Debates of 12 Jan 2005

PRAYERS 10:15 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Members, we shall take item 2 on the Order Paper - Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Item 4, Laying of Papers. Hon. Members, since the Speaker is the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, I kindly call upon the Majority Leader of the House to lay the Papers for us.
PAPERS 10:25 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Item 5, motions. May I again call upon the hon. Majority Leader of the House to move the motion.
MOTIONS 10:25 a.m.

Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I respectfully second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Members, the next item is number 6 and not 8 as stated on the Order Paper. May I call upon the Majority Leader of the House to move the motion accordingly.
Membership of Appointments and Business Committees
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House
adopts the Report of the Committee of Selection on the membership of the Appointments Committee and the Business Committee.
1.0 Introduction
In accordance with Standing Orders 151 and 152, the Committee of Selection was on Tuesday, 11th January 2005 appointed and mandated to consider the composition of Standing and Select Committees of the House.
1.1 Accordingly, the Committee met on Tuesday, 11th January 2005 and discussed the composition of the Business and Appointments Committees based on the ratio of 59.1:40.9 as approved by the House.
The Majority leadership agreed to the insistence by the Minority leadership that the conventional arrangement of excluding officers who are statutorily mentioned should not be resorted to in the composition of committees. Consequently, whereas under the convention the Majority caucus should have (15) members, excluding the chairman for the Appointments Committee, the Majority has now been given (15) slots inclusive of the Chairman.
1.2 The Majority and Minority Caucuses presented their proposed lists of membership for both Committees to the Committee of Selection and these
were approved.
(Attached are Appendices I & II respectively).
2.0 Conclusion
The Committee recommends the adoption of this report by the House.
Respectfully submitted.
APPENDIX I 10:25 a.m.

APPENDIX II 10:25 a.m.

Mr. A.S.K. Bagbin 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I second the motion and in doing so, I want to raise something that has just been glossed over by my Colleague opposite. Mr. Speaker, we agreed in consultation with your goodself as the Chairman of the Committee that a paragraph in the Report be deleted; that is paragraph 3 under “Introduction”, page 1.
Mr. Speaker, we agreed that that paragraph was introducing an untruth and that since we were applying a formula of 136 as against 94, that formula is what should be applied in setting up the Committee. Mr. Speaker, your goodself as chairman of the Committee is not part of the formula because you are not part of the Majority, and that is why you are not part of the 136.
So in applying that Mr. Speaker, we should apply it in toto. But the position that is being taken now, which is being
tried - I do not know why they want to introduce it, through the backdoor -- is giving the impression that there has been a convention whereby if a chairman is specifically mentioned by the Standing Order, that chairman is taken away from the formula and then the formula is still applied.
Mr. Speaker, there has never been any such convention in this House, and we agreed that this thing should not be introduced. I do not know why my Colleague, the Majority Leader is just introducing this controversy. It is needless. He should have honestly stated that that be deleted from the Report so that we go on and approve it; because if you go through all the reports since we started applying this formula, the chairman of the committee, if he is part of the membership of the group, either Majority or Minority, forms part of the ratio and therefore the ratio is applied.
It is unfair, it is unjust, it is unlawful to attempt to remove the chairmanship and

