Debates of 16 Jun 2009

PRAYERS 10:35 a.m.


Madam Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 12th June, 2009. Pages 1 2 -
Prof. (Emeritus) S. K. Amoako 10:35 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I believe my title has been made official. On the advice of the Hon Member for Old Tafo, I wrote to your goodself, and it was captured on last Thursday - but today, it is missing - [Laughter] - So I would want the “ Emeritus” inserted.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member. I hope the Clerks will take special notice.
Pages 3 11 -
Hon Members , the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 12th June, 2009 as corrected be adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Madam Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon Members, in the absence of any corrections, the Official Report of Friday, 12th June, 2009 is hereby

adopted as the true record of proceedings.

Item 3 - Urgent Question. Hon

Majority Leader, we have reached item 3 - Urgent Question.
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 10:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports, as we all know, is on leave and the Chief Director of the Ministry is also on leave and the Principal Accountant is also on leave. [Laughter.] This is to allow for investigations to be conducted into serious allegations that are made with regard to the management of the Ministry, specifically involving these mentioned personalities.
As a result, he has not been able to collate the information because these are the people that will make the information available to whoever is acting to come and represent the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports, whoever is acting.
Madam Speaker, I just crave the indulgence of the House and seek your permission for this Urgent Question to be postponed to a more appropriate date where these personalities will be available to give us the information. We hope this would be done as soon as possible because the Question is urgent, it is urgent and the earlier the better for all of us.
We are all interested in knowing how prepared we are as a nation for the African Hockey Championship in July, this year. It is something that is dear to our hearts and we hope that very soon things would be put in order for the Hon Minister to come and answer the Urgent Question.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, we have heard the Hon Majority Leader give some explanation. We do not know the capacity of the
allegiance, the oath of Minister of State and the Cabinet oath, as the case may be, set out in the Second Schedule to this Constitution.”
Madam Speaker, it is for this reason that a Deputy Minister cannot automa- tically act for his Minister. It is for a Minister of State to act and if a Minister is on leave, another Minister of State must be given the responsibility to act.
Madam Speaker, there have been several instances in this House. What explains the absence of a substantive Minister to hold the fort and answer this Urgent Question?
Madam Speaker, the qualification of the Black Stars for instance, in the impending World Cup qualification series is of utmost interest to Hon Members in this House and we are following keenly the progress of the Black Stars.
Madam Speaker, at the appropriate time, maybe, a Question may be asked of the Minister or whoever is holding the fort. [Interruptions.] Madam Speaker, so it cannot be - the Majority Leader attempts to be convincing but he is very much unpersuasive.
Madam Speaker, he is very much unpersuasive and so we want him to come properly. We want the Hon Minister who is in charge of the Ministry to answer the relevant Urgent Question. And if he is pretending to be the Leader of Government Business and telling us this, he should tell us when the Minister charged with the responsibility should appear before Parliament to answer this Urgent Question. It is very, very important to us.
Madam Speaker, I thank you.
Mr. Bagbin 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, our Hon Colleague cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. He says I am not the Leader of Government Business
Majority Leader in doing what he has done.
I know the Hon Majority Leader is the Leader of the House but he is not the Leader of Government Business and so he would not pretend to know what is happening in Government circles. Madam Speaker that is number one. Whether or not we have to take this from the Majority Leader as representing the views of Government, I have my serious doubt because he is not the Leader of Government Business in this House.
Number two, Madam Speaker, our Constitution is very clear. I beg to quote article 81 of the Constitution, which with your indulgence, I read:
“The office of a Minister of State or a Deputy Minister shall become vacant if -
(a) his appointment is revoked by the President; or
(b) he is elected as Speaker or Deputy Speaker; or
(c) he resigns from office; or
(d) he dies.”
Madam Speaker, to the best of our knowledge, the appointment of the said Minister has not been revoked by the President. Fortunately, he is not dead; he has not resigned from office and he has not been elected a Deputy Speaker, or a Speaker, which means that the Office of the Minister is not vacant. So there must be people there who act in his stead.
Madam Speaker, the convention in this House is that, if an Hon Minster is for any reason not available, a substantive Minister holds the fort for him because as per article 80 and with your indulgence, I quote:
“A Minister of State or Deputy Minister shall not enter upon the duties of his office unless he has taken and subscribed the oath of
and he is doubting my capacity in giving him this information but he is asking the information from me - [Uproar.] So he cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time.

Madam Speaker, yes, we have listened to him. Yes, we will try to get a substantive Minister to come before the House to answer the Urgent Question. That definitely, as my Colleague is aware, is not to be scheduled by me but by the Business Committee. I only chair the Business Committee.

As to when the substantive Minister will come, will be a matter for the Business Committee to decide and not for the Hon Leader of the House to do so. He knows that very well ,so he should come properly.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Bagbin 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am
dealing with the Business of this House and not Government Business, and the Business of this House, I am the Leader - [Hear! Hear!] - and that is what I am doing. I am not dealing with Government Business. I am dealing with the Business of this House - [Hear! Hear!]
Mr. Isaac K. Asiamah 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am highly disappointed about developments within the Sports Ministry, as the Ranking Member for Youth and Sports.
Madam Speaker, you will recall that before the Black Stars played against Mali, there was an Urgent Question for the Hon Minister to come here to brief the House

about the preparations of the Black Stars, nothing happened and we were told the Hon Minister had travelled -- So many excuses were given.

Madam Speaker, here again, we are talking about the preparations of the Sports Ministry with regard to the pending Africa Hockey Championship and once again, the nation is being deprived of this vital information.

Madam Speaker, I think this House should be taken more serious. We are here to make sure that we provide quality leadership and governance for the people of this country.

Madam Speaker, what is happening, it is as if we are playing with the lives of the people of this country. I believe strongly that it is unfair for this development to go on without any bold decision being taken by the Executive.

