Debates of 17 Jan 2006

PARLIAMENT 9:50 a.m.

PRAYERS 9:50 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Hon. Members, we have assembled here this morning to officially commence business for the First Meeting of the Second Session of the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
I hope you were able to take some rest despite the fact that you had to discharge an equally important and challenging responsibility as Members of Parliament in your respective constituencies.
I am happy that you have managed to be here in your numbers, looking hale and hearty, an indication of your readiness to continue work from where you left off for recess.
Let us give thanks to the Almighty
Celebration so that we can collectively convey to the people, the beauty of the bond that binds us all as a House, in spite of our respective political inclinations.
As hon. Members and key operators of our fledgling Parliamentary democracy, we owe it a duty to our people not only to make good laws for them, but have a primary responsibility explaining to them our actions and inactions so that they will appreciate and accept the institution and issues emanating from us at all times.
Against this background, Leadership would appreciate that more Parliamentary Outreach Programmes are scheduled by the Parliamentary Service to deepen the understanding of our activities by the people of ghana during this Session.
In accordance with constitutional provisions, His Excellency the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, will deliver his message on the State of the Nation on Tuesday, 31st January, 2006 at 10.00 in the forenoon.
Hon. Members, opportunity is being offered to the House to once more host the 37th Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Africa Region this year. I am informed that the Parliament of ghana successfully hosted the 30th Conference of the CPA, Africa Region in August 1999. This time round, we look forward to hosting a more successful Conference, which would leave an indelible imprint on all participants.
To this end, I urge hon. Members not to hesitate in advising or passing onto the Planning Committee, pieces of suggestions that would enable us to achieve the ultimate.
Hon. Members , Par l iament i s determined to continue pursuing the ideals
god to whom we owe debts of gratitude for safeguarding us throughout the recess and bringing us together once again. It is my prayer that He will continue to look down upon us with favour and that He will endow us with divine wisdom and guidance throughout this Session and others to come.
Hon. Members, this Meeting promises to be busy and hectic. We have activities of the Parliamentary Week Celebration underway.
A symposium was held yesterday on the topic: “Parliament, the Bastion of Constitutional Democracy: Effective Meaningful Relationship with the Citizenry” at the British Council Hall.
Today's ceremony marks the official opening of Parliament by the Speaker and as you are aware, your Speaker has just inspected a guard-of-Honour mounted by a detachment of the ghana Police Service at the forecourt of the Chamber Block.
There are a number of activities planned to commemorate the Parliamentary Week, the climax being the National Public Forum, which comes off Thursday, 19th January 2006. Parliament on that fateful day will provide a platform to meet and interact with those you represent at the Accra International Conference Centre. This programme, since its inception in 1994 has become a major activity of our Parliamentary calendar and significantly afforded Parliament, as an institution embodying the will and power of the citizenry, the opportunity to give account of its stewardship to the good people of ghana.
I entreat all hon. Members to patronise this event, as well as all others that have been outlined for the Parliamentary Week
of democracy by placing the national interest above personal and partisan considerations. The spirit of co-operation and consensus building, which have characterised deliberations in the House, needs to be deepened and strengthened and I hope I can count on the support of leadership of the caucuses to make this ideal a reality during this Meeting and indeed throughout the Session.
It is instructive to note that the House was able to perform its functions under very trying or difficult circumstances. Leadership will do its best to minimise these difficulties but I entreat hon. Members to also continue exhibiting commitment and zeal in the exercise and discharge of their legislative respon- sibilities.
As the Speaker of this honourable House, I also need your co-operation and support to make my work easier and spare me the ordeal of exercising the strong authority conferred on the Speaker by the Standing Orders of the House.
On this note, I wish to welcome you all to the House and I officially declare the First Meeting of the Second Session of the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of ghana duly commenced.
Thank you.
At this stage may I call on the hon. Deputy Minority Leader, if he has anything to say.
Deputy Minority Leader (Mr. E. K.
D. Adjaho): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of the Minority Leader and indeed on behalf of the Minority group, I welcome hon. Members to the House. I am hoping that they are all in good health and ready to tackle the
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Order. Deputy Minority
Leader, you should not be distracted.
Mr. Adjaho 9:50 a.m.
The Minority group

