VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper, correction of Votes and Proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 7th June, 2018.]
Hon Members, correction of the Official Report of Wednesday, 30th May, 2018.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 30th May, 2018.]
Hon Members, Business Statement for the 5th Week. Chairman of the Business Committee?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, we do not have copies of the Business Statement. I wanted to know if copies could be provided. This is because, copies were not put in our pigeon holes. And so Hon Members do not have copies. [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, now I see that Hon Members on both Sides of the House have copies.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read any available communication to the House. Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee has scheduled the following Ministers to respond to Questions asked of them during the week: No. of Question(s) i. Minister for Trade and Industry -- 3 ii. Minister for Special Development Initiatives -- 1 iii. Minister for Finance -- 2 iv. Minister for Employment and Labour Relations -- 1 v. Minister for Education -- 5 Total number of Questions -- 12 Mr Speaker, five (5) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to twelve (12) Questions during the week. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of government policy. Statements duly admitted by Mr Speaker may be made in the House by Hon. Members, in accordance with Standing Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading in accordance with Order 120. However, those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Pursuant to Standing Order 75, Papers for presentation to the House may be placed on the Order Paper for laying. Committee Reports may also be presented to the House for consideration. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions if any, taken during the week. Briefing by Heads of Institutions Mr Speaker, the Business Committee takes this opportunity to inform all Hon Members that the officials mentioned below have been scheduled to brief the House Committee on public affairs with what information they are officially connected to: (i) Tuesday, 12th June 2018 (a)Officials of the National Identification Authority (NIA) have been rescheduled to appraise Parliament on the rollout plan for the National Identity Card. (b)The Minister for Local Government & Rural Development as well as the Administrator of the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) are also expected to update Hon Members on the disbursement of the Common Fund. (ii) Wednesday, 13th June 2018 Furthermore, officials of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) would make a presentation on the distribution of the GETFund. All Hon Members are accordingly urged to avail themselves on the stated days to contribute to the discussions, since pertinent matters would be considered. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under consideration. Questions *284. Mr Richard Mawuli Kwaku Quashigah (Keta): To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether there is an implementation plan for the ‘one district, one factory' policy initiative, and if so, whether the Ministry will furnish this august House with a copy.
*364. Mr Daniel Kwesi Ashiamah (Buem): To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry the responsibility of Government in the ‘One District, One Factory Project.' *304. Mr Mohammed Abdul-Aziz (Mion): To ask the Minister for Special Development Initiatives when government will release the cedi equivalent of one million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00) to the 275 Constituencies as captured in the 2017 budget statement. Statements Presentation of Papers — 2016 Annual Progress Report on the Implementation of the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) II, 2014-2017. Motions — Second Reading of Bills Technical Universities (Amend- ment) Bill, 2017. Consideration Stage of Bills — Witness Protection Bill, 2017. (Continuation of debate) Right to Information Bill, 2018. Committee sittings — Briefing of the House by: (a) Officials of the National Identification Authority. (b) Minister for Local Government & Rural Development and the Administrator of the District Assemblies' Common Fund. Questions — *347. Mr Yusif Sulemana (Bole/ Bamboi): To ask the Minister for Finance how many restricted and sole sourcing Government contracts have been awarded from between January 2017 and November 2017, and under what circumstances. *383. Mr Benjamin Komla Kpodo (Ho Central): To ask the Minister for Finance how much revenue has been collected by the Government from the imposition of the Special Import Levy for the years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. *384. Mr Ernest Henry Norgbey (Ashaiman): To ask the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations the list of 744,601 jobs in the agriculture value chain captured in his Answer to a parliamentary Question on December 8, 2017. Statements Consideration Stage of Bills — Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017. Right to Information Bill, 2018. (Continuation of debate) Committee sittings — Briefing of the House by the Administrator of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). Questions -- *313. Mr Magnus Kofi Amoatey (Yilo Krobo): To ask the Minister for Education when construction works on the Apersua Community Day Senior High School ‘E'-Block will be completed. *314. Mr Magnus Kofi Amoatey (Yilo Krobo): To ask the Minister for Education when construction works on the 12-Classroom Block being constructed at Klo-Agogo Senior High School will be completed. *333. Mr Albert Akuka Alalzuuga (Garu): To ask the Minister for Education whether the Ministry has plans to establish a library in the Garu-Tempane District since there is no library facility in the District. *353. Mr Mohammed Abdul-Aziz (Mion): To ask the Minister for Education how much government has spent so far on the implementation of the ‘free senior high school programme.' *369. Mr John Majisi (Krachi Nchumuru): To ask the Minister for Education the specific plans the Ministry has to ensure that Ghana's Inclusive Education Policy launched in 2015 is implemented. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT,
[[MR AMEYAW-CHEREMEH]] Import NHIL, ECOWAS Levy, EXIM Levy, Special Import Levy and other approved imposts amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of two million, three hundred and two thousand, four hundred and sixty-nine euros and fifty-eight cents (€2,302,469.58) on project equipment and materials in respect of the Establishment of an Environmental Monitoring Laboratory at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa. (b) Report of the Finance Committee on the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Czech Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (c) Report of the Finance Committee on the Convention between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (d) Report of the Finance Committee on the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (e) Report of the Finance Committee on the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of Singapore for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. Motion — Third Reading of Bills Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Consideration Stage of Bills — Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017. (Continuation of debate) Right to Information Bill, 2018. (Continuation of debate) Committee sittings. PUBLIC HOLIDAY (Eid Ul-Fitr)
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Chief Whip. Yes, Hon Bedzrah?
