Debates of 8 Dec 2014

PRAYERS 10:10 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, we have one Statement for today. Are we taking it or we should defer it and move to the Commencement of Public Business? It is standing in the name of the Chairman of the Committee on Lands and Forestry.
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 10:10 a.m.
That is so, Mr Speaker.
Let us move on to item number 4, which is Commencement of Public Business.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Very well.
Mr First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
Hon Members, Presentation of Papers, item number 4-- 4 (a), by the Hon Minister for Finance.
Hon Majority Leader, do we defer item number 4 (a) and (b)?
Mr Bagbin 10:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we can move on to 4 (c). The Chairman of the Finance Committee is available to lay the Reports on the Custom and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum- related Levies)

(Amendment) Bill, 2014, and also on the Annual Budget Estimates of the National Development Planning Commission.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Very well -- 4 (c).
PAPERS 10:10 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
4 (c) (ii) is not ready?
Very well.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Bagbin 10:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we move to 4 (e), that is the Report on Local Government and Rural Development.
We have the Chairman of the Committee who has just arrived.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
4 (e).
By the Chairman of the Committee --
Report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for the year ending 31st December, 2015.
Mr Bagbin 10:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is how far we can go with the laying of the Papers. The other Papers, I do not have an indication of their readiness and the Chairs are not in. So, I would like the House to stand down these Reports, so that later in the day, we can go back to them.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Very well. So, do we move to item number 13? The Chairman is here; the Ranking Member is also here.
Mr Bagbin 10:10 a.m.
That is so, Mr Speaker. Item number 13, Customs Bill -- Consideration Stage.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon Members, the Customs Bill, 2014 at the Consideration Stage.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:18 a.m.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:18 a.m.
Mr Speaker, frankly, I would have wished that maybe, we suspend to enable --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:18 a.m.
I cannot hear you.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:18 a.m.
I said I would have wished that we suspended Sitting to enable some of us to be present to contribute meaningfully to the consideration of the Customs Bill. If it is not possible, maybe, the rest could go on.
Except, Mr Speaker, to also remind that I noticed that anytime you have to take over from the substantive Speaker, you are announced that you are going to take over but the rules provide that that announcement should not be made.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:18 a.m.
That announcement should not be --
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:18 a.m.
Should not be made. Mr Speaker, may I draw your attention to Order 13 (1), which provides that:
“Either of the Deputy Speakers shall take the Chair as Deputy Speaker whenever requested to do so by Mr Speaker during a Sitting of the House without any formal communication to the House.”
So, just to say that, maybe, it provides meat for us to chew on.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:18 a.m.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Bagbin 10:18 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the request of the Hon Minority Leader for the suspension is to allow him to make inputs in the debate on the clauses and also the Motion on the Code of Conduct.
Mr Speaker, this is because the Leadership of the House led by the Rt Hon Speaker, is to be at the launch of the National Anti-corruption Action Plan and so, we are to move there now.
In fact, we are a bit behind schedule and that is why he is making that request. It is in good taste and if we could suspend just for an hour, by then, we would be back and can continue with the business of the House.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:18 a.m.
Well, if that is what the Leadership is saying, I believe we would have to go by it. So, Sitting would be suspended for an hour. Hopefully, by then Leadership would have returned, so that we continue with proceedings.
So, Hon Members, proceedings are suspended for one hour.
For now, this brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage.
Very well. I believe this is the time for me to make the announcement.
Hon Members, Sitting is suspended for one hour.
Thank you.
10.25 a.m. -- Sitting suspended.
12.42 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 10:18 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we would with your kind permission, ask
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 10:18 a.m.

that we take item number 6, which is the Motion on the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament (MPs).
Mr Speaker 10:18 a.m.
Hon Members, item number 6 on the Order Paper -- continuation of the debate on the Code of Conduct for MPs.
Yes, Hon Member for Subin?
MOTIONS 10:18 a.m.

  • [Resumption of debate from 19/11/ 2014]
  • Mr Isaac Osei (NPP -- Subin) 10:18 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Code which has been submitted by the Ad Hoc Committee says clearly that it is to guide the conduct of Hon Members.
    I believe that the very important aspect of this Code is the fact that public trust is reposed in us as Members of Parliament (MPs) through the process of elections, and that, once this trust is reposed in us, we have the duty to ensure that we sustain that trust and enhance it. And we can only do so by the way we behave and also by the work we do in the public interest.
    I am sure many of you would recall that in 1994, when John Major was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK), he
    set up a committee under Lord Nolan, and they came out with what has now become known as the “Nolan Principles”. These principles are the principles which underlie this particular Code of Conduct, and there are seven main principles which have been outlined in this Code.
    First, is the issue of selflessness, which is just enjoining all of us to act in the public interest. Secondly, integrity, which says that a Member should not place himself in a position. This is also there. And then, the question of objectivity, is talking about meritocracy in the decisions that we make, we should base our choices on merits.
    The question of accountability, which we find in the Nolan Principles is enjoining us to make ourselves available for scrutiny when there is an issue, and openness is just about transparency and letting the free flow of information to the public, except where the public interest requires that such a matter be kept silent.
    In the Code and in the principles, the question of honesty, is talking about Hon Members being truthful. But what is also important, is the declaration of our private interest, which might conflict with the duties that we have. So, that aspect, is also important.
    Finally, the question of leadership, not just by the positions that we hold but the examples that we are able to give. So, the focus is not really on legal processes but on behaviour, and how we generate certain culture of work in this House.
    Mr Speaker, if you look at paragraph (2) of page 4, the Code is saying that it does not regulate the conduct of Hon Members in their purely private or personal lives. But the fact is that, all of us who are into politics must be mindful
    of the fact that there is an interface between the public and the private, and when that happens, it becomes blurred. Therefore, even in our private lives, we have to be careful on how we conduct ourselves.
    Mr Speaker, under the purpose of the Code, the Committee is saying that the purpose of the Code is to assist all Hon Members in the discharge of their obligations to the State, the House, their constituents and the public at large. But equally important are obligations to ourselves.
    These are very important -- and a lot of the things in the Code are things which through the process of socialisation and acculturation, we imbibe right from childhood. We imbibe all these principles, so that when you are doing something which is wrong, you would know, nobody has to tell you.
    So, I am of the view that the Committee has done quite well to bring this Code, which is a simple Code. But beyond that, the Committee is proposing that there should be a manual, which would go into the details and explain the various aspects of the Code.
    My view is that, this is a Code which all of us should accept unanimously as a way of self-regulation. What we are trying to do in this Code, is to have a system where we can peer review the way we conduct ourselves, not only in the Business of this House, but also in our businesses in our constituencies, and in our businesses in our private lives.
    Mr Speaker 10:18 a.m.
    Hon Member for Shai- Osudoku?
    I want the members of the Ad Hoc Committee which came out with this Report to guide the Chair with regard to the Code, especially where we have -- “pursuant to the Resolution of Parliament
    dated 4 th” July, 2013. That gave the authority for the Committee to be put in place.
    Very well.
    Yes, Hon Member for Shai-Osudoku?
    Mr David T. Assumeng (NDC -- Shai- Osudoku) 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would also want to add my voice to accepting this Report. In my opinion, it is a step in the right direction, and I would want to congratulate Leadership for coming out with this innovation.
    Mr Speaker, it is better late than never, and I believe that this is going to enhance our work as Members of Parliament (MPs). I believe that this would also guide us on how we conduct ourselves on the floor, as well as how we pose ourselves in terms of our dress code and what have you.
    In terms of dress code, Mr Speaker, I would want to urge that when the “donts” and “dos” are spelt out, we would want to see a lot more of our traditional appearance than the western way of appearing in the House. I believe that we would be promoting our culture the more, if someone sees Hon Members coming to the House in our traditional postures.
    Mr Speaker, in the previous Parliament, there was an Hon Member on the other side who was always appearing in cloth. It was a very good thing and we should emulate him -- that Hon Member would come dressed in a nice Kente suit, cloth and smock like I am appearing today -- and a lot more. I believe that this is what we should be doing.
    Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh (NPP -- Manhyia South) 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to first, commend the Committee for the good job that they have done. I would like to also commend the House for taking the bull by the horns in going in the direction in which we have decided to.
    Mr Speaker, every Parliament in Europe, in the last decade, has suffered a credibility crisis and out of these credibility crises, comes these codes,

    standards and guidelines for the public to measure legislatures on.

    When you go through the Code and get to point 3.3 Objectivity; 3.4 Accountability, 3.5 Openness and 3.6 Honesty -- I believe we are adopting this Code for the public to know that we are serious about the issues that we talk about.

    But the issues that are germane to the public, where they measure Members of Parliament on or about, do not reflect in this Code and for the matter, that purely, it cannot be reflected. If the public is interested in salaries of Members of Parliament, if the public is interested in Members of Parliament terms of office, no matter the Code that we set for ourselves, it will not answer that basic issue that the public wants to judge Members of Parliament on.

    I would recommend to the House that in order for Members of Parliament to abide by objectivity, accountability and openness, if they are under assault by the public as we are, there are certain things that should go in tandem with the Code. That simply is our conditions of service.

    Mr Speaker, we should publish this Code on our website and everywhere. But more importantly, the conditions of Members of Parliament should be published as well. Why do I say that? I did a survey in my constituency, only to be told that I enjoy free fuel -- and I do not know whether even the Speaker enjoys free fuel --
    Mr Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    I beg you to leave me out of the debate. [Laughter.]
    Dr Prempeh 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, when the general public feels that the security about their existence and life is not secured, they think that houses of Members of Parliament (MPs) have got security men 24/7, when Members of Parliament (MPs) themselves are under assault.
    So, I would plead with the House that this Code is very important, but everywhere that a Parliament has adopted a Code of Conduct, their conditions of service are also spelt out well. So, when they talk about your salaries, before you even come here, people would know that these are the entitlements of Members of Parliament (MPs), so that the public can be well informed. This is because the issues that the public is hitting this House with are not reflected in this Code of Conduct.
    Before we can answer the public honestly, which is 3.6, before I can speak to my constituents openly, which is 3.5, before I can account to my constituents, which I am going to do very soon at a durbar, before I can be objective, I have to have the knowledge. And that knowledge should be published; which is our conditions of service.
    So, when I go and stand in front of my constituents and somebody says, you earn GH¢50, 000, I can say that every Member of Parliament is entitled to have just like a District Chief Executive (DCE) or just like an Executive, then you can be assessed fairly and adjudged rightly or wrongly.
    So, Mr Speaker, the Committee has done tremendous work and I will plead with Hon Leaders of the House, that our conditions of service should also be spelt out and published, so that barraging of Members of Parliament (MPs) can be reduced.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr George K. Arthur (NDC - Amenfi Central) 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would start by asking whether it is even necessary -- because this question would even come
    out -- as a Member of Parliament, is it even necessary that you come out with this Code of Conduct when you have your Standing Orders and other documents that bind you --
    Mr Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, we have passed there. It was a decision of the House and unless the decision of the House is rescinded, you cannot go back to that question.
    So, go straight and make your submission.
    Mr G. K. Arthur 12:50 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr Speaker, the moment one becomes a Member of Parliament, that is where you even see that your own biography is known better by others than yourself. That is where people would start telling stories of your childhood up to the date you became a Member of Parliament.
    So, Members of Parliament are very cautious about their lives both in Parliament, outside Parliament in the constituencies and elsewhere. This is because with the least mistake, you would be ridiculed, either in the dailies or in the audio-video media.
    So, in coming out with this Code of Conduct, is to reinforce the way we practise and the trust reposed in us by the electorate. I know very well that Ghana has moved a step forward by coming out with this Code of Conduct, because there are other countries that also have that. It is going to let the people know that Members of the Parliament of Ghana are up to their duties because, already, if we are cautious about the public and cautious of our stewardship and we are still enforcing the laws that bind us, then it tells the public that we are up to our duties.
    But one question that I would ask is that, some of the issues that came up in the Code of Conduct about, maybe, accepting offers, the way we conduct ourselves in the Chamber, for example, raising of placards, raising of red flags when it comes to the presentation of the Budget Statement, presentation of the State of the Nation Address-- the comments that come out -- heckling, hooting and some words that some Members use in the Chamber-- are we going to sit-in-camera to discuss those issues what is right and what is wrong?
    Recently, it happened and I do not mean to attack anybody. But when it came to issues of raising plantain, fishes, rice, kenkey and the rest -- I do not know whether that kind of act goes with the Code or it must be stopped completely.
    Mr Speaker, once we have accepted to do this, there are a lot of issues we have to consider in order to make this Code of Conduct work.
    Even back at the constituency, sometimes, you go to programmes like funerals, outdoorings and church programmes, and some people who think that they needed an opportunity to attack you as a Member of Parliament but they did not get it. That is where they come to attack you. Whether hooting at you or maybe, using some words that would provoke your anger.
    But Mr Speaker, it is like the story of this lion which became a Muslim and as such decided not to eat its colleague. It is a song by a Ghanaian, that one lion became a Muslim; so, the rules in the Quran say that no animal must eat another
    Mr G. K. Arthur 12:50 p.m.

