VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item number 3 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. The Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 27th January, 2017. Page 1…8 --
Mr Speaker, sorry to take you back to page 8 of the Votes and Proceedinbgs. I was in the House on Friday, but I have been marked as absent. Could the Table Office effect the correction?
Thank you. Page 9…12 --
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was here on Friday, but on page 8, number 6 of the Votes and Proceedings, I have been marked absent.
Mr Speaker, I was here on Friday and I made a correction on the deletion of my name and asked the Table Office to make the needed correction. But as it is found here on page 9, it has not been captured as such. I would like it to be noted.
Page 9 -- What is the name just for the sake of the record?
Mr Speaker, the name is Hon George Mireku Duker, Tarkwa- Nsuaem. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Page 14…18 --
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Page 18, item numbered 23 on the Votes and Proceedings, my name is Kwakye-Ackah with a hyphen. The surname is Kwakye-Ackah; it is a compound name.
Thank you very much Page 20 --
Mr Speaker, sorry to take you back. Mr Speaker, on page 8, I was marked absent on Friday, even though I was present.
Hon Member, what is your name?
Mr Speaker, my name is “Benard Ahiafor”.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Page 21…22 --
Mr Speaker, on page 21, item number 9, my name, “Konadu-Yiadom” was spelt without the hyphen. It should be hyphenated. Thank you.
Thank you, Hon Member. Page 22…37 --
Mr Speaker, on page 37, under the Committee on Lands and Forestry, number 16, my name is “Sayibu Suhuyini Alhassan” and not “Sualihu”, as captured.
Thank you, Hon Member. Page 38…41 --
Mr Speaker, item numbered 14, under the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, my name should be spelt: “Samuel Abdulai Jabanyite”. The “Jabanyite”, is wrongly spelt. So, it should be corrected. Thank you.
Thank you, Hon Member. Page 43…44
Thank you. Page 46…47 --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, on page 47, under “attendance”, on the Committee of Selection, my name “Terlabi” has been wrongly spelt. The spelling should be “Terlabi”, instead of “Teriabi”. Thank you very much.
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 27th January, 2017, as corrected be hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Wednesday, 25th January, 2017. Any corrections?
Yes, Hon Member?
This is for the attention of the Table Office. Hon Members, any more corrections? Hon Members, the Official Report of Wednesday, 25 th January, 2017, as corrected, is hereby admitted. [Pause] -- Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I know that you have accepted some Statements, but before you permit the presentation of these Statements, may I seek your leave to alter the Business of the House as set out on the Order Paper to have the item listed as number 6 on page 1 of the Order Paper dealt with now before the Statement is read?
The order of Business is the issue. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, there is no objection. I believe that the Hon Majority Leader would want the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to be laid, probably for the Hon Minister to provide an explanation why she thinks that it is a matter which should urgently be looked at by this House.
Hon Members, I will thereby vary the order of business and take the item numbered 6 on the Order Paper. Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development.
BILLS --FIRST READING
Hon Members, item number 4 on the Order Papeer -- Statements. Hon Members, there is a Statement admitted -- Statement by the First Deputy Speaker, Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu, Member of Parliament for Bekwai on allegations of bribery made against him.
