legislation on instructions from client Ministries; advise Ministries on points of law relevant to proposed legislation; examine and comment on all Cabinet submissions related to legislation; attend Legislation Committee (a Sub-Committee of Cabinet) meetings; and when necessary, sittings of Parliament or Committees when Bills are being taken.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter