Debates of 27 May 2016

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonMinority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,besides what the Hon Member for Sekondihas said, I would want to believe thatarticle 11 (3) of the 1992 Constitution putsthe matter beyond doubt. The issue the Hon Member himselfrelated to, that is, if in a community, apartfrom the recognised wife, maybe, the firstwife, a person could take a second wife--

Speaker
Papa Owusu-Ankomah

No! That wasnot what I said.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

And thecommunity will recognise the relation assuch -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, ifthe Hon Member for Sekondi would allowme to land --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonMember for Sekondi?

Speaker
Papa Owusu-Ankomah

Mr Speaker,the Hon Minority Leader is misleading theHouse; he has misquoted me. I nevertalked about someone taking a secondwife. I said, someone who lived with awoman as if they were married, that isconcubinage; it could be for as long as30 years, but the law will not recognise it asmarriage. The laws of Ghana, including thecommon law, particularly, customary law--

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,on the basis of the submission of the HonMember for Sekondi, I am struggling tosee the justification for article 11(3).

Speaker
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I begto quote

“For the purposes of this article…”

Speaker
Mr Speaker, article 11(2) was quoted,which says and with your permission, Iquote

“The common law of Ghana shallcomprise the rules of law generallyknown as the common law, the rulesgenerally known as the doctrines ofequity and the rules of customarylaw including those determined bythe Superior Court of Judicature.” Mr Speaker, clause 3 goes on to furtherelucidate, and Mr Speaker, with yourpermission, I beg to quote: “For the purpose of this article,“customary law” means the rulesof law which by custom areapplicable to particular communitiesin Ghana.” Mr Speaker, we have communitieswhere living under a particular shed witha person for some years, may berecognised as a relation which translates-- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, can theHon Member for Sekondi hold his horses?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonMinority Leader, you have the floor.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,I am saying that, to the extent that such acommunity may recognise such arelationship -- And the Hon Member forAkim Abuakwa South says there is none.I do not know the expanse of his ownhorizon -- [Laughter] -- to determinethat there is none in Ghana. Mr Speaker, I am inviting us to applyourselves to the greater horizon in theGhanaian setting, which could be that wecould have such an example. I do notknow of the Cape Coast example.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

11. 25 a.m.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Please, donot draw me into this -- [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,I think we should not rush to conclude. Ithink we should avail ourselves of allinstances before we close the door.Otherwise, we may not be equitable tothose communities which may recognisethe existence of such relationships.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

HonMinority Leader, I am curious. Can you give me an example of acommunity where this kind of relationexists here in Ghana?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Myunderstanding is that, anywhere in Ghana,one must go through a certain process forthe recognition to be given by thecommunity that the two people are married.But to just cohabit without any suchprocess taking place, I find it rather --

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,I would not want to over exaggerate mystrength in this matter regarding citingconcrete examples. I do know, however,and Mr Speaker, I know you also know[Laughter] -- That there have beeninstances where a man and a woman havecohabited for a long time and in thetransition of one person, the survivingpartner is recognised by all intents andpurposes as the spouse. So, he or she would be required toperform the necessary customs.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Ex postfacto?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Yes, MrSpeaker, ex post facto.

Speaker
Papa Owusu-Ankomah

Mr Speaker, Ido not think that the Hon Minority Leaderneeds to belabour this point. He submittedthat under customary law, suchrelationships may be recognised asmarriage. If that is the case, then it isprobably covered by paragraph (b) (i); “spouses, whether married under anenactment or under the common lawas defined in article 11 (2) of theConstitution”. Article 11 (2) includes customary law.So, he does not have any problem. Clause (2), obviously states a differentposition from clause (1). Other than that,it would not hold. But if his concern isthat it is recognised by customary law, thenit is covered by paragraph (b), subclause(i). I hope that this being one of the fewoccasions, the Hon Minority Leaderwould agree with yours truly. Mr Atta Akyea -- rose —

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

HonMember for Abuakwa South?

