The Legislative Assembly
56. Power of Legislative Assembly
The King and the Legislative Assembly shall have power to enact laws, and the representatives of the nobles and the representatives of the people shall sit as one House. When the Legislative Assembly shall have agreed upon any Bill which has been read and voted for by a majority three times it shall be presented to the King for his sanction and after receiving his sanction and signature it shall become law upon publication. Votes shall be given by raising the hand or by standing up in division or by saying “Aye” or “No”.
The Legislative Assembly shall be called the Legislative Assembly of Tonga.
The Legislative Assembly shall meet at least once in every twelve calendar months but it shall be lawful to summon the same at any time.
- The Legislative Assembly shall be composed of-
- the representatives of the nobles;
- the representatives of the people; and
- all members of the Cabinet.
- Cabinet Ministers who are elected representatives shall, unless dismissed after impeachment under clause 75, remain as members of the Legislative Assembly and representatives in their respective electoral constituency during their appointment as Minister.
60. Representative members
There shall be elected by the nobles of the Kingdom from their number nine nobles as representatives of the nobles and there shall be elected by electors duly qualified seventeen representatives of the people. The Legislative Assembly shall determine the boundaries of electoral districts for the election of representatives of the nobles and shall establish an independent Commission to determine the boundaries of the electoral constituencies for the election of representatives of the people:
Provided that the constituency boundaries for the general election of 2010 shall be based on the recommendations of the Royal Constituency Boundaries Commission as approved by the Legislative Assembly.
- The King shall, within 5 days after the appointment of a Prime Minister in accordance with clause 50A following a general election, appoint one of the elected representatives of the nobles on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly, to be the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
- The Speaker shall remain in office until-
- the King appoints an Interim Speaker following the next general election in accordance with sub-section (8) of the Schedule to this Constitution;
- his appointment is revoked under sub-clause (3); or
- he dies, resigns or his appointment is revoked after he ceases to be an elected representative of the nobles for any reason other than the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly.
- If the Prime Minister, with the approval of at least half of the members of the Legislative Assembly, recommends to the King that the Speaker be removed from office, the King shall revoke the Speaker’s appointment and appoint a new Speaker on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly.
- The King shall appoint a Speaker within 7 days of the occurrence of a vacancy.
62. Rules of procedure
- The Legislative Assembly shall make its own rules of procedure for the conduct of its meetings.
- Any member of the Legislative Assembly may, in accordance with its rules of procedure-
- introduce a Bill in the Assembly;
- propose a motion for debate in the Assembly; or
- present a petition to the Assembly,
and it shall be dealt with in accordance with the Assembly’s rules of procedure.
63. Qualification of nobles
- No person shall succeed to the position of a noble who is insane or imbecile or who is disabled by the twenty-third clause.
- Every noble shall be competent to vote in an election for representatives of the nobles and to sit in the Assembly if chosen according to law.
64. Qualification of electors
Every Tongan subject of twenty-one years of age or more who is not a noble, is not insane or imbecile and is not disabled by the twenty-third clause shall, if registered as an elector, be entitled to vote in an election for representatives of the people to the Legislative Assembly and on the day appointed for election shall be exempt from summons for debt. A person resident outside of Tonga who is qualified to be an elector may vote at an election only if he is registered as an elector and present in Tonga for the election.
65. Qualification of representatives
Representatives of the people shall be chosen by ballot and any person who is qualified to be an elector may nominate as a candidate and be chosen as a representative for the electoral constituency in which he is registered, save that no person may be chosen against whom an order has been made in any court in the Kingdom for the payment of a specific sum of money the whole or any part of which remains outstanding or if ordered to pay by instalments the whole or any part of such instalments remain outstanding on the day on which such person submits his nomination paper to the Returning Officer:
Provided that a person resident outside of Tonga who is qualified to be an elector will qualify as a candidate only if he is present in Tonga for a period of 3 months within the 6 months before the relevant election.
66. Threats and bribery
Any person elected as a representative who shall be proved to the satisfaction of the Assembly to have used threats or offered bribes for the purpose of persuading any person to vote for him shall be unseated by the Assembly.
67. Privilege of nobles
It shall be lawful for only the nobles of the Legislative Assembly to discuss or vote upon laws relating to the King or the Royal Family or the titles and inheritances of the nobles and after any such bill has been passed three times by a majority of the nobles of the Legislative Assembly it shall be submitted to the King for his sanction.
68. King’s veto precludes discussion
Should the King withhold his sanction from any law passed by the Legislative Assembly and submitted to him for approval it shall be unlawful for the Legislative Assembly again to discuss such law until the following session.
It shall be lawful for the Legislative Assembly to pass judgment upon its members for their acts or conduct as members of the Legislative Assembly and although all the members may not be present it shall be lawful for the Legislative Assembly to discuss and pass laws and transact business should one-half of its members be present but should there be less than one-half present the Legislative Assembly shall stand adjourned to another day and if at such adjourned meeting there should be still less than half the members present it shall be lawful for the King or the Speaker of the Assembly to command the presence of all the members and if any fail to attend on such command it shall be lawful to inflict punishment for such disobedience such punishment to be determined by the Legislative Assembly.
