Debates of 26 May 2009

PRAYERS 10:40 a.m.


Madam Speaker 10:40 a.m.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome Hon Members to the commencement of the Second Meeting of the First Session of the Fifth Parliament.
As I always say, the bond between myself and Hon Members continually deepens by the day. I really missed the company of Hon Members during the recess and greatly itched to meet them in good health.
I am thankful to the Almighty God for shepherding us all during the recess and peacefully bringing us to the House this morning. My prayer is that the good Lord will continue to grant us mercies and good health throughout the Meeting and thereafter.
As we begin a new Meeting, my

expectation is that Hon Members would continue to give priority to the national cause in all their deliberations. Hon Members should exhibit qualities that would endear them to the good people of Ghana. Indeed, all of us, including my goodself should draw lessons from recent developments in the oldest and most revered legislative institutions in the world. These developments as you all know, have the tendency of eroding the dignity and integrity of legislative establishments worldwide.

As a House, it behoves us to sit back and critically do self introspection in order to right whatever wrong the establishment might have made by commission or omission. Indeed, it is by so doing that our legislative institution would continue to win the sympathy and support of our people, thereby giving credence and respect to the institution and its Members.

I hope Hon Members were able to rest a little and feel more refreshed now to continue from where they left off during the last Meeting.

May the Almighty God grant us divine wisdom, courage and strength throughout the Meeting.

  • [There was no correction to the Votes and Proceedings of 22/04/09. There were no corrections to the Official Reports of 23/03/09, 26/03/09, 27/03/09, 21/04/09 and 22/04/09]
  • Madam Speaker 10:50 p.m.
    We move to the Commencement of Public Business, which is item 4 on the Order Paper - Laying of Papers. Item 4 (a), is it to be laid by the Hon Minister for Health?
    Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 10:50 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    I thank you for the opportunity.
    Madam Speaker, I would want to request that we defer laying this Report.
    I have no evidence that the Board, which has just been composed, has been sworn-in or that the Board has gone through the Report before submitting it to Parliament. So I would humbly request that we defer laying it and move on to item 4(b) where there is evidence that we could proceed on that one.
    So item 4(a) accordingly deferred.
    Madam Speaker 10:50 p.m.
    We move to
    item 4(b) which is to be laid by the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
    Mr. Bagbin 10:50 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    would ask your permission and crave the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues to allow the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to lay this Report for and on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
    The Hon Minister together with others are caught up in critical labour nego-
    tiations and that explains his absence on the floor of the House.
    PAPERS 10:50 p.m.

    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 10:50 p.m.
    Speaker, I am sorry for calling your attention. I am wondering the capacity in which the Hon Majority Leader purports to lay this Paper. This is because the
    Environmental Protection Agency is not an independent constitutional com- mission, it is an Agency under the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology. The Hon Majority Leader has no locus to lay such a Paper or even the subsequent one, Export Development and Investment Fund which is under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Madam Speaker, I would refer you to Order 74 which is on page 50 of our Standing Orders. Madam Speaker, with your permission, I read:
    “A Paper may be presented to the House only by Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of a Committee, a Member or a Minister.”
    Madam Speaker 10:50 p.m.
    Yes, “Member”.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11 a.m.
    A Member!
    So I can lay that Paper too? [Inter- ruption.] Madam Speaker, the reason is that, yes, a Member may lay a Paper but it must be a Paper that ought to emanate from him or over which such a Member pro tem or otherwise, has an oversight -- [Interruptions.]

    Madam Speaker, over the years, we evolved a practice which permitted the Majority Leader to lay Papers on behalf of independent constitutional com-missions like the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Electoral Commission (EC), National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE). The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Report ought to come to Parliament through the relevant Minister.

    So it is wrong by our Standing Orders, for any Member to purport to lay this Paper and I am drawing Madam Speaker's attention to this. It can only be laid by the Hon Minister who has an oversight responsibility for that Agency.

