Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, says he has asked Ministries to take steps to recruit Legislation Liaison Officers in order to improve the legislative drafting process.
Currently, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) handles an average of more than 100 pieces of legislation with a staff complement of nine.
While commending the OPC’s staff on their work in the timely dispatching of legislation, Mr. Chuck noted the Ministries’ crucial role in ensuring that these are handled properly. “Ministries have to look at these pieces of legislation and ensure that everything is in place. So I have asked that every Ministry [designate] a Legislation Liaison Officer whom I will be in touch with, to ensure that no [piece of] legislation is just sitting on somebody’s desk in any Ministry,” he emphasised.
The Minister was speaking during a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank forum at the Agency’s head office in Kingston.
Mr. Chuck said while there are multiple pieces of legislation currently pending that are nearly finalised, it is imperative that all stakeholders sign off on these.
“Signing off doesn’t come until everybody is [satisfied with the contents] and it comes to me as Chairman of the Legislation Committee [of Parliament],” he indicated.
Mr. Chuck explained that the process entails a review of the submissions, noting that where amendments are needed, the files are returned to the respective Ministries for this undertaking in tandem with the OPC.
Thereafter, he added, the submissions are returned to Cabinet for approval and subsequent tabling in Parliament.
Mr. Chuck also highlighted the importance of the proposed Legislation Production Management System (LPMS) in expediting the lengthy and complex procedure of drafting legislation, noting that this and other designated platforms are expected to optimise the process.
“What we are now doing, however, to speed up the process is to connect the Ministries by computers or by a programme. This is so that we can get Ministries tuned in to say exactly where every piece of legislation is at any time,” he explained.