Madam Speaker, I believe that if the Hon Majority Leader claims to be the Leader of this House - and that he claims to be the Leader of Government Business, then Madam Speaker, I believe that it is incumbent upon him to make sure that his so-called Leader of Government Business is reflected, indeed, in the deeds and the works of this House. But if we come here - [Interruption].
Mr. David T. Assumeng 10:55 a.m.
On a point
of order. Madam Speaker, my Hon Colleague over there has just completed a course at Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). To be frank, he is my senior at GIMPA and I am expecting that the lessons, the tutorials that we were given there would be displayed on the floor of this House. Madam Speaker, what he is doing does not portray the lessons that we had in GIMPA. I want him to be very cultured, he must act as a role model and he must display the
qualities and the ideals of GIMPA on the floor of this House.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Asiamah, did
you finish your intervention?
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I call on your highly respected office to ask the Hon Member to withdraw all those uncharitable words he used on me. Madam Speaker, he must withdraw those words he used on me and apologise accordingly.
Madam Speaker 10:55 a.m.
What word? What specific words?
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 10:55 a.m.
He has impugned my character, Madam Speaker and I want him to withdraw those words - [Inter- ruptions.]
Madam Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Order! Order! What specific words?
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, it is about my academic credentials and indeed, about my ability to deliver in this august House.
Madam Speaker, you know very well that when it comes to debate in this House, this gentleman is no match for Isaac Kwame Asiamah. Madam Speaker, if it comes to quality debate, expression of ideas, personal integrity -- [Interruptions] -- and the command of the Queen's Language, this gentleman comes nowhere near Isaac Kwame Asiamah and he knows it himself - [Hear! Hear!] When it comes to the command of the Queen's Language, the gentleman over there does not come any- where near Isaac Kwame Asiamah and he knows it himself. My confidence in this House -- my responsible conduct in this House can never be questioned - [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon Asiamah --
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
my diligence to duty - my high sense of duty can never be questioned in any corner, any where in this country and he knows it himself and I am happy he did say that indeed, I am his senior so far as GIMPA is concerned. So far as I am his senior, he should learn and emulate Isaac Asiamah very well because my seniority conduct is well manifested wherever I find myself.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity once again. Madam Speaker -
Madam Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Asiamah, I think you have answered him enough.
Hon Member, I have heard the two Leaders. The only reason I called upon you was since you were going to ask the Urgent Question -- have you finished saying anything so that I will rule?
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, my concern is that as the Ranking Member for Youth and Sports - [Interupption.]
Madam Speaker 10:55 a.m.
That is why I called
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
I am concerned about what is happening there - the inaction of the Ministry is affecting progress of that Ministry.
Madam Speaker, I am told that the Local Organising Committee for this very important tournament is starved of funds, I am told. So how long can we continue making all these conjectures without definite answers from the Ministry? Go to the Local Organising Committee, they are starved of funds, nothing is happening there and we have only July to organize this very important African Hockey Championship. And as I said, the whole
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:05 a.m.

nation is being denied the opportunity of knowing what is happening there in terms of transparency and accountability.

Madam Speaker, these our so-called Apostles of probity, accountability and transparency -- And if we cherish all these things so much and we trumpet them so much and His Excellency the President is so much interested in all these key ingredients of our democracy and he sits down there unconcerned about what is happening in his Ministry and we are being told the Hon Minister has been asked to proceed on leave -- The Hon Deputy Minister is no where to be found, the Chief Director is on leave and the Accountant is on leave. Madam Speaker, what is happening?
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Asiamah, hold your fire, let me take a point of order.
Dr. Osei 11:05 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I just
need your judgment on this matter. I think the Hon Minority Leader raised some constitutional issues on articles 80 and 81 -
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I was coming to rule. I gave the floor to Hon Asiamah because he is the Ranking Member and then he was asking the Urgent Question, to just comment. But I think he has commented enough, so I will now move on to give my ruling.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Hackman, are you going to help me with the ruling?
Mr. Owusu-Agyemang 11:05 a.m.
Yes. Madam Speaker, I believe that positions have been argued adequately. Maybe, what we could do as a House is to send an urgent message to His Excellency the President urging him to make sure that that particular Ministry is taken care of in accordance with the Constitution. I think it is completely within our purview and rights to make a recommendation to the Executive as to what we think is going wrong in our oversight responsibility and ask that urgent measures be taken to make sure that somebody is effectively put in charge of that particular Ministry, so we can move forward.
I believe it is completely within our purview and within our remit to do that. I am suggesting that we can send a message to the Head of State for this thing to take place.
Thank you.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Thank you. I think I will rule on this matter.
The Majority Leader, when we came to the item on the Order Paper, informed us of the absence of the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports, as was his duty to do because he is the Chairman of the Business Committee of which the Hon Minority Leader is also a member. But he had to tell us why the Hon Minister is not here.
I have looked at article 81. Even though the Hon Minister is not dead or has not resigned or not elected a Speaker or Deputy Speaker, or his appointment has still not been revoked, there are days that
he would not be present here owing to the nature of work; he would travel; he would be sick. So the fact that he is not here does not make the position vacant.
The Hon Minority was right when he said that it is a Minister who should be designated to represent him.
All these, we know but the Majority Leader says it would be done as quickly as possible and he has been challenged that he is not the Leader of Government Business. But as the Leader of the Business Committee, of which the Minority Leader is also a member, I will urge them to quickly schedule another day before the relevant date in July, so that a Minister who represents the Ministry would come and answer Hon Asiamah's Urgent Question.
Some Hon Members 11:05 a.m.
Ahi sit down. [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Members, item (3) will be postponed to another date and I am minded to move on to item (4), Statements.
STATEMENTS 11:05 a.m.

Minister for Women and Children's Affairs (Ms Akua Sena Dansua) 11:05 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to make this Statement to commemorate this year's African Union Day of the African child. But before I do so, Madam Speaker, I crave your indulgence to welcome all our children selected from the various parts of the country, who are

Madam Speaker, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated every June 16, since 1990 in commemoration of the 1976 massacre of school children in Soweto, South Africa. The then OAU, now AU at its 26th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia adopted the Day in July 1990 to focus on issues that affect the proper development and well-being of the African Child.

Madam Speaker, this celebration which started initially as a purely African event is now marked throughout the world to highlight the potential of African children as well as the obstacles militating against their development.
Madam Speaker, the theme for this year's celebration is, “Africa Fit for Children 11:05 a.m.
Call for Accelerated Action Towards Their Survival”.
Madam Speaker, the African Committee of Experts on the rights and welfare of the child in choosing this theme, wishes to emphasize the roles and responsibilities of the AU Commission, Member States of the African Union and stakeholders in the implementation of the Declaration of Africa Fit for Children and the need to scale up the process of ensuring the survival of children on the Continent.
Madam Speaker, in 2001, the first Pan-African forum on children was held in Cairo, Egypt which came out with a document dubbed, “Declaration and Plan of Action of Africa Fit for Children” which served as Africa's contribution to the UN General Assembly Special Session on children held in May, 2002. The second Pan-African forum on children reviewed and assessed progress made by member States in the implementation of this Declaration.
Madam Speaker, the theme for this year's celebration is, “Africa Fit for Children 11:15 a.m.

Madam Speaker, this year's call for accelerated action is a reaffirmation of the need to achieve the targets set in the 2001 Plan of Action on the survival of the African child in the areas of Legislative and policy framework; institutional framework, mobilizing and leveraging resources, enhancing life chances, overcoming HIV and AIDS, realizing the right to education, realizing the right to protection; and realizing the right to participation. Various priority actions have been identified under each of these headings that member countries of the AU must take.