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I heard the Hon Majority Chief Whip mention that Thursday would be scheduled for the directors from National Identification Authority (NIA), but in your Report, they are scheduled to meet us on Tuesday the 12th of June, but he mentioned Thursday, so I do not know -- that is the first one. Mr Speaker, in our last Sitting, some of us mentioned that, those of us who have appeared before the Committee on Members Holding Office of Profit have still not got our clearance from the office of the Hon Speaker. The Business Committee has not scheduled anything, they have not told us anything, so I would like to ask the Hon Majority Chief Whip, what they have done about the request of the Hon Members who have appeared before the Committee on Members Holding Office of Profit. Mr Speaker, the last one has to do with the Standing Orders Review Committee. At the last meeting we spoke about this, but the Business Committee has still not come out to tell us anything about the review of the Standing Orders of the House. I would like to find out from the Hon Majority Chief Whip who is deputising for the Hon Majority Leader and the Leader of the Business Committee, to tell the House how far they have gone with the review of our Standing Orders? Thank you Mr Speaker.
Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to have a word on the matter before you. Mr Speaker, I rise to seek your guidance on Standing Orders 28, 30 (2) and 79.
“An act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a Member --
Hon Member, before you start to read anything, let us know the foundation. Has this got to do with the matter now before the House by way of the Business Statement? And you would draw a nexus before you start reading anything, whether from the Constitution or from the Standing Orders. Lay the foundation. First and foremost, satisfy me that this has got to do with the matter now before the House, that is the Business Statement, otherwise business would be haphazard.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I will lay the foundation, but first of all --
First of all you answer the question whether this relates to or derives from the Business Statement.
Mr Speaker, this matter relates to the Business Statement as read by the Hon Majority Chief Whip, in that, the Hon Majority Chief Whip informs us that per paragraph 2 (c) of the Business for the ensuing week, as well as paragraph 2 (e), he talks about Motions that may be debated, he talks about Mr Speaker permitting Statements duly admitted in accordance with our rules. Mr Speaker, I am anchoring my issue on a matter that has occurred on the Floor of this House and to seek your guidance so that in the ensuing week, if any Hon Member wants to come to you with an application, this House would be accordingly guided on our rules, because each week when a Business Statement is programmed, matters come up, and Hon Members express interest, and it is interlocked. So Mr Speaker, if your guidance is sought on this matter and you give direction, it would guide all of us in the ensuing week. This is the gravamen of my contention.
Mr Speaker, I agree. So Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, [Inaudible] Kindly act upon that which arises. When it arises, I would use the Standing Orders and the Constitution to act thereon. Meanwhile, restrict yourself strictly if any to what arises directly from the Business Statement as read, otherwise, let us wait till we get to the river. Yes, any other issue? Yes, Hon Okudzeto?
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful. I rise to seek clarity from the Hon Majority Chief Whip on the appearance of the Officials of the Ghana Education Trust Fund. I noticed that they did not add the Ministry of Education. The GETFund is an agency under the Ministry of Education, so ideally, they should come before us with their parent Ministry; the Ministry of Education, just as has been done above with the DACF and the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. So, if he could kindly clarify that aspect and give us some indication, if the GETFund Administrator and his team will come with the parent Ministry, the Ministry of Education, so that if we have some policy suggestions or recom- mendations that we would make after their presentation, the Hon Minister would take note of that for implementation, so that we would have a holistic and comprehensive meeting. Another small point under paragraph 3 (i) (a), under Tuesday, 12th June, 2018 on page 2, there is a matter that reads; “Officials of the National Iden- tification Authority (NIA) have been rescheduled to appraise Parliament on the rollout plan for the National Identity Card.” Mr Speaker, the word “appraise” it should be “apprise”. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa. Several Hon Members -- rose --
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, from the Business Statement ably presented by the Hon Majority Chief Whip, there is a rescheduling of the meeting with the officials of NIA. This is the second week running that this meeting has been rescheduled. I wonder whether there would be guarantees again that, in the ensuing week, their meeting with the NIA would not be rescheduled. This is because, their coming to brief us is very important. Ghanaians are asking a lot of questions, and for two weeks running, we keep postponing their appearance in the House. Mr Speaker, secondly, there is an issue about disability access. I know that a couple of our Hon Colleagues have difficulty in accessing the premises, and particularly the Chamber. I would plead that something should be done about it as a matter of urgency. Finally, I believe this would have been the sixth time that over the last one month, Hon Members have to raise issues about quorum. We have our children, and Ghanaians generally, who would normally come to observe parliamentary proceedings to see how seriously we take the Business of the House. Mr Speaker, if you are in the Chair and Hon Members come in after you have come, that is disrespectful to the Chair. Hon Members would have to live by example by showing reverence to Mr Speaker's Chair by being in the House before Mr Speaker comes in. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, do you intend to raise any matter other than that which you had raised earlier, and which I have ruled upon?
Mr Speaker, no. I am coming on a different but important matter.
Please, do you want to raise something else that arises from the Business Statement?
It is so, Mr Speaker.
Then kindly go on.
Mr Speaker, I rise in respect of paragraph 2 (e) of the Business Statement. I would need your guidance in respect of the said matter.
Hon Member, you raised the issue on paragraph 2 (e) earlier. Any other? [Laughter.]
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. My concern is about the agencies that would meet the House. In our last Meeting, we approved the formula for these agencies: GETFund, National Health Insurance Authority and DACF. Mr Speaker, information available shows that the Ministry of Finance has not released anything to the GETFund this year, and even arrears of 2017 are pending. As we are to meet these agencies, I would like to appeal to you that we make the Hon Minister for Finance also in attendance.