Speaker
Mr Atta Akyea

Mr Speaker, with duerespect, even under customary law,marriage is not determined by how longone lives with a man. Marriage isdetermined by the fact that the propercustom was done. As they say, a particularfamily goes to one's background and liftsthe woman to come and join the man. Shewould have to leave her home and jointhe man in accordance with custom. So, with due respect to the HonMinority Leader, I am of the view thatconcubinage can never translate intomarriage, until the man decides that theyhave lived for, for example, 19 good yearsand so he would want to elevate the status of the woman under customary law,for her to become his wife. So, he wouldgo to her home to perform the propercustomary rites. In fact, children can come out ofconcubinage, but that will not convert thatarrangement into marriage. There are a lotof authorities on this, but I did not knowthat this would be a subject matter -- Ithink that it is eminently clear and it doesnot lead to confusion. Mr Speaker, I would give someauthorities to the Hon Minority Leader onthis matter. It has been decided by thecourts that no matter the length of time aman and a woman have lived together, ifthere is no marriage, then it is called“concubinage”.That is what is envisagedunder the customary law. The customarylaw has never said that a concubine, overtime, can convert into a wife properly socalled.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,I am exiting momentarily but I would beback. Before I exit, Mr Speaker, may I drawattention to the Bill that is before us --The Interstate Succession Law. It seeksto give recognition to such arrangement.So, Mr Speaker, we should be a bit carefulabout that. I draw the attention of the Hon Memberfor Abuakwa South, who is not listeningto me now, to the fact that he should applyhimself to the Interstate Succession Lawthat is before us.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

HonMember, it is before us. We now seek tolook at it. When we get there, we woulddecide whether concubinage should berecognised after effluxion of years.Otherwise, as matters stand now, it doesnot jell. As the Hon Member said, there

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

are a lot of authorities on this. If you canhave the benefit of reading some of them,it would help you form a decision one wayor the other.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,it would help us form a decision one wayor the other, relating to the InterstateSuccession Law. I guess if we are notcareful, there are a lot of people even inthis House, who may want to ride on theback of this, to really have some joy ride.I am cautioning. I believe you appreciatethe point I am making. [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon W. O.Boafo, I saw you up. Would you want tomake some comments?

Speaker
Mr William O. Boafo

Mr Speaker, Iwanted to draw the attention of the Houseto the fact that customary marriage doesnot depend only on the consent of theparties, but also the families of each ofthe parties and the exchange of certainrites between the families. So, if the twohave agreed to live, for however long atime, it is not recognised as marriage underthe customary law. To further answer the Hon MinorityLeader's point of view, Mr Speaker, it isthe personal law of the person whichwould determine. The common law, asdefined under our Constitution, stipulatesthat there are rules of law applicable tocertain communities in Ghana. So, if there is a community in Ghana --Maybe, they are not Ghanaians, but if it isa community in Ghana and their personallaw gives recognition to such arelationship, then we would move to thejurisdiction of the rules under the conflictof laws, or probably International lawand recognise it. It takes care of the broaddefinition of common law. 11. 35 a. m.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I agree withyou. We would then be looking at the lexsitus for example. But qua Ghana, I do notbelieve that we have a community thatallows concubinage to be recognised asmarriage, no matter how long it lasts.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I rise to drawthe attention of the Hon Minority Leaderto article 11 (2). The illustration he gavethat if parties cohabited for as long asthey wished, then the courts willpronounce -- I draw his attention thatarticle 11 (2) takes care of that position. In the concluding line of that article, itmentions “law, including those determinedby the Superior Court of Judicature”. So,if the Superior Court of Judicature made apronouncement to that effect, then it islaw. I think that the Hon Minority Leaderhas nothing to fear with the position he iscanvasing for. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Chairmanof the Committee?

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 15, add the following newsubclause: “(3) Information is exemptinformation where the disclosure ofthe information reveals confidentialcommunication between a doctorand a patient or any other medicalprofessional expert in connectionwith the medical diagnosis ortreatment of the patient.” Mr Speaker, the reason behind this isthat if we go to clause 16, that is theinformation we have in clause 15 (3). Mr Speaker, that is also the reason wehave amended the head note to read;“privileged information'' to include otherprivileged information that we want tokeep as exempt. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 15 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 16 -- Medical professionalprivilege.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 16 -- delete Mr Speaker, that information wasinserted as clause 15 (3) and therefore,wepropose that clause 16 should be deleted.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, I just wantto ask the Hon Chairman a question whichmay take us back a bit, but not too far. Iwas not here. Are we saying that apart fromlawyers and doctors, no other professioncan have this type of privilegeinformation? Is that the case? If that isthe case, then we are on a very dangerousground. Why must we restrict it to lawyersand doctors?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonChairman of Committee, can you respond?