Madam Speaker, one special feature of this Day is child participation. The concept of child participation is a right enshrined in the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child, the convention on the rights of the child and the 1998 Children's Act of Ghana.

This is because child protection and

development will be a mirage if society does not create the platform for children to participate in matters affecting their welfare.

In our part of the world, Africa, it is said

that children are seen, not heard and elders make decisions for them. A child who is vocal is said to be disobedient. Besides, some cultural practices including female genital mutilation (FGM), Trokosi, and scarification among others are perpetuated on children to preserve the sanctity of our customs and traditions. These things go a long way to negatively affect the welfare of the African child and must be stopped.

Madam Speaker, heightened insecurity

on the African Continent has exacerbated
Madam Speaker, the theme for this year's celebration is, “Africa Fit for Children 11:15 a.m.

efforts to create a congenial environment for the effective participation of the African child in the development process. Families and communities are displaced with associated challenges which make women and children the worst affected. Such hostile environment hinders development and growth of our children. The African child is also faced with diseases and hunger all of which negatively impact on their survival and participation in national progress.

Madam Speaker, despite all these

challenges, the continent is making some progress at improving the situation of children. It is noted that the acceptance of good governance, rule of law and due process as measures to promote democracy, peace and security on the continent as in Africa are helping to address the plight of children since peaceful development ensures enhanced national development which also caters to the interest of children.

In addition, the adoption of the UN Convention on the rights and welfare of the child as well as other sub-regional level interventions - legislators, policies and programmes are some commendable efforts that African governments are making to improve the situation of its children.

Ghana continues to demonstrate its

lead role in ensuring that the rights and welfare of its children are promoted and guaranteed. Ghana as we all know was the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other international legal initiatives to protect children include the ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour and the UN Protocol against traficking in persons.

In Ghana, various domestic laws, policies and programmes are in place to protect children. These include the

Children's Act, Criminal Code (Amend- ment) Act, Juvenile Justice Act, Human Trafficking Act, Domestic Violence Act, Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Policy, Gender and Children's Policy, Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Policy Guidelines among others. In addition, the Capitation Grant, School Feeding Programme, Free Anti-natal Care for pregnant women, free school uniforms for children, are enhancing interventions for the proper development of Ghana. These are national programmes.

Madam Speaker, this year, Ghana's

celebration will focus on awareness creation on the major challenges of child survival, such as irresponsible parenting, child mortality, nutrition, education, orphan, as well as vulnerable situations and child protection issues such as child labour, child trafficking, effects of conflicts on children, violence and abuse against children, among others.

Madam Speaker, I, therefore, urge all of

us to join hands with the children of Ghana to celebrate the 2009 Day of the African Child and assure them of our commitment to making Ghana, and for that matter, Africa fit for them. For, it is through partnership, advocacy and sensitization campaigns that we can achieve this goal.

The Ministry of Women and Children's

Affairs will continue to perform its harmonization, coordination and advocacy roles to ensure the welfare of children in the country.

On this note, I wish all children in Africa and the world at large and particularly Ghanaian children a happy celebration.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Ms. Cecilia Abena Dapaah (NPP -- Bantama) 11:15 a.m.
Thank you, Madam
Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the beautiful Statement made by the Hon Minister for Women and Children's Affairs (Ms. Akua Sena Dansua) to us this morning.
Madam Speaker, this goes to underline the importance that was in the vision of the former President in creating this Ministry and I am happy that the Ministry is championing the cause of children.
Madam Speaker, I want us to focus on the picture confronting us today, with regard to our children in Africa. We have a picture of children exposed to serious dangers such as wars, diseases and activities that are inimical to the well- being of children.
Madam Speaker, the African child goes through so much the ordinary child elsewhere in the western world does not and we should ask ourselves questions, is it because parents are shirking their responsibilities or leaders are war-mongers who are only interested in declaring war and hiding away and sending children to the war front?
Children are also exposed to child labour and I think we have discussed this thing at length here. They are also exposed to domestic violence and we have most of our children, be they boys or girls, being even raped in our homes. There are some who are also exposed to the vagaries of the weather.
Madam Speaker, as we speak, we are
in the rainy season in this country, and we can say, for sure, that some children are sleeping in the open. Madam Speaker, what happens when there are floods? It is these children who get drowned. I believe this is the time to address some of these problems facing our children. Madam Speaker, some are also exposed to social vices such as smoking, prostitution, streetism and begging.
Ms. Cecilia Abena Dapaah (NPP -- Bantama) 11:25 a.m.

Madam Speaker, I want to shift and

support the Statement made with regard to the paradigm shift that is going to allow children to have a say in matters that concern them. In our cultural setting, before you are 18 years of age, nothing that concerns you is discussed with you and I believe we should take a good look at this as parents and guardians.

Madam Speaker, various Acts have

been enacted to protect our children, such as the Children's Act, the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, Domestic Violence Act, among others. These are good but the major challenges facing Ghana as we speak, concerning child survival should be addressed. And I hope and pray that we shall all help to find solutions to child mortality, their education, nutrition and their health, so as to protect them because these are the future leaders that will come and take over from us.