Hon Member are you making a statement to the effect that the Ministry of Finance has not received anything? If you want to ask the Hon Minister a question, please do so before we begin to become a House of hearsay. You are not seized to make authoritative pronouncements on receipts from the Ministry when you have not brought the Hon Minister here to specifically ask him questions in that direction. Any other? Hon Majority Chief Whip, would you please respond to the issues raised?
Very well, Hon Minority Leader, you may make your contribution.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am grateful for the comments and the issues raised by Hon Members. If I said Thursday instead of Tuesday then I accordingly amend the statement that I read out. Mr Speaker, the issue relating to office of profit and the permission not granted, I believe it lies squarely in the bosom of Mr Speaker. I believe he would take note, then, in due course, Hon Members would get their licenses to undertake their work. Mr Speaker, the issue raised about the revision of the Standing Orders has been addressed by the Hon Minority Leader. I believe we have taken the concerns of Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa. The Hon Minister of Education would join in the discussions when the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) Administrator and his officials appear before us. Mr Speaker, it is the same with the National Identification Authority (NIA). The Hon Minister responsible for National Identification Authority would also join in the discussions. Yes, when I was reading the Statement, I used the word ‘‘apprise'' I did not say ‘appraise'. I saw that it was a mistake to say appraise, so I corrected it. Hon Ras Mubarak, this is the second time we are re-scheduling the appearance of the officials of the National Identification Authority. But we are doing so for a very good reason. The Hon Minister was out of town, we have indicated that, we want the Hon Minister responsible to be here with us, but he was out of town, and he has given his firm assurance that, he would be available by next week and he would join the officials from NIA to be with us. Mr Speaker, I believe the Development Department of Parliament has taken note of your concern, when you said that our structure is not disability friendly, and they would work on that. But the issue of quorum, I do not know how it is related to the Business Statement, so I do not know how to address it. The other concerns have been addressed by Mr Speaker when he responded or gave guidance to us. Mr Speaker, I am most grateful.
Hon Members, the Business Statement for the week ending Friday, 15th June, 2018, is hereby adopted. At the commencement of Public Business, item listed 5 —Motions. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, we cannot take the Motion today. Leadership is in some discussion —
Is it not ready?
Mr Speaker, no.
Hon Members, could we move to item 7?
Mr Speaker, it follows; items 5, 6, 7 and 8. So, I do not know about item 9, but, items 5, 6, 7 and 8 be stood down.
Item 9, Witness Protection Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage.
Mr Speaker, the Witness Protection Bill, 2017, as well as the Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017 are due for consideration. Unfortunately, the Hon Chairman of the Committee and his Vice-Chairman are not with us today. They have taken leave of us. So, we may have to re-schedule them for Tuesday when we could do the consideration of the two Bills.
In the circumstances— Alhaji Muntaka — rose —
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, whereas I have no objection to what the Hon Majority Chief Whip is saying, this brings us to what we have been saying again and again. Our Hon Ministers should take the work of this House seriously. Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee is here but the Hon Minister is not here. Neither the Hon Minister nor any of the Deputies are here. So we cannot proceed like the Hon Majority Chief Whip said.
Hon Muntaka, you would please address matters arising from item numbered 9, regarding which the Hon Majority Chief Whip has made a statement. If you would limit yourself to that, it would be of great help to the House.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. It would have been great to start it as you even called it. Here is the Hon Chairman, who has just walked in, but the Hon Minister to help us with the policies that inform most of the clauses is not here. As we all know, at the Consideration Stage, we try to get an Hon Deputy Minister so that when we get to difficult clauses, they provide policy directions, but they are not here. I have no option but to second the Motion by the Hon Majority Chief Whip or to support him that, this House should be adjourned until Tuesday. But I hope that, as the one in charge of Business for today, he would do well to prepare the grounds very well so that next week we do not have any of these. I must acknowledge that we have done a lot of work this week. Two days ago, we worked up to 4 o'clock. Today we would have loved to do some more work, but I hope he would plan next week very well so that just like we did yesterday and all the days apart from today, we would be able to have so much to do. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee has entered the Chamber, and our wish is that, we could begin with the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. He is the Chairman of the Committee, and it is his Report we are considering. If the Minister responsible is here, it is fine. If the Minister is not here and there is a matter that will require an input from the Minister, we could stand that particular matter down and move on. So the Hon Chairman is here, we can proceed with the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. It is being portrayed as if we are not ready to do Business, we are ready to go on. The Hon Chairman is here. The absence of the Hon Minister at the Consideration Stage is not so material.