Mr. Speaker, the Minority side is still

Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang

-- rose --

Some hon. Members: Sit down, sit

Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Order, order! Hon.
Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, do you have any point of order?
overdue. Whilst we fully support the Whistleblowers Bill, we would like to state categorically that the Whistleblowers Bill without a Freedom of Information Law would not be effective in combating corruption in ghana.
Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, our Parliament played host to the newly elected hon. Members of both Houses of the Liberian Parliament during the break. Even though the notice was short many hon. Members responded positively to the invitation. There was a fruitful interaction between us and the Members from Liberia. Though the period was brief, I am sure a lot was learnt by the new hon. Members from Liberia.
Mr. Speaker, the new Liberian government was also sworn in yesterday. I wish to congratulate the newly elected President. I would also like to take liberty to appeal to both the Executive and the Legislature of this sister country not to be trapped in the past but work for the common good of the Republic of Liberia.
Mr. Speaker, once again, on behalf of the Minority, and the Minority Leader, I say welcome to all Colleagues and wish each and everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Order! Order! Majority Leader.
Majority Leader (Mr. F. K. Owusu- Adjapong) 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I join you and my hon. Colleague, the Deputy Minority Leader, in welcoming all of us back to this Second Session.
Mr. Speaker, I wished that Professor Attafuah were here today so that he could look at some of the statements we keep on listening to about this Parliament being partisan.
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 9:50 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the rules of procedure are quite clear. When this honourable House has taken a decision and any hon. Member has difficulty with it, he can come by way of a substantive motion and I believe that what my good Friend is doing is completely out of order according to the rules of the procedure. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Adjaho 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, with the
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Deputy Minority
Leader, please continue.
Mr. Adjaho 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like

An hon. Member: go on.
Mr. Adjaho 9:50 a.m.
For the integrity and dignity of this House, it is in our interest to dispassionately discuss this matter using the appropriate procedures in order to determine his status. [Hear! Hear!] The people of Nkoranza North deserve a representative in this honourable House. [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker, we are serving notice that

The introduction of this Bill is long

I enjoyed the mood in the sense that when the hon. Deputy Minority Leader started talking about his concerns, he only raised one concern relating to a Bill and as I look at the Agenda, we have a lot of Bills to be passed.

Mr. Speaker, I decided to keep quiet when he was speaking and I think that he would do the same thing to me.

Mr. Speaker, we have a number of Bills

that have been referred to committees and we agreed at the last Business Committee meeting that they were all going to be carried over and therefore, there is an agenda there.

Mr. Speaker, if out of about 10 or so

Bills, my hon. Colleague the Deputy Minority Leader is only expressing concerns for only one, it means that we agreed on 90 per cent of the activities here -- [Hear! Hear!] -- So it is never correct that we come to this Parliament in a partisan mood.

Of course, I would like to repeat the advice I keep on giving to my hon. Colleagues in the Minority leadership, that we have a statement in the Akan language which says, Yentutu anoma ho mfa nkokyere panin, na wommisa se anoma ben,” meaning, “You do not remove the feathers of a bird and you begin to ask what bird it is.”

Mr. Speaker, under our normal customary system when you have reservations you use the normal channel, discuss before you take a position. Now you have taken a position on an issue like hon. Amoateng's matter. Let me repeat our position then to the Minority since they have failed to use the normal channel. According to our rules, a person must be found guilty before you take any further
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Order, order! Deputy Minority Chief Whip, do you have any point of order?
Mr. E. T. Mensah 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Majority Leader, you
may wish to continue.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
the problem we need to resolve is, at what point do we refer matters to the Privileges Committee? And I still want to insist that we should not make a decision that would be too dangerous for our democracy and this country.

Mr. Speaker, do not let us rush on issues. We have all the opportunity to decide at the appropriate time. But it is just good