Madam Speaker, I also want to stress that indeed, our children need to be celebrated. They deserve to be celebrated because of their sheer resilience, their good behaviour and manners, their intelligence, their hard work both at home
  • Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Thank you.
    Maj. (Dr.) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd) (NDC - Ayawaso East): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement, a very important Statement that has been made by the Hon Minister for Women and Children's Affairs.
    Madam Speaker, on June 16, 1976, black school children in Soweto, South Africa took to the streets to protest against the inferior quality of education that was offered them and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Madam Speaker, hundreds of these young boys and girls were shot and killed and in the two weeks of protests that followed this incident, more than one hundred people were also shot and killed, with more than a thousand maimed.
    Madam Speaker, since June 16, 1991, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), as the African Union (AU) was then called instituted this day for us as Africans to remember the decision and the bold step taken by these children to demand what was right to be done to them. Madam Speaker, this has been celebrated every year and this day seeks to draw attention to the lives of African children.
    This year's theme also includes the idea to protect children from violence. It also seeks to give children the opportunity to be seen and be heard. Madam Speaker, in line with this, the United Nations
    Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the G8 countries is organizing a forum for children in Japan next month for them to take the opportunity during the week-long forum to debate matters that affect the lives of children in Africa.
    Indeed, they will be debating very important issues concerning climate change and global warming. They will also discuss child survival, infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS, and then poverty and development with particular focus on Africa.
    Madam Speaker, on a day like this, I think it is proper in Ghana for us to also look at the issues that affect the development of children. We have to look at some of the research that has been done whose results if implemented will help in the growth and development of children. I speak in particular about the iodization of salt which I understand is still not being done in certain parts of this country and I wish to call on the Food and Drugs Board to ensure that only iodized salt is sold in our markets.
    I also wish to draw attention to the sustainable implementation of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) as enshrined in our Constitution.
    Madam Speaker, children up to now are still engaged by some adults who by virtue of physical disability use them at street corners, particularly when the traffic lights are stalled in begging. In so doing, these children are denied the opportunity of getting education in schools and then be offered the opportunity to also grow up as responsible adults who will contribute their maximum quota towards the development of their communities and the country at large.
    Madam Speaker, there are so many issues including even the sale of tooth
    paste in our markets that do not have the recommended levels of fluoride and all these things go to affect the development of their bones, the development of their teeth, as well as the development of their minds.
    Madam Speaker, on this note, I wish to associate myself with the Statement and to wish all children in Ghana and Africa a very successful celebration.
    Mrs. Irene Naa Torshie Addo (NPP - Tema West) 11:25 a.m.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker, for this opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Minister, especially so as I am the Deputy Ranking Member on the Committee on Women and Childrens' Affairs. I wish to applaud her for the Statement that has been made and to say that it is in the right direction.
    The theme is most appropriate, only that it did not lay emphasis on the girl-child as usual. I wish to draw the Minister's attention to street children. I think that a lot more ought to be done in the area of street children. There are too many children out there.
    In fact, some statistics have shown, two years ago, that there were more children living outside their own homes than there were children in the houses and I think a research has to be done into that particular kind of situation. [Inter-ruption.] And I mean in Africa, you have to get the facts right, in Africa. I think that it is an area where we have to get it right. A research has to be done into why people move from their homes and stay outside -- [Interruption.]
    Mr. J. K. Avedzi 11:25 a.m.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I think the Hon Member has made a statement which might not be correct, unless she can produce the report. If children living on the streets or outside their homes are more than those people living in their homes, we will not have any streets to even drive on -- [Laughter.] Unless she can prove it, I think that is not actually correct.
    Mrs. Addo 11:25 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think maybe, my Colleague did not hear what I said. The theme is on Africa and I was talking about a research made two years ago to say that in Africa - do not forget that in war situations children are outside, you just have to look at that situation. Two years ago, in Africa, that was what came out. I know what I am talking about. And what I am saying is that a research has to be made into why children leave their homes - children or people under 18 years leave their houses to stay outside.
    Be it urban migration, whether they are forced out, whether it is because of tribal conflicts, whatever it is that sends children out of their homes, I believe that the research has to be made into it; we have to find out how we can curb that situation in Africa but especially in Ghana.
    I think that we should try and see how we can build more shelter homes so that these children who are out do not live on the streets. If you go to constituencies like mine, the Community 2 area, I can bet you that you will find not less than two hundred and fifty children sleeping outside. You need to be that responsible as an Hon Member of Parliament to see that. If you go out there every evening to go and see the children, people under 18 years sleeping outside then you will see what I am talking about.
    We need more shelter homes for them, we need to find educational packages for them. Either we are going to set up vocational institutions or some kind of training and counselling so that those children can also go back into their homes.
    Madam Speaker, I just want to applaud the maker of the Statement on that and to say, that the theme is a very good one. I am happy to see that they are going to start providing the school uniforms and all that has been said, and I pray that that
    situation will not be just a promise but it will be a reality.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity.
    Mr. Sampson Ahi (NDC - Juaboso) 11:35 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Minister.
    Madam Speaker, every year, on 16th June, we celebrate the African Child's Day. And it seems to me that we celebrate the day every year without sitting down as a country to actually reflect on how the various themes - [Interruptions] will be able to affect the African child and for that matter, Ghanaian children to develop their full potential to the benefit of Africa.
    Madam Speaker, it is stated by Prof. Ali Mazrui in his Six Paradoxes that Africa is the richest continent in the world but the poorest. In spite of this, Madam Speaker -- and the theme for this year: “Africa Fit for Children” how are we going to make the land of Africa very habitable for the children so that they can benefit?
    Madam Speaker, if you drive through the principal streets of Accra, Kumasi and in fact, the other regional capitals, you will see a lot of children who ought to have been in school selling on the streets. What are we doing as a country to ensure that these children are assisted to be educated?
    Madam Speaker, successive govern- ments have initiated very important policies to ensure that African children and for that matter, Ghanaian children are able to go to school. And one of these social interventions is the Capitation Grant, which was introduced by the former President - [Some Hon Members: Mention the name.] The former President, J. A. Kufuor - [Hear! Hear!] - and which is being carried on by His Excellency,
    Prof. John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills.
    Madam Speaker, it was announced
    yesterday that by September, the Government of Ghana is going to provide free school uniforms to all Ghanaian children who are in school -- [Uproar.] But Madam Speaker, this will be done gradually. It will be done gradually - [Interruption.]
    Dr Osei 11:35 a.m.
    On a point of order. Madam
    Speaker, my Hon Colleague is grossly misleading this House. He just said that yesterday it was said that free school uniforms would be provided for all Ghanaian children. That statement is palpably false. It was specific. In fact, it was for one million children. It cannot be all Ghanaian children. So, he should withdraw that part of the statement. His intentions are good but Madam Speaker, he is misleading all the children in the room. It will be important that he withdraws that statement.
    Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Actually, Hon Member, I think he did not finish the statement - [Interruptions.]
    Mr. Ahi 11:35 a.m.
    Yes. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
    Dr. Osei 11:35 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, he said all children, and since there are a lot of children here, I want him to set the records straight.
    Madam Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    He said “but all children…” -- but then he said “but” and I thought I was listening for the “but”. So, probably, it will be fair if he finished that statement, and if he makes the mistake again -
    Yes, Hon Member -
    Mr. Ahi 11:35 a.m.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker, if my Hon Friend had exercised patience, he would have heard that the intention of this policy is to ensure that at a certain stage in our educational process, all children in Ghana will be given school uniforms. But, Madam Speaker by September, this laudable programme will be started on a pilot basis. School children will benefit. And as we move on, everybody, every child in Ghana will be given free school uniforms. In addition to this, Madam Speaker, is the provision of free exercise books, also to selected children who are in public schools in Ghana.
    Madam Speaker, as a country, we have enacted a lot of laws and some Hon Members have mentioned some of them. We have the Children's Act, the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, Human Trafficking Act and Domestic Violence Act. Madam Speaker, I think that these are all important laws. But the question is, how have we been able to implement these important Acts to the benefit of the Ghanaian child?
    Madam Speaker, I think that as we
    celebrate the African Child's Day today, let us, as a country, sit down and critically analyse certain good policies that will assist Ghanaian children to develop their potentials to their fullest levels so that when we are not there, they will come and take over.
    Madam Speaker, let me conclude by saying that it is good that the Statement relates to child participation. Madam Speaker, when we were children, anytime two adults were discussing an issue and a child intervened, that child was seen as a bad boy or girl. And sometimes when even adults were discussing an issue, children were asked to go to the room. But I think that if we want to allow children to study our customs and understand how we do things in this country, we should allow them to have a say in what will affect the Ghanaian child.
    Mr. J. B. Aidoo (NPP - Amenfi East) 11:35 a.m.
    Madam Speaker. I also rise to add my voice to the Statement made by the Hon Minister in charge of Women and Children's Affairs.
    Madam Speaker, as we celebrate the African Child's Day, we must all be concerned about the age-long problems that are facing African children, most particularly problems about hunger, global warming; disease, particularly the malaria disease which is a number one killer of many children in Africa. Madam Speaker, we also have to be concerned about problems of poverty.
    These problems are not being compounded by the challenges that the entire world is facing. Madam Speaker, I am talking about the credit crunch and the oil crisis. Madam Speaker, last year, we also had the food crisis. And these problems turn to place a major challenge in the way of our children in the way they are brought up and how they should grow.
    Madam Speaker, it therefore falls on African governments to come out with policies that will address not only these problems but also policies that will ensure that social programmes and activities are not eroded.
    Madam Speaker, I am saying this because, the global crises such as the credit crunch and other challenges should not be used as an excuse to implement policies that will eventually bring more hardships and trouble for our children. In our local scene, if you take what has happened recently, particularly in respect of the fuel price increase, Madam Speaker, certainly,
    Mr. Assumeng 11:45 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I will be very grateful if my Hon colleague will recollect that Ghana has been paying 70 billion old Ghana cedis a week to subsidize petroleum products. This money, 70 billion can construct good school buildings for our children. This money can also subsidize - [Interruptions] - the Capitation Grant of children. It can also increase the number of uniforms that we want to provide, and last but not least, the School Feeding Programme can be enhanced with this money.
    So I want him to take note of this, and also know that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is a social democratic party, which will do everything to enhance the welfare of our children. We are not a capitalist organization. So he should take note of this.
    Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Hon Member, can you continue?
    Mr. J. B. Aidoo 11:45 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    am not in any way going to indulge myself in any argument with my Hon Colleague at the other side.
    What I am saying is that policies that governments in Africa are implementing should be such that they will not “erode” - (that is the operative word) - any social programme or activities that have the likelihood to affect our children. This is because if the welfare of children is what is at stake, what we are all talking, what we are concerned about, then the policies that
    we put in place as people in government, particularly people in executive positions should be such that our children should not suffer.
    I am just using the fuel price increase recently as an example, that certainly many households would have suffered and when you go in, you will realize that children will be more vulnerable than any other individuals within such households.
    Madam Speaker, what is happening is also placing greater burden on children. In my constituency of late, we have a number of children who are of school-going age; the age of 8 years, 9 years, 10 years, 12 years -- children in their formative period going into Galamsey, illegal mining, all because the policies that are in place are not working so well for households to keep children in schools. So they have been drawn to join works which ordinarily we should not expect children to do.
    Madam Speaker, these can create problems for us in future, because these are children in their formative periods and they are now being engaged in illegal mining - Galamsey - destroying their own lives and future. Therefore, come let us say, 10, 20 years, they cannot continue to be in such activities. Certainly, in the future, they would have no trade, they would have no skill, they would have no experience. And this is what we must be concerned about.
    I am urging the Minister -- and I can see that the Hon Minister, Ms. Akua Dansua is listening to me carefully here. Not only children engage in Galamsey, but children in the streets who are working, they should not be working; they should be in the classrooms. They should be trained, they should be educated, they should get trained at that period, in their formative period, so that they become responsible people when we are gone and then they take our place.