Mr Speaker, yes, the Hon Chairman is here, we can start, but Mr Speaker, the impression the Hon Majority Chief Whip is trying to create that the presence of the Hon Ministers is not very material, Mr Speaker, we need to -- [Interruption] -- He said it is not very important. That was what he said. I am paraphrasing him. Mr Speaker, to create the impression that the presence —
Hon Member, it is safer to use his own words. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, the impression created by the Hon Majority Chief Whip that the absence of the Hon Minister cannot prevent us from proceeding is a very dangerous one. This is because, their presence here is not only in matters that are controversial. This is because as the Bill proceeds, policy issues come up and we are guided by Hon Ministers who sit in the Chamber. Then sometimes the draftspersons would be behind, so that they could guide all of us, so that we would end up having a very excellent Bill. So to create the impression that their absence cannot do much and this is a Report of the Hon Chairman of the Committee -- This is not the Report of the Chairman of the Committee. It is a Bill for the whole House and Hon Ministers who are spearheading it need to be here. That is how we have kept the happenings in this House. When they are not there, they send a Deputy Minister. Here we have a Ministry that has two deputies, at least one of them could be here. If my Colleague the Hon Majority Chief Whip is of the view that we start while he makes efforts to get the Hon Minister or any of her deputies here, it would be accepted. This is so that we could start while he does that. However, to say that their presence here is immaterial, I do not agree with him. We would start and I would urge the Hon Majority Chief Whip to make efforts to get the Hon Minister or one of her deputies here. This is so that the Consideration Stage would be very smooth without much challenges. I have no objection to us continuing but he should make efforts to get the Minister in the Chamber.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Minority Chief Whip heard me right, what I said was that, we could proceed with the Consideration State even in the absence of the Hon Minister. If an issue arises and we need the critical input of the Hon Minister, that particular issue could be stood down while we go on. The Hon Minority Chief Whip sought to create the impression that we are not ready to do business, yet I say we are ready to do business. The same person who gave that impression did a 360 degree turn and said we should adjourn and defer the matters. We say we are ready to go on today. If there is any matter that has to await the arrival of the Hon Minister, we would keep those matters aside and wait for her. The Hon Chairman of the Committee and his vice are with us now, so we can proceed with the Consideration stage of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I think that at this stage, we should be guided by our rules. Standing Order 128 (2) says and I beg to quote: “At the Consideration Stage of a Bill the House shall not discuss the principle of the Bill but only its details.” So policy and principles which require the Hon Minister's intervention if any, were dealt with at the time we were doing the Second Reading. Now, it is the detailed corrections, suggestions and amendments that we would consider. It is always the position that once the Bill is here, it is in the bosom
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the First Deputy Speaker is very aware that our practice in this House is very much important. Like he said, yes, Standing Order 128 (2) talks about dealing with the details and at this stage, we would not discuss the principles. However, when an amendment is moved and sometimes the House wants to understand the reason behind the amendment -- Sometimes the Hon Minister might be here to tell us that maybe if we take out an amendment it would defeat the purpose for which the Bill was brought. That is why we always say that the Hon Minister should be around. I am not saying that we should not start. I am saying that he should make efforts to find the Hon Minister or her deputies to join us while we proceed. So I think we could proceed while he makes efforts to get the Hon Minister or her deputies.
Hon Majority Chief Whip, your permission at this stage?
Mr Speaker, we may begin the Consideration Stage of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017.
Item numbered 9, -- Witness Protection Bill, 2017 at the Consideration Stage. Do we have the Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Rightly so Mr Speaker.
In the process, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 1 — sub-clause (3), line 2, delete “Authority” and insert “Agency”. Therefore the wording becomes — and with your permission, I read: “(3) Where there is a hindrance to the acquisition of immovable property, the property may be acquired for the Agency under the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125) and the cost shall be borne by the Agency.” Mr Speaker, the reason is simple. The Bill is creating an Agency but not an Authority. So the insertion of “authority” is misplaced. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 1 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 2 -- Object of the Agency
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 2 — Sub-clause (1), line 4, delete “prosecution and other” and in line 5, after “agencies” add “with respect to investigations and prosecutions. The new rendition would read: “(1) The object of the Agency is to provide the framework and procedures for giving special protection, on behalf of the State to persons who possess important information and face potential risk or intimidation due to their cooperation with respect to law enforcement agencies with respect to investigations and prosecu- tions''.
[MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Mr Speaker, I oppose the amendment which was proposed by the Hon Chairman of the Committee and the reason is not far- fetched. Mr Speaker, the amendment that has been proposed does not add anything new to the rendition as it is. The rendition as it is, is neater and very explanatory as compared to the amendment that has been proposed. Mr Speaker, it would be neater if the rendition is allowed to stay the way it is.
Mr Speaker, I believe that if I had added the rationale behind the proposed amendment, matters would have been clearer. Mr Speaker, if one reads the rendition as it stands at the moment, it appears that protection is given to witnesses who give information so far as prosecution is concerned. But we would want to talk about witnesses who proffer information not only for the purpose of prosecution as it appears on the face of the provision, but it also talks about witnesses who give information for the purpose of investigation and that issue or fact is not borne out by the rendition as it is currently constituted. Mr Speaker, that explains why in order to make it clear and do away with ambiguities and doubts, we would need to include, ‘'with respect to investigations and prosecutions'' so that the impression would not be created that the information is only needed for the purpose of prosecution, but not investigations. Mr Speaker, this is the reason which underlines the proposed amendment that I proffered.
Hon Ahiafor, let us try and reconcile. If I understand the Hon Chairman of the committee correctly, the current rendition suggests that it is only those who would be used for prosecution who are due to be protected, but the addition, so to speak, would widen the protection to cover even those who would cooperate with the police during investigations. Hon Member, would this amendment take us there?
Mr Speaker, the rendition as it is, talks about cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and if the law enforcement agencies conduct their investigations and the person cooperates with them and there is the need to give protection to that particular person, the person would be given the protection under the law.
Hon Member, would that not leave us open to the need to define what the word ‘‘cooperation'' is? ‘'Cooperating with other investigative bodies or law enforcement agencies''. Then the question may arise as to what cooperation is in the circumstance?