Mr Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I make the Statement on the floor of this House today. On Friday, 27th January, 2017, at about 3:13 p.m. while I was in this same Chamber waiting for the Sitting of the House to resume following suspension of Sitting earlier in the day, I received a whatsapp message from a friend in the Media, which showed that one Sammy Ablordepey, purporting to report from Parliament that Mr Boakye Agyarko was alleged to have given to Hon Osei Owusu, an amount of GH¢100,000 to be doled out to Members to pass him as Minister for Energy. The message further said “Each Member of the Majority was given GH¢3,000. The Minority had since returned the money to Hon Osei-Owusu who had in turn given it back to Mr Agyarko who was spotted coming to Parliament to collect it from Mr Osei- Owusu. A very shameful Act. And this Mr Agyarko, criminal, calls President Mahama corrupt….” Upon enquiry, the Parliamentary Press Corp leadership told me that the alleged reporter was not part of the Parliamentary Press Corps. I showed the message to the Majority Leadership and we laughed about it, thinking it was one of the usual misinformation tricks of some partisan journalists. However, not long after, about an hour after that message was brought to my attention, other Colleague Members of Parliament also showed me publications by some respectable news houses like, My Joy-online; Peace FM online and others. They attributed their stories to Hon Mahama Ayariga, the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central and also a member of the Appointments Committee which I chair. I was livid. Not long after those publications were brought to my attention however, Mr Speaker suspended Sitting in the Chamber upon an application from the Minority Leader, requesting that the Leadership went into a meeting with the Appointments Committee members to reconsider the parts of its Report regarding Mr Boakye Agyarko and Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo that had attracted some disagreement. At that caucus meeting, Mr Speaker, the Minority Leader and his team, comprising Hon Mahama Ayariga, Hon Okudjeto Ablakwa, Hon Suhuyini, Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Hon Sampson Ahi and Hon Eric Opoku, pointed out to the Ministers designate, Mr Boakye Agyarko and Hon Osafo Maafo what in their testimonies they in the Minority found offensive and that if they agreed to offer further elucidation, or in the alternative, withdraw those specific statements, they would withdraw their objection and have them approved by consensus rather than by a majority decision as recommended in the Report. Mr Speaker, the two nominees took a cue from the discussions and offered explanations and different choice of words which satisfied the Minority side, after which they announced their withdrawal of objection and agreed to them being approved by consensus.
Without further ado and as agreed with Leadership, we will also have the second Statement by Dr Nana Ayew Afriyie, which I have duly admitted. Bribery Allegation against Minority Members of the Appointments Committee.
Mr Speaker, taking due cognisance of the provision of Standing Order 72, as affirmed by 73(1), I humbly crave your indulgence to bring to your notice, an allegation of bribery levelled against the Hon Chairman as well as the other Hon Members of the Appointments Committee by the Hon Member for Bawku Central, Hon Mahama Ayariga.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I rise, with your indulgence, probably, before I proceed, to draw your attention to the fact that, while the Statement by the Hon First Deputy Speaker and Hon Chairman of the Appointments Committee urged you to grant him immunity to proceed to Court to redeem his image, subsequent thereupon, the Hon Member has also asked for the referral of the matter to the Privileges Committee in a complaint. Mr Speaker, let me also draw your attention to the fact that the Hon Mahama Ayariga, supported by the Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and the Hon Alhasan Suhuyini Sayibu, wrote formally to you on 30th January, 2017 requesting an internal inquiry into this matter. Mr Speaker, whatever it is, the bribery scandal or allegation means a lot to this House -- to the reputation and the dignity of this House and to the integrity of the Hon Members of this House. Mr Speaker, the Ghanaian public as I have observed, is very angry and would want nothing but that we establish the truth or otherwise of this allegation. It is one Hon Member's word against the other. Coincidentally, the Hon First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Appointments Committee also doubles as the Chairman of the Privileges Committee. The principles of law -- even though naturally, the Privileges Committee would have a Vice Chairman -- a referral to that Committee where he would preside over the matter itself would lead to questions. Mr Speaker, the Ghanaian public and the world at large, expect nothing but for us to establish and share with them the truth of a full-scale investigation to establish who is truthful. I am minded by a quote that,God cannot be for and against the same matter at the same time. God would stand by those who are truthful and righteous and those who are morally right against wrong. [Hear! Hear!] It must be established. Mr Speaker, I have heard the Hon First Deputy Speaker -- and as the Ranking Member on the Appointments Committee, we are particularly concerned. We need to redeem personal integrities, secure personal reputations and restore the dignity and reputation of this House. We must do so only after a careful and thorough investigation into the matter. We, on this side of the House, have no objection to you proceeding further. Suffice it to add that, I would wish that, given that the three other Hon Colleagues have requested an internal scrutiny -- While I have no control over what your judgment would be, I would request that, you refer this to a special Ad hoc Committee. May I refer you to Order 191 of our Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to read: “The House may at any time by motion appoint Special or Ad Hoc Committee to investigate any matter of public importance; to consider any Bill that does not come under the jurisdiction of