    Madam Speaker, in the light of what I have said, I urge you to rule on this matter so that going forward, we may know what to do under such circumstances.
    Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
    Yes, thank you. Hon Leader, can I hear you on this point?
    Mr. Bagbin 11 a.m.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, we have had some thoughts on this matter and we were of the view that the Report emanating from the Environmental Protection Agency is a Report to Parliament as a result of a law passed by us and we thought that, that Report could be laid by the Hon Majority Leader.
    Madam Speaker, my attention is drawn now to the fact that, it is not a constitutional commission or body and that it is the Minister with an oversight responsibility for the sector that should lay the Report.
    Madam Speaker, I recall that truly, we developed the practice of allowing the Majority Leader to lay reports of the constitutional commissions as Chairman of the Special Budget Committee because we tried getting the Independent Government Institutions (IGIs) from the purview of any Ministerial control.
    So I think the issue raised by Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, the Hon Member for Sekondi is right. It is the relevant Minister that should lay the Report and I so withdraw the laying of this Report and then we will get the relevant Minister to do so at a later date.
    Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member. But before I rule finally, can I hear your take on this?
    Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think what is right ought to be done and I am happy that the Majority Leader has gracefully conceded. Indeed, when he mentioned it to me, I must say that I did not actually address my mind to the issue and I initially thought that it was a matter for a commission that he was addressing my mind to.
    But I have just seen that indeed, after some discussions with my Colleague who is saying that I tried to conspire with the Majority Leader - [Interruption.] Madam Speaker, I never conspired with the Majority Leader. He mentioned it to me, I did not actually address my mind to it. I think that he is right and the Majority Leader is also right in making that concession.
    Madam Speaker, I think that the point ought to be made regarding what is contained in Standing Order 74, the mention of the fact that a Member could present a Paper. Madam Speaker, I believe we should address it. If, a Member could present a Paper in this House and this provision relates to -- if you come to the provisions on committees: The Chairman of a committee may present a Paper on behalf of a committee and in the absence of the Chairman, a member of that committee could present a Paper to this House.
    That is what is captured there. So this one attempts to consolidate those provisions and the one relating to a Minister laying a Paper on behalf of his Ministry. That is the import of this provision in Standing Order 74. So it should not be construed that any Member could present a Paper on behalf of the President, and the correct position, Madam Speaker, is what I have indicated.
    When the Hon Member for Sekondi (Papa Owusu-Ankomah) rose to make this submission, I heard some Members saying that “No, you are not right that a
    Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
    Thank you Hon Member for Sekondi. As usual, you are right and as usual both Leaders are also right -- [Laughter] -- and I will therefore, defer the presentation of this Paper to a later date, so that Hon Majority Leader -- it affects (d)(ii) also. So item 4 (d) (i) and (ii) are deferred.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, while we are correcting procedures and seem to be doing what is right, with respect, I noticed that when we commenced business, you also came by a Statement to welcome Members back. I believe that it was in conformity with Standing Order 53 (1). Madam Speaker, but indeed, the resort ought to have been to Standing Order 53(1)(i), which says “Statements by Mr. Speaker”, or in this case, Madam Speaker, which you resorted to and which comes after the correction of Votes and Proceedings and Official Report.
    Madam Speaker, in this case, with respect to your goodself, you did so before the Correction of Votes and Proceedings, that is Order 53(1)(e). I noticed though that Order 53 (2) allows this House, by your leave to alter the order of business set out in any particular day. Madam Speaker, I accept that. Madam Speaker, if that is to be done, the indulgence of the House should be sought and I thought that, that ought to have been done. But Madam Speaker, we are all learning and so I believe that we shall have space for what was done today and move on.
    Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Thank you Hon Member.

    First of all, welcoming you was not under Standing Order 53. It is my view that I welcome you and it came not before Prayers but after Prayers.

    Secondly, I am right because Standing Order 53(2) says that the Speaker may alter the order of business and it did not say that I had to consult anybody. So I think I was within my rights on those two grounds.

    Thank you Honourable.

    Yes, Hon Majority Leader, any indication as to adjournment? We seem to have exhausted the items on the Order Paper.
    Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:10 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, we have proposed that committees should sit to look at their programmes for the Meeting, and this is usually done outside the floor of the House.
    So Madam Speaker, I will at this stage be moving a motion for the adjournment of the House. And I beg to so move for the House to adjourn till tomorrow, Wednesday, 27th May 2009 at ten o'clock in the forenoon when we shall reconvene.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:10 a.m.
    Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to
    ADJOURNMENT 11:10 a.m.