Mr Speaker, I agree that it is quite innocuous, except that -- [Interruption.] that was why initially we asked that the Office of the Attorney-General be represented. I have seen the Hon Deputy Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, the initial intendment of the Bill was to move to the object -- that is, special protection given to persons having information necessary for the investigation and prosecution of a crime to the prosecution as a body and law enforcement bodies as a body. That is the object, but we would want to say that it is not only to the bodies, but even to the process and that is the intendment of the provision which is to be attached to the process and not the body. Mr Speaker, that was why we proposed ‘‘with respect to investigations and prosecutions''.
Mr Speaker, I would want to add my voice to the Hon Chairman of the Committee's argument. I believe that this rendition would be all encompassing than the current rendition in the Bill. This is especially because, public resources would be expended for that purpose and in the future there may be a situation where the stage of prosecution has not been reached yet. Right from investigation, it would become necessary for one to preserve a witness; to protect a witness, but the implementers would say the law says ‘prosecution'. So until the stage has been reached where prosecution has commenced, they do not have the mandate to begin to expend public resources to provide protection. Mr Speaker, this rendition would allow any witness to be protected from the beginning of the process till prosecution is accomplished. So I support the current amendment that has been proffered.
Mr Speaker, I support the amendment except that I would want some clarification. Mr Speaker, in the course of investi- gation and prosecution, the accused person or the defence may want to subpoena a public officer to testify. It appears that we would create some lacuna on that aspect which would also require protection from the law. This is because if an accused person would need a witness to corroborate his matter in one way or the other and in the process such a witness is a public officer and may not get protection, how would justice be served? This is because, what we are trying to do is that, the informant; all those people who assist in investigation, all those who would go into the witness box must be protected so that they can assist the State. What of those who would be willing to also provide evidence in one way or the other to corroborate the testimony of an accused person? How would they be protected? Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Chairman of the Committee to look at that carefully and address same for the purpose of this amendment that has been proposed.
Hon Members, if there is a suggestion or a proposed amendment to offer protection to witnesses for the defence, you can bring it, but at this stage, we are looking at protection for those who would cooperate with the State. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2 sub clause (2), lines 1 and 2, delete “entails the power of the Agency to acquire” and insert “confers on the Agency the power to acquire, use”
‘‘The special protection referred to in subsection (1) confers on the Agency the power to acquire, use, store, maintain and control''. Mr Speaker, the rationale for this proposed amendment is that, in our legal parlance, power is conferred. So the current rendition entailing the power of the agency has not been properly constructed. So it was the considered opinion of the Committee that in order to have a better rendition of it, this proposed amendment was proffered. That is the reason for the proposed amendment.
Mr Speaker, I must confess that I took part in the meeting that agreed to this rendition and amendment. But having looked at it again, I believe that we do not have to embark on that journey. Mr Speaker, clause 2 is, “Object of the Agency”, and object of the Agency is to offer special protection. The amendment says that this special protection confers, clothes — [Interruption.] -- Special protection cannot clothe anybody with the power. So what the provision seeks to do is that, offering special protection necessarily includes the power to hold arms. But special protection by itself cannot confer. So I believe that we should abandon the amendment. I initially agreed, but I think that we should abandon the amendment.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I tend to agree with the Hon Ranking Member. This is because it is the sub clause of clause 2 so I think this proposed amendment does no credit to clause 2 at all. So you may do the needful and withdraw the amendment so that we could proceed further.
Mr Speaker, having listened to my Hon Ranking Member, my proposed amendment is therefore abandoned and we would stick to the current rendition of the provision.
Very well. In that case, I will put the Question on the entire clause 2 as amended — Mr Banda — rose -- Mr Speaker, I would want to suggest a little amendment to what has just been dealt with. Instead of abandoning the
Very well. Leave granted to propose the further amendment.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that clause 2 sub-clause (2), line 2, after “acquire” insert “use”.
“(2) The special protection referred to in subsection (1) entails the power of the Agency to acquire, use, store, maintain and control”.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 2 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 3 — Functions of the Agency.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3, paragraph (d), line 1, delete “Government Ministry, department, agency” and insert “public institution”.
“3. To achieve its object, the Agency shall -- (d) advise any public institution or other person on the adoption of strategies and measures on witness pro- tection; and” Mr Speaker, the reason for this proposed amendment is to delete “Government Ministry, department, agency” and insert “public institution”. So that at the end of the day, “public institution” would be defined to include all these. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 3 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 4 — Powers of the Agency.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4, paragraph (d), line 1, delete “enter into association” and insert “collaborate”. Mr Speaker, the new rendition would now read, “The Agency shall exercise powers that are necessary to enable it to effectively perform its functions and may, in particular, (d) collaborate with other persons, bodies, or organisations within or outside the country that it may consider desirable or appropriate in furtherance of its object;” Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Members, item numbered (vi) — Clause 4.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4, paragraph (i), line 1, delete “their property” and insert “the property of the protected person”. Mr Speaker, the reason is that, in drafting, we do not use the possessive noun. The new rendition would now read: “The Agency shall exercise powers that are necessary to enable it to effectively perform its functions and may, in particular, (i) search the protected person and the property of the protected person and seize items regarded by the Agency to be a threat to the protected person or another person or the integrity of the programme;” Alhaji Muntaka — rose -- Mr Speaker, I wonder whether it could not be better framed. This is because, to say, “search the protected person and the property of the protected person”. Should it not be, “search the person…”
“…search the protected person and the property of that person” instead of “the protected person”. What do you suggest? Instead of using “protected” again, you can use “of that person”. Hon Chairman, is that alright?