    animal. This lion, which was sleeping quietly in its home thinking of itself, saw a number of animals which came there and asked; that now that it does not eat any animal, what food does it eat? That is when the lion decided that the Quran says that it should not go out to eat but when you bring yourself, then it has to.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I know the song that my Hon Colleague is referring to. But it does not refer to a lion.
    Mr G. K. Arthur 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thought the song said osibo [Interruptions]-- It is a leopard. Then please --
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, so you see, Osibo is not a lion.
    Mr G. K. Arthur 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, sometimes the way people behave towards some Members of Parliament -- in fact, we may go beyond our own rules and then react. This is because, if after we set this Code of Conduct and we do not have attacked the integrity of the Member of Parliament -- [Interruption.]
    I know we have the Privileges Committee here, that would deal with issues like that. But if somebody gives me a very dirty slap outside, as a Member of Parliament, because of this Code of Conduct, I decide to put my hands at my back and look at the person, because the Code of Conduct does not allow me to misbehave outside.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Are you up on a point of order?
    Dr Prempeh 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Member just used a phrase, “if somebody gives somebody a dirty slap”. Mr Speaker, I wonder which slap is dirty and which is nice. So, if he is going to stick to issues, which slap is dirty and which is nice; so that we know?
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Arthur, please, wind up.
    Mr G. K. Arthur 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we ought to reinforce the Committee on Privileges and also make sure that if a Member of Parliament, even outside the Chamber of Parliament, is mishandled or manhandled by any other person, they must be active on the ground to deal with whoever did that.
    Mr Speaker, this is because if we should go from the first to the last page of this Code of Conduct, the things that come up in it would even ask you to put your hands at your back on the street -- not to open your mouth --
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Member, conclude.
    Mr G.K. Arthur 1 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    He has concluded.
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wanted to find out the kind of slap he is describing. Hon Sampson Ahi is here and he could testify to --
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    You are out of order.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing?
    Mr Ahi 1 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, I think --
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Member, are you contributing?
    Mr Ahi 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am responding to what the Hon Asiamah has just said.
    Mr Speaker, he mentioned my name and this House is seriously discussing an important issue. This type of comic behaviour should not be entertained on this floor.
    Mr Speaker, Hon Asiamah should behave.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Ahi, you have made your point. Sit down.
    Hon Members, I think that there is a unanimity with the adoption of this Report, listening to both sides of the House so far. I may want to call the Leaders, so that I could put the Question.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    One Member per side, and then I will go to the Leaders.
    Hon Member for Old Tafo?
    Hon Members, there is unanimity in the House about the adoption of this Report. I listened carefully to see whether people are going to disagree. Once there is unanimity, you do not belabour the point. [Interruptions]--
    Do you have a problem? I will give you the chance.
    Dr Anthony Akoto Osei (NPP-- Old Tafo) 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would try to be very brief.
    Mr Speaker, I am really very glad that the House has taken upon itself to go down this path.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    How many years?
    Dr A.A. Osei 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, for the past -- going on to ten years. I am in my third term.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Very well.
    Dr A.A. Osei 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the honest truth, if we must admit to ourselves is that, the last two or three years, I have seen the worst behaviour among all of us. That is what I have observed. I stand corrected. But Mr Speaker, that is why I do not blame the public when they hold us the way they do.
    Mr Speaker, it is true that historically, when there has been changes in Government, the first institution that gets disbanded is Parliament. And that has not helped the continuity and development of Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, but even that notwith- standing, we ought to be professional enough to be able to behave in a way that we do not give anybody room to doubt where we are going.
    Mr Speaker, sometimes, I cry when I hear words coming from so-called Members of Parliament outside the House and within committees. Mr Speaker, all of us know and those who do not know, last week, there was a rumour that a certain Anas Aremeyaw Anas was visiting Parliament. [Interruption.] For what? It is true; we heard that. Do we have to sit here and have this thing come upon us?
    Mr Speaker, I am afraid, we ought to be guided by our own principles that have been enunciated here. We should be bold enough to adopt the conduct and find the committee to enforce it. This is because I believe, as my Colleagues said, for example, if your constituents know your conditions of service, the demands may go down. That is one example.
    Our behaviour here must begin to change. Part of the reason Mr Speaker, honestly, is tied to our conditions of service. We are supposed to be equal to High Court Judges. That is what we are supposed to be, according to the committees appointed by the Speaker. But if you look through the conditions of service, we are nowhere close to them.
    Mr Speaker, some of us, if we had gone into the legal profession, could be Supreme Court Justices. It is true. Hon Alban Bagbin has been at the Bar for how long? Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu is the classmate of Supreme Court Judges. And look at the conditions of service; nowhere near what they are supposed to be.
    Mr Speaker, but people really believe that we enjoy all kinds of privileges. So, we should be bold. I do not know what happened, but what I have seen is that, in the past, when we were discussing our conditions of service, we held them to our chest. Why? What is wrong with publishing them in public? They are not good enough compared to the other two arms of Government. We should put them out there so that people would know.
    We are the only ones that must borrow money to do our job -- Public service job. People say we have a four wheeler. So, if I live in Kunbungu, I should buy a bicycle to go there? I should not.
    The Minister of State who is not a Member of Parliament lives in Accra and gets a four wheeler and it is alright.
    We should be bold enough to discuss these things, because if we do not, people will think that we are enjoying what we are not.
    Mr Speaker, I do not know any Parliament in this world whose Members do not have offices; it is embarrassing and we are afraid to talk about it. All of our files are in our cars.
    Look at all these [raises a pack of files]; they are in our cars and people think that Members of Parliament in Ghana are enjoying. If you travel to other countries and they invite you to their offices, you sit there in shame. This is because when they come here, the best place is the Members of Parliament Café; look at the chairs there -- [Laughter.] and we are afraid to talk about it. Why?
    Mr Speaker, show me any public officer in this country -- Ghana, who does not have an office. [Interruption.] Tell me which public officer in Ghana who does not have an office. A secretary in the Ministry has an office. But Members of Parliament have none and people think that we are enjoying. We should be bold to tell the public these things.
    Even if they are not sympathetic, at least, they would know the truth and we should not be shy about it. I would want to plead with my Hon Colleagues -- if they are going to accept us, first and foremost, we must exhibit the type of respect that we want from them. If we do not do that, it does not matter who speaks for us, nothing would be in our favour.
    So, I am glad the Committee has started by biting the bullet. We must begin to be very transparent and accountable. Mr Speaker, this matter about these chairs in the Chamber, we did not have sympathy from anybody. [Interruption.] Why? We Hon Members of Parliament found out when they were coming just when we came here. Is that not the truth? How many Hon Members knew about these chairs before we came here?
    Mr Speaker, the matter of the furniture for the “Job 600” building would be coming soon. What are we doing to discuss that, so that we could defend ourselves? We must begin with ourselves.
    Let us as Hon Members of Parliament know what is due us besides the conditions of service. Let us put it out there. We should be able to defend it. The High Court Judge Justices better than us.
    Certainly, that is the reason some of the Hon Ministers of State do not respect their Colleague Members of Parliament. It is a fact; it is a fact and we know it. But should that be the case?
    The conditions precedent to be an Hon Minister is that, you have to be eligible to become an Hon Member of Parliament. Is that not it? [Interruption.] Then, how come that they are respected more than us? Why? Mr Speaker, we need to begin to demonstrate that the title we hold “Honourable” is really honourable.