    Madam Speaker, this is an important day for our children and therefore, we must all be concerned with what is happening. What is wrong is wrong and we must condemn it, and what is right is what we should all ask for so that our children can grow and grow well.

    I thank you for the opportunity.

    Minister for Local Government and

    Rural Development (Mr. Joseph Y. Chireh): Madam Speaker, thank you for allowing me to make a few comments. First of all, to thank the Hon Minister who ably made the Statement and also to say that the contributions that have gone before have said a few things. But I have just specific things to talk about.

    Recently, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development issued a circular to al l Distr ict , Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies to reconstitute the child panels as enshrined in the Children's Act. We also want these committees, the panels to be active so that we will get to see what they do as inscribed in the law.

    Again, we are encouraging the District Assemblies in particular to create children's parks for large communities where children can have their own time and relax, play games and possibly listen to the aged ones tell them stories of their history and culture.

    I would urge Hon Colleague MPs to support this endeavour by reminding their Assemblies of the need to create these parks. Indeed, on an occasion like this, Ghanaian children should have been celebrating all over on these parks to renew their faith in their parents.

    But I have something for the parents also. We are all busy and particularly the young ones like my Hon Colleague, who is always talking, need to spend

    - [Interruptions]-- who have younger children - [Interruption.]
    Mr. K. T. Hammond 11:45 a.m.
    On a point of
    order. Madam Speaker, I am not so sure what is going on there. My very good Hon Friend over there keeps on pointing at those of us, my Colleagues, and saying “small boys”. We are not small boys; who are the small boys over here? You see my thing -- you see -- what do you mean by small boys? [Laughter.] The small ones are up there.
    Mr. Chireh 11:45 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am
    urging young parents in particular, but I would not mention any name -- I have not mentioned anybody's name -- as role models to spend quality time with their children. All parents should find the time. We get up in the morning, we are rushing to go to work; you come back, you are tired and you do not have time for these children.
    You must arrange and make time for them, spend some time telling them what one's values are, and I would add that even if you are so busy that you cannot do so during the week, you should be able to find time at the weekend to spend with your children. It is very important that we do so, because if you do not have time with them, you do not help them to do their home work, they would not be as good as you want the teachers to do for you.
    Again, as it is in the Bible, Jesus Christ had a special place in his heart for children. That is why - [Interruptions] -- that is why I would also add -
    Madam Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Are you making a
    point of order, Hon Member?
    Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:45 a.m.
    Yes, Madam
    Madam Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, let me take a point of order.
    Mr. Chireh 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, they are harassing me from the other end. They do not want me to speak, but I want to say that Jesus Christ had a special place for children and he said, “Let the children come to me.” So all of you - [Inter- ruption.]
    Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:55 a.m.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, the Hon Colleague is misleading the House and he is promoting unprepared and ill-prepared pregnancies in this country. Madam Speaker, he did say that he is urging young people, young men to have quality time with their children. How can young men, how can young people have kids in the place and spend that quality time -- Madam Speaker, if this august House is promoting teenage pregnancy - [Laughter.] It is the most unfortunate statement ever to be made in this House, that young people should begin to have kids and they should begin to spend quality time with their kids.
    Madam Speaker, we have many school kids here listening to their Hon Members of Parliament. So if Hon Members here are urging these young children to have many, many kids, then where are we heading towards as a nation?
    Mr. Chireh 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I said that I am urging young parents in particular but all parents -- I did not say young men and young women, I said young parents. However, you get the children, it is now your duty to have quality time with them.
    Ms. Cecilia Abena Dapaah 11:55 a.m.
    On a

    Madam Speaker, we are celebrating this day as the day of children and we should give them the correct information. As a Methodist, with my Elder Hon E. T. Mensah sitting by him, I believe this needs to be corrected.

