Debates of 9 Jan 2009

PRAYERS 11:20 a.m.


Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Members, we have received a communication from His Excellency, the President and I read --
“Office of The President The Castle, Osu
Accra. Tel: 665415

My Ref. No................. Your Ref. ....................

Absence from Ghana

In accordance with Article 59 of the Constitution, I Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana, wish to notify you and Parliament that I shall be travelling to Abuja, Nigeria, to attend the ECOwAS Mediation Committee Summit Meeting.

I shall depart from Ghana on Saturday, 10th January, 2009 and return on Sunday, 11th January, 2009.

Pursuant to Article 60 (8) of the Constitution, the Vice President shall act

in my absence.








STATEMENTS 11:30 a.m.

Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Members would be allowed to comment on the Statement. But I will call only three Hon Members from both sides because we are going to spend only 15 to 20 minutes. And already the Leadership has brought me names of those who are going to contribute to this debate. They have agreed and they have brought names.
So I think I would call on the first Hon Member, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, Member of Parliament, Tamale South to contribute, that is from the Majority side.
Mr. Haruna Idrrisu (NDC -- Tamale South) 11:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I cherish the opportunity to join the Majority and Minority Leaders in congratulating His Excellency, Prof. J.E. A. Mills, President and Vice-President, His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama and to wish them well for assuming the most respectable positions of President and Vice-President respectively.
In doing so, Madam Speaker, may I also add that it is not enough to agonise about the repeat of same mistakes all over.
we do not seem as a country to be taking advantage of some of the mistakes we commit daily in order that we can make improvements as we move into the future.
My honest submission is that we should begin to make a clear distinction between partisan political activities and activities of the State and to accord Hon Members the opportunity to play the various roles for which they are elected.

Madam Speaker, I believe that we need a lot of public education. while Hon Members of Parliament understand and appreciate that Parliament was only extending its Sitting at the Independence Square, for the public their appreciation was that this was a day for celebration and merry-making as the political leadership emerged. So we clearly need to define and make a clear distinction.

Madam Speaker, the most embarrassing moment was when spouses of some Hon Members who accompanied them stood without having seats. I saw one or two Hon Members from both sides of the House struggling to be able to get their seats and I think that that clearly is not acceptable and we should avoid some of those unpardonable mistakes in the past.

Madam Speaker, most significantly was His Excellency, the immediate past President. I was caught up in one of the buses and as we got to the stadium gate, I saw former President J. A. Kufuor held up in traffic for well over 30 minutes, so I advised myself and I had advantage of my youth on my side. I decided to do some “Kak Dee” walking from that point in time to the Independence Square. There was generally a breakdown of protocol, not knowing who should go where and at what particular time. The same happened to several other dignitaries and I think this House should resolve that.

One of the most significant issues that I missed as a young person, even as we could not hear and we could not see what was happening -- I recall in 2001 after the Sword of Honour and Executive authority was handed over by former President J. J. Rawlings to former President Kufuor, there was a symbolic gesture of exchange between the two people. And for us as young people, that is very, very important. we want to give a culture of tolerance and understanding and I thought that that symbolic element of the programme, Ghanaians were denied that opportunity.

As we congratulate H.E. the President, there have been problems, we are hearing attacks and counter-attacks, threats and counter-threats across the country. May we take this opportunity to call on the leadership of political parties in this country, particularly the leadership of the ruling party, National Democratic Con-gress (NDC), and that of the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to restrain their youths and to allow that persons can celebrate with grace, recognizing and respecting the rights of other people.

we have heard of some skirmishes at Agbogbloshie, Tamale and other parts of the country with many other persons violently wounded. I think we should not encourage that particular culture.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 11:50 a.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I believe I need to correct an impression.
The Hon Member made reference to the fact that in the year 2001, a symbol of the State was handed over by former President J. J. Rawlings to former President Kufuor and if I heard him well, the impression being created in this instance is that President Kufuor did not hand over the Sword to him. [Uproar.] Madam Speaker, I think the record should be set straight, lest posterity think that maybe, it was former President Kufuor's responsibility and he did not do it.
Indeed, the Sword of State is laid there and once you are sworn in, it is given to you by the Chief Justice; then you raise it up. So it is not as if there was an embrace in this same square of Parliament, of former President Rawlings and former President Kufuor at that time. But I want to make it absolutely clear, that it is not because of the arrangements or the chaotic nature of it that is why it was not done. The tradition is that it is not handed over from one to other, the decoration is done by the Chief Justice or the Speaker. I just want to make it clear. Let it not be misconstrued that former President Kufuor did not do what was expected of him. That is not the tradition; it has to be clear.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 11:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I categorically said that as a young person, I thought that the symbolic gesture can be useful to all our young people, not the constitutional activity of transfer of power.
Madam Speaker, while we congratulate
H.E. the President, the able Hon Majority Leader made reference to two major statements that were made. One to the effect that there will be no room for vendetta, two, there will be no room for political witch-hunting but persons will be held accountable.
Indeed, many of us who have perused
Mr. H. Iddrisu 11:50 a.m.

the 1992 Constitution must appreciate that the preamble of the Constitution is the rule of law, probity and accountability. But even much more importantly was H.E. the President's message to the Ghanaian business community, and I do hope that when this House takes the opportunity in passing legislation, we will be reminded by the principle to protect our own businesses, which assurance His Excellency gave.