    Mr Speaker, the applications for Hon Members to seek approval from the Committee on Profits and Emolument is r ising. Should that be the case? [Interruption.] So, Parliament is now becoming a part time job for Hon Members because the conditions of service are not
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Roads and Highways?
    Minister for Roads and Highways (Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini) (MP) 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, permit me to add my voice to Hon Members of the House who have contributed so far in upholding what the Committee has done for this House.
    There is no gainsaying that any civilised society in which human beings live and thrive, ought to have rules of conduct, that would regulate their behaviour and have everybody accept and abide by those rules. Indeed, it is when we set common standards to regulate our behaviour that we are seen to be acting as people of sound mind and reason.
    Mr Speaker, you know what chaos does? You know what lack of rules does? It is when you visit the traffic light and the lights are off and everybody attempts to cross the road at the same time, that you can see chaos at its best.
    That simply manifests lack of rules; that simply tells you when lack of rules manifests itself and breaks down. So, for us to attempt to set standards, a standard of behaviour that would regulate our conduct in this House, is to show that we are proceeding in the right direction and that as Parliament, we are living up to our bidding as Hon Members, who not only set laws for the general public to obey,
    but are prepared to set rules of conduct for their own behaviour.
    Mr Speaker, why I stood up is simply to raise an issue with rules of conduct and that is captured in the last -- That is to say that, the rules of conduct, in my view, do not carry sanctions.
    Mr Speaker, I thought that, if for nothing at all, these rules of conduct would have tied in to the Standing Orders of the House and provided for a regime of sanctions, consistent with giving notice to Hon Members, that having accepted that we would be guided by those rules, we would also be punished likewise if we go against those rules.
    But the nearest this Report comes to, is to say that, when we come to the conclusion that an Hon Member has conducted himself in a way that is outside the conduct that we have all agreed to, then that Hon Member's conduct would be subject to debate and the appropriate punishment meted out.
    Mr Speaker, that is not consistent with rules of law, that clearly give notice of the sanctions regime that must apply to a person who breaches the rules of conduct that we have accepted and agreed to abide by.
    I thought that we should have gone further and provided for a sanctions regime, or at least, made the rules consistent with the Standing Orders, so that all of us would know that when you come into the House, dressed in a way that is totally unacceptable to the dress code that we have elected onto ourselves to be bound by, then you would know exactly what punishment would be meted out to you.
    But do not leave it to the whims and caprices of the Hon Members of this House to debate, then invite other partisan political considerations, other filial considerations and other considerations that clearly would derogate the rules that we have set ourselves.
    Hon Isaac Osei -- rose --
    I thought that Hon Members of the Committee would have gone further to provide for it.
    Mr Speaker, any time that a debate ensues in this House concerning even the Standing Orders of the House and whether an Hon Member 's conduct should be the subject matter of a disciplinary action by the rules of the House, we see what the debates in this House degenerates into. It degenerates into partisan considerations --
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Isaac Osei 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to say for the information of the Hon Minister that that is why the Committee recommended a manual; that we should develop a manual which would detail the meanings we have given to the Code and which would also outline the sanctions. It is clearly there in the Report of the Committee. So, it is not that we have left it blank. It is there.
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    It is there --
    Alhaji Fuseini 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have not seen --
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, the Committee expects the House, at the end of this debate to do two things; one, there should be a manual. The second one is to set up a Committee of Standards and Ethics; it is in the Committee's Report. It is in there!
    Alhaji Fuseini 1:10 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker, the manual would talk and define the conduct. I am talking about sanctions. Will the manual --
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Yes, it is there. Please, look at the Introduction to the Code of Conduct-- [Interruption.] Look at the last page, page 8, under “Upholding the Code”:
    ‘The application of this Code shall be a matter for the House, and particularly for the Committee on Standards, Ethics…
    Alhaji Fuseini 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker:
    “… a specific matter relating to an Hon Member 's adherence or otherwise to the rules of conduct under the Code and submit its Report together with its recommendations and conclusions to the House.”
    That is exactly what I am talking about --
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Conclude. “The House may impose sanctions on a Member . . .”
    Alhaji Fuseini 1:10 p.m.
    The “House may impose”; that is what I am talking about. But I am saying that the rules of conduct ought to have dealt with that. I have read that one.
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Member, I believe that if you were here when the Majority Leader was moving this Motion, you would have heard it-- he made some of the points you are raising very clear on that day.
    Hon Majority Leader, let me hear you.
    Mr Bagbin 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I actually noted down his point, so that in winding up, I could address them. Because it has come up, I will just draw his attention to the recommendations, particularly the last sentence.
    It reads:
    “The manual will further codify the appropriate remedial action to be taken or sanction to be imposed on the breach of a rule on a Member when the House considers it necessary.”
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the beef of my Colleague is that, occasionally, when the conduct of an Hon Member on the floor of the House is raised, people take sides. That is what he is saying.
    Am I right?
    Alhaji Fuseini 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:20 p.m.
    But that is where he is wrong. [Laughter] This is because, Mr Speaker, I remember that he himself has been caught in this web on a couple of occasions. The rules provide and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will quote for him, Standing Order 93(5), which provides that:
    “The conduct of Mr Speaker, Members, the Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature shall not be raised, except upon a substantive Motion
    Which is what is not done. Usually, one bursts out and wants to raise the conduct of an Hon Member on the floor in plenary, you cannot do that unless upon a substantive Motion, which is filed and Mr
    Speaker ought to admit it. That is the rule and that is the path.
    Thank you.
    Alhaji Fuseini 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have been called but -- yes, on one occasion, when I tried to raise the matter of conduct, I was caught by lack of a substantive Motion.
    But in answering to the Majority Leader's response, I am saying that the matter that I am raising has to do with what paragraph 2, the second sentence of paragraph 5.0 says:
    “The Committee may investigate a specific matter relating to a Member's adherence or otherwise of the rules of conduct under the code and submit its report together with these recommendations and the conclusions to the House.”
    Mr Speaker, my understanding, and I may be wrong, is that an Hon Member's behaviour that becomes the subject matter of investigation of a committee might come to different conclusions depending on which Member appears before the committee.
    I am saying that for a code of conduct to have universal application, it is important to define the rules of conduct before the acceptance of the code of conduct. Otherwise, you subject the code of conduct to the whims and caprices of the committee that will be investigating the conduct of a Member.
    That is just my beef and I am saying that if we were reminded to provide a sanctions regime and provide notice to the Members of the House, then we might insulate this Parliament against the whims and caprices of any committee to be set up by the House to investigate the conduct of an Hon Member, which conduct infringes or is likely to infringe the Code of Conduct.
    Thank you.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu — rose --
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    I thought I was moving to Leadership but let me hear the Minister, then Hon Deputy Minority Leader, you will come in.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for --
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Oh sorry. I thought the Deputy Minority Leader will come in first.
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 1:20 p.m.
    I thought you said you wanted him to --
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Yes. The Hon Minority Leader will be speaking. So, let me hear you, then I will take him.
    Mubarak Muntaka — rose
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Oh, Hon Chief Whip, no problem. We will balance it.
    Mr Nitiwul 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, that is alright. I can just go then --
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul (NPP -- Bimbilla) 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to be brief and state it that, seriously, I believe that the introduction of the Code of Conduct particularly for Members of Parliament is long overdue. Mr Speaker, if you are entering into an organisation, whether it is Parliament or a lodge or the Knight of Marshalls, you must know the ethics, the culture and the traditions of that organisation.
    It is standard practice everywhere and best practices show that if you are moving from one organisation to the other, you should know the code of conduct. You
    should know where you are entering into, what you are subjecting yourself and the standard the people expect of you, the standard of behaviour, the standard of even speaking, the manner of the speech, what you say, the words that you say and how you carry yourself generally, you should know it even before you enter. For us to have practised democracy for more than twenty years and Hon Members of Parliament do not have a code of conduct regulating them, especially the way the public holds us in high esteem, I believe it is long overdue. [Interruption] It is the truth.
    If we are having problems, it is because we do not have a code which is regulating us. At the beginning, the public was holding us in high esteem. If today the public is beginning to question us legitimately, then it means it is from us. Maybe, we were not living up to the standards the public expects of us and that is why they are questioning us.
    Mr Speaker, I learnt a practice in France the last time we visited there, and it is very simple. They have a ranking of everybody and the way they expect you to behave. So, when you go to a function, they have where the President is sitting, they have who is the next person until it gets to Members of Parliament. And it is very clear. When you come, you are not struggling.
    People are not there and then there is a struggle between a Member of Parliament and a Minister, who is higher than the other or between the Distr ict Chief Executive (DCE) or even the Assembly- man; where all the Honourables are struggling, which Honourable is the highest when you go to a function. There, they do not have it. It is very clear. Everybody has an assigned role and everybody has a specific role. Even for Members of Parliament, because you are
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul (NPP -- Bimbilla) 1:20 p.m.
    assigned to a specific number, when they call number 410, they know that number 210 is higher than 410 in sitting capacity. Everything is done and done well.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to come back to what he said, that because we do not have a code or we do not regulate ourselves, we find it difficult to have a certain standard that we can measure ourselves to. So, you would have the Hon Member of Parliament for Bimbilla speaking and behaving in a certain manner different from maybe, the Hon Member of Parliament for Tamale South. [Interruption.] This is because we come from different backgrounds. You would have the Hon Member of Parliament from Ashaiman speaking and acting differently from the Member from Old Tafo, because they are from different backgrounds and different training.
    So, unless we have a code of conduct that can regulate all of us and we measure ourselves up to that, Mr Speaker, we would be dancing and dancing in circles and not be able to it. But then, when we decide to regulate ourselves as Hon Members of Parliament and we rightfully take our place in society, then what is due us must be given us.
    Mr Speaker, you go out there and the public believes that Hon Members of Parliament get free fuel, whereas Mr Speaker, that is not the case. [Interruption.] That is what they think; they think that you get free fuel; , your electricity bill is being paid, and they believe that you have two cars; one Land Cruiser and one saloon car and that they are free.
    Mr Speaker, I pay GH¢3,500 every month to service my car loan — [Interruption] — the little I have, they
    take about GH¢3,500 because I have gone to take a commercial loan. But because people queued to vote for you, some who moved to the polling station at 12.00 midnight to ensure that they voted for you, you cannot win any argument against the public; you represent them. You cannot even cry to anybody. This is because the public believes and thinks that you are the one to solve their problems. How then do you tell them that you also have problems?
    Mr Speaker, I believe that this is the beginning of the solutions to all the problems that we have in Parliament. That is why I said that if we have decided to regulate ourselves, then as Parliament, we must take our place in society. All of us, at a particular point, would pass on. How many 1992 Members of Parliament is still here — [Interruption] — he is no more a Member of Parliament—Hon Bagbin, Hon E.T Mensah and who — [Interruption] — Hon Amadu Seidu, and Hon Avoka — Even Hon Avoka came and went — they are not many. It tells you that at a particular time, all of us who are making this Code of Conduct today would not be here in future.
    Some other people would come. It is an institution that we are building for tomorrow and tomorrow is tomorrow, and without Parliament, there is no democracy. This is because democracy, without a true representation of the people, is not any true democracy. We must be the people, who must be held as having the highest level of transparency, accountability and the highest standards but we cannot achieve that if we do not have something to regulate us.
    We come here and even the dressing, you see some people who have only something hanging here — [Interruption] — it looks like a singlet — with all the armpits and everything showing. Both