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, the HonMember is right. There maybe otherpieces of information which are privilegeand may be exempt. And that is why wemade provision for clause 15 (1) (c), whichcovers the Evidence Act (1975), NRCD323. There are series of privilegeinformation under that Act and all thoseare exempt.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker thank you.This is because those of us who are notlawyers are beginning to wonder if thewhole law would be crafted for onlylawyers and doctors when there are othersituations that there would be privilegedinformation. But I would come and see you, and ifI have a difficulty, then I would offer anew amendment.

Speaker
Mrs Kusi

Mr Speaker, then it meansthat if they are putting all other categoriesin clause 15 (1) (c), then every professionshould also go there. Why are youspecifying doctors and lawyers, andleaving out the others and putting themunder the Evidence Act? Every categoryof profession should be there. Why arethey giving them that special privilege?That is what I do not understand.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Before theHon Chairman responds, let us hear fromthe Hon Member for Dome-Kwabenya.

Speaker
Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo

Mr Speaker, asa member of the Committee, I believethat all these issues came up. But thereason we see the doctor-patientconfidentiality clause and lawyer-clientconfidentiality clause, Mr Speaker, youwould agree with me that, these are well-established principles in law and it iscatered for under the Evidence Act. Instead of spelling everything out, theemphasis in legal terms has always beenon lawyer-client confidentiality anddoctor-patient confidentiality. That is notto say that we have excluded otherprofessions. But it is well catered for thatis why there has been cross-referencingto the Evidence Act, which takes care ofeverything. But we just wanted the emphasis ashas always been the legal position to beemphasised in relation to the professionof lawyers and doctors. That is not to saythat we are discriminating or anything ofthe sort. But we cannot spell out everyprofession; it would be endless. This isbecause as you end one, there would beanother one.

Speaker
Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo

Mr Speaker, if we are referring to theEvidence Act, aside the Evidence Act,even common law, which is part of ourlaws, there are well-established principleson lawyer-client relationship, as well asdoctor-patient relationship. So, that is thetrend on which we are treading, notbecause we are discriminating againstany profession. So, it is well catered for inthe cross-referencing to the Evidence Act. I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonMember and the Hon Chairman ofCommittee?

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, I thoughtwe had a solution but now she is evengoing on -- If it is spelt out under theEvidence Act, to include lawyers anddoctors, why do we not just say --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Ex abundanticautela.Papa Owusu-Ankomah: Out ofbundance of caution.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker that is wherethe danger is. That abundance of cautionshould spread to every profession. Why?Pharmacists, . . . test consultants. Youare singling out these two groups as if-- that should be objectionable. Why?They are all under the Evidence Act, butwe are saying we should bring thosegroups out. Why? [Interruptions]--

Speaker
An Hon Member

Because they arespecial.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

How? How can theybe special? We are all Ghanaians.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonChairman, can we have your response?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

We are all Ghanaians.We are talking about Ghanaians. Ifbecause we are lawyers and doctors --

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker has given methe floor, Hon Member.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Did he?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, I havegiven him the floor.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I believe thatmy Hon Colleague for Dome-Kwabenyahas provided part of the answer. But letme add that, under the Evidence Act, apriest and a member relationship is exemptinformation. You cannot compel him toreveal it. But then, is the priest a public officer?Priest may not be a public officer. So, if weare saying that the relationship orconversation between every person andthe client or adherents must be exempt,then we may not be doing justice. I believe that we have generally addedsubclause (c) so that when it is applied, itcould be invoked. Otherwise, if we sayeverybody, then it means every piece ofinformation may be exempt. I heard my Hon Colleagues mentionnurse -- [Interruption]-- Mr Speaker, before the midwife wouldcome out -- the midwife's certificate isnot signed by a midwife but a doctor. The diagnosis of a patient is notsigned by the midwife, it is always signedby a doctor. and the doctor is covered here.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonMember, let us hear you.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, the issueabout a priest not being a public officer, Ido not know where it comes in. Not every

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

But HonMember, you would describe thisprofession as learned profession, do younot? The legal profession?

