For more information on the legislation of Tonga you can get it from the Legislation of Tonga website https://ago.gov.to/cms/
The principle of the “rule of law” is basically that no one is above the law. It requires that all arms of Government must exercise their powers in accordance with clear, well established rules and legal principles rather than rule by arbitrary decisions.
In pursuance of the principle of the “rule of law”, the prime function of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga is not only to make laws, but to ensure such laws are made clear and legitimate by their dispensation through the proper law-making processes.
There are two types of Bills that can be submitted to the Legislative Assembly, namely-
- Government Bill - These Bills originate from the Executive and is submitted by the relevant Minister to the Legislative Assembly. Government Bills are often submitted to the public and stakeholders for consultation before it is submitted to the Legislative Assembly.
- Member’s Bill - These Bills are submitted to the Legislative Assembly by a member, usually a non-cabinet Member.
- An idea or a proposal is borne when a Government Ministry, concerned citizen, group, organization or legislator suggests a new law, change an existing law or to repeal an existing law.
- This idea or proposal is then drafted by a legislative drafter, usually a lawyer, or the Attorney General's Office or the Legislative Counsel.
- Once the Bill is completed and approved by the relevant authority, it is then submitted to the legislative Assembly either as a Government Bill or Member’s Bill.
Legislative process a bill must go through before becoming an Act.
The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly receives and registers all Bills submitted for consideration by the Legislative Assembly. Where it is a Member’s Bill, the Clerk will seek the endorsement of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly then submits it to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Legislation for consideration before it is tabled in the Legislative Assembly.
When a Bill is tabled in the Legislative Assembly, it must be processed through the 1st reading before the member submitting the Bill can introduce it to the Assembly.
- The Bill is read out for the First Reading then put to vote.
- If the vote on the First Reading is passed by a majority of the members, then the Bill is deemed to have passed its First Reading.
- After the First Reading is passed, Bills are often referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Legislation to be scrutinized and/or general public consultation (opportunity for Civil Organizations (CSOs) to propose their submissions) before it is submitted back to the Legislative Assembly for its Second Reading.
- The Bill is read out for the Second Reading, it can be referred to theWhole House Committee for further deliberations and ammendments. This is also where the Bill is considered in detail. After consideration by the Whole House Committee, it is then referred back to the Legislative Assembly for a vote on the second reading (with ammendments if any).
- If it passes the Second Reading by a majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, it then proceeds to its Third Reading.
- This is the final stage of consideration of a Bill. It is the last opportunity to consider and decide whether the Bill should be passed.
- Once a Bill's Third Reading has been passed by a majority of members of the Legislative Assembly, it becomes an Act of Parliament.
- All Acts of Parliament must be presented before His Majesty for Royal Assent. An Act of Parliament will become law once it has been granted Royal Assent by His Majesty the King.
Summary of Bill
- A Bill is formed from a policy, idea or proposal.
- A Bill is a proposed law that is introduced into the Legislative Assembly for consideration.
- A Bill tabled in the Legislative Assembly may go through a First, Second and Third reading and passed each time by a majority of the members before it becomes an Act of Parliament.
- An Act of Parliament becomes law if it receives Royal Assent by His Majesty.