    Mr Speaker, I am saying this because if you go to every organisation, they have the dress code and if one does not comply with that dress code, one does not enter the place where they are supposed to enter. So, if one is walking into this Chamber, then one must dress in a particular way. We have formal dress but because that is not standardised, it is difficult to tell what a formal dress is.

    I support the introduction of this Code and Conduct for Members of Parliament and hope that the Standards and Ethics Committee that would be established would do a good job to ensure that the responsibility of implementing and enforcing the Code and Conduct is strict and exact. If we talk and what we are saying becomes a talk shop and we do not get people who can enforce it and make sure that what we are saying is put into practice, then there is no need. This is because people would flout it with impunity and we would have nothing to do — there is nothing we can do about it.

    An Hon Member would tell you “I won my seat — you are not to tell me what to do.” When the sanctions are being applied, then political parties must not come here to influence what happens. This is because if we are not careful and whatever we would want to do becomes a political ball game, then we are in serious jeopardy — then Parliament becomes the ball game; where the NPP, NDC, CPP or PNC are playing the ball among themselves, and that has been the bane of this Parliament; everything we do is being influenced by what happens within

    our political parties. If Parliament cannot stand together on this Code of Conduct, then it would not work. It can only work when Parliament decides that, yes, for once, we are going to stand on our own as a Parliament.
    Minister for Employment and Labour Relations (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) (MP) 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, that this House adopts the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, and in doing so, I wish to refer you to page 3, paragraph 4.1 of your Committee's Report.
    For emphases, this House passed the Public Officers' Liability Bill, which we refer to as part of a general framework of an ethics regime, which would seek to set minimum standards in the work that we do.
    Mr Speaker, this particular Code of Conduct, in my view, is important in two significant respects; first, we are respecting the provisions of the Constitution, which under article 284, provides for it. In Ghana, research has identified the most veritable sources of corruption in Ghana. It lingers on two legs; (1) conflict of interest and (2) procurement. This, by far, even by any international research, establishes that they are the most veritable sources of corruption -- nepotism, favouritism, allowing for rules not to prevail because we do not respect this mere provision of conflict of interest.
    Mr Speaker, before I proceed, let me say, that in supporting this Code of Conduct, Hon Members of Parliament must honour themselves and treat one another in dignity. There are many times that we make referrals and references to one another publicly without candour, decorum and decency -- even to Hon Colleague Members of Parliament -- even how Hon Ministers relate to Hon Members of Parliament -- how State
    Mr Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    When what you refer to as immoral but not illegal, finds expression in the Code of Conduct, it becomes illegal and therefore, can be investigated. So,
    ultimately, what is important is this: The detailed manual that the Committee is recommending to the House, what do we put in and what do we not put in.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am well guided by your comments to enrich it. We need to take this Code of Conduct serious, for another reason -- who are Members of Parliament. The Constitution envisages that Ministers of State shall be Members of Parliament — indeed, it says, a majority of them. Even when you set up a code of conduct for Ministers of State, in my view, that is a retail code of conduct. The wholesale code of conduct is this code of conduct for Parliament. This is because you would distil the Ministers from Members of Parliament.
    Indeed, the qualification to be an Hon Minister of State by Ghanaian standard and Constitution, is to be qualified to be an Hon Member of Parliament and that itself makes this Code a very important and binding one, which should guide the conduct of public behaviour in our discourse.
    With these few words Mr Speaker, I would urge that the committee to be established should do further research and be guided by best practice elsewhere.
    I have had the privilege to walk into one of the major meetings of Parliament in Geneva, Switzerland and I was encouraged by the manner in which they treated Hon Speakers and Hon Members of Parliament. I would want to see that happen within the jurisdiction of Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, the Code of Conduct and our relationship with our constituents is also a matter I would urge the Committee, in future, to look into.
    I do urge Hon Members to support this Motion.
    Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (NDC -- Asawase) 1:40 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to also support the Motion before us.
    Mr Speaker, in doing this, let me be a bit critical like my Hon Colleague from Old Tafo, who reminded us to re-examine how we behave.
    Mr Speaker, in this House, there is no rule which says one must not come late, or early or be in the Chamber. Mr Speaker, let us be frank with ourselves, sometimes one comes around and as a Whip, you look round and find that Hon Members are sitting in many other places while Business is ongoing in the Chamber.
    Mr Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Do you have a point of Order?
    You have been on your feet for a long time.
    Dr Prempeh 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague for Asawase is saying that there is no rule that says we should come here at a particular time.
    Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders are very, very clear. As Hon Members of Parliament, we have to come here at 10.00 at the forenoon and close at 2:00 p.m. It is so clear that if one absents himself or herself for fifteen continuous Sittings, one is sanctioned. It is so clear and we have that responsibility as Hon Members of Parliament under our Standing Orders.
    I agree with the thrust of his point but if he says that we do not have to come here every morning, it is probably not right, factually.
    Alhaji Muntaka 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague rightly said, one has to absent one's self for fifteen Sitting days. So, you have an Hon Member, whom without excuse, can choose not to be here for thirteen Sittings days and then on the fourteenth Sitting day, he comes in and goes out again.
    Mr Speaker, what we are saying is that, if we now have a Code of Conduct, we need to know that all these little things we do are being observed by the general public. There are some Hon Members in this House, most Hon Members whom everybody knows that have taken the duty of being Hon Members of Parliament and being in this Chamber religiously. I can mention several of them who virtually everybody would even be running to know why they are not in the Chamber today, because they religiously adhered to the rules. But can we say so with every Hon Member?
    Mr Speaker, by the provisions of the Constitution, article 82(6), it is clear that within three months after you have taken office, you must declare your assets. Mr Speaker, there are 275 of us; if we are to really go round, I would be very surprised that every single one of us has declared his or her assets. You think the general public are not aware? If not for nothing, the Attorney-General's Department has people who are working there and they know what some of us have and what we have not.
    These are some of the things that we are saying we should do to uphold the dignity of the offices that we are occupying, so that we carry ourselves in a manner that the general public would have some respect for us.
    Dr Owusu. A. Akoto 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, just a point of information.
    He said that we declare our assets at the Attorney-General's Office. It is not the Attorney-General but the Auditor General's Department.
    Alhaji Mubarak 1:40 p.m.
    Sorry. It is Auditor- G e n e r a l ' s D e p a r t m e n t .
    Mr Speaker, if you look at the Committee's Report, at paragraph 4.1 bullet (3.0), it says:
    “Comply with a system of moral principles established by the society.”
    Mr Speaker, this is one area that I know is of the biggest challenges that we have as Hon Members of Parliament. This is because the society that we represent does not see anything wrong when they have to come to you to look for admission for them, to pay school fees, pay medical bills and to do so many other things that ordinarily, are not the duty of an Hon Member of Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, it is not possible for Hon Members of Parliament to carry out all these expectations with monetary gains and yet in our Code of Conduct, we are talking about gifts to be received by Hon Members of Parliament. I am convinced that we should not only put gifts to Hon Members of Parliament, but gifts also given out by Hon Members of Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, it is important we do establish a Code of Conduct because I know that in the United Kingdom (UK), in an election year, every Member of
    Parliament is supposed to periodically hold a breakfast meeting with his constituents where they exchange ideas about the constituents. But the rules stipulate that in an election year, even the tea meeting is illegitimate, meaning that they would want to conduct themselves in a way that will not only expose them to influencing persons but they should also not be influenced.
    Mr Speaker, I am of the view that, when it comes to the detailed manual that would be coming, let us put a mark --
    I would also suggest that no Member of Parliament should be given a gift of more than GH¢500 and in the same way, we should not also give gifts to people beyond GH¢100. So, it is an issue of no matter how much you pay the individual, so long as you continue dishing out money to individuals, there would be an indirect pressure on that person, unfortunately, not to be able to even sit in the Chamber but to be hovering round to see what he or she can do to be able to raise resources.
    Mr Speaker, being an Hon Member of Parliament is a full time job, by our Constitution. Many of us have other businesses to do and the Constitution is very clear, our Standing Orders are very clear. You are supposed to apply in order to hold any office of profit. There are 275 of us. You think that the public does not know most of us who are also doing businesses without necessarily going through this Committee? They know. That is why I think that this Code of Conduct, even though is late, is better than never.
    Mr Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi 1:40 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is actually misleading this House in assuming a lot of things. Most of the things that he is saying are assumptions without any basis.
    What is the justification for saying that Hon Members have been engaging in illegalities when he has not got the proof? I think he is stretching this too much.
    The rules are so clear, that if any person would want to do anything apart from what he does in Parliament, he must actually apply through the Speaker and a licence be given. I do not know where he is getting his information that other Hon Members are doing businesses without going through the application.
    With the greatest respect, he is stretching this too far.
    Mr Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip, the way you put it, you are attacking the conduct of the Hon Members. Unless you can mention a particular Hon Member of Parliament that you know that is in office of private profit without approval from the Speaker, then you can --
    Alhaji Muntaka 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it would interest many of us to know that without mentioning names, I have had the privilege of talking to some of my Colleagues --
    Mr Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Member --
    Alhaji Muntaka 1:50 p.m.
    But since I do not want to mention the names, I would say --
    Mr Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, just withdraw that aspect and continue.
    Alhaji Muntaka 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, that aspect should be withdrawn.
    All I would want to drum home is that, there are a lot of rules that are currently in existence and many of us are not applying our minds to them. I would want to encourage that each one of us should be interested in what is supposed to be happening in this House. I would want to urge that whether we are keeping the same Committee or going to compose another, we should bring the detailed manual with the sanctions, especially the Standards and Ethics Committee.
    I would urge that we do this as soon as possible, so that it would put to rest these skeletons that we have. This will enable us enforce them and begin to change the perception and our attitude in and round this House, that the general public can begin to have some trust in what we do.
    Mr Speaker, I know that even in the military, there is a section that supervises their conduct and the same is in the police and court systems. This Code of Conduct is long overdue and the Standards and Ethics Committee is late. But we must try to get it as soon as possible, so that we would begin to put whatever we put in here as code of conduct to guide us if we would have to uphold the dignity of this House.
    Mr Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, then the Majority Leader winds up.
    Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker. I have listened to many Colleagues make their own interventions --
    Mr Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader and Hon Majority Leader, I want you to address the issue whether we should set up a specific committee as recommended by the Committee, or give it to the Privileges Committee as an added responsibility. I want both of you in your contributions to address this issue.
    Mr Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, with regard to the state of Business, I direct that Sitting be held outside the prescribed period.
    Hon Minority Leader, kindly proceed.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, there are many factors that should coalesce to project balance and poise in Members of Parliament. I think that one of the things that we should be concerning ourselves with is attendance at plenary meetings. The conduct of Members at plenary meetings, attendance at committees, and again, the conduct of Members at such committees.
    People have referred to dress code and I do not want to belabour the point.
    Mr Speaker, the language of this House, we have always been telling one another
    that some heckling is permissible in any House of Parliament, but insulting language and wild gesticulations are reprehensible and not acceptable in any House. Yet, increasingly, we are witnessing such spectacles and we must speak to it.
    Mr Speaker, discipline in plenary - we should all be concerned about the conduct of Members. I do not want to raise it now but all of us know that there is a lot to be desired about the conduct of Members in plenary. That also leads me to another matter. If we are talking about discipline in plenary, at the same time, we should also have trust and confidence in the Chair; the Chair should demonstrate impartiality. We all know that the occupants of the Chair come from various political traditions and to that extent, the occupants of the Chair cannot be described as neutral, but we expect a demonstration of impartiality from the Chair and that should resonate onto the floor.
    Mr Speaker, the quality of materials in the House is something that we should also be addressing because it affects the quality of debate in the House. The Constitution provides in article 55 (5) that the various parties should be democratic in their internal organisations. But increasingly, we are witnessing the spectre of monetisation in the affairs of the various political parties. To that extent, we would all bear witness to how the elections in our various political parties are becoming increasingly monetised, not least, elections relating to parliamentary candidates.
    If Members of Parliament or parliamentary candidates spend so much as we know they do in their various constituencies, what do you expect them to come and do in the House?
    Mr Speaker, there are many people who just want to come to this House to use the opportunities that it offers them to establish connections, rake in funds, resource their vaults and reposition themselves for another round of elections in their parties. As a country and political parties, we know this, yet everybody is pretending that nothing is happening. We should further interrogate this, dialogue with our political parties and see the better way in us as we go forward for our democracy.
    So many Colleagues have spoken about the conditions of service. So, I do not intend to talk about that.
    But further to that, as a House, we should strengthen Parliament and strengthening Parliament should relate to strengthening the various Committees that we have. We should resource the committees to do their work.
    Unfortunately, not much resources are usually allocated to the various committees and so, the committees go adrift oftentimes. This is because some people want them to do some work for them, or maybe, some, people would want them to go soft on them and they find ways of luring the committees to do certain things which ordinarily should not be acceptable to us as a House.
    So Mr Speaker, strengthening the committees should be a principal focus of this House. Mr Speaker, Parliament is the House that has the oversight responsibility over the Executive and in order for us to be able to do this, Parliament should reposition itself. That is why I am happy that the Committee has provided us with some standards contained in page 3 of the Report, that first, Members of Parliament should reflect a high degree of selflessness,
    integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness and leadership and we Members of Parliament should conform to an established professional and personal standards of life measured against the background of integrity, trust and honesty.
    Mr Speaker, charity, they say, begins at home. So, before we are able to go out there to judge and oversee the conduct of the Executive, we must open ourselves up, be accountable, very transparent and be very probious to the people who elected us and to the taxpayers who are funding us. If we open ourselves up to them, trust could be cultivated.
    Finally, Mr Speaker, in plenary, Parliament opens itself up to the public, in committees, we do not. There are only two committees that open themselves up to the public and those committees are the Appointments Committee and in recent times, the Public Accounts Committee. I think going forward, we should consider opening the various committees up to the public, so that they would know there is nothing to hide. If they would want to go and observe, they could go and observe.
    If maybe, we could have television cameras, Mr Speaker, beaming to our people, the conduct of business, at that length, we could also begin to look at that. So, Mr Speaker, it would add to the quality of debate even in plenary. This is because if at the committee level, the television cameras are on you, and you are unable to articulate what you want to say, it would be a big minus for the constituency which you represent. Next time, they would think twice before they elect anybody to represent them in Parliament.
    So, Mr Speaker, I think that we are making some headway as has been observed. It is a bit late but it is better late than never. Let us all buy into this and if we have to improve further, especially Mr Speaker, on matters relating to anti-
    Mr Speaker 2 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Majority Leader (Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin) 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Members of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, I would want to thank Colleagues for pouring out their hearts in support of the Motion. I believe this issue is very dear to the heart of everybody, not only Members of Parliament.
    I would not want to reiterate the Report of the Committee but just to say that after the passage or resolution of this House adopting the Code of Conduct, I would want to assure everybody that the whip would be cracked and Members should not just see it to be business as usual.
    We mean what we are putting down and this is influenced by professional conducts of other Parliaments and also guided by the laws, the ethics and cultures of our people in Ghana.
    It is not like any other business, but issues of salaries and conditions of service are governed by other laws; one does not need to be rich to be decent, gentle and decorous.
    Mr Speaker, Leadership of the House ought not to allow political parties to influence the positions or decisions they take in the House, or how they enforce the code of conduct and we would be depending on the leadership of the Speaker to make sure that all Members
    abide by, not just the principles, but the rules of the Code of Conduct.
    Mr Speaker, let me emphasise that it is not possible to put the sanctions in the Code of Conduct. That is why we have called for a manual. The practice all over the world is that these things are detailed out in a manual and that is what we are proposing the House adopts. We cannot put all in the Code of Conduct.
    Mr Speaker, the last point is to say that issues of timeliness are issues that are governed even by the Code of Conduct. They are also in the Standing Orders of the House, clearly stated when the House commences business. It is stated in the Standing Orders of the House, the attendance at committee meetings. I think Mr Speaker, we would call on the leadership of committees to apply the rules and make sure Hon Members attend and participate in committee deliberations.
    So, Mr Speaker, it is with this that I once again, thank all Members and particularly Members of the Ad Hoc Committee for doing a very diligent job. It took us a lot more time because we wanted to do and present a very good report to the House. We would suggest that some of the members of the Ad Hoc Committee be made Members of the committee that is to put up the detailed manual.
    Unfortunately, I am not available now because I am the Majority Leader. I hope that other Chairmen could assist the committee to do that. It is with this Mr Speaker, that I thank Members again and your goodself for presiding over us to take this position.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr Speaker 2 p.m.
    Thank you very much. Before I put the Question, we need to be very clear with regard to the recommendation as relating to the Standards and Ethics Committee. I know in certain jurisdictions, it is normally combined with the Privileges Committee.
    So, if the House agrees, then we could amend that portion of the Committee's Report before its adoption. In that case, when it comes to review the Standing Orders, we could then change the name of the Privileges Committee to add the “Standards” to the “Privileges”. So, that is one area I would want us to get a certain understanding on before I put the Question.
    The second one is when are we going to set up the committee to draft the manual. This is because without the manual, we would be handicapped. Even though the Code is there, enforcement would become a problem. So, I think if Leadership can consult now, we should be able to put the Committee in place immediately. Otherwise, it should not be beyond tomorrow.
    Yes, Hon Member for Sekondi, I want to clarify these positions before I put the Question.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I believe that the Privileges Committee could also be assigned the responsibility of drafting the manual and they can co- opt any Member whom they believe can bemembers of the Committee have always complained to me, they say I am fond of asking the Speaker to set up committees but the Privileges Committee is there but they have nothing to do.
    Your First Deputy Speaker is the Chairman of that Committee. We could give them a time frame within which to submit a report or be it a draft report but they can always co-opt Members --
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    You know my First Deputy Speaker is already chairing the Technical Committee working on the Standing Orders. I do not want to overburden him for this manual to delay.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, that one too is outstanding. The Standing Orders have been outstanding for about one year.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Yes so -- I do not know. Do you have another committee to draft it or those of you who worked on the Code of Conduct have gained some experience and insight into this special area?
    Hon Majority Leader, I want us to clarify some of these things before I put the Question.
    Mr Bagbin 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I believe we can start with the Privileges Committee which is chaired by the Second Deputy Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    First Deputy Speaker?
    Mr Bagbin 2:10 a.m.
    The First Deputy Speaker? I am aware the Second Deputy Speaker has done some work in this area. He supported us as stated in the Report -- to get the Code of Conduct of the Parliament of Sierra Leone.
    I am aware he was very concerned about the delay of the Ad Hoc Committee in presenting the Report and in fact, he attended some of our meetings and he had started drafting something. So Mr Speaker, he could be asked to chair if the First Deputy Speaker is busy on other matters. But we need --
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    But he is not a member of the Privileges Committee.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Do we do that tomorrow morning?
    Mr Bagbin 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, because the Privileges Committee is too large -- It has about 30 --
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, do we consult and take that tomorrow morning, so that the drafting of the manual can start as early as possible?
    Mr Bagbin 2:10 a.m.
    Yes, we can start even today because it is very urgent. I think there is some material available for them to expedite action on this matter.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, we can give the responsibility to the Privileges Committee and co-opt the Second Deputy Speaker and other Members who worked on this Code on to the Privileges Committee to start drafting.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I agree. I guess we have the assurance from the Chairman of the Committee that this Privileges Committee would depart from the Privileges Committee of yesteryears where a mere referral about the conduct of a certain Koku Anyidoho was given to them and they never worked on it. They never worked on it.
    Mr Bagbin 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is not an area that I expected the Minority Leader to go into. This is because, to the best of my knowledge, all the referrals to the Committee, including Mary Ekwam and all those things, we have not got any report from them. So, it is not just Koku Anyidoho. There are many.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Hon Members, I will put the Question and then if there are any -
    - 2:10 a.m.