    The Book of Proverbs, if he quoted from there, it is wrong in the sense that Jesus Christ can only be quoted from the New Testament. If this is the Gospel according to Hon Yieleh Chireh, I do not know. The last time he went to church maybe, was about ten years ago, I do not know. [Interruption.] Yes, Jesus Christ indeed, did say, “Let the children come unto me,” but that definitely is not in the Book of Proverbs.
    Madam Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, if you are correcting him, in what Book is it? [Laughter.]
    Ms. Dapaah 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, it is definitely in the Gospel and so I will yield to my Elder E.T. Mensah to provide the quotation.
    Mr. E.T. Mensah 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister talked about two things. Christ had a special place in his heart for children. He said, “Suffer the children to come to me for they are the ones who would inherit the earth.” Then he expressed concern about children being responsible.
    The way we are talking, it is as if children can be asked to do anything and everything and that is where I disagree with her. So he quoted Proverbs 29:15 and it is here. Let me read to her. He was right -- [Interruption.] This is the
    Madam Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon E.T. Mensah did not quote the relevant part from the Bible, but let us continue.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, we are witnessing a very strange development in this House. Madam Speaker, a very competent Hon Member on his feet, Hon Yieleh Chireh, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development is capable of handling himself. Madam Speaker, the man is making some allusion to Christ and he situates it in the Book of Proverbs, and Hon E.T. Mensah gets up and tries to straighten the path. A church elder, he tries to straighten the path of Hon Yieleh Chireh who to all intents and purposes appears to have lost his track to the church. He should be made to quote from the Bible what Jesus Christ is alleged to have said as he himself has quoted.
    Mr. Chireh 11:55 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, while I was making my statement, very enthusiastic and zealous Bible readers were citing various portions. But as I said, I was talking about two things, Jesus Christ's love for children and the urge for them to be disciplined. These two things are related. I am saying that it is in the Bible. [Laughter.] Last Sunday I was in church, I took communion and it was a
    Mr. A. K. Agbesi 11:55 a.m.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I think it would be very appropriate for the Minority Leader to tell us where in the Bible Jesus said those words because he got up to intervene but he himself did not tell us where it is said in the Bible. It would be appropriate if he can tell us where it is located in the Bible.
    Madam Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, I think they need your help here.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:05 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the Hon Colleague, the Hon Member for Ashaiman, he is a lawyer and he knows that the burden of proof in this case lies on the person making the assertion - [Laughter.]
    Madam Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    He who alleges
    must prove.
    Mr. Chireh 12:05 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I did not want to make any reference for us to take this day very important, it is an important day. But while I was driving to the office this morning, I was listening to some of the radio stations and they were talking about research findings that a child interested NGO -- Plan Ghana - are interested in child rights and everything else about children.
    They do so many things for children. They conducted a research in schools and what they found out requires us to see that report and for the Gender Committee to look at what we can all do, because the findings in the research were really disturbing, as to the abuse of children by their peers, parents and teachers. So it is a serious matter.
    On an occasion like this, we ought to wake up and look at the small, small things that we do to abuse children and to make sure that our children have a relaxed
    Madam Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    Thank you, time is running out. Last speaker - I do not know whether it is a woman or a man who has the last word. Let a woman have the last word.
    Mrs. Catherine Abelema Afeku (NPP - Evalue Gwira) 12:05 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, thank you for making the right choice. I would like to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Minister for Women and Children's Affairs. I have heard all the contributors and rightfully so, that there are a lot of challenges facing children. As we celebrate the AU Day for the African Child, I would like to focus on the positives.
    In spite of all the challenges that we are elaborating here, there are equally good things to celebrate for the African child. We do have the African children who are prodigies, we have very, very intelligent children on the continent but the problems, the myriad of problems, hunger, disease and war, are over-shadowing these creative children. So as we celebrate their day, I would like us to also focus on that.
    Just this past year, there were Ghanaian children who travelled to the United Nations to represent Ghana for the good things that we are projecting in our homes, values, culture and even parenting our skills.
    Madam Speaker, the other side of the positive ones that I wanted to focus on also, is the Afua Sutherland Park that has been a challenge for the Ministry, to look into some of these areas where children will have the opportunity, not only in the urban areas, but in the rural communities as well to exert their creativity. This is because there is a lot we can learn from children who are overcoming the obvious challenges that are facing all children across Africa.
    Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 12:05 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I just want to make a few comments to assist in commemorating the African Child's Day which is today, the 16th June of each year.
    The United Nations International Children's Education Fund (UNICEF), has decided to support Parliament through its relevant committee to reach out to both women and children in a more effective way. They are doing this in collaboration with the Parliamentary Centre which is running a very good programme with Parliament. I will, therefore urge the Leadership of the committee to get in touch with UNICEF to get the full details of what support they could give to Parliament so that we could walk our talk.
    Madam Speaker, when we are talking about a child, who is a child? Our law is clear as to who is a child. It means, a person below the age of 18 years. In some countries, we are talking about 16 years, in Ghana it is below 18 years. The Constitution has given us guidance as to what is expected of all of us, whether you are a young parent or you are an over- aged parent.
    Whether you are rich or poor or you are abled or disabled. Once you decide to be a father or mother, there is a heavy responsibility placed on you. God did not just say we should go into the world, procreate like rabbits and fill the world, that is not what God said.
    We should go into the world, multiply and fill the world, that is responsibly. So children should not just be regarded as by-products, they are not by-products, they are conscious efforts of parents, they
    are blessings of God and we should know how to treat the blessings.
    I just want to refer to a few provisions, particularly article 28 of the 1992 Constitution to remind ourselves.
    Madam Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, let me take a point of order.
    Mr. K. T. Hammond 12:15 p.m.
    On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I am so grateful to you. Madam Speaker, there is something taking place this morning that I am very anxious about. A lot of Hon Members are attributing statements to the Holy Person, Jesus Christ. A lot other persons are quoting things supposed to have been said by God Almighty.
    Madam Speaker, would you kindly rule that we restrict ourselves seriously to things that we can attest to, and not misquote Allah Almighty, and not to misquote Jesus Christ? Madam Speaker, Jesus Christ was such a powerful prophet - powerful presence on earth -- [Interruption] --
    Madam Speaker, we have people who said they are Christians, and nobody was able to add the particular time that Jesus Christ talked about children suffering to come to him. We have lay preachers here; we have all of them here. Nobody has been able to point to us where in the Bible, and they claim to be Christians. And he is even muddying the waters further by quoting what God is supposed to have said, which is not in the Bible.
    Madam Speaker, please, make a ruling on this matter so that we stick to earthly matters, constitutional matters and not those heavenly matters that we cannot properly talk about.
    Ms. Dapaah 12:15 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I
    want to quote the Bible to corroborate the Majority Leader's statement. It is in Genesis 1.28:
    “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it …”
    Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon
    Mr. Hammond 12:15 p.m.
    The children one, they have not talked about it.
    Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Hammond, your point has been ably answered by the Hon Member for Bantama (Ms. Cecilia Abena Dapaah).
    Mr. Hammond 12:15 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Leader, can you continue.
    Mrs. Elizabeth Amoah-Tetteh 12:15 p.m.
    On a
    point of order. Madam Speaker, I just want to say something concerning what my Hon Colleague, Hon K. T. Hammond said. He was saying that we could not point out in the Bible where and what. Where Jesus said this or said that. I think when we say we are Christians, we cannot have all the verses in our heads, but we have read and we know that this is what God has said through the Son, Jesus. And therefore, whatever we say, we know -- even with Muslims, I do not think they can carry everything in the Quran in their heads. So I do not agree with him. [Hear! Hear!].
    Madam Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon
    Member. Yes, Hon Majority Leader.
    Mr. Bagbin 12:25 p.m.
    Thank you, Madam
    Speaker. It is important for my Hon Colleague to know that man shall not live by bread alone. [Laughter] -- and I believe in the Holy Trinity, and I believe that man is made of three parts: the body, the soul and the spirit. The magic three, you must learn in life.
    Madam Speaker, I was trying to remind us of the constitutional provisions compelling every parent and the society in general to do a few things in order to support, not just our children, but to lay solid foundations for our future. It is often said that the children are the future leaders of every society. What we fail to say is that they are equal partners of today. It is when we realize that they are our partners that we can allow them to effectively participate in whatever we do. It is when we see them as partners that we will give them the opportunities to decide things that affect them. What affects everybody, must be decided by everybody.
    Madam Speaker, I just want to quote a few provisions in the 1992 Constitution, particularly provisions under article 28.
    Madam Speaker, article 28 (1) (a) clearly states that we in this House are required to enact laws that are necessary to ensure a few things for our children. One is that, we must enact laws that will ensure that:
    “every child has the right to the same measure of special care, assistance and maintenance as is necessary for its development from its natural parents, except where those parents have effectively surrendered their rights and responsibilities in respect of the child in accordance with law;”
    It is also stated article 28 (1) (b)that, we have to make laws to ensure that:

    “every child, whether or not born in wedlock, shall be entitled to reasonable provision out of the estate of its parents;”

    I know many people forget and procreate to the extent that they even have nothing left as a reasonable measure for their children.

    Madam Speaker, the most important aspect is the fact that parents these days try to use children to assist them to come out of poverty. That, I think, we should see as a crime. Instead of the parents taking care of the children, parents are now expecting their children to take care of them, even at that young age. And it is clear in our Constitution under article 28 (2) and I quote:

    “Every child has the right to be protected from engaging in work that constitutes a threat to his health, education or development. “

    Unfortunately, as mentioned, we see these kids pulling people who are having a few misfortunes, people who are not really disabled; but they are challenged physically. And these children are now to lead them in order to get a livelihood. I would want to urge the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs to look at this issue, and at least, remind them that it is not allowed by our law.

    The threat to their lives on these busy streets, the cruel environment, the weather and everything are telling on the development of these children and in future, it is the whole nation that will be at risk. It is important that we look at them.

    I want to emphasize the next point because I know there are some religions that are totally offending the provisions that I am going to refer to. And the

    provision is that article 28 (4) which says:

    “No child shall be deprived by any other person of medical treatment, education or any other social or economic benefit by reason only of religious or other beliefs”.

    It is very important for us all to imbibe this provision and stop discriminating, and stop deciding what kind of fate our children should commit themselves to and at least try as much as possible to spend our last cedis in educating our children because that is the best, if I may say so, investment for the future of the nation.

    Madam Speaker, we have within this short period of this Meeting made three Statements with regard to the welfare and development of our children. The Second Deputy Majority Whip made a Statement on children two weeks ago and our Lady, the Hon Member of Parliament for Weija also made a very good Statement, which was to commemorate the United Nations (UN) Day of the Child and today is the third Statement now celebrating the Day of the African Child.

    I think it shows the commitment of this House to be seen to guiding and leading the nation to focus on how best we could develop our children thereby developing the human resource of the country.
    Mr. Asamoah Ofosu 12:25 p.m.
    On a point of
    order. Madam Speaker, the Hon Leader has mentioned and quoted a portion of the Constitution. He further states that he is much aware that there are existing religions which are offending that portion of the Constitution but failed to give us further and better particulars of it.
    Madam Speaker, this is Parliament, the representative of the whole nation
    Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Member, I think it is of public knowledge because we all read in the newspapers certain articles but we do not follow up or the Papers do not tell us whether somebody has been prosecuted or challenged for that behaviour. So I think it is proper at this stage if we could have a few names because they are contravening the provisions of the Constitution. And unless we draw attention to it as a House, that is our duty here, some people will continue with impunity to breach this part of the Constitution. This is the reason why I will call upon you to name a few.
    I know a few but I am not supposed to come down and debate anything but if you could, you could give us some example and it will help, so the law enforcement agencies will follow-up. I do not see any follow-up when we read these in the newspapers and it is incumbent upon us here in Parliament to draw attention to such matters. So if you are able to mention a few, he has himself mentioned one.
    Mrs. Irene Naa Torshie Addo 12:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I wanted to help him since it is for the House, I thought that I should mention one since I am very, very interested in that particular topic. There is a church that calls itself “Faith” and they
    are the churches that do not accept taking medicine.
    I think you know those churches. And I knew five years ago, there was a case that came before us in Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA). The fact that a child died because the child is not allowed medical care and the parents said that their religion does not allow it. I remember we debated so much on it, that there are so many things that your religion must not allow. The child is yours but the child is for the State, we know well. The fact that you want to kill a child, one day does not allow you to kill that child. The Constitution says every child must be given medical care when the child needs it. So if at the time that the child was sick, there was a doctor in the next house and the child was convulsing, the child had to be rushed off and they took the child to church and in the end the child died.
    I think some of these instances are what he is talking about. I do not know the one he is talking about, but I am proud to say that there is a case that we were deliberating on, I do not know how far it went before I left.
    I know that there is a church, they call themselves “Faith” and they do not take medicine themselves. But I think we should enact a law that says that all children of that religion or all children who go to church over there, that their parents go to church, must not necessarily go through it. I do not know how we would be able to implement it since their parents do not go to hospitals, but we can research now, many of them have lost children. We can do it privately and then see if we can enact a law.
    Thank you.
    Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Honourable, I think
    this would be a contravention under the Criminal Law, where child neglect will