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

I describe them aslawyers. [Laughter] -- So, if anybody islearned, it should be me.

Speaker
Ms Safo

Mr Speaker, I very muchshare the sentiments of the Hon Memberfor Old Tafo. Mr Speaker, if you look at therelationship between lawyer-client anddoctor-patient, the relationship is suchthat very serious confidential informationis shared, just by the nature of theprofession. A client comes to you, he orshe has been charged with a murder case,he or she confides in the lawyer and canactually tell the lawyer whether hecommitted the offence or not--[Interruption]-- He can easily tellbecause of the relationship. It is the same with the doctor. Onething we have always been told growingup is that, if you lie to your doctor, you would never get cured of whatever diseaseis bothering you. So, people can actuallygo to the extent of telling their doctorsthings they cannot tell their own familymembers, just because of the relationship.That is how it has started with the commonlaw practise in England and we haveinherited it. So, it is not as if other professions arenot important, but by the practise oflawyers and doctors, people easily givethem information and we have to protectthose information from travelling outsidethat engagement. Mr Speaker, clause 15 (1) (c) whichtalks about the Evidence Act, previouslythe Evidence Decree, takes care ofeverything. The emphasis has alwaysbeen on that so, I do not think that we aredoing anything out of the ordinary ordiscriminating. However, by the nature ofthe practise, people easily give suchinformation to their doctors and lawyers,hoping that they have the panacea to alltheir problems. So, we should protect such informationfrom going out. The Economists, we wouldcater for in there, somewhere undersubsection (c).

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

HonMembers, I believe the problem lies inthe fact that when you go to the EvidenceAct, you have specifically provided forthis situation of the lawyer-client privilege.So, maybe, Hon Members feel that if it isthere, why do we need to bring it out here,instead of letting it all be part of theprovisions in the Evidence Act. Maybe,this is what we would have to think of.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

I grew up as a Catholic.In the Catholic Church, we hold ourpriests in high esteem because we haveto go for confession and we haveconfidence in them more than the lawyers.This is because the priest is not supposedto even tell the Pope. So, theconfidentiality of going to confession behind the screen is more sacrosanct thanmy discussions with my lawyer.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

It is a matterof opinion.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

No! I am saying in theCatholic church. I do not know about --

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

We are talking about thelawyer and you are talking about theCatholic church.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

No! You said,confidentiality. I can bet that somemurderers would talk to the CatholicPriest rather than they talking to theirlawyers. This is because when theyconfess, that is it, it stays there. So, sheshould not go on that path. There mustbe a different reason we want to do that.But if we keep saying that we confidein the lawyer, no! As a Catholic, I wouldconfide in my priest. When I go behind that screen, and amasked to go and do 10 “Hail Marys” andfive “Our Fathers”, there is a covenantbetween me and my priest to God and notto a mere mortal< who calls himselflearned. [Laugher.] At least, in theCatholic church, that is what we do. I donot know about other churches. So, sheshould go on a different path. Otherwise,then I would have to object to this,especially, given my faith in the Catholicchurch.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I wish todraw my Hon Colleague Member for OldTafo's attention, that the priest's adherentinformation under the Evidence Act, isprivileged information. The draftspersonsof the Bill decided to specifically mentionthe legal and medical professions for thesake of emphasis. This is because we havea lot of medical practitioners and lawyers in public institutions and we are talkingabout information that might be assessedfrom public institutions -- Where the Catholic priests are coveredin other institutions, by virtue ofsubclause (c) of the Evidence Act, theyare also covered and therefore, you maynot necessarily compel them to come outwith information. Mr Speaker, I believe thatour amendment must be carried.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,I am looking at how we have compart-mentalised the various receptacles. Now, in the Whistle Blowers' Act, thereare some bodies that receive informationwhich would be closely guarded, thatinclude in this case, the priest that he istalking about. Chiefs -- that piece ofinformation, which is given to themshould also be guarded. Where do we situate it in this context?I am not too sure that we can put it in thebelly of the Evidence Act, because that isa different category. So, just to draw theattention of the Chairman to that. I am nottoo sure that we could really put that inthe belly of the Evidence Act.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, I did not anticipate thatwe would be having this kind of debateon this particular issue. Chairman of theCommittee and your team, the angle fromwhich other Hon Members are coming isthe fact that there are a lot of issues to dowith privileged information under theEvidence Act. This includes that of lawyer-client anddoctor-patient relationship. So, why dowe want to single out these two andprovide for them in this law whereas underthe Evidence Act, they are all covered?That is where they are coming from. So, maybe, if we could defer furtherconsideration for the Committee to take another look at it, it might be of someassistance to us. So, I direct that theconsideration of this particular clause bedeferred until the Committee has hadanother look at it, and gotten back to usso that we can look at it. Hon Members, we now move on toclause 17. Clause 17 -- Disclosure of personalmatters