There are too many times that businesses have had to suffer because of their political colouration. Sometimes albeit perception, rightly or wrongly, businesses suffer because they are associated with a particular political party or a particular regime in power. we need to make progress and indeed, we can now move forward in ensuring that indigenous Ghanaian businesses do not suffer because of the transitional process.

we also must be mindful that the ruling NDC will not rule forever. Today, it is our opportunity to be joyful and celebrating; someday in the foreseeable or later future, it may be the turn of another political party, maybe hon. Samia Nkrumah's Convention's People's Party (CPP).

It may be their opportunity tomorrow to form the Government and I think it is important that as we get the message, we should all resolve to protect our own local Ghanaian businesses and let no business person, and that assurance is coming from H.E. the President, suffer as a result of any colouration that may be given to the person by virtue of what role he played or he did not play in that role.

Madam Speaker, in conclusion, it is also important for me to emphasise that when H.E. the President said that he is not going to play politics of power and privilege, it was to remind Ghanaians of his sensitivity to the ordinary people and

his quest to better the lot of the ordinary Ghanaian and to make Ghana a better place. I thank you for the opportunity.
Prof. Mike Oquaye (NPP -- Dome/ Kwabenya) noon
Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to say a few words with regard to the Statement on the floor of the House.
Madam Speaker, even though I came by this Address of His Excellency the President by secondary means, nevertheless, Madam Speaker, this was a most inspiring Address - an Address of unity, an Address that presented social justice and equity, and it is an Address that we look forward to as a guiding principle in the days, months and years to come in the governance of the Republic of Ghana.
Madam Speaker, national unity,
friendship and cooperation, consensus- building and non-divisiveness could be seen as hallmarks of the Address in question. Madam Speaker, and in this connection, it is important to reinforce the need of ethnic cohesion in this Republic so that our nation will move forward the way we all desire.
There is no denying the fact that we see certain ethnic cleavages in this nation, and particularly with regard to the past elections.
Madam Speaker, it is important for us all to address our minds to these problems and examine not only our electoral arrangements but also those social and other tendencies that tend to deepen these ethnic cleavages. These we can do as a Parliament in various committees so as to bring out appropriate recommen-dations to strengthen the kind of national unity that may be foreseen in the Address of His Excellency the President.
Prof. Mike Oquaye (NPP -- Dome/ Kwabenya) noon

Madam Speaker, in looking at the policies of justice to all our people, we also as Parliament, will have to look at some of the areas that bring and underscore the vision of His Excellency the President in this regard. Particularly, gender is crucial, and as we appreciate and celebrate your elevation for example, which clearly shows Ghana's development with regard to gender equality, I think this is also the time when we may want to examine affirmative action as a way of using the law as an instrument for mischief correction in the imbalance that had existed in the past between males and females in our society.

Madam Speaker, His Excellency had the occasion to speak about friendship and cooperation from the Ghanaian point of view. This definitely relates to our relationship with our neighbours both near and far.

Madam Speaker, in the immediate past years, we have seen a strengthening and reinforcement of economic diplomacy as a way of national development. Madam Speaker, the benefits that have accrued in this regard from our traditional partners and also new partners, particularly, China and India, cannot be over-emphasized. Madam Speaker, we look forward to strengthening this process to the benefit of our people economically, socially and politically.

Madam Speaker, I may want to make

a little reference to the events at the Independence Square, and say that let us ensure that we really have arrangements whereby we take events here in Parliament.

Madam Speaker, we are in a world where all manner of gadgets can be applied and whatever transpires in this House can be transmitted live and beamed effectively to all and sundry within the parameters of the House of Parliament. when that happens, I am sure the dignity of Parliament, which was virtually

undermined on that occasion, will be avoided in the future.
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua (NDC - North Dayi) noon
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement made by the Majority Leader, hon. Bagbin.
I wish first of all to congratulate His Excellency President Mills and his Vice, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama on the assumption of the two high offices of State.
Madam Speaker, we are happy to have these Gentlemen, both of whom are God-fearing, humble and modest, to steer the affairs of State at this critical time in our history when this nation is obviously polarized on political, tribal and ethnic lines. Perhaps, it is God-sent that we should be given this opportunity for these two Gentlemen to reunite the nation towards progress, peace, stability and development.
Madam Speaker, having said that, I would like to say a few words on behalf of Ghanaian women. we were gratified during the campaigns to hear the then flagbearer, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, pledge to afford women 40 per cent representation in his Government when he assumes the reins of leadership. we actually look forward to President Mills offering women the opportunity from very varied backgrounds as possible, so that we can have different kinds of skills, talents and competences that will bear on the governance of this country.
Madam Speaker, in the recent past, appointments were made mainly on political, tribal or ethnic grounds, and we do not hope to have this kind of thing reflected in President Mills' Government. And so Ghanaian women look forward to being given the opportunity to
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua (NDC - North Dayi) 12:10 p.m.

ensure that we provide fairness, equity and inclusiveness to all categories of Ghanaians, especially women.

Madam Speaker, we wish His Excellency President Mills and His Vice, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama well, in their new distinguished offices.

