SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

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SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Nassau-Windsor on Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:10 pm

Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

An Act to regulate Parliamentary Inquiries.

WHEREAS it has been established by law that Our Parliament has the right to question and to receive information;

WHEREAS there have not been regulated any such means through which Parliament can and may receive such information, other than from Ministers through the Debate Hall of Parliament;

BELIEVING that there should be made regulations for Parliamentary Inquiries;

BE IT ENACTED by Us, by and with the advice and consent of Parliament, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-


Chapter I: General provisions
Article 1
Upon the request of any Member, Parliament shall vote on establishing and creating a Parliamentary Inquiry (hereafter: “inquiry”). The request must be made at the General Debate Topic for the respective Session at the Debate Hall of Parliament. The request shall remain there for twenty-four (24) hours during which time it may neither be amended nor be discussed. After this term, the request shall be voted upon in the Voting Chamber of Parliament. The term for voting shall be forty-eight (48) hours at least.

Article 2
In order for a request as outlined in Article 1 of this Act to pass, it must receive a simple majority among the voting Members in favour of it. The total number of Members voting shall only consist of those who explicitly vote in favour or against the request.

Article 3
The request as outlined in Article 1 of this Act must contain at least:
a) the Member(s) of proposing to establish the inquiry;
b) the number of Members that will serve on the Committee;
c) what the subject of the inquiry;
d) the reasons for the inquiry; and
e) what information should be gathered from the inquiry.

Chapter II: The formation of a Parliamentary Inquiry
Article 4
Immediately after a request as outlined in Article 1 of this Act has passed the Voting Chamber of Parliament, the Chair of Parliament shall command the Founder of Our Region to create a topic for the inquiry. The Founder shall do so as soon as possible.

Article 5
An inquiry shall be conducted by an especial Committee of Parliament. The Committee shall consist of three or five Members, the choice of which is to be expressed in the request. The Member who placed the request for the inquiry shall, by virtue thereof, be a Member of the Committee. The Committee will choose amongst themselves a Committee Speaker.

Article 6
The remainder of the Members of the Committee shall be appointed by the Chair of Parliament. The Committee shall contain representatives from at least two grouped parties in Parliament, or at least one grouped party and one individual Member of Parliament.

Article 7
If the inquiry has as its subject anything in particular of a certain Member or grouped party, the respective Member(s) may not be appointed Member(s) of the Committee.

Article 8
Neither the Committee nor its memberships can be prorogued or dissolved due to the end of a Parliamentary Session.

Article 9
If at any point a Member of the Committee resigns or ceased-to-exist within Our Region, the Chair shall appoint another Member to replace him, in due accordance with the provisions in this Act.

Chapter III: The execution of the Parliamentary Inquiry
Article 10
The Committee shall have the privileges given to it in this Act only for the duration of the Committee. Each Member of the Committee, whether joint by others or not, use these privileges in order to execute the inquiry.

Article 11
The Committee shall only make use of the privileges granted to her when deemed necessary for the proper functioning and execution of the inquiry.

Article 12
The Committee shall have the privilege to request and order that written documents are forwarded to her.

Article 13
The Committee shall have the privilege to request and order that a copy of any document is made available to her.

Article 14
The Committee shall have the privilege to hear, publicly or behind closed doors, witnesses or experts on the subject. The hearing shall be conducted by the full Committee, through its Speaker, only.

Article 15
A hearing as outlined in Article 14 of this Act shall be conducted under either oath or solemn affirmation. The person being heard shall devote to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Article 16
All persons or incumbents of an office or a position must to co-operate in every way they are possible with the Committee. The Committee may set rules for doing so. This provision does not apply to any person who has a duty of confidentially based on an Act of Parliament.

Article 17
All persons have the privilege of assistance of any sort, whether it be legal or otherwise, to support them with their duties to the Committee.

Article 18
No person whatsoever must provide information that would, in any way, harm the continuing or safety of Our Region, when he has the Founder’s permission not to provide that information.

Article 19
No Prime Minister or Cabinet Minister must provide information on the meetings of Cabinet and the discussion therein, as long as he remains in office.

Article 20
No person whatsoever is allowed to speak about inquiries that have taken place behind closed doors, or confidential documents provided to the Committee.