any of the Standing or Select Committee.” As a result of the reason I gave, that the Chairman of the Appointments Committee and the one making the complaint, supported by the Hon Member, in order to redeem his image, chairs the Appointments Committee. Mr Speaker, we are gradually eroding and betraying public trust in some of the things that we do and say. We need to end this image problem. I would, again, request under Standing Order 191, that we have a committee. In times past, the public felt uneasy that many a time, even when referrals are made to the Privileges Committee, the details are not shared with them. We would be guided by your good example. We would want to get to the bottom of this particular matter. Who has done what? Who has engaged in what transaction to achieve what? Mr Speaker, may I further request you to refer this matter to a special Ad hoc Committee. Should they work and we find their work unsatisfactory, together with the Ghanaian public, we may consider other possible and appropriate legal remedies to look into the matter. What is important to us, is to establish the truth or otherwise of the allegations and for them to establish otherwise. I accordingly submit that, Mr Speaker, you refer this matter without prejudice, to ensure that the truth is established. Accordingly, they would invite witnesses to testify. Then the Committee would submit a report to you and whatever the sanctions, this House should not fail the Ghanaian public in exacting what is right from whoever is right or wrong. I am unable, at this juncture, to know who is standing where God stands; where the truth stands. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the alle- gation that has saturated the entire Ghanaian atmosphere over the past four days is an earth-shaking allegation and must be handled with extreme care. Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader that Parliament, as representatives of the people, should be concerned with establishing the truthfulness of any issue that comes before us. This particular instance which relates to certain named persons in this House -- we must get to the bottom of this business. Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu is the Hon First Deputy Speaker and the Hon Member of Parliament for Bekwai. In making this Statement before this House, represented by his own composure and demeanor, indeed, he is a person who has suffered some mortal wounds. So, the Statement is a dirge of lamentations and one could understand. The second Statement, invited you, Mr Speaker, to refer the conduct of the Hon Mahama Ayariga to the Privileges Committee. Our Standing Orders provide that committees with defined remits should be assigned the responsibility of enquiring into any matter within their remit.
However, in this particular case, as the Hon Minority Leader has alluded to, the primary person who has been cited, Hon Osei-Owusu, Chairman of the Appoint- ments Committee, doubles up as the Chairman of the Privileges Committee. In this particular instance, if the matter is referred to the Committee, he would be required to chair. In the alternative, he may recuse himself for the Vice-Chairman to be in the Chair. My worry is that, if it should go to the Privileges Committee, it may attract unnecessary partisanship. For that reason, I tend to agree with the application by the Hon Minority Leader that, the matter be sent to a special purpose committee charged with the responsibility of delving into this matter. Mr Speaker, thereafter, upon establishing the truth or otherwise in the allegation, giving us their own observations and conclusions on the way forward for the conduct of business in this House in order not to waste much time on this proposal, I would first want to move for the establishment of the special committee, first as required by Standing Order 191 of our Standing Orders and I beg to quote: “The House may at any time by Motion, appoint Special or Ad Hoc Committee to investigate any matter of public importance; to consider any Bill that does not come under the jurisdiction of any of the Standing or Select Committees.” Mr Speaker, in this case, it is the first leg of the Standing Order that matters to us. Mr Speaker, while we are at this, it may be part of the remit of the committee to define to us what the real intendment of Standing Order 20 and article 115 of the Constitution represent. Standing Order 20 provides, and I beg to quote: “There shall be freedom of speech, debate and proceedings in Parliament and that freedom shall not be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.. Mr Speaker, what this means is that, that freedom can be impeached or questioned in Parliament itself and that is the application submitted by the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, the other consideration is whether the phraseology “in Parliament” should be construed to mean “within the precincts of Parliament.”As I have said, it would be for the special purpose committee to define for us or to help us come to some determination in these matters. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that given the circumstances, this House appoints a special committee to investigate this matter of alleged bribery and submit recommendations to us about the way forward. Mr Speaker, I would want to further amend it that we constitute a five-member special committee to deal with this. When we have agreed, then we shall propose the names for the membership of the committee.
Hon Minority Leader, I thought that on this occasion, you would pray unto me to duly appoint a committee. I do not see the pathway of a Motion and a secondment. I will want the Hon Leaders to avoid that pathway.
Mr Speaker, we would essentially take guidance from you. My Hon Colleague referred to article 115 of the Constitution but there are many other provisions of the Constitution and by convention, Parliament has an investigative function. One, is to investigate alleged bribery scandals and submit a report to you. Mr Speaker, we would take a cue from you. It is important that this matter is investigated and brought to closure and the findings shared with the Ghanaian public. We need to win public trust and public confidence in the work that we do. Mr Speaker, I do associate myself with the Hon