    come in. Is it now so?
    Mr. Bagbin 12:25 p.m.
    That is so, Madam
    Speaker. And I thank my Colleagues for ably giving instances of where these provisions were contravened and I call on the House to take judicial notice of this. I am simply emphasizing the issue so that it can guide all of us in our attitude towards our children.
    Madam Speaker, I believe that and I will still propose that this House, in trying to commemorate the next African Child's Day, we should invite not only our children to the Public Gallery but that we will create an opportunity for the parents to be available to see their children on the floor of this House as the future Members of Parliament and leaders of our country. That I beleive will give some indication that Parliament itself is catching them young and making sure that in future when the children are taking over from us they perform far, far better than what we are doing.
    Madam Speaker, it will be a very unique, a very good opportunity for the whole country to celebrate the African Child's Day.
    With this Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
    Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Thank you
    Honourable. I think time is up now. We have already had one-and-a-half hours. One and a half hours has passed instead of one.
    Hon Hammond seems to know the
    Bible but he is not able to quote the relevant parts.
    Mr. Hammond 12:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker,
    Matthew 19 versus 14, Jesus said,
    “Let the little children come to
    me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these and when he had placed his hands on them he went on from there”.
    It takes an Alhaji like me to tell them about the Bible, is it fair, Madam Speaker? The Sunday school teachers are all here.
    Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Hammond, I
    thank you very much but if you had asked me, I would have told you.
    Mr. Frederick Opare-Ansah 12:25 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I was on a point of order against my Colleague. He is grossly misleading us. [Uproar.] First of all, I have never known my Colleague as an Alhaji. I do not know when -- no wonder he is quoting the Bible. It is Matthew 19 verse, it is not “versus”, this is not a football match, it is a Bible quotation. So it is Matthew 19 verse 14 and not - [Interruption.]
    Madam Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    I have allowed a
    lot of time because I think this is a very important topic for our children but now it is closed, one-and-a-half hours and thank you Hon Members.
    We are moving on Hon Members.
    Mr. Alfred K. Agbesi 12:35 p.m.
    Speaker, I want your direction in this matter. Madam Speaker, contributors on this Statement on the African Day of the African Child, a lot of my Colleagues vaguely tried to quote the Bible. Madam Speaker, I want your direction. I think that the time has come that each Member of Parliament be given a copy of the Bible and the Quran.
    Madam Speaker, thank you very much.
    Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    I think it is a good
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the 1992 Constitution provides for freedom of religion. The Hon Member for Ashaiman is indicating that Hon Members should be given a copy of a Bible and the Holy Quran. Madam Speaker, that will make it appear as if we are conscripting all Members of Parliament to one of two religions, and that in my view, could offend the Constitution. Madam Speaker, it will really be conscripting the frontiers of religion in this House. So I believe that let each man or woman take care of himself or herself.
    Thank you very much.
    Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Hon Leader of the House, I will give you the last word on this matter.
    Mr. Gbediame 12:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I was rising on a point of order. You did not see me earlier on. I was going to say that, the fact that somebody is given a Quran or a Bible is not to say that they are forcing that person to belong to that particular religion, because it can be used for any reference purpose.
    Thank you.
    Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Members, I think this will be a matter for the House Committee as to your requirements.
    Mr. Bagbin 12:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I do not even think this is an issue. It is not an issue at all. There is freedom of religion, there is freedom of conscience, there is freedom of everything in this country except irresponsibility. So I do not think
    it is an issue at all. If that is the case, then we will have to bring all the other holy Books and give copies to Members to read through all to be enlightened about all the religions in the world.
    But I think we already have too many things on our plate and this should not be an issue for this House at all. I think you can go, take your decision, buy what you feel will go with your conscience and your belief in the Almighty God, if you believe there is Almighty God. Some people do not believe there is God because they do not know where they are coming from.
    Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Yes, thank you Hon Members, we are now moving on to item 5 - Laying of Papers.
    Mr. Bagbin 12:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, the Chairman indicated to me that item 5 (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) and (v) are still being considered by the Committee.
    Madam Speaker, the Public Accounts Committee is inundated with a lot of the arrears of reports of the Auditor-General and the earlier ones we referred to them, they have laid the Reports but they are still considering these ones and I think that we need to facilitate the work of the Committee by giving them some support to take off some days to go and look at these Reports seriously. So I will urge the Chairman and leadership of the Committee to consider a retreat, because the Reports are really many and we expect them to do a good job within a short time to let us catch up with the work of the Auditor- General's Department.
    So Madam Speaker, I want to seek your permission for these Reports to be referred back to the Business Committee for us to reconsider and re-programme them for the House. I hope my Colleagues will sympathise with the Committee and
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am all for the suggestion that the Majority Leader has made. Indeed, when we met this morning, I think they had the indication that the previous Committee had perused these documents and it is only left for the current committee to dust the Reports. Coming to the Chamber, we realized that these ones have not even been looked at at all and that means that the Committee will have to be granted space and time to look at them diligently.
    Of course, those ones that have some malfeasance in them as we have the emerging convention, perhaps, the Committee will advise themselves and if necessary to have public hearings on them and move on. For now, I believe, they need more time to consider these Reports before they will be able to report back to the plenary.
    I thank you.
    Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon Member. In which case, item 5 (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) have been deferred.

    Hon Majority Leader, any indications from you about adjournment?
    Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 12:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, in the circumstances, we want to urge Hon Members to go and continue with the work that we have referred to the various committees. I can see that particularly, the Committee on Health, Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Committee on Gender and Children are programmed to meet today. So we will take an adjournment and allow
    these committees to sit and therefore, I beg to move, that this House adjourns to tomorrow 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon, when we shall reconvene to continue with business.
    Madam Speaker, I beg to move.
    Madam Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Yes, the motion has been moved.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
    Madam Speaker, I am waiting for the day that you will concur with the ‘adjournment' proposed by the Majority Leader as he often does. Madam Speaker, I take it that he means ‘adjournment' and I will second the motion for adjournment - [Laughter.]
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 12:35 p.m.