Sometimes people are unaware of the power they possess to help shape the laws and legislation of their country. Many are interested in what is happening in the nation, and would love to be part of the process in a meaningful way, but do not know what avenues are available to them. In Jamaica, the public is often invited to be part of the formulation or review process for certain pieces of legislation in Parliament. Many persons are unaware that they can submit opinions or concerns about these Bills to Parliament within a given time. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand how you can make submissions to Parliament to aid in the deliberations of pieces of legislation.
Where to find out what public Bills are tabled:
- Go to the website of Jamaica’s Houses of Parliament (japarliament.gov.jm)
- Click on the Publications tab.
- Click on Bills, then Public Bills.
- Or just go straight to this link.
- You will see a listing of Bills being considered by Parliament, referred to the Committee, or awaiting royal assent, with links for the full text of each.
How to write a submission on a particular Bill
Firstly, you should know that there is no set format for how to express your concerns, reservations, opinions and/or recommendations to Parliament. It does not have to be written in a certain way. Just ensure that your points are clearly expressed and submitted by the specified date.
- Set out your concerns or reservations, whether it be clauses, sections, potential scenarios not addressed in the Bill, etc.
- Ensure that you state at the top what Bill you are writing about.
- It is recommended that you state each concern in a different paragraph, and number your paragraphs for easy referencing. (This is a recommendation, not a requirement.)
- Address it to: Clerk to the Houses, Houses of Parliament, Gordon House, 81 Duke Street, Kingston or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It is recommended that you submit a hard copy via post and a soft copy via email.