70. Offences against the Assembly
- Any person who-
- acts disrespectfully in the presence of the Legislative Assembly;
- by any act or omission, interferes with, obstructs or impedes the Legislative Assembly in the performance of its function;
- interferes with, obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the Legislative Assembly in the discharge of his duty;
- defames the Legislative Assembly;
- threatens any member or his property; or
- rescues a person whose arrest has been ordered by the Legislative Assembly,
may, by resolution of the Legislative Assembly, be imprisoned for any period not exceeding thirty days and if he is a member of the Assembly he may be suspended from the Assembly for up to thirty days in substitution for or in addition to any other penalty.
- A penalty of imprisonment imposed in accordance with this clause is not affected by a prorogation, the dissolution or expiration of the Legislative Assembly.
- A resolution of the Legislative Assembly ordering the imprisonment of a person in accordance with this clause may provide for the discharge of the person from imprisonment.
- Notwithstanding the power to imprison under sub-clause (1) the Legislative Assembly may impose a fine—
- not exceeding $5,000, in the case of a natural person; or
- not exceeding $50,000, in the case of a corporation,
for an offence against the Legislative Assembly determined by the Assembly to have been committed by that person under this clause.
- It shall not be lawful to both imprison and fine a person for an offence under this clause.
- The Legislative Assembly may give such directions and authorise the issue of such warrants as are necessary or convenient for carrying this clause into effect.
71. Noble deprived of his seat
Should any representative of the nobles be deprived of his seat another noble shall be elected to succeed to his seat in the Legislative Assembly but his title and hereditary estates shall not be confiscated except for treason or sedition.
A journal of the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly shall be kept and the votes of each member present for and against every motion or resolution shall be recorded in the journal.
73. Immunity from arrest
The members of the Legislative Assembly shall be free from arrest and judgment whilst it is sitting except for indictable offences and no member of the House shall be liable for anything he may have said or published in the Legislative Assembly.
Any representative of the nobles or of the people who may wish to resign his seat in the Legislative Assembly may tender his resignation in writing to the Speaker and his connection with the Legislative Assembly shall cease when he tenders his resignation.
- It shall be lawful for a member of the Legislative Assembly, of his own volition or as the result of a written complaint made to him by any Tongan subject, to move the Assembly, in accordance with the rules of procedure, for the impeachment of any Minister or representative of the nobles or of the people for any of the following offences—Breach of the laws or the resolutions of the Legislative Assembly, maladministration, incompetency, destruction or embezzlement of Government property, or the performance of acts which may lead to difficulties between this and another country.
- The impeached person shall be given a copy of the accusation in writing seven days before the day of the trial.
- The trial shall be conducted in accordance with the eleventh clause and the Lord Chief Justice shall preside.
- After the witnesses have been heard the impeached person shall withdraw and the Assembly shall consider their decision and upon a decision being made he shall be brought before the Assembly and the decision announced to him. If he be found guilty it shall be lawful to dismiss him from office but if acquitted it shall not be lawful to impeach him again on the same charge as is provided in the twelfth clause.
Upon the death or resignation of any representative of the nobles or of the people and when a member is deprived of his seat after impeachment, the Speaker shall immediately command that the nobles or the electors of the district which he represented shall elect a representative in his place. But the Legislative Assembly shall have the power to sit and act although its number be not complete.
77. General elections
- Elections shall ordinarily be held for all the representatives of the nobles and the people every four years, and if not earlier dissolved the Legislative Assembly shall stand dissolved at the expiration of four years from the date of the last general election.
- It shall be lawful for the King, at his pleasure, to dissolve the Legislative Assembly at any time and command that new elections be held.
- If the Legislative Assembly is dissolved by the King or by the operation of sub-clause (1), the King shall, after consultation with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, fix a date for a general election.
78. Assembly to assess taxation
The Legislative Assembly shall assess the amount of taxes to be paid by the people and the customs duties and fees for trading licences and shall pass the estimates of expenditure for the Public Service in accordance with the nineteenth clause. And upon the report of the Minister of Finance upon the expenditure and revenue received during the year succeeding the last meeting of the Assembly the Legislative Assembly shall determine the estimates for the expenditure of the Government until the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly. And the ministers shall be guided by the estimates of public expenditure so authorized by the Legislative Assembly.
79. Amendments to Constitution
It shall be lawful for the Legislative Assembly to discuss amendments to the Constitution provided that such amendments shall not affect the law of liberty the succession to the Throne and the titles and hereditary estates of the nobles. And if the Legislative Assembly wish to amend any clause of the Constitution such amendment shall after it has passed the Legislative Assembly three times be submitted to the King and if His Majesty and the Cabinet are unanimously in favour of the amendment it shall be lawful for the King to assent and when signed by the King it shall become law.
80. Enacting formula
The formula for enacting laws shall be “Be it enacted by the King and Legislative Assembly of Tonga in the Legislature of the Kingdom as follows:”.
81. Laws to cover but one subject
To avoid confusion in the making of laws every law shall embrace but one subject which shall be expressed by its title.
82. Constitution is supreme law
This Constitution is the supreme law of the Kingdom and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.