Mr Speaker, I think that your rendition is better; except to clarify that “protected person” is different from the “property of the protected person”. We are talking about two scenarios here -- “protected person” and “the property of the protected person”; but the rendition you proffered by Mr First Deputy Speaker is better than what we have.
Hon Chairman, kindly read out that rendition, so that we can agree or disagree on it.
“…search the protected person and the property of that person”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 5 -- Independence of the Agency
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5, sub-clauses (1) and (2), delete. Mr Speaker, if we take a closer look at the wording of clause 5, sub-clause (1) is implied. The Agency has been given certain powers to perform its functions. This is embedded or finds expression in the Bill. So we do not need to categorically state it here. Sub-clause (2) has been well taken care of under clause 19. So, there is no need to repeat it.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, if I understand you, we should delete clause 5 (1) and (2) and in its place substitute the proposed amendment in the Order Paper. Is that right?
Mr Speaker, we are deleting sub-clauses (1) and (2).
You are substituting the two sub-clauses with the advertised amendment. So, let us start by deleting sub-clauses (1) and (2), then insert the proposed amendment so that it becomes neater. So please move for the deletion of sub-clause (1) first; we would vote on it. Then we would delete subclause (2) and substitute the two sub-clauses.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5, sub-clause (1), delete.
Mr Speaker, I just wanted to be sure if we are dealing with subclause (1) or sub-clause (2).
If I understand the Hon Chairman of the Committee correctly --
He is deleting all.
He wants us to delete both sub-clauses (1) and (2), and substitute it with one --
Mr Speaker, I would prefer we do it one after the other because I have a comment on sub-clause (2). If he boxes the two, I would not know how to make my comment.
That was what we advised. He has just moved that we delete subclause (1).
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Chief Whip indicated, the Hon Chairman of the Committee cannot just delete like that because he would have already substituted. When it comes to sub-clause (2), then we delete it. That would be neater. This is because if he just says delete and reads the proposed amendment, it would mean that we are to delete the whole clause. He is subjecting this one to what we already have. So he should delete and substitute, and read the new one so that we take one vote at a time.
Well, once we understand what we are doing, I guess we could leave it to the draftspersons to do the arrangement of the numbering. The proposal now is to delete subclause (1).
Mr Speaker, I have read sub-clause (1) and I feel that we are trying to engage in an act of tautology; it is tautologous in the sense that the whole Agency would be subject to this Act. Without saying so, all their operations --
Hon Ranking Member, wait. Do you have a problem with the deletion of subclause (1)?
Mr Speaker, I do not have a problem with subclause (1).
Let us deal with that, then we can come to the next one. Very well. I will put the Question on the deletion of sub-clause (1).
Mr Speaker, I mentioned earlier that I have a problem with the deletion of sub-clause (2), so we should take it one after the other. Now I heard you say that you would put the Question on the deletion of sub- clause (2).
Hon Minority Chief Whip, I am sure you were not with us.
Mr Speaker, I am with you.
I did not say “sub-clause (2)”. I said “sub-clause (1)”.
The Hon Ranking Member had a problem with sub-clause (1).
I asked him whether he had a problem with the deletion of sub-clause (1), and he said no.
Mr Speaker, indeed, I have a problem with sub-clause (1).
It is proposed that, sub-clause (1) be deleted.
Mr Speaker, this is where I have a problem.
Very well, let me hear you.
Mr Speaker, the problem is that, the only reason we are deleting sub-clause (1) is that, we want to insert “subject to this Act” as the prefix to it. It is not necessary. It is absolutely innocuous and might even be bad drafting because the whole Agency is an established subject to this Act. So why would we say that -- ?
Hon Member, I do not agree with you. It is not an established subject to; it is established by this Act. In its establishment, we may give some powers and limitations. So, its independence is subject to the limitations in the Act. That is what they seek to do. That is why they proposed that we delete the current rendition and substitute it with a new one.
Mr Speaker, I do not know why the Hon Ranking Member is opposed to this. If we look at the argument, we are deleting it as it is captured in the Bill. After we do so, we would substitute it with what the Hon Chairman proposed, which subjects this whole clause to the rest of the Bill. Clause 19, as he said, has some reference. That is why we are deleting sub-clause (2). So we must subject it to the whole Bill because some other parts of the Bill would be conditional for agreement in this sub-clause. So there should not be any problem about deleting and substituting.
Very well; so, I would proceed with the Question on the deletion of clause 5 (1). Question put and amendment agreed to.
Hon Chairman, you proposed that we substitute it with -- Clause 5 (1) is deleted. Hon Chairman, do you propose that we substitute it with --?
Mr Speaker, rightly so. So, the new rendition will then be: “Subject to this act, the Agency is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.” Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Chairman, please move for the deletion of
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that Clause 5 — sub-clause (2), delete.
Mr Speaker, I would want the Hon Minister to pay attention to this. The Hon Chairman earlier said that this has been taken care of by clause 19. Clause 19 is completely different from what clause 5(2) seeks to do. This is because if you look at clause 19, it just talks about: 1) “Board shall, within one month after receipt of audit report, submit to the Minister an annual report covering the activities and operations of the Agency for the year to which the report relates. 2) The annual report shall include the report of the Auditor-General. 3) The Minister shall, within one month after the receipt of the annual report, submit the report to Parliament…” Mr Speaker, looking at this, it first talks about reporting of their audit and activity Reports but clause 5 (2) does not just talk about them reporting. It talks about their day-to-day activities and when there are policy issues, they seek directions from the Ministry, unless the Hon Minister who is here says that what they truly want to do now is that in terms of policy, they will not give any direction to the Agency that we are trying create. This is because, if we delete clause 5 (2), what it means is that, the Ministry cannot give them any policy direction. It is just that they would report their annual activities and the one that they would give to Parliament would pass through the Hon Minister. That is just it. Mr Speaker, is that what they truly want to do? This is because my understanding of clause 5 (2) is that, they may drive their policy direction and other things from the Ministry. So, I would want the Hon Minister to be very clear if that is what they want to do. If that is really what they want to have, then we can delete it and keep ‘the reporting' but if not, then we need to look at it. I thought that if it includes policy direction, we need to come with a better amendment to really make it clearer in clause 5 (2).