Article 21
Not co-operating to the fullest extent possible with the Inquiry, shall be defined as a crime as set out in Article II, sub 2, of SO 2016-14 On Judicial Rights and Procedures. Such crimes are hereby classified as felonies, and shall be punishable in accordance with Section C, sub 2 of the said Act.

Article 21A
Violating an oath or solemn affirmation sworn or taken by and for the inquiry, shall be defined as a crime as set out in Article II, sub 2, of SO 216-14 On Judicial Rights and Procedures. Such crimes are hereby defined as high crimes, and shall be punishable in accordance with Section B, sub 2 of the said Act.

Chapter IV: Dissolution of a Parliamentary Inquiry
Article 22
When the inquiry has finished, the Committee shall write a public report to Parliament. The report shall include the minutes of proceedings of the Committee.

Article 23
Confidential documents provided to the Committee shall be mentioned briefly in the report. The actual text of the document shall not be published, and shall continue to confidential.

Article 24
The Committee shall be dissolved the moment they make public their report at the Debate Hall of Parliament. The report shall remain there, visible for each Member of Our Region.

Chapter V: Final provisions
Article 25
This Act, once in effect, may only be changed with a majority of at least two-thirds of the voting Members of Parliament.

Article 26
This Act may be cited as “[The] Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017”.

Tuesday the 25th day of July, 2017
The Rt. Hon. Nassau-Windsor MP LSM, President of the Union


Last edited by Nassau-Windsor on Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Libertarian Democracy on Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:07 pm

A few notes:

Article 1: I agree that it should not be able to be amended, but what is your reasoning for barring discussion?  Perhaps such discussion could leave to the Request for Inquiry being withdrawn.  Perhaps a debate would change some Senators' initial opinions on the matter.  There is little precedent, if any, for this Parliament to encourage acting on initial opinions and without any discussion or debate.  I think we should conduct a Request for Inquiry in a manner similar to a Parliamentary Motion.

Article 5: You mean a Parliamentary Commission.  Commissions and Committees are very different things.  See SO#2017-11 ("On Parliamentary Commissions and Committees").  Also, Commissions can only be created by a Parliamentary Motion.  So, who would submit the motion?  What if the motion is voted down?  This could be done much more efficiently if the Request for Inquiry is a Motion, and we could, as the adage goes, kill two birds with one stone.

Article 19: I propose that this be worded differently so that a Minister is not compelled to discuss such meetings, but may choose to.  What if we decided to make a Parliamentary Inquiry into the efficiency of Role Play moderation?  How could Parliament ever legislate solutions if the Ministers are barred from testifying on their own proceedings?

Article 21: Please, I beg of thee, I spent so many hours writing the Judicial Act, please use it! " ___ is hereby a Criminal offense and is classified as a ____, and shall be punished by ___".

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Abdoa on Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:30 am

I agree with all of LibDem's points, and a couple few other remarks:

Article 1: you mean Members of Parliament (member can also just mean any citizen)? Ordinary citizens are not allowed to post in the Debate Topic if they haven't been called upon to do so.

Article 2: though this again would be simplified if the request for an inquiry was just a motion of parliament, the majority bar outlined there is unconstitutional.

Article 4: The Chair can already do this by precedent - I have always created all of the topics in the Parliament section (except in the Drafting Table) while I have been Chair, so I don't see the need to get the Founder to do this; it's just another extra layer of requests that we frankly don't need more of.

Article 5: "The Committee shall consist of three or five Members, the choice of which is to be expressed in the request." this can be interpreted as contradicting Article 6, meaning that the request can choose which MPs are members of the Commission. Maybe this: "The Commission shall consist of either three or five members; the exact number must be included in the Motion to Request a Parliamentary Inquiry."

Article 6: Parliamentary Groups don't exist yet, as Parliament is still officially non-partisan once it is elected. I however am compiling a complete rewrite of the Procedure Orders which will probably create Parliamentary Groups, but since that wouldn't come into force for over a month anyways, this requirement is, at least in its current wording, completely meaningless.

Article 9: "ceased-to-exist within Our Region" I know this is supposed to mean that if the nation leaves the region, it counts as if they CTE, but its kind of confusing from a logistical point of view, so could you just list leaving the region as part of list explicitly please?