Speaker
MrAmoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 17, subclause (2), paragraph(b), delete “marriage or” and insert“confidential”. The new rendition would read: “(2) Disclosure is unreasonable if itreveals or is likely to revealinformation about the individual's… (b) confidential or employmentrecord”

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,a person's physical or mental status isconfidential, that is, if it should beattended to by a medical officer.Information gathered would be deemed tobe confidential. So, why do we distinguishbetween “physical” or “mental” health andcome to subclause (2)(b) to say“confidential” or “employment record”? They are all confidential; and we aredealing with confidential matters. So, I donot know the reason for that distinction.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I am mindedto say that the word “confidential” raisesan issue, because one would want to findout what constitutes “confidential”. But I believe we would want to align it to“employment” that is why we are saying“confidential” or “employment record”. Mr Speaker, the import of that clauseis that, we are not saying that disclosureor personal matter is completely excluded.We are only saying that it would beunreasonable, if the information relatesto the person's confidential matter, suchas his “employment record”. In the issue raised by the Hon MinorityLeader, I believe the word “physical” isthere for everybody to see, the word“mental” might not be seen, but ifinformation is led to it, one can assess themental state of a person.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, I leave it entirely in thehands of the House..Mrs Kusi

Mr Speaker, all these canconstitute confidential information. So,may I suggest that the headnote couldbe “Disclosure of confidential matters”And then the phrase “confidentialmatters” should be explained in theinterpretation column. This is becausethere are certain physical informationabout an individual that everybody sees,but the actual information on it isconfidential. The word “mental” too is confidential,the words “marriage”, “employment”,“business”, “trade secrets” are allconfidential. So, we cannot just put theword “confidential” on its own and leavethe rest. I believe we can re-arrange everythingand explain what the word “confidential”is and put all of them in. Mr Speaker, that is my submission.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, I leave it entirely in thehands of the House..Mrs Kusi

Speaker
Mr Speaker, I leave it entirely in thehands of the House..Mrs Kusi

Speaker
Mr Safo

Mr Speaker, I believe weshould concede as a Committee and goback and work on it. This is because whatthe Hon Minority Leader raised is a verygood point. The physical and mentalhealth are all medical records and so, wecan capture it as such. We have spoken about doctor-patientrelationship as being confidential; it hasalready been established in the precedingsection. So, to just distinguish betweenthe words “physical” and “mental”, I donot see the real purpose here. So, medicalrecord can capture that. Again, on the headnote, as has beensuggested by Hon Gifty Kusi; we arenot dealing with disclosure of personalbut confidential information. Whether itis personal or not, the purpose of it isnot to let out to the public; it is for thepurposes of its confidentiality. So, we cando that as well. I do not see why we are taking off theword “marriage''. The word “marriage”has been taken care of in the precedingsection, and there has been argumentwhether it is common law marriage orcustomary law marriage and all that andwe are going back to deal with that as aCommittee. Certain communicationsbetween married people in this same Acthave been considered as confidential. So, to take it out and put just the word“confidential”, we are leaving that set ofinformation that is shared between twomarried people out of it, which is not theintent for which this law is being passed. Mr Speaker, as a Committee, we can goback and look at it.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonMember for Old Tafo and then to the HonChairman of the Committee.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, I wouldwant to support the Hon CommitteeMember, that the Committee should goback to look at it again. The word“confidential”. or “employment record”are not very meaningful. “Employmentrecord” itself can be confidential. Buthaving the word “confidential” there byitself also is not appropriate. So, maybe,they would want to step this down fornow and meet again and come back toconvince us. Mr Speaker, so, I would support HonAdwoa Safo.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonChairman of the Committee, Mr Amoatey,how do you respond to that proposal?