Mr. Isaac Kwame Asiamah (NPP

- Atwima-Mponua): Madam Speaker, thank you for this golden opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the floor. Madam Speaker, I must begin by congratulating first of all, President John Evans Atta Mills and Vice President, John Dramani Mahama on the assumption of office.

Madam Speaker, it is important to note that swearing in of a President is very significant, and the Presidential Oath should be respected and upheld. It is very important.

Madam Speaker, what happened on the 7th of January, 2009 leaves much to be desired. Madam Speaker, for me there was no swearing-in before Parliament and for me, it was an apology of the highest order.

Madam Speaker, simply, Professor Atta Mills, President of the Republic Ghana did not swear, he messed up with the words - [Uproar.] Madam Speaker, it is important to put this on record, and I demand the President to come back to this House and swear again before the people of this country - [Uproar! ]

Madam Speaker, there is a difference

between “protect” and “preserve'. Every word in the Presidential Oath, as captured on page 205 of the 1992 Constitution, is significant - every word here - Presidential Oath, page 205 is significant.

Madam Speaker, for me, Professor Atta

Mills messed the whole thing up. And as a legislator, I demand an unqualified apology from the President of the Republic of Ghana. He must apologize to Ghanaians and indeed the international community for what he did on that day.

Madam Speaker, we gave him a copy

Madam Speaker, talking of peace and national reconciliation , it is important that we all embrace and welcome it. Madam Speaker, the hypocritical approach to bringing peace to this country is what I am worried about. what is this hypocrisy? when our national headquarters has become a refugee camp for our party activists and members. Go there, they are being chased left and right from all over the country. [Interruption.] Madam Speaker, this House should not sit down for the country to be further deeply divided.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:10 p.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I think the Hon Member who just spoke will have to be called to order. He is not speaking to the Statement before us. He has taken extraneous issues and if we want to take him on -- [Interruption.] He has taken extraneous issues. Does he know what happens to me sitting here? [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker, I demand that he withdraws all those statements about
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:10 p.m.

His Excellency the President messing up with the Oath --[Interruptions.] He must withdraw and apologize.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon E. T. Mensah, I have heard you. I have heard enough from you.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I am appealing to you to ask the Hon Member to withdraw those words, as a legislator, beating his chest and saying that the President of the Republic should come and apologize to us and swear the Oath again.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Members, we are making comments on Statements in this House and it is not a matter for debate. He is entitled to his views. Most people have said they did not hear, which I thought was the generality but he heard it very well and according to him he did not hear -- [Uproar.] He says he heard very well but then others are claiming they did not hear. So where was he sitting? Because the complaint of this House is that nobody could hear anything; that is, from both sides, and he is on the other side but said he heard everything.
Mr. Asiamah 12:10 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker for the wonderful ruling. Madam Speaker, as I was saying, talking of polarization, when you benefit from polarization and now you have been elected into power, you turn round to tell Ghanaians that we should be united [Interruptions.] They went round talking to people, preaching ethnic politics and now they have benefited. Madam Speaker,
it is important for political leaders in this country, including all Parliamentarians to be mindful of our utterances.
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Member, can you listen to me? I am about to speak. we are not here to do politics, we are here to comment on Statements made and so I cannot see how you go into politics criticizing anybody -- [Interruptions] -- I take it that the Hon Member has finished his comments. we will move on to the Hon Member for Lawra/Nandom (Mr. Ambrose Dery) on the other side. Is he here? He is on the other side; so who is yet to speak?

Can we hear him? [Interruptions.] Can you please give us your comments on the Statement and then we can move ahead? we have only a few minutes left. I told you we are going to use fifteen minutes each to make comments. You promised from both sides. Hon E. T. Mensah, you are the third person from this side, can I hear you?
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement ably delivered by the Majority Leader and I do not intend to dwell on the lamentations over here. Madam Speaker, the chaotic nature --
Madam Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Member, I would not want to rush you but let us be very quick and fast. Time is limited and I said fifteen minutes; so let us go on.
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.