Article 15: I know this is probably an excessively pointless request on my part, but could you use "commit" or "affirm" instead of "devote"? It's because in French the word has a religous meaning, and since this bill is written in a pseudo-ye olde uk parliament formal legalistic language, which owes a lot historically in its origin to Old French, I kind of get the wrong impression of it. Frankly, could we just omit the oath part, and just have people affirm, leaving religion out of it completely?

Article 21: I know Judicial Act is over ten pages long, but that's precisely the reason that not properly classifying a crime is annoying, because it contradicts the provisions of the Judicial Act and creates a confusion that might invalidate the actions taken by law enforcement under this article.

Article 24: Why not just have the full report be published in the Lobby? I mean that's the only use for the Lobby I can think of, as the only other law that references it says that Parliamentary Journals must be published there.

Article 25: Again, completely useless and unconstitutional, as amending laws takes 2/3rds of the total number of MPs anyways.

Other remarks: would you mind terribly referring to the Commission/Committee as "it" not "her", as that is the current correct pronoun in this instance?

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Nassau-Windsor on Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:24 pm

Libertarian Democracy, MoJ wrote:Article 1: I agree that it should not be able to be amended, but what is your reasoning for barring discussion?  Perhaps such discussion could leave to the Request for Inquiry being withdrawn.  Perhaps a debate would change some Senators' initial opinions on the matter.  There is little precedent, if any, for this Parliament to encourage acting on initial opinions and without any discussion or debate.  I think we should conduct a Request for Inquiry in a manner similar to a Parliamentary Motion.

The reason for holding an inquiry, is to discuss the matter in detail. The subject of the inquiry is already been known to the Members of Parliament (see Article 3 sub c). This subject ought to be written in the most precise manner reasonable. Therefore, Members will already know what they will vote on in sufficient detail at the time. If some powers in Parliament or elsewhere wish to cover up some of their actions, which are then to be investigated through the inquiry, quick action is absolutely necessary. The request of the inquiry should not be able to be used to delay proper proceedings. We should discuss what really matters: the results of the inquiry. However, if you are still not sufficient, I invite you to write an amendment.

Libertarian Democracy, MoJ wrote:Article 5: You mean a Parliamentary Commission.  Commissions and Committees are very different things.  See SO#2017-11 ("On Parliamentary Commissions and Committees").  Also, Commissions can only be created by a Parliamentary Motion.  So, who would submit the motion?  What if the motion is voted down?  This could be done much more efficiently if the Request for Inquiry is a Motion, and we could, as the adage goes, kill two birds with one stone.

Whoops, indeed, I mean a Parliamentary Commission as under Article III, Section 3, sub a of the said Act. Also this inquiry cannot begin based on a Parliamentary Motion, for Article 1 of the Parliamentary Motions Act 2016 (SO 2016-16) defines such motions as: "(...) a formal proposal by a Member of Parliament that requests another body of governance to take a certain action (...)". Yet the issue with Parliamentary Inquiries is that they will be conducted by Parliament itself, albeit be it through a Commission of it, it is still Parliament that conducts the inquiry, not another body of governance.

So therefore, the especial, specific, Act takes precedence over the general rules set out in the Senate Order on Parliamentary Commissions and Committees (SO 2017-11), and thus the rules for an inquiry would follow this Act as it specifically rule otherwise than regulated in the said Senate Order.

Libertarian Democracy, MoJ wrote:Article 19: I propose that this be worded differently so that a Minister is not compelled to discuss such meetings, but may choose to. What if we decided to make a Parliamentary Inquiry into the efficiency of Role Play moderation? How could Parliament ever legislate solutions if the Ministers are barred from testifying on their own proceedings?

The way I see it, is that the wording is sufficient. Article 19 says that a Minister does not have the obligation to testify (no [Minister] must). However, because they have no specific obligation said to the contrary, they still could choose to do so. A problem that might come up is that a Minister wishes to testify with regards to one question, but does not want to with regards to another. This Article is basically a security for the Cabinet, which ought to speak with one tongue, so that Ministers can back each other. This is why a Minister still has the ordinary obligation to testify when the subject is something else than (in Article 19 explicitly mentioned) information gathered through a Cabinet meeting.

Libertarian Democracy, MoJ wrote:Article 21: Please, I beg of thee, I spent so many hours writing the Judicial Act, please use it! " ___ is hereby a Criminal offense and is classified as a ____, and shall be punished by ___".