the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation under Standing Order 166 to the Minority because it is just another committee. But conventionally, they have held that portfolio. So I will urge that we should respect our conventions otherwise we would go by the rules; and the effects will never be desirable.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon. Majority Leader,
the point of the hon. Minority Leader is that there was an agreement that this third paragraph be deleted. Do you stand by it or you have something else to say?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot say I had a perfect agreement on the matter and I will give reasons.
Mr. Speaker, I said that I took advice from the other Members of my Leadership. I was informed by hon. Doe Adjaho that when he met my Chief Whip, they agreed that I should sign the document that had this clause. I checked up with him and he said he never made any such concession to him. I also indicated that I do not sit here alone; I sit here taking advice from my Colleagues, just like the Minority Leader takes advice from his backbenchers.
So having taken the advice, I said I wanted to talk to them first. We tried to get them, it was not possible. And therefore, it would not have been possible for me to say that I ignored the people I lead and just took a decision on my own. He would also remember I said that the best thing was for us to bring this information to the floor of the House so that we would all be party to it. The matter is simple. We of the Majority have agreed that even if there was any such convention, let us do away with it; and it is indicated in this Report. That is all we are saying.
The Minority is saying that there has not been any such convention. If that is the position, we are all talking the
same language because in calculating, we have ignored what we perceived was a convention -- what they say is not a convention. So there is no further debate. We are going by what the Minority said.
But if they are saying that they also would not want us even to talk -- because that is what they are trying to say, that in any committee's report, you can say that “Look, I am not very comfortable with this so I want my version also noted.” All that the Majority is saying is that they had worked and they believe that in doing the calculation -- and he has just said so -- you should not include the chairman where it is specifically stated. The Minority is saying, “ No, that is not the position.” And it has been made clear and the Minority has won, and that is why we are ignoring that. So Mr. Speaker, this is the position and I would want us to move ahead and make progress.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
The point has been made by him that he wants the House to move along and make progress. Is there not a compromise? Do you want this matter to be debated?
Mr. Bagbin 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is very simple. Delete only that clause and the House moves ahead. That was flawed because he is introducing an untruth. There has not been any such convention and we are saying delete that paragraph and we move ahead -- very simple. How can you apply a formula using a strength -- I mean it is not correct.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my simple response is that this should be recorded. His claim that this is an untruth should be recorded, and then we leave it to future generations to read what has happened on the floor of the House today; because I am being urged by my Colleague here that what he is also saying is not the truth. So let us have the whole record. After all, at the end of the day, it is his version we are using and, therefore, that should be it.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh (NPP -- Tema West 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not have much problem with what my Colleague has said, but the point I want to make is this, that the issue of whether a Member or a chairman whose position has been stated in the Standing Orders, that is, who has been made the chairman should be counted among the other Members is one of interpretation. If you look at Standing Order 164 for instance, it says:
“There shall be a Committee of Privileges which shall consist of the First Deputy Speaker as Chairman and not more than thirty other Members.”
Mr. Speaker, we have this running through Standing Orders 160 -- Business Committee; Standing Order 164 -- Privileges Committee; Standing Order 165 -- Public Accounts Committee; Standing Order 166 -- Subsidiary Legislation, the chairman is not stated; Standing Order 168 -- House Committee; Standing Order 172 - Appointments Committee; Standing
Order 173 - Committee on Members Holding Offices of Profit. Mr. Speaker, the issue is this: In our interpretation, do we include as a member, a chairman whose position has been ex officio, because it is stated here that -- for instance, the Committee on Members Holding Offices of Profit, the chairman is by statute the Second Deputy Speaker and then the other members.
Mr. Speaker, the issue is this 10:35 a.m.
in our interpretation and therefore in our calculation, do we take him out from the other members or do we include him? Mr. Speaker, I believe that because that person's position has been stated in the Standing Orders, he is detached from the other members.
In fact, it says for instance, “the Chairman and thirty other members”. And so my understanding is that the interpretation of the rules should be that our formula should be applied after the chairman has been set aside because the chairman is not one of the other members. Mr. Speaker, that is my view and so I will insist that we should in our calculation apply the formula to the members other than the chairman.
Mr. Speaker, I said I was not worried because there are other committees like the Public Accounts Committee, which is chaired by a Member from the other side, and so it will apply to them equally. But more dangerously, Mr. Speaker, if we do not begin to respect the conventions -- you would notice that in Standing Order 166, which is talking about Subsidiary Legislation, the chairman is not stated. By convention, the chairmanship must always go to the Minority side.
Mr. Speaker, if we begin to disrespect our conventions -- we have had one casualty already and I do not know whether that one is not yet in the Chamber -- then clearly, there will be no basis henceforth to offer the chairmanship of
Mr. Adjaho 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to place on record that the committee report under discussion is that of the Committee of Selection, under your chairmanship. The Majority Leader is moving this Report for and on your behalf as the chairman of the Committee; and Mr. Speaker, the agreement that the hon. Minority Leader referred to was an agreement that was reached in your presence. Mr. Speaker, the essence of the usual channel of communication in Parliament is to make sure that certain areas are ironed out before we come to the floor of the House so that Government Business and Public Business are facilitated.