Madam Speaker, with respect to the ruling that you gave that --
Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
It is not a ruling, I did say that we were going to comment on this Statement for fifteen minutes, three contributions from both sides. I also gave limited time and I told you three from each side. You cannot take the whole day on one side, we must do some work. So if we have heard you, I have told Hon E. T. Mensah to carry on and finish it quickly. This is my ruling.
Hon E. T. Mensah, can you just give us your comments and we get on? [Interruptions.] Let us have order in this House, please. [Interruptions.] Let us carry on. Hon E. T. Mensah, can I hear you?
Mr. E. T. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, as I said, I rise to associate myself with the Statement delivered by the Majority Leader (Hon A. S. K. Bagbin) and wish to state that the chaotic nature of the organization, the blame will be placed at the doorstep of the --[Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
well, Hon Kyei-
Mensah-Bonsu, I did mention your name first. I asked whether you wanted to speak but you did not reply. Do you want to say something? If so please, you have the floor.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, I think that the convention in this House is that Leadership, particularly the Minority Leader and the Majority Leader are accorded the pride of place once they rise up. But not to indict you, Madam Speaker, I believe that there are so many new faces and we are all learning.
On the substance of the matter, I invited to be directed as to what really had transpired. I thought it was a ruling that
had come from you; if it was your ruling, I would not have attempted to intervene. If it is a question of time, Madam Speaker, I want to draw your attention, with respect to the fact that, my Colleague on the other side of the House who spoke, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, had taken far more time than my Colleague Isaac Asiamah. So if it is a question of time, with respect, then we must be looking at how really to apportion the time. Beyond that I would not want to go further and I think that it is a sufficient notice. Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
I am not only basing it on time. we are not strictly sharing time, it is a question of discretion. we say what we will and even I - [An Hon Member: This is Parliament.] -- So what? This is Parliament. Yes, we are in Parliament, we must behave. Order! Order!
Mr. A.S. K. Bagbin 12:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I believe strongly, as stated by the Hon Minority Leader, that it is part of the duty of Leadership to assist Madam Speaker and maintain order in the House and to, from time to time, try to draw Madam Speaker's attention to some of the very good conventions that could assist all of us to run the business of the House with dignity and decorum.
Madam Speaker, I agree that many of us are first timers and there is not much time for us to acclamatise and learn, which time will be provided in due course. Madam Speaker, if you have the opportunity as you have done, to go through the Standing Orders, particularly Order 72, the business of statement is to last a bit more than an hour because of the fact that Members are given the opportunity to comment for a duration of time not exceeding one hour.
But I believe the tenets of that Order will not include the making of the Statement. The Statement has to be made before the comments come in. So we are going to
use that as the guide in allocating the time to Members to make the comments.
Madam Speaker, where I wish to draw Hon Members attention to, in making the comments, is to take into consideration the language and the subject-matter that is before us. Language will have to be parliamentary, there must be some decency and dignity so that it can accord with the aura of the House; and Madam Speaker, it is important that the comments too be relevant to the Statement that has been made. And I will want to implore my Colleagues, in dissenting, not to show signs of disrespect or violence because we ourselves must set an example as leaders for others to follow.
I believe that Members are fully aware that Madam Speaker herself is taking this opportunity not just to acclimatize but also learn the tenets of the parliamentary practice and procedures; and therefore we need to be able to have the culture and tolerance and accommodation so that we can move forward, as we stated, in the right direction.
So Madam Speaker, I may with your indulgence crave also the indulgence of Hon Members to go accordingly and if Hon Asiamah is still insisting that he has something to say, to be given a few more minutes to say it before Hon E.T. Mensah could come. This is to let us chart the course of consensus-building and make sure that we move together as a Parliament.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Asiamah, can we hear the rest of your contribution?
Mr. Asiamah 12:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I thank the Hon Majority Leader for his intervention. I rest my case. Thank you.
Madam Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon E.T. Mensah, can we hear you now?
Mr. E. T. Mensah (NDC -- Ningo Prampram) 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement that has been ably delivered by the Majority Leader and seconded by the Hon Minority Leader and other Colleagues of mine. I do not intend to repeat some of the things which have been said, but the concerns which have come out are about the organization of the inauguration.

It was very chaotic. This is not the first time that such a big event had been organised at the Independence Square. when President Clinton came here, the numbers were bigger than this, the organisation -- I was at the centre of it with other people. when people decide to re-invent the wheel, that is where we have problems. It went on smoothly, everybody who was there saw President Clinton, and they all enjoyed the occasion.

So what I want to say is that we need to look at the State Protocol and those who are entrusted with such organisa-tions at all times. Sometimes we assume that they could do it. At that time the Government in power was President Kufuor and his men. They started all the organisation. If people had been on their heels, what happened would not have happened at all.

In any case, before the elections the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) organised various fora to discuss this transition. And when we look at the whole thing, even the election of the Speaker was addressed that we ought to elect the Speaker before the day of the swearing in of the President instead of coming in the
Mr. E. T. Mensah (NDC -- Ningo Prampram) 12:30 p.m.

morning and rushing it through.

The day before then, we have to elect the Speaker and swear in the new Parliament and have enough time to organise for the following day. I believe the Bill will come before us and we will do justice to it. There is a lot of input on both sides of the House.

I also want to say that the issue that Hon Asiamah referred to -- when you look at page 2 of the Statement that was delivered -- I want to quote aspects of it:

“Madam Speaker, many have spoken about the polarized country. If indeed we are polarized, the President has offered us all the olive branch, proverbial dove and Ghanaians from all political persusasions must accept the challenge and let us all move forward in the right direction”.

Professor Mike Oquaye spoke to this issue. when we talk about polarized nation and we want to point to one direction -- the NDC won in eight regions and 40 per cent in the Eastern Region. And so you cannot be pointing at NDC as a party which espoused tribalism on its platforms, we cannot say that.