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, an HonMember of the Committee made thesuggestion, I would concede and humblyrequest that the matter be deferred forfurther consideration by the Committee.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. So, are we specifically talking aboutthis portion of clause 17 or we are talkingabout the whole of clause 17?

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, an HonMember also raised issue with the headnote -- and so, may I request that wedefer consideration of clause 17 as awhole?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, I so direct. We would move on to clause 18. Clause -- Disclosure for the protectionof public interest.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 18, delete and insert thefollowing: “(1) Despite the provisions of thisAct on exempt information, informa-tion is not exempt if the disclosureof the information reveals evidenceof: (a) a contravention of, or a failureto comply with, a law; (b) an imminent and serious riskto public safety, public health orthe environment; (c) miscarriage of justice; (d) abuse of authority or aneglect in the performance of anofficial function or (e) any other matter of publicinterest and the benefits ofdisclosure clearly outweigh theharm or danger that thedisclosure will cause. “(2) A person who disclosesinformation or authorises thedisclosure of information under thissection is not liable in criminal orcivil proceedings for the disclosureor authorisation of the disclosureof information under this section'. Mr Speaker, the rationale behind thisnew rendition is that, in the precedingclauses, a whole lot of information, wereclassified to be exempt information or tobe accessed. But we are making theprovision that under grounds “a” “b” upto “e”, if information is revealed underthose circumstances, then it may beproper to access information, which in theopinion of the law, is meant to cure someof these deficiencies. So, we have made provision to makeup for the several exemptions that weremade in the law. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 18 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 19 -- Application for access toinformation.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 19, subclause (1), paragraph(a), delete “agency” and insert “publicinstitution”. Mr Speaker, this is in line with earlieramendments that have been carried onthis Bill. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 19, subclause (1), paragraph(c), delete “type” and insert “form andmanner”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, paragraph (c) would read

“Indicate the form and manner ofaccess required”. Mr Speaker, that is more descriptiveand appropriate than merely saying,“indicate the type of access required”. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 19, subclause (1), paragraph(e), line 1, delete “in the country”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, the new rendition wouldread

“State an address to which acommunication or notice can be sentand”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, the new rendition wouldread

Speaker
Ms Safo

Mr Speaker, before I go tothe amendment that has been proposed,we deleted “agency” and inserted “publicinstitution” in clause 19 (1) (a). Mr Speaker, we have been doing thisin other preceding sections and yet wehave not defined public institution. Andthere are situations where “publicinstitution” is used interchangeably with“public office”. Mr Speaker, to make it clearer and easierfor anybody who picks up the Bill, maybe,we could define “public institution”. It isnot defined in the definition section.“Agency” is rather there, and so, if weare deleting the “agency” and inserting“public institution”, then we should doso.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

HonChairman of the Committee, how do yourespond to that?

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, if I mayassist the House; “public institution” isproposed to be defined in the proposedamendment to clause 50 to come.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

HonMember, what about your second limb oryou are abandoning that one?

Speaker
Ms Safo

Mr Speaker, is it about the“public office”?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

No! Ithought you said you had two issues andthat you wanted to deal with this first.

Speaker
Ms Safo

Mr Speaker, no! I amabandoning that one.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, you maynow put the Question on the proposedamendment to paragraph (e).

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 19, subclause (1), paragraph(f), delete “relevant” and insert“prescribed”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, the new rendition wouldread

“be accompanied with theprescribed fee” Mr Speaker, the fee is a prescription ofan authority, and we believe that wouldbe better than “relevant”. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 19, subclause (2), line 2,delete “shall” and insert “may”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, the new rendition reads

“where an applicant is unable tomake the application in writing dueto illiteracy, or a disability, theapplicant may make the requestorally”. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, to clause 19,we propose to add the following newsubclause (4) as —

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I thoughtyou said you were adding on?

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, yes. Mr Speaker, please, permit me to firstmake an oral application to deletesubclause (4) and make provision for anew subclause 4.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well,leave granted.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg to moveclause 19, add the following newsubclause: “(4) For the purposes of this section,the reference to “writing” insubsection (3) includes ‘braille'”.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,the proposal from the Hon Chairman israther to insert a new subclause (4) beforethe original subclause (4) and not to deletesubclause(4).