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend bringing those discussions to the floor of this House but as indicated by the hon. Minority Leader, there was an agreement that the hon. Majority Leader was to delete paragraph 3 of the Committee's report. This is your report and we expect that the report we are going to adopt has been the report under your chairmanship and not the report under the Majority Leader's chairmanship. He is not the Chairman of the Committee.
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
I would be much
grateful. In order not to prolong this matter, hon. Majority Leader, I will suggest we take a certain course in this matter. Will you be prepared to delete the third paragraph so that we go on?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
the leadership of the Majority is still convinced that the convention exists. If it is a question of making progress, if it will allow us to move forward, then I will say that we go on by deleting it, bearing in mind that all the consequences that have been discussed on it will be taken into
account in all future discussions.
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Members, let us put it before the House then you can further comment thereon.
Mr. John A. Tia (NDC -- Talensi) 10:45 a.m.
Speaker, I am very much disappointed with the Majority Leader. If he concludes that we should bear in mind the consequences, in fact we sitting here are appalled, we do not know what consequences. We have not discussed the consequences of this arrangement and then he is issuing by this a threat to us - [Interruption] -- And we want to indicate that we are also ready for any threat. You see, what we are doing here is setting records or facts straight.
He is saying that the Minority has insisted that there is a convention and we are saying no. The only convention that is there is what we are talking about. What he is introducing is wrong. And I tried to prove to my Colleague that the most recent convention, which I think we should go by, is the same report of the Selection Committee on reconstitution of Standing and Select Committees signed by the hon. First Deputy Speaker in 2003. We used the formula and it was the same Appointments Committee's business. We had 26 members and the formula that was applied included the Chairman.
We had the Majority 110 and the Minority 90; and when we worked up, the 110 came up to 14.3 per cent and the 90 came to 11.7 per cent. In mathematics, to convert it you round up. So the 11.7 per cent became 12 per cent and the 14.3 per cent remained at 14 per cent. And we went ahead to constitute the Appointments Committee on that ratio. That is the most recent convention and understanding in this House.
I also want to underscore the fact that
further to this arrangement, the convention as alluded to by the Deputy Majority Whip on the Subsidiary Legislation was that it should be ceded to the Minority. That is what we are talking about. If there is any convention, these are the two that we stood by and we agreed on so we should go along that line. But what the Majority Leader has introduced is what my counterpart Majority Chief Whip indicated to me and that was why we sought to come and discuss this issue with you - that if we insist on this issue, then they will not allow the Subsidiary Legislation to come to us.
We have not even said that we are so much worried about that but they should not introduce this thing. The Majority Leader is leading this House, and it should not be by threats if he wants us to go on. Thank you very much.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP -- Suame) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my opinion about this thing is, I thought you had made a ruling on this, that we should move on. Mr. Speaker, if indeed they want to come back to this, I believe that the situation which obtained in 2000 was an aberration. Mr. Speaker, if we are talking about conventions we better go back to 1997 -- how committees were constituted. Mr. Speaker, in 2001 when we came, we did not really consider the numerical strength as such. What happened was that the then Majority Leader and the Minority Leader met and agreed that since our numbers were almost at par, we should work in constituting the committees; where we had even numbers, then we should be at par. If we had odd numbers, then the advantage should go to the Majority.
Mr. Speaker, that was the simple arrangement, without talking hard about
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP -- Suame) 10:45 a.m.

the numerical strength. So we took it from that angle. But then in constituting the committees in 1997 the then Majority Leader, hon. J. H. Owusu-Acheampong, and the then Minority Leader, hon. J. H. Mensah met. Mr. Speaker, they went along these lines. And so when the Minority Leader now says that it was an untruth, what he rather is saying does not represent the truth.
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
The hon. Majority Leader has agreed that we delete paragraph 3, kindly let us go on.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, for the records, I heard hon. Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu say that I am immuned to threats. What about the other hon. Members here? -- [Laughter.] It is not about me, it is about all of us. And when we hear people who profess to be democrats talk the way he is talking, it gives cause for concern. So I think my hon. Colleague should withdraw that portion so that we can move forward.
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon. Member, I thought you were going to take it in good humour.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.
Mr. Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon. Members, item 7.
The committees will meet immediately after this Sitting.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
as you rightly indicated, there is the need for the caucuses to meet so that they continue working on the formation of other committees. Again, there will

definitely be the need for the Majority Leader and Minority Leader to have a quick meeting with you to discuss some other important issues, all aimed at making progress in this House of ours. I therefore move that this House do now adjourn till tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the morning.

I am reminding members of the

Business Committee that the first meeting of the Business Committee will take place at 9 o'clock tomorrow to enable us plan the Business of the House.
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
second the motion, but just to add that my Colleague is fully aware that we will not move forward with threats - [Laughter.] So I am sure he promises on his honour not
to issue any such threats in future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 10:45 a.m.