As I said, I do not intend to waste any more time, there is a Bill which is coming to this House about the transition and once we do justice to it, what happened last time will never happen again.
Mr. Ambrose P. Dery (NPP -- Lawra/ Nandom) 12:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate His Excellency Professor John Evans Atta Mills as President of this country, as a First Gentleman; I also want to congratulate His Excellency John Dramani Mahama as Vice President of this country.
Madam Speaker, permit me to also congratulate you on your election as
Speaker of this House and to say that just as you ascended the seat, to this Chair on merit and not on any tribal or other considerations, under the Government of President Kufuor, the Chief Justice, also a lady, rose to that position through due process and on merit. I want to make it clear that any allegations of appointment based on anything else but qualification are unfounded and cannot be held against the government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which handed over to the President.
The preamble of the Constitution does allude to the rule of law. The inaugural Address of His Excellency the President is impressive. I want to believe that his actions are going to be in consonance with that inaugural Address. I believe that in doing so he will be respecting the Constitution and among others the resolutions of this honourable
In doing so, I am a little concerned about certain statements I have heard about payments being frozen and it appears to be in contravention of article 180 of the Constitution. Suffice it now to say that I do not want to believe that His Excellency the President will do anything against the Constitution. It is important for us all stakeholders to play our part in developing the appropriate mindset in all Ghanaians to ensure that the democratic system based on multi-party is effective.
The events at the Independence Square show that there is a lot more to be done as far as education is concerned. And I do not want to accept that any particular group, be it the NPP or the NDC, must be held responsible for that, but that we have State institutions such as the State Protocol who themselves must appreciate what the Constitution holds for such situations, that in fact what took place there was a Sitting of Parliament and not a political rally.
Mr. Ambrose P. Dery (NPP -- Lawra/ Nandom) 12:30 p.m.

I think if we all work together with the appropriate constitutional bodies, educating all Ghanaians to understand the various roles, then Parliament will not be undersieged by individual Ghanaians who see us not as Members of Parliament but as Members belonging to different parties and therefore making gestures that are provocative to individual Members.

I would associate myself with the Minority Leader's suggestion that we do work towards separating the ceremonial celebration which could degenerate into a political rally at the Independence Square and the most serious aspects of the business where the First two Gentlemen or Lady and Gentlemen, depending on whoever is elected would swear before this House made up of representatives of all Ghanaians.

I would say that we cannot, on education, in enlightening our people to a level that we will continue to go there, but we should rather work towards holding that part of the activity on the premises of Parliament, be it inside the Chamber or at the forecourt and then the next celebration can go on.

I would also want to say that comments from the other side that politics - this is a place for politics. Madam Speaker, I heard you say that it is not a place for politics.
Madam Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Hon. Member, do not get me wrong. I did not say we do not talk politics here; we are here because of politics. I only said that we just needed comments on the Statement made and that we cannot run into politics. I am not saying we do not do politics here or we do not talk politics here. I do not want to be misrepresented, to be quoted again that I said no politics in this House because it is politics which brought all of us here.
I just said that in replying to the
statements that the two sides made, let us get on without too much talk about politics and fault-finding. That is all that I said. I am saying this because you may find what you are saying blown up to say “Madam said there is no politics here”. I did not say that.
Hon. Member for Lawra/Nandom (Mr.
A. P. Dery), take note. Carry on, please.
Mr. Dery 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the clarification.
Having said that, Madam Speaker, let me continue by saying that sometimes Statements that are made here cannot be mathematically accurate, namely, that if the Minority group says that it heard no word and saw nothing and yet an Hon Member of the Minority said that what actually transpired was not a swearing-in, such seeming conflicts are not important here because the Hon Majority Leader made it clear in his statement that he saw nothing and he heard nothing.
Subsequently, he consulted the Hansard to get the Address. Never- theless, he appreciated the eloquence of the President's inaugural Address -- [Laughter.] So, I believe that such Statements, Madam Speaker -- [Interrup- tions.]
Mr. Bagbin 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to draw the attention of Hon Members to the fact that Statements are not meant to be debated. what an Hon Member who makes a Statement does is to set the parameters and not to give the details so that other hon. Members in their comments can add to the Statement. I could have gone ahead to say that I listened to it on radio and on television and saw the eloquence but that will be adding too much to the Statement. And that is why I stated that. So there is no conflict in the
Mr. Bagbin 12:40 p.m.

Statement that I have made; there is not.
Mr. Dery 12:40 p.m.
Madam Speaker, mine was not to debate. Mine was to try to find support for the position of the Hon Member for Atwima-Mponua (Mr. Isaac Asiamah) who made a statement and was advised - [Interruptions] No, it is not a debate; it is a comment. My position is that the precision of Statements here may not conform to the precision required in other fora. That was exactly the position that the Minority took in congratulating Madam Speaker. That in other fora because of technical rules, the precision required there might be different.
Madam Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Thank you Hon Members. I think we have come to the end of Statements and the comments on the Statement. Your contributions have given plenty of food for thought which could be followed later on. I thank you.
we have to move on to the next item on the Agenda.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 12:40 p.m.
Hon Speaker, it was a Statement but some suggestions have come out of it. And it would be good if you could summarise it because inasmuch as Parliament is a master of its own procedures, it has been suggested by the distinguished Hon Minority Leader, supported by his deputy and a few others that the Swearing-in could take place in Parliament and then we can move out there. Now, inasmuch as we as Members of Parliament decided, under your leadership, to move to the Independence Square, if we now decide that we will stay here for the Swearing-in to go on, we need to, maybe not now but at
a later date, revisit that particular subject so that we determine where we will hold the Swearing-in.
It is our prerogative because we are masters of our own rules and regulations and I thought I should make that point so that it can be flagged for consideration later on before the next investiture.
Madam Speaker 12:40 p.m.
well, I thank you. But I did say that the food for thought that has come up from both sides would be followed on later. If you did not hear me, that is what I said. So, it is in line with what you are saying and I agree that it would be looked at since both sides were unanimous in identifying this problem. I thank you.
Shall we move on to the next item, that is, “At the Commencement of Public Business”. Even though the Order Paper shows two Papers, only one Paper is ready today, that is item 4 (ii) - Report of the Leadership on the Membership of the Committee of Selection.
PAPERS 12:40 p.m.