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, the HonMinority Leader is right. Mr Speaker, so, we insert a newsubclause (4), before the subclause (4)on the Bill. And so, the new subclause (4) reads: “(4) For the purposes of this section,the reference to “writing” insubsection (3) includes “braille'”. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 19, subclause (4), line 2,delete “agency” and insert “publicinstitution” and in line 4, delete“document” and insert “information”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, the new rendition nowreads

“Where an application does notsufficiently describe the informationrequired, the public institution towhich the application is made, shallso inform the applicant and offer theapplicant the necessary assistanceto identify the information.” Mr Speaker, instead of document. Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 19, add the following newsubclause: “(6) Where a public institutionreceives an application for access,part of which is exempt, theinformation officer shall disclose tothe applicant as much of theinformation as can reasonably beseparated without disclosing theexempt part.” Question put and amendment agreedto.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

HonMembers, I will put the Question withregard to clause 19 as variously amended.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,I do recollect that in dealing with manyearlier provisions, the Chairman of theCommittee sounded to lift those ones andsituate them in clause 19. I am not too surethat we have given consideration to thosematters yet. There are so many of themand yet when we come to clause 19, theChairman is not mentioning any of them

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, the new sub-clause 6, that we have just inserted waslifted from clause 1(5). So, Mr Speaker,that is one of the subclauses inserted andtaken out of clause 1.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. [Pause.] Hon Minority Leader, are you alrightwith the Chairman's response?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Yes, MrSpeaker, I am partially alright with theresponse. Mr Speaker, I recollect the MajorityLeader canvassing in many areas that weshould lift them from there and bring themto clause 19. My worry is that, I am notseeing those of them which were lifted tobe brought to clause 19. Mr Speaker, let me just go through andI guess I can see a few areas that theSpeakership asked them to follow throughdiligently to ensure that --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Iremember --

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Yes. It lookslike the Hon Chairman is talking about onlyone of them and that is my worry.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes,Chairman of the Committee, are you sureyou have exhausted the amendments?

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Yes, Mr Speaker. We haveinserted two new subclauses to clause 19and that caters for the issue raised by theHon Minority Leader. We added a newsubclause (4) and a new subclause (6) toclause 19.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. If it turns out that it is not exhaus-tive, we might have to come back duringthe Second Consideration Stage. In themeantime, I would put the Question onclause 19, as variously amended standingpart of the Bill. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu — rose --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, HonMinority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker,I have just seen one; that is clause 7 (3)which was said to delete and locate atclause 9.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I have alsoseen it. We are to delete it from here. Mr Speaker, under the circumstances,I propose that we create a new subclause(7) under clause 19 and insert --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Chairmanof the Committee, let us not be in a hurry.Let us take our time and go through it tosee if there are any more of such issues.So, we can defer the Consideration of thisclause 19 to a future date, to give youand your Hon Members the opportunityto go through it, possibly with theassistance of the Clerks-at-the-Table. Sothat we do not finish with it and come backagain and so on and so forth. If you would agree with me, I believethat would be a better approach.

Speaker
Mr Amoatey

Mr Speaker, I will agreewith you, just that I would suggest thatwe make provision for further additionsunder clause 19, if necessary.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Thank you,Chairman of the Committee. Hon Members, looking at the time, Ibelieve this is an appropriate stage atwhich we can bring the Consideration ofthe Right to Information Bill, 2013 to aclose for today. [Pause]-- Yes, available Leader?

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah

MrSpeaker, from the Majority Leader, HonColleagues have committee meetings toattend. Some of us would be going to ourvarious constituencies to attend toconstituency work. I would therefore,want to apply that Sitting for today wouldbe adjourned till Tuesday at 10.00 o'clockin the forenoon. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, anyseconder?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

MrSpeaker, if you listened to my HonColleague, you could see that this is apoached person to fill in the vacancy ofthe collapsed Leadership of the frontbench for the Majority. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, what else can we do thanto second the Motion. I would not saywhich has been ably moved; it is not ablymoved but “quarter loaf is still better thannone”. So, Mr Speaker, we support andsecond the Motion.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, the Motion has beenmoved and seconded. Question put and Motion agreed to.

ADJOURNMENT