Gov’t to reintroduce Dual Citizenship Bill

By Gary Hatigeva

AT its resumption on Friday, November 9, Parliament is expected to receive the return of the Dual Citizenship Bill for its pre-deliberations as well as first reading.

This was confirmed by the Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela when presenting the government’s businesses that have been scheduled for Parliament ending Friday.

The Dual Citizenship Bill comes in the form of two supporting bills, namely the Dual Citizenship (Constitutional Amendment) Bill 2018, and the Citizenship Bill 2018.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill is looking at amending the Constitution to allow for Dual Citizenship, because currently, it prohibits any dual citizenship status, while the Citizenship Bill looks into the structures and application of the dual citizenship proposed legislation.

The Bill will be presented for the first reading and then later be put down for the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC’s) inquiry, where it will be scrutinised before it is taken up again for its second and third readings, including the Committee of the Whole House’s thorough proceedings.

The Dual Citizenship Bill was tabled early this year during a previous sitting of parliament but forcibly withdrawn, and according to the Prime Minister, this was done because the house was one MP short of the two thirds majority required to pass constitutional amendments.

The withdrawal was also done in recognition of the Bills and Legislations Committee’s recommendation, based on issues highlighted to be missing in the bill, which would have helped tightened it.

Initially, the BLC recommended for the Dual Citizenship (Constitutional Amendment) Bill to be withdrawn and have the Citizen Bill withdrawn, but the government had decided for the withdrawal of both bills.

But the Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare during that session, explained that the Procedures on dealing with a bill is outlined in Standing Orders 43 to 60, which he clarified that when a bill is introduce into the system of parliament to the stage where it is now ready to be moved for second reading, the only provisions available for not to deal with it is under Standing Order 59, and that for the withdrawal of Bills.

He said the Bills will have to come through the normal processes again when they are ready to be reintroduced to Parliament, and the government had ensured this is so, now that the bill is confirmed and ready to be reintroduced.

The bill’s later proceedings, which include its second reading, scrutiny through the Committee of the Whole House, and third reading, are all expected in the coming weeks as parliament continues to deliberate on the remaining government bills.

Other Bills that are also lined up for Parliament’s deliberation include the Payment System Bill 2018, the Development Bank of Solomon Islands Bill 2018, and the Traditional and Custom Facilitation Bill 2018.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also announced that a few of the Bills will also be put down for their further proceedings in the house this Friday when Parliament resumes.

However, due to the current situation parliament is going through, especially with the loss of its House Committee Chairman, the outlined are still in doubt, as Friday is also a private members day, and would require an approval by the Committee to allow for government businesses to be tabled on that day.

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