MOTIONS 12:40 p.m.

Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that notwith-standing the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the motion is given and the date on which the motion is moved, the motion for the adoption of the Report of the Leadership
Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:40 p.m.

on the membership of the Committee of Selection may be moved today.

Madam Speaker, I am moving this motion together with my Hon Colleague, the Minority Leader (Hon Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) due to the urgency in the composition of this mother committee of all committees.

Madam Speaker, it is important that we put this Committee in place so that the Committee could, as it is to be chaired by your goodself, constitute the other committees of Parliament for Parliament to begin business in earnest. It is with this that I am moving that hon. Members allow that we suspend the Standing Order to enable us move the substantive motion for the composition of the Committee on Selection.

Madam Speaker, I beg to move.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
Resolved accordingly.

Report on the Membership of the Committee of Selection
Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:50 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, that this honourable House adopts the Report of the Leadership on the membership of the Committee of Selection.
Madam Speaker, I am going to rely on the report, which was prepared by the
Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:50 p.m.

Leadership and signed by my goodself and the Clerk to the Committee which I believe had been distributed to hon. Members of the House.

1.0 Introduction

Pursuant to Order 151 (1) of the Standing Orders of the House, Leadership met on Thursday, 8th January, 2009 and discussed the composition of the Committee of Selection for the First Session of the Fifth Parliament.

Order 151 (1) stipulates that: “At the first meeting of every session of Parliament there shall be appointed a Committee of Selection comprising Mr. Speaker as Chairman and not more than nineteen other members.”

Leadership discussed the composition of this all-important Committee and submits this report to the House.

2.0 Functions of the Committee of Selection

In accordance with Order 151(2), which states that unless it is otherwise expressly provided, it shall be the duty of the Committee of Selection to prepare and report within the first Sitting days after its appointment lists of Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Members to compose the various Standing Committees of the House.

Order 152 additionally mandates the Committee of Selection to prepare and report lists of Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and Members to compose the select committees of the House.

3.0 Respective Strengths of the Caucuses

Madam Speaker, the respective strengths of the Majority and Minority Caucuses are 118 and 109 which translates to 52 per cent and 48 per cent respectively.

The Committee of Selection has Madam Speaker as Chairperson and not more than nineteen (19) other members.

4.0 Membership

Applying the ratio of 52 per cent to 48 per cent, Leadership has agreed that the membership of the Committee of Selection shall be as follows:

1. Rt. Hon. Justice Joyce Bamford- Addo -- Chairperson

2. Hon. Alban S. K Bagbin -- Member

3. Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- Member

4. Hon. John A. Tia -- Member

5. Hon. Ambrose P. Dery -- Member

6. Hon. E. T. Mensah -- Member

7. Hon. Frederick Opare-Ansah -- Member

8. Hon. Akua Sena Dansua (Ms) -- Member

9. Hon. Gifty Eugenia Kusi (Mrs) -- Member

10. Hon. Evans Paul Aidoo -- Member

11. Hon. Muntaka M. Mubarak -- Member

12. Hon. Papa Owusu-Ankomah -- Member 13 Hon. Yaw Effah-Baafi -- Member 14. Hon. Raymond A. Tawiah -- Member 15. Hon. Alhaji Abukari Sumani -- Member 16. Hon. Elizabeth Amoah -Tetteh (Mrs) -- Member 17. Hon. Andrews Adjei-Yeboah -- Member 18. Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway (Ms) -- Member 19. Hon. Prof. Dominic Fobih -- Member 20. Hon. Isaac Kwame Asiamah -- Member

5.0 Conclusion

Leadership respectfully recommends to the House to adopt this report and approve the Composition of the Committee of Selection for the First Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

