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Though Parliament is meant to approve all legislation, the way legislation is currently formulated presents massive problems to Parliamentarians, and I suspect few understand thoroughly what they are voting for or against. I include myself in this number, even though I have no doubts about my own intellectual capacity. The problem is, most Bills take the form of Amendments to earlier Bills, and all that is placed before Parliamentarians are such Amendments, without the original text. Obviously these cannot be understood easily without the original bill.

Initially, when it seemed that something more than simple changes of figures was involved, I used to seek a copy of the original Bill which was being amended. This however takes time to obtain, so I have requested the Secretary General to make copies of the original bill available in the Chamber.

He readily agreed but, on the first occasion on which I took advantage of this facility, I found another complication. What was being amended was an Act of 2006 as amended in 2007 and 2008 and 2009. It was therefore essential to get copies also of those Amendments, in addition to the original Act.

Then however I found that trying to follow amendments to amendments with three sets of papers in front of one is very difficult. If Parliamentarians find this difficult, it must be impossible for ordinary citizens. This only plays into the hands of lawyers, and I am sure contributes to litigation which would be unnecessary if the law were clear.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

August 2011
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