Yes, Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, I would want to disagree with my Hon Majority Chief Whip. If we look at the headnote, it talks about the Independence of the Agency and then he suddenly brings in ‘reports' whereas there is a provision in clause 19 which talks about a report. Of course, if we go detailing into it what will the Report consist of? The report has to consist of performances and the activities for the whole Agency and that is why it is not good to remain here. First, it belongs to the wrong place, secondly, it is already captured in clause 19 which is the normal place where it should be for the reports to be prepared and submitted to the Hon Minister. In fact, there is a routine provision in almost all the laws that we pass.
Let me listen to Hon Ahiafor.
Mr Speaker, just to add to what my Hon Senior Colleague has just said. Clause 5 (2), talks about report and clause 19 also talks about the activities' reports. So the intendment here is already captured in clause 19 and I support the move to delete clause 5 (2).
It appears to me that clause 19 is even wider than clause 5 (2), not narrower as he suggests.
Mr Speaker, that is exactly why it is here, because it talks about its independence but gives an exception. It says that, in terms of accountability, we are talking about Parliament's approval of their funds and where it would be situated. Mr Speaker, is it going to be part of the budget of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice or we are going to create a situation where we would recruit at the Government machinery? That is the reason it specifically states here that yes, they will be independent except this one. That is the reason I said that, that rendition itself needs to be looked at. But clause 19 just talks about its activities' report which have to be submitted to Parliament through the Hon Minister. But I would want to believe that where it is independent, it says that when it comes to its accountability it cannot be independent. Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that is the reason it is here and that is why I asked the Hon Minister to know what they truly want. For example, if we take the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), it is supposed to be independent but it takes policy directions in terms of its budget from the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice. Mr Speaker, is it the same thing they want to do with this Agency or this Agency is going to stand like the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) or the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE)? Is this what they really want to do? They need to get that clear, if not, they may get it wrong because clause 19 just talks about reporting. Mr Speaker, remember that the Electoral Commission (EC), NCCE and almost all the independent Constitutional bodies report to this House about their activities. This report in clause 19 talks about this reporting but this very one in clause 5 (2) is about its funding and other policies. They could be independent but when it comes to accountability and policies, they would take directions from the Ministry. Now, when they delete it, all that the Ministry will be left with is reporting. They will give you their activity report and you may not even have the power to do anything about it apart from forwarding it to Parliament. Is that what they want to do? That is the reason why I am saying that it is the Ministry, led by the Hon Minister or the Hon Deputy here, to tell us what they want. This is because, if we delete it without having in mind what the intent is, we will be sweeping them off and when it comes to budgeting, we will then struggle as to where to put their budget. So if we want to, we could stand it down for further consultations without necessarily deleting it. This is because if we do that, accountability and oversight issues would be gone. Mr Speaker, I may suggest to the Hon Chairman that we stand it down for further consultations instead of just deleting it. But if the Hon Minister is certain that they do not want to have anything to do with them, then we would delete it and go knowing that they will only report their activities to be forwarded to Parliament. That is all they can do; they cannot give them any directions and they cannot tell them how to use their money or do anything. Is that what they want to do?
Mr Speaker, I beg to differ from the submission made by the Hon Minority Chief Whip. When you read clause 6 which talks about the Governing body of the Agency, it has the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice or a representative of the Ministry on the Board. Mr Speaker, when you read clause 7 which deals with the Functions of the Board embedded in this clause, it is the issue of accountability. Clause 7: “The Board shall; a) Oversee the sound and proper management of the resources of the Agency; and b) Ensure the proper and effective performance of the functions of the Agency”. Mr Speaker, so the Agency is not going to operate in isolation or in a vacuum. The Board, together with a representative of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for who will ensure that the Agency works according to the dictates of the law. Thirdly, when you read clause 19, the intendment is also to ensure accountability because it says that: “The Board shall, within one month after the receipt of the audit report,
Hon Chairman, there is a question that the Hon Minority Chief Whip has raised but which, with your response, has not been addressed so far. Do you want the Attorney General and Minister for Justice to give policy directions to this body or not? I do not see you talking about that anywhere. The accountability issues are covered and the reporting issues are covered but the best question that must still be answered is, do we want the Attorney General and Minister for Justice to give policy directions to this body or not?
Mr Speaker, on the issue of policy direction, when we read clause 7 as advertised on the Order Paper, an amendment was proposed to incorporate into the Bill the formulation of policy for the effective implementation of the objects of the agency. Mr Speaker, so that issue --
Very well. It means that when we get there we would eventually get it. Let us take it one at a time.
Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, I believe that maybe, it is an oversight. But it should be in the Bill because, anytime we create an Agency or Authority, they are subject to policy direction by the Hon Minister because the Hon Minister sits in Cabinet therefore, he could say that this is the government's policy about an issue. Mr Speaker, if it is not already there then we should take care of it at the appropriate place because, if we look at all the Bills, this is what happens. His concern would be addressed if we put it there but that one is not for the Hon Minister to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the agency.