Respectfully submitted.
Minority Leader (Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu) 12:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I beg to second the motion moved by the Hon Majority Leader, and in doing so I want to raise a few issues.
The first one relates to the functions of the Committee of Selection. Madam Speaker, what has been stated there is that -- I am talking about paragraph 2.0, and with your permission to quote the first sentence:
“In accordance with Order 151 (2) which states . . .”
Madam, I am repeating it for emphasis. By that construction one is obliged to provide or state exactly what the Order provides for in the Standing Orders. Indeed, what is here is a mere paraphrase of what is in the Standing Orders. So I thought that the person who did the sentence construction would have said that he was only paraphrasing and not saying that he was stating what the Standing Orders do state as per Order 151 (2).
Madam Speaker, the other point is in respect of the respective strengths of the caucuses. The report, as read by the Majority Leader, has given the strength of the caucuses 118 for the Majority and 109 for the Minority. wherever he got the statistics from, I do not know.
Madam Speaker, I think to avoid
any lengthy discussion on this, there is a precedent in this House, that is, the
precedent of 2001; when we started there were other minor parties and Independent Members in this House. The Standing Orders provide for just two sides in this House: the Majority and the Minority and so it imposes an obligation on everyone here to belong to one or the other side of the political divide.
There are Minority parties herein represented. There are Independent Members herein represented. The tradition is for them to openly declare which side they do want to belong to for purposes of transacting business in this House and that is done in a written statement, tabled here in this House by the Members concerned themselves, individually.
Madam Speaker, that was what happened in 2001. At the time we had four independent Members - Hon Akudibila, Hon Boniface Saddique
Madam Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Bagbin, he is just suggesting that we delete 3.0 for the time being so that we can move on.
Mr. Bagbin 12:50 p.m.
Madam Speaker, not the total 3.0. I think from his submission, he has taken issue with the numbers of 118 and 109. Definitely, if we look at the 118, we have not added all the Independent Members to our numbers, not at all. It is the two PNC Members and the two Independent Members that is what we added to our number but that is the one he has taken issue with.
I believe that is the one my Hon good Friend the Minority Leader is taking issue with. So Madam Speaker, I will rather move that we delete from the report the first sentence of 3.0 which is headed “Respective Strengths of the Caucuses”.
Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
Hon Member, we
delete the first sentence, the whole first sentence.
Mr. Bagbin 1:10 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the first
Madam Speaker 1:10 p.m.
So it starts with the
Mr. Bagbin 1:10 p.m.
The heading will now be
“Composition of Selection Committee”, that is the amendment, and the first sentence starting from Madam Speaker to
Abubakar, Hon Rashid Bawa and Hon Victor Gbeho. I do recollect vividly that in composing committees, the Minority Leader had taken it for granted; and in fact he argued that all such parties, naturally and automatically belong to the Minority group. But then, Mr. Speaker ruled that they should give clear indications which sides they would want to transact business with. That does not in any way amount to carpet-crossing. And so the indications were given to us before we went back after one week to do the composition of the committees.
As I said, I have been given this document today. we have agreed basically on what to do -- a 19-Member Committee -- and we agreed that nine should be from the Minority side and 10 from the Majority side, which has been done. I have no qualms about that. But the statement relating to the specific numbers in the caucuses is what I am disputing, which is given as a percentage of 52 per cent to 48 per cent.
Madam Speaker, I think to short-circuit this, we need to have a declaration from the Hon Members in the Minority parties and the Independent Members to be tabled here and we would proceed from there.
Mr. Bagbin 1 p.m.
Madam Speaker, my
Hon Colleague, the Minority Leader was simply, I believe, putting on record the discussions that we have been holding as Leaders of this House. Definitely before we came to the 9,10 there were some numbers used and we just attempted capturing the numbers; and one will realise that we have not included everybody because we did not get indication from some people as to where they belong.
So you can see the numbers do not total up to 228. That is why we did that. But
Government or you are not in Government. So we would need to do that later but we have to set things going.
The Independent Members have given
some indications that are not clear, to be fair, and that is why we are doing this gingerly. So we will urge the House to adopt the report as a consensus position in the meantime, for us to come back later, by Tuesday, 13th January 2009, I believe, to clarify the position.
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
Hon. Minority Leader, are you satisfied with the answer to the matters you have raised?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
Speaker, not exactly. Madam Speaker, as he said, for the Committee of Selection, because we need to move on, I do not have any problem with it. The problem is with the report itself and the Hon Majority Leader gives the impression that we have agreed on these numbers. Now he ends up by saying that there is some confusion regarding the succinct perception of certain hon. Members.
He went on to say that the PNC group has given indication by way of writing that they want to transact business with the Majority. There is no problem with that. If we cannot agree on the location of the others, how then are they included in the Majority list giving them a figure of 118 which then boosts the percentage to 52 per cent? This is where the problem is, and I am saying that that is incorrect. The percentage attributed to the Majority is incorrect. we have no problem going on with the list and I think that is what ought to be done.
we must proceed on that basis, that we are in disagreement on the per-centages so expressed and this was supposed to come from Leadership, particularly himself
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.