I could argue that this is not substantive law, yet rather procedural law, however, I won't. I am just not in the mood of a battle on legal terms. Very Happy I will update it.

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Abdoa on Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:45 pm

Okay, I'm going to update my comments, working on it right now:

Article 1: you mean Members of Parliament (member can also just mean any citizen)? Ordinary citizens are not allowed to post in the Debate Topic if they haven't been called upon to do so.

Article 2: In the light of the valid reason you have brought up as to why it can't be a motion, I withdraw my earlier comment, though the majority is still unconstitutional.

Article 4: The Chair can already do this by precedent - I have always created all of the topics in the Parliament section (except in the Drafting Table) while I have been Chair, so I don't see the need to get the Founder to do this; it's just another extra layer of requests that we frankly don't need more of.
Also, I suggest you specify that the inquiry topic be created in the Parliament's forum.

Article 5: "The Committee shall consist of three or five Members, the choice of which is to be expressed in the request." this can be interpreted as contradicting Article 6, meaning that the request can choose which MPs are members of the Commission. Maybe this: "The Commission shall consist of either three or five members; the exact number must be included in the Motion to Request a Parliamentary Inquiry."
Also, there is a direct conflict with the Committees and Commissions Act here as to how the Commission is created, so I suggest you explicitly exempt Inquiry Commissions from those rules to avoid confusion.

Article 6: Parliamentary Groups don't exist yet, as Parliament is still officially non-partisan once it is elected, so this requirement is, at least in its current wording, completely meaningless.

Article 9: "ceased-to-exist within Our Region" I know this is supposed to mean that if the nation leaves the region, it counts as if they CTE, but its kind of confusing from a logistical point of view, so could you just list leaving the region as part of list explicitly please? Or maybe just saying "lost their citizenship" or something?

Article 15: I know this is probably an excessively pointless request on my part, but could you use "commit" or "affirm" instead of "devote"? It's because in French the word has a religous meaning, and since this bill is written in a pseudo-ye olde uk parliament formal legalistic language, which owes a lot historically in its origin to Old French, I kind of get the wrong impression of it. Frankly, could we just omit the oath part, and just have people affirm, leaving religion out of it completely?

Article 24: Why not just have the full report be published in the Lobby? I mean that's the only use for the Lobby I can think of, as the only other law that references it says that Parliamentary Journals must be published there.

Article 25: Again, completely useless and unconstitutional, as amending laws takes 2/3rds of the total number of MPs anyways.

Other remarks: would you mind terribly referring to the Commission/Committee as "it" not "her", as that is the current correct pronoun in this instance? Just a suggestion though.

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Libertarian Democracy on Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:18 pm

I feel like I have this discussion every time my Hon. Friend writes a proposal. First we quarrel over whether or not to classify a crime under the Judicial Bill, then we quarrel over the difference between a High Crime and a Felony.

As I have stated numerous times before, and as emphasized within the Judicial Bill, a High Crime is intended to be the worst of the worst crimes. Crimes like treason, crimes that are premeditated with the intent to threaten the very existence of the region. Perjury does not fall under that definition. For IRL examples, we can look to the US and the UK, where treason is punishable by up to a life sentence and death respectively, yet perjury is capped at 5 and 7 years respectively. Perjury should be classified as a Felony.

Note this is in reference to Article 21A

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Abdoa on Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:20 pm

Libertarian Democracy wrote:As I have stated numerous times before, and as emphasized within the Judicial Bill, a High Crime is intended to be the worst of the worst crimes.  Crimes like treason, crimes that are premeditated with the intent to threaten the very existence of the region.  Perjury does not fall under that definition.
Concurred.

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Nassau-Windsor on Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:38 am

Libertarian Democracy wrote:I feel like I have this discussion every time my Hon. Friend writes a proposal.  First we quarrel over whether or not to classify a crime under the Judicial Bill, then we quarrel over the difference between a High Crime and a Felony.

As I have stated numerous times before, and as emphasized within the Judicial Bill, a High Crime is intended to be the worst of the worst crimes.  Crimes like treason, crimes that are premeditated with the intent to threaten the very existence of the region.  Perjury does not fall under that definition.  For IRL examples, we can look to the US and the UK, where treason is punishable by up to a life sentence and death respectively, yet perjury is capped at 5 and 7 years respectively.  Perjury should be classified as a Felony.

