Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa asked for certain information that should be furnished the House mainly consisting of certain annual reports that are legally supposed to be laid in this House, but are not forthcoming. He also mentioned the issue about the list of presidential staffers and how he would want it to be available and my goodself and Leadership to facilitate the laying of such reports in the House.
Mr Speaker, I would want to assure the Hon Member that I just interacted with the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation on the list of the staffers. He is working on it seriously. So, as he claimed we should facilitate it, they would take notice of that and make sure that that list, together with other reports like the Annual Report of the Universities and other reports that are supposed to come to this House, appear as legally mandated.
Mr Speaker, on the issue of time for commencing Sitting, this matter came up even this morning at the pre-Sitting meeting, and the issue of committee sittings when Parliament has to sit in the Chamber as well, and whether or not there should be a directive that committee sittings should be after adjournment so that we could have Hon Members in there.
Mr Speaker, it was at the discussion level at pre-Sitting meeting, but again, Hon Sampson Ahi also rose, that indeed, some committees, including his Committee were here but had to go on a field visit, which is all parliamentary duty.
Mr Speaker, so, I believe that just as I said some few weeks ago about the Standing Orders and how we are
reviewing it, if the conclusion we come to is that we should stick to our commencement of Sitting at 10.00 a.m., the question then is whether it is workable. Have we been able to sit at exactly 10.00 a.m.? If it is not workable, the suggestion is that we should move it to late afternoon or exactly midday. These are the options available to us.
But I agree with Hon Members that it does not put us in a good light that we do not sit on time, but I believe Leadership would have to do a lot to encourage Hon Members to be in the Chamber.
Mr Speaker, one thing has also not helped us, and it is a necessary evil, I must say. I remember in the previous Parliament when we had no offices, Hon Members were always in the Chamber, but what we picked from our Whips was that, most of the time it is not that Hon Members are not in Parliament; they are in Parliament but they are not in the Chamber. Most of them would have to go to their offices and see to visitors and constituents.
So, in my opinion, we should all endeavour as Hon Members that we manage our times so well that when we are expected to be in the Chamber to work on very important Business, we are all in the House and not in our offices.
Mr Speaker, an issue was raised on 11 Ministers who have been scheduled and the fact that we have to ensure that they attend to the House to answer these Questions. Earlier this week, you made this directive, and we, at the Majority Leadership, would ensure the Hon Ministers are in the House to answer Questions. That is not to say that where officially they have communicated well in advance to the Table and your good self of other reasons that would not permit
them to be in the House-- I expect that we acknowledge the possibility of those happenings as well. But for the majority of them, we have to encourage them to be in the House. So, they would be here to answer those Questions. So, we would deal with the fears of the Hon Member as it is.
Mr Speaker, I beg the Hon Deputy Whip, Hon Ahmed Ibrahim, that he should not predict doom. He is predicting that the 11 Hon Ministers might not appear. I believe that we should stay positive and work as Leadership to ensure that they appear to answer the said Questions.
Mr Speaker, again, Hon Members who are scheduled to ask Questions most at times are not also present in the Chamber. Again, this is not too good for us especially now that most of our Sittings are being telecast live on GTV. People are watching us closely, and so, Hon Members should equally be in the Chamber to also ask their Questions themselves.
Mr Speaker, I hope the Whips for both sides have taken note of the issue of whipping. We would whip our Hon Members to be present in the Chamber to make Mr Speaker's work easier.
Mr Speaker, Hon Armah-Kofi Buah also asked about we bringing Hon Ministers to the House to answer only one or two Questions and how, in his opinion, if they have more Questions, we could schedule them for more for a day.
Mr Speaker, I would like to draw his attention to Standing Order 66, which says that Mr Speaker shall be the sole judge of the admissibility of Questions. So, it is as and when Mr Speaker admits Questions that the Clerks would also write to the respective Ministries to bring their Answers. So, it is not as if Leadership