    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Yes, Hon First Deputy Speaker?
    Mr Barton-Odro 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, at this point in time, we need to look at this issue dispassionately. Personally, I feel that the Privileges Committee should be given this assignment with the power to co-opt, so that we can tap the experience of somebody like the Second Deputy Speaker and go ahead with this assignment.
    As for what happened in the past -- Since I became Chairman of that Committee, nothing has been referred to us to act on -- and my Ranking Member sitting by me -- he is a very hardworking gentleman -- [Interruption] I know because of the meetings we have been having, the pressure he has been putting on me and the workshops that we organised lately and so on and so forth.
    So Mr Speaker --
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Do not worry. From next year, we would start making referrals to you --[Laughter] . In fact, I have
    consulted the two Leaders, especially the Hon Minority Leader. I have consulted him on this matter.
    Mr Barton-Odro 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, an impression has been created that our job is being whisked away -- [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Hon Member for Subin, is it a point of order?
    Mr Isaac Osei 2:10 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    I was wondering how the First Deputy Speaker would know that somebody is hardworking when no work has been referred to them -- [Laughter] Even though I know, in his private life, he is hardworking, but for this Committee, he has no evidence.
    Mr Barton-Odro 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, it is not just --
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    I worked with him, so, I have the evidence.
    Mr Barton-Odro 2:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I say he is hardworking because of what I have seen and because of what we have done. Although nothing has been referred to us, we have been meeting regularly. We have organised workshops that we have invited Supreme Court Judges to make presentations and so on. That is the source of my recommendation of the gentleman here; nothing more, nothing less.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Hon Members, at page 8 of the Committee's Report, we delete “Standards and Ethics Committee” and replace it with “Privileges Committee.”
    Hon Majority Leader, is that the understanding of the House?
    Mr Bagbin 2:10 a.m.
    That is so.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Very well. I will now put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Mr Speaker 2:10 a.m.
    Hon Members, may I take this opportunity to sincerely thank the members of the Ad Hoc Committee chaired by the Hon A. S. K Bagbin, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and now, the Majority Leader, Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah as Vice Chairman, Hon Laadi Ayii Ayamba, Hon George Kofi Arthur, Hon Isaac Osei, Hon Ahmed Ibrahim and Hon Ignatius Baffour Awuah as members. I am most grateful for the time and the energy that you put into your work to produce this Report for the House.
    Thank you very much.
    Hon Members, based on the under- standing of the House, the Privileges Committee is assigned the responsibility to develop the manual and bring it to the House as early as possible for adoption. They must co-opt the Second Deputy Speaker who has done some work in this area, especially in the Parliament of Sierra Leone and they are free to co-opt any other Member of the House who may assist them in the discharge of this responsibility.
    Hon Members, thank you very much.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Mr Bagbin 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, can we now take item number 4, which is Laying of Papers?
    Mr Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Mr Bagbin 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, with your kind permission and with the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues, may I ask that the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance be allowed to lay the Paper for and on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. The Hon Minister for Finance is now engaged in another national assignment and he is not present.
    Hon Members would recall that throughout last week, he was always present with us. So, the kind indulgence of Hon Members is being sought.
    Mr Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Deputy Minister for Finance.
    PAPERS 2:20 p.m.

