we found space to meet in the Hon First Deputy Speaker's conference room to do some work. So, today, we would continue with the Chartered Institute of Bankers Bill, 2018. The day was not wasted.
Hon Ablakwa asked for the adjournment date and that we should be very clear in our minds when we would adjourn. In the course of this week, I have had cause to talk to the issue that we should prepare ourselves to adjourn on 12th April, 2019. I spoke to it in the course of the week on two occasions already and, perhaps, the Hon Member was not in the Chamber.
However, I indicated that if we were able to transact Business on the main items before us, it may be possible for us to adjourn on 5th April,2019; the date, however, remains 12th April, 2019. If we finish early, we may bring forward the date of adjournment.
Mr Speaker, on the annual reports of the Universities, the Hon Minister assured us the other day that they were ready, and I think they may be in the House. I spoke to the Hon Minister last week, and they were ferrying them to the House. Maybe, I would have to have a discussion with the Clerks-at-the-Table to see if the reports are indeed in the House.
The assurance when we adjourned that day was that they were being ferried to the House, and I want to believe they are here. If they are not, we would pursue same.
Mr Speaker, Hon Ablakwa said that he had filed some Urgent Questions and for more than 15 days, they had not been responded to. In his opinion, Urgent Questions are required to be answered within 15 days.
Mr Speaker, I do not really know where he took his inspiration from, that Urgent Questions are supposed to be answered in 15 days. It has no grounding in our Standing Orders, and I do not think that he would want to conjure any figures from the top of his head.
I have always insisted that because we have a time set for normal Questions, we should define the time range during which Urgent Questions must be responded to. I agree with him that we cannot, perhaps, go beyond a week but I believe that for Urgent Questions to serve their appropriate purpose, the Hon Ministers should be given a limited time respond to same.
I think that it should not even be 15 days, but perhaps within seven days. Which is why in the review of the Standing Orders, we have stated and we are definite that Urgent Questions should be responded to within a week, which is seven days. When we adopt the new Standing Orders, it would define for us the appropriate route.
Mr Speaker, with the issue of presidential staffers, for whatever reason, almost all regimes are late in
transmitting the list on it. Last year, the Administration responded very early enough and, indeed, it was unprecedented in the Fourth Republic. In this year, it appears there would be a slip, but we still have more than a week, so we would dialogue with the Executive and the Chief of Staff's Office for them to make an early transmission of this in the course of the week.
Mr Speaker, Hon Dakura, again, asked for the proper interpretation of our rules. I have always insisted that the Sittings of Parliament, as defined by Order 7, which he alluded to, which reads and with your permission I quote:
“Sitting'' includes a period during which Parliament is sitting continuously without adjourn- ment and a period during which it is in Committee”.
Mr Speaker, I have always insisted that the construction could only refer to Parliament Sitting in plenary, reclining into a Committee of the Whole and not the various sector or standing committees. So, when we sit in a sector committee, we are supposed to register same with the Clerks-at-the-Table, and even seek permission from the Rt Hon Speaker.
That is why when a Committee travels out, they have to seek permission. It is not considered, on the face of it, as an extension of Parliament. That is the proper understanding of Order 7.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member also alluded to what happened yesterday. Yesterday, when the House sat, I understand that on the very outset, there were about 15 Hon Members in the Chamber. That was not preconceived. I, as usual, came to this House at 6.15 a.m. in the morning.
I was in my office working when the Hon Minority Leader drew my attention to the pendency of the one- week observation of the late Hon Dr Kwabena Adjei, and he invited me to the event. I called a few Hon Members, and indeed, mentioned to the Rt Hon Speaker that we had to be at the one week celebration.
We were in good company -- a couple of so many Hon Members were there. Unfortunately, we could not return to Parliament early because of the traffic situation in Accra.
The House sat, and there were not too many Hon Members in the Chamber at the commencement of Business. It was not intentional that Parliament would have few Hon Members in the Chamber; but because there was a lot to do, the Rt Hon Speaker also felt that if we did not Sit early enough, we would not finish the Business that was before us, which was why Sitting started early. Mr Speaker, but most of us were at the late Hon Dr Kwabena Adjei's one week celebration.
Mr Speaker, I think I have answered the questions -- [Interruption.] With regard to the