concerned are in this House, so they should declare and subsequently give their written consent to the Clerk so that we know; otherwise the whole basis for the percentage is wrong. Let us know, and let us ask them, and let them declare; then we can move forward.
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
Thank you. I
thought we had deleted that part from the records. Can I hear you, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
Speaker, I thought we have expunged that sentence and that should put the matter to rest. The truth of the matter is that this is a 19-member Committee excepting your goodself. Now, if the Majority side is even one more member stronger than us in the Minority, the additional member on the Committee should go to the Majority; that was the working agreement that we had. So that explains why they have 10 and we have 9.
Madam Speaker, having said that, I may wish with respect, to draw your attention to the fact that the Convention People's Party (CPP) Member has been on her feet for quite a while so if she could be allowed to speak.
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
I was going to
call her.
Mr. Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
Very well, Madam.
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 1 p.m.
Speaker, I have no difficulty with 9 and 10 -- [Interruption.] Madam Speaker, the Majority would understand the mechanism of Parliament -- [Inter-ruption.] which of the two did the Majority Leader presume were on his side before he put his signature to it? [Interruption]. we need to know which of the two that he presumed, and he is running away from the question. we
the Convention's People's Party (CPP) does not help us resolve the issue and that is why in our report we tried to expunge that sentence because “sitting with”, is not the same as “doing business with.” Sitting with -- because of the concept we operate, one either sits at the right or the left, and not being the party in Government, naturally she will sit with those in the opposition but the issue is to do business with, so that in the practical workings of the House when there is sharing, definitely they will know where to place her interest.
That is the challenge we are faced with and that is why we have not compelled her interest and in fact deleted the sentence.
But as we go along, it is important
for us to recognize that the concept we are operating is not proportional repre- sentation. All over the world where we have Presidential, Executive system we have the Majority and Minority and in the business of the House, there is clear indication as to whether one wants to do business with the Majority or Minority.
That is the challenge we are faced with and particularly Hon Samia Nkrumah and that is why we are giving her time to take thought of the situation and come clean for us to be able to do the work.
So for the meantime we will adopt the report and compose the Committee of Selection as presented by the Leadership of the House.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 1 p.m.
Speaker, I do not really think that there is any problem with the Hon Member for Jomoro's position.
Our rules are clear as the Hon Majority Leader stated. However, the Hon Member for Jomoro has also stated that she would have liked to be on her own except that because of our Standing Orders she is with the Minority group.
the word “respectively” be deleted from the report.
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
Hon Member, is it
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
Speaker, that is acceptable except to indicate that the Committee is not the Selection Committee but the Committee of Selection.
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
All right. So we
now come to the discussion on the matter.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang 1 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I do not have a discussion. I have a point of order.
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
Hon Member, I
was going to call you. Comments time, contribution time, so Hon Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, can I hear you?
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 1 p.m.
Speaker, I have a point of order.
Madam Speaker, I am at a loss in understanding the agreement between the two leaders, because if you do not have figures, how do you get proportions? I do not understand. I think we must make progress and time is not on our side for all manner of things. The two that were presumed to have added to all, they should let us know what the basis is; because if we do not have the figures, we cannot have percentages.
And even expunging it, it is important that we get this for the sake of posterity. So if you do not have the figures, how do you get proportions? we need to know so that if the Hon Majority Leader has indications as to which of the Independent Members he presumed will be with them, then it is proper that he lets us know.
The Hon Gentlemen or the Hon Ladies
need to know which two he presumed. Yes, he must let us know. The 9-10, I have no difficulty with, it has to be 9-10 but whom did he presume were with them before he made that statement and signed it? we need to know.
Ms. Samia Nkrumah 1 p.m.
Speaker, I believe I should clarify my position. As a lone CPP Member of Parliament, I do not wish to be aligned with the Majority in the House and this puts me in the Minority -- [Hear! Hear!] However, I do not wish to be aligned with the largest Minority either. So this puts me in a very difficult situation -- [Interruption.]

I wish to state at this point that my first constituency is Ghana and Jomoro and hence I will vote according to my conscience, and what is in the supreme interest, that will serve the supreme interest of the people of Jomoro and the people of Ghana.

Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity for me to explain my position.
Madam Speaker 1 p.m.
Hon Bagbin, do you
have an answer for this?
Mr. Bagbin 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the articulation of the single Hon Member of
Mr. Bagbin 1:20 p.m.

particular line from the report, I think with your indulgence we should just adopt the report so that we can make progress.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Yes, I will move
on but I will have to hear comments from the House first.
Mr. J. B. Aidoo 1:20 p.m.
Madam Speaker,
the Hon Majority Leader has made some corrections in paragraph (3) and I thought he was going to do further correction in paragraph (4), particularly in respect” of the first sentence. I believe before we adopt the report, the words “applying the ratio of 52 per cent to 48 per cent must be taken away. It is a consequential amendment. So I am craving the indulgence of the House for the words “applying the ratio of 52 per cent to 48 per cent” as found in paragraph (4) to be deleted.
Madam Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Hon Members,
can we deal with one point at a time. Majority Leader, we have already deleted in paragraph 3.0 and the Hon Member is drawing our attention to paragraph (4) where we still mentioned that ratio.
Mr. Bagbin 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, the hon. Member is right. That is a consequential amendment. It was an oversight and I think the “52 per cent to 48 per cent” should be expunged from the report in paragraph (4). Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
I think we have
had enough discussion on this matter; both sides have agreed. So shall I put the Question now?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:30 p.m.
Madam, I
do not intend to arrest the Question, but we have had several amendments. So with respect, the Question would be to adopt this report as variously amended.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
Thank you very
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
Can we have more
Mr. Felix Twumasi-Appiah 1:30 p.m.
Speaker, an impression is being created as if we in this House do not express our independent opinion on issues and if that is what the Hon Samia Nkrumah wants to do, I think she has all the liberty to do that.
All we are saying is that with or without her and other independent groups, with our numbers -- I still believe that is why the Majority Leader said that he has no qualms whatsoever with the percentages; and the fact that we should take ten, they take nine -- So having expunged that
Question put and motion agreed to.
Madam Speaker 1:30 p.m.
we move to item
Mr. Bagbin 1:30 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I beg
to move for the adjournment of the House to Tuesday, 13th January 2009, at 10.00 in the forenoon for us to complete some business before we take off for a short rest.
Madam Speaker, I beg to move.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:30 p.m.
Speaker, I beg to second the motion for adjournment.
Question put and motion agreed to.