MPs, senators move to end rivalry over consultation on Bills

Parliament Sitting

Members of the National Assembly during a past sitting. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

The supremacy wars between the National Assembly and Senate over concurrence concerning the consideration of Bills will come to an end if MPs pass the Houses of Parliament (Bicameral) Relations) Bill, 2023

The Bill seeks to provide a seamless framework for conducting various matters of a bicameral nature by defining seven categories of Bills for which the Constitution and the courts have already guided that no question can arise.

These include Bills amending the Constitution which are considered by both Houses of Parliament, Bills that obviously do not concern county governments and Appropriation and Finance Bills, which are considered only in the National Assembly.

This delineation of Bills shall make the legislative process more efficient and reduce the time for enacting legislation, as the two Speakers do not need to resolve matters that the law and the courts have already clearly defined.

This therefore means that the outright Bills that are only supposed to be considered by one House will not to undergo concurrence, a move that will save time and increase the number of legislations considered by both Houses.


The Bill proposes a framework for implementing Article 110(3) of the Constitution, which has largely been the basis of the disputes between the two Houses.

Article 110(3) of the Constitution requires the two Speakers of Parliament to jointly resolve any question on whether a Bill is a Bill concerning county governments.

It outlines seven categories of Bills that the two Houses will not need to consult each other on the question of whether they concern counties or not.

They include a Bill to amend the constitution as provided under Articles 255, 256 and 257 which in this case will be considered by both Houses, and a Bill related to the election of members of the county assembly or county executives which will also be considered by both Houses.

In addition, a Bill related to the annual County Allocation of Revenue Bill will also be considered by both Houses.

However, the Appropriation Bill, Finance Bill, or any Bill providing taxation and other revenue-generation measures by the national government shall be considered only by the National Assembly.

Despite the constitution providing the demarcation on the Bills that should be considered by both Houses, senators have always differed with their National Assembly counterparts on the interpretation of the law leading to the two Houses ending in court.

This has often threatened to paralyze the legislative processes and has in the past led to the invalidation of key legislation, a case in point being the 2019 High Court judgement which invalidated twenty-three Acts of Parliament. The issue is still pending appeal before the Supreme Court.

According to Article 109(4) of the Constitution, any Bill that concerns county governments may originate in either House and requires consideration by both Houses.

Before the introduction of a Bill that would require passage in both Houses, the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament consult and determine whether that Bill concerns county governments.

Bills that concern county governments include, a Bill containing provisions affecting the functions and powers of the county governments set out in the Fourth Schedule, a Bill relating to the election of members of a county assembly or a county executive and a Bill that affects the finances of county governments.

While senators have accused their counterparts of undermining and blackmailing them on legislation and oversight, Members of the National Assembly have accused them of duplication of roles and at one point even threatened to abolish the Senate.

In June last year, the Supreme Court dismissed a request by Senators to suspend the implementation of a judgment that allowed their exclusion by the National Assembly in making laws that do not affect counties.

The apex court noted that compelling the two houses to engage on all Bills will cripple the running of the government.

The dispute came up from 23 laws that were signed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta after being passed by members of the National Assembly without the input of the senators.