enough for the Majority side that we now know the thinking of our hon. Colleagues from the Minority and I believe we would take serious note of what they are thinking about and at the appropriate time we shall react accordingly.
Mr. John Tia 9:50 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Majority Leader is misleading this House. It is very normal that any issue affecting this House or an hon. Member of this House is brought to the notice of the House, and that is the simple demand we are making. We have not ruled hon. Amoateng guilty, no. We are saying that an issue is affecting an hon. Member of this House and it is very, very, important.
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Majority Leader, please
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
as I was saying, I would have wished that we would look at matters that would advance us more than issues that would tend to divide us at the beginning of the Meeting. But whatever I think, it is always good to hear what people are thinking.
Mr. Speaker, I think we should be concerned a bit more about the numerous complaints your office keeps on getting; the Minority Leader and myself are copied.
Just this morning I have had a copy of a petition of a type not satisfying our rules but that has been submitted by the lotto people. I believe we need to develop keys as to how we resolve these matters. And I thought that we were going to concentrate more on how we are going to ensure that our Select Committees would be able to call organizations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to respond to matters that are within their control and for which the people are expressing concern.
I want to assure the Minority that whilst they are spending time on those persecutions we will be persuading them to devote a bit more time to look at things that would advance this country so that we can check up from the various Ministries the sort of things that would make the country grow.
Mr. Adjaho 9:50 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, it is not my style to intervene when we are having a ceremonial occasion like this, but I have been compelled to do so because he referred to “a hidden speech” that has been put somewhere.
Mr. Speaker, nobody from the Minority has got any “hidden speech”. The speech we have is what we have presented to this House and to the nation. If he has seen a copy of any other speech I challenge him to lay it on the Table right now. Mr. Speaker, he should be called upon to gracefully withdraw.
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Majority Leader, you may continue.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, you see the problem my hon. Colleague is having; he still needs to learn to become a full leader of the Minority, then he would
Mr. Tia 9:50 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr.
Speaker, the hon. Majority Leader is the leader of his side in this House. He should be concerned with issues on his side. If he is a secret agent of anybody and he has found any secret document from this side, the only appropriate thing for him to do is for him to make it public. He should make it public and not do what he is doing.
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Hon. Members, order, order. Majority Leader, you may continue.
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
I have taken notice of the statement made by the hon. John Tia and that is very satisfactory in the sense that it makes my burden a bit lighter. I hope in the next few minutes he would not come back to ask that, “When are we going to hear about this matter?”
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Majority Chief Whip, do you have any point of order against the Leader of the House?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is information that I want to clarify. Mr. Speaker, I believe I have the indulgence of the hon. Majority Leader.
Mr. Speaker, what the Minority Chief Whip stated is a factual inaccuracy. The Leader of the Majority side in any Parliament is the Leader of the House. [Hear! Hear!] And that is whether or not the Minority Chief Whip likes it. Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the House in any Parliament is the Majority Leader and they should take that as a fact. They do not know; they must learn.
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Majority Leader, please continue. I want us to make progress.
Mr. Owusu- Adjapong 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
fortunately, I was with hon. John Tia when we went to London and I am very surprised that he is not beginning to accept the reality, but we should allow people to learn gradually. At the end of it they would know that that is the true thing. And let me repeat for the last time that so long as I continue to lead the Majority and have their support, it is what we want to do that prevails and that one is not in dispute. [Hear! Hear!] But that is not what we have been doing. What we have been trying to do is always to end up building consensus and that divisionist attitude would not help this country.
Mr. Speaker, all I am saying is that let us begin to devote more time to things that would help this country to advance and not do things that would divide this
Mr. Mahama Ayariga 9:50 a.m.
On a point
of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Majority Leader is grossly misleading this House.
Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Majority Leader refers to page 3 of our own Standing Orders, it clearly provides a definition of who the Majority Leader is, and Mr. Speaker, with your permission, let me read what it says:
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Order! Order! hon.
Majority Leader, continue. Hon. Majority Leader, are you winding up?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, when they become less noisy I will wind up.
Mr. Speaker, you happened to have led the Leadership of this House to an exhibition of Apostle Safo, an item I think we should be interested in now. And as I said in supporting you on that day, we need to see to what extent we can bring Parliament closer to Apostle Safo and his institution. That is why I said that what we should now be concerned with is to what extent we can use our facilities here to let the MDAs be more and more involved in things that would let this country develop. And that is why I am saying that we should concentrate more and more this year on getting our Select Committees not only to be approving budgets but to be reviewing budgets and to be finding out to what extent we can give our advice to support this country.
Mr. J. D. Mahama 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to raise a point of procedure.
The convention in this House is that normally with ceremonial speeches like this official opening of Parliament, points of order are not normally accepted. I just wanted to find out if we were keeping the convention.
Mr. Speaker 9:50 a.m.
Hon. Members, order. Leadership of the House, at this stage, any indications?
Mr. Owusu- Adjapong 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as the undisputed Leader of the House I move that this House do now adjourn till tomorrow at ten o'clock in the morning. I do move. [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Adjaho 9:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the good news this morning is that the brochure defines who the Leadership of the House is and it is quite clear. Mr. Speaker, on that note I second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.