    Mr Bagbin 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is outside this country on national assignment. Her Deputy Minister is now chairing the launch of the National Anti- Corruption Action Plan, which we take very serious. Therefore, with your kind permission, and with the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues, I would want to call on the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to lay the Papers for and on behalf of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
    Mr Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Minister for Roads and Highways.
    By Minister for Roads and Highways (Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini) (on behalf of Attorney-General and Minister for Justice) --
    (i) Legal Service Regulations, 2014.
    (ii) Courts (Amendment) Regula- tions, 2014.
    (iii) Incorporated Private Partner- ships (Prescribed Forms) Instrument, 2014.
    (iv) Registration of Business Names (Prescribed Forms) Instrument,
    (v) Companies (Prescribed Forms) Instrument, 2014.
    Referred to Subsidiary Legislation Committee.
    Mr Bagbin 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, may I now plead with the House to take item 5. It is also Presentation and First Reading of Bills; these are financial Bills.
    Mr Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    All right. You have taken permission for the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance.
    Item 5 (a) -- Deputy Minister for Finance, on behalf of the Minister for Finance.
    BILLS -- FIRST READING 2:20 p.m.

    Mr Bagbin 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we were to move to the Customs Bill, but I have been informed by the Committee that there, are a few things still to be ironed out and therefore we could at this moment, take an adjournment to tomorrow to continue with the rest of the business. If that is acceptable to the House, Mr Speaker, I beg to move --
    Mr Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    It is past 2.00 o'clock.
    Mr Bagbin 2:20 p.m.
    It is past 2.00 o'clock?
    Mr Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Bagbin 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Nitiwul 2:20 p.m.
    It is past 2.00 o'clock. That is the discussion. But if they did not even make provision for [Interruption.] I know but I am only saying it looks like even the extended Sitting, we have not made serious provision for it.
    Mr Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, we have concluded Business for today.
    The House is accordingly adjourned till tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
    Hon Members, I thank you very much for your co-operation.
    ADJOURNMENT 2:20 p.m.

  • The House was adjourned at 2.27 p.m. till Tuesday, 9th December, 2014 at 10.00 a.m.