So let us deal with this but find a place to incorporate the policy direction issue. But in the meantime, I believe that you have proposed that subclause (2) of clause (5) be deleted. So I would put the Question on that. Hon Member, I have heard you on that and we still have to take a decision. Hon Muntaka?
Mr Speaker, that is why I am suggesting to the Hon Chairman that we should stand it down because this is where we talk about its independence. So we want to qualify the ‘independence' and say that the policy direction could come from the Ministry. To be able to get the right rendition, let us stand it down and make progress. This is because if we say ‘when we get somewhere' the question is where? Mr Speaker, let us know that a lot of us who are in the Chamber today may not be in the Chamber when we get to the end of the Consideration Stage. So if we stand it down for a proper rendition then it would be best to say that they are independent, except this issue. Then it would become neater. Mr Speaker, so, if the Hon Chairman is minded, we could just stand it down, make progress and see whether we could couch clause 5 (2) to capture the concerns that we are talking about -- The policy direction -- Unless the Ministry is not interested in that. Mr Speaker, if we say that we would capture it somewhere, the question is where?
Hon Member, are you suggesting that it must necessarily be at clause 5? I do not think so because, once we provide for it then it does not matter where -- That is why the Authority is subject to the Bill. So anywhere that clause is placed, it is within the Act and so it would --
Mr Speaker, I agree with you but for us not to forget because it has happened here. Mr Speaker, also, it makes it neater because if it is under a heading “Independence” and we qualify it, it would be better than taking it somewhere and somebody who may not be here today would say that we said they are independent. So why have we now included somewhere that they would be subject to the Ministry in terms of policy direction? Mr Speaker, somebody who is not here today would come and take us back but if we deal with it here and say that they are independent except under these circumstances, then it makes it neater and it does not make it bad if it is placed here.
Hon Member for Adentan?
Mr Speaker, thank you. Mr Speaker, there are provisions in the Bill that gives the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice clear responsibilities. Mr Speaker, they are under clauses 28, 29, 30, 31 and 59 where the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is supposed to issue guidelines for the operationalisation of the Act. Mr Speaker, it has been pointed out that the Attorney -General and Minister for Justice is also a member of the governing board. So in my mind, if we delete clause 2 of section 5 as proposed, we would still have enough opportunity to reflect on the policy and actual activity options of the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, going forward. So the Bill is explicit about the role of the Attorney General and Minister for Justice and it is very clear. I do not see where we have to give an omnibus issue, about accountability to the Attorney- General and Minster for Justice. Mr Speaker, they would not be solely accountable to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice but they would be accountable to Parliament through the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. There would be an annual Report which would be submitted to Parliament through the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, moreover, clause 19 (4) says and I beg to quote; “The Board shall also submit to the Minister any other report which the Minister may require in writing.”
Hon Member, that is different from giving the power to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to give general policy guidelines. I believe that provision is important because it is an Executive agency, even if it is intended to be independent. So it should be subject to policy guidelines by the Executive head who is the President, acting through his Hon Ministers. The challenge is where to place it now and that was why the Hon Minority Chief Whip advised that it probably belongs to clause 5. I think otherwise but the decision has to be taken by the House. Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, I saw you on your feet.
Mr Speaker, clearly, as a Ministry and in consultation with the Drafting Department, it is agreed that, what Hon Muntaka said is the right position, except that we should delete it from clause 5 (2) and find a place for it. That is the position that we have but his suggestion is in the right order.
Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, that was what I said earlier that, even where the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is to issue any directives -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, just preceding that the provision should be put there, that it is clear that the Hon Minister has been given the power to do this on only policy issues but not to interfere in the day-to-day work of the Agency. So wherever he said that all of a sudden he now has the power to do something, we should precede that with the provision that the Hon Minority Chief Whip is concerned about.
So I would suggest that we proceed with the deletion of subclause (2) and when we get to clause 19 where the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice has the power to request for information and so on, we may delete the policy direction part. Hon Chairman, what do you think?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that clause 5 subclause (2), delete. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 5 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Majority Chief Whip, I intend that we end at 1.00 p.m. Would that affect -- ?
Sorry, I did not hear you.
Mr Speaker, I thought when we were about to start Sitting, we said we would do about an hour. This is because today is Friday. We are running to our constituencies. We are also going to the mosques. In keeping to your promise of one hour, we have gone past one hour.
Hon Majority Chief Whip, have we done one hour yet?
Mr Speaker, as a matter of fact, I did not keep track of the time. [Laughter.] But the Hon Minority Chief Whip has appointed himself as the timekeeper of the House. I do not have any reason to doubt what he has said in any way.
So what is the wish of the House? Hon Whips, what is the wish of the House?
Mr Speaker, I believe it is getting to 1.00 pm, and the Ramadan season is gradually coming to an end. Our brothers and sisters who are Muslims would need to go to the mosque. So, if we may end the consideration of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017, then I could move for the adjournment of the House.
Very well. In that case, I would bring proceedings in respect of Consideration Stage to an end and take your Motion. So, this is the end of the Consideration Stage for today. Hon Majority Chief Whip, let me hear you again.
Mr Speaker, in the light of what I said earlier, I beg to move that the House be adjourned till Tuesday, 12th June, 2018 when we could continue with our Business.
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.32 p.m. till Tuesday, 12th June, 2018 at 10.00 a.m.