Note this is in reference to Article 21A

I think that it is only right for us to discuss the classifications of crimes over and over again; it is a political view that makes us to want to put the crime in one category or another. Some Members of Parliament wish to be more strict, others do not. It is a good thing that the punishments we implement are discussed at great length.

Moving on to the classification of the crime as described in Article 21A: I think that it deserves to be classified as a high crime because of the possible severity of the case which is the subject of an inquiry. I will try to give an example:

Let us say that our region is attacked in by raiders on NationStates, something we can all agree would threaten the existence of our region. If Parliament launches an inquiry as to how this could have been possible, and members of this region were to lie under oath or solemn affirmation, therefore withholding information from Parliament that could be vital to prevent such actions in the future, I would consider this to be a high crime.

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Libertarian Democracy on Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:32 pm

Nassau-Windsor wrote:
Libertarian Democracy wrote:I feel like I have this discussion every time my Hon. Friend writes a proposal.  First we quarrel over whether or not to classify a crime under the Judicial Bill, then we quarrel over the difference between a High Crime and a Felony.

As I have stated numerous times before, and as emphasized within the Judicial Bill, a High Crime is intended to be the worst of the worst crimes.  Crimes like treason, crimes that are premeditated with the intent to threaten the very existence of the region.  Perjury does not fall under that definition.  For IRL examples, we can look to the US and the UK, where treason is punishable by up to a life sentence and death respectively, yet perjury is capped at 5 and 7 years respectively.  Perjury should be classified as a Felony.

Note this is in reference to Article 21A

I think that it is only right for us to discuss the classifications of crimes over and over again; it is a political view that makes us to want to put the crime in one category or another. Some Members of Parliament wish to be more strict, others do not. It is a good thing that the punishments we implement are discussed at great length.

Moving on to the classification of the crime as described in Article 21A: I think that it deserves to be classified as a high crime because of the possible severity of the case which is the subject of an inquiry. I will try to give an example:

Let us say that our region is attacked in by raiders on NationStates, something we can all agree would threaten the existence of our region. If Parliament launches an inquiry as to how this could have been possible, and members of this region were to lie under oath or solemn affirmation, therefore withholding information from Parliament that could be vital to prevent such actions in the future, I would consider this to be a high crime.

First, I will point out that you give the worst case scenario, and I would argue that a Law should never be tailored to fit only the worst case scenario.  A High Crime is a non-negotiable, permanent ban because we can be reasonably certain that any commission of such an offence is so severe that no other punishment would ever fit the crime.  A Felony is punished depending on the factors of the case because these offenses vary in severity.  It can be anywhere from a two-week ban to a permanent ban, with any finite ban potentially eligible for probation given demonstrated rehabilitation.

The example you provided does not address the counterexamples given by the RL laws of the US and UK.  In real life, perjury could mean lying about simple littering or full-blown acts of terrorism.  Either way, a life sentence is not imposed for the specific perjury, nor is any lengthy term of incarceration.

But of course people who commit the most heinous of crimes do not only get a perjury charge.  If someone perjures themself before Parliament in order to protect invaders, that is a clear charge of Treason which is a High Crime.

In conclusion, I fail to see any argument for the classification of Perjury as a High Crime.  While the worst-case scenario would lead many to lean towards harsh punishments, High Crimes are meant for crimes where there is only a worst-case scenario.  Perjury is not such a crime.  If an offense was severe enough to require a permanent ban, well, the law allows for Felonies to potentially be punished by a permanent ban.  In addition, there could potentially be other charges related to the specific offense.   Under the Union Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Article VI, Clause 6, all members of the Union are entitled to be punished according to the severity of the offense.  By imposing the mandatory permanent ban that comes with the High Crimes classification for a crime with variable severity, this fundamental right would be denied.

I cannot support the proposal until Article 21A is reduced to a felony.  I believe this is an essential procedure bill, but I am not willing to sacrifice the liberties of my constituents in order to implement it.

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Re: SO 2017-58 Parliamentary Inquiry Act 2017

Post by Nassau-Windsor on Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:23 pm

I will address your point later on, when I will also address the points made by our Rt. Hon. friend the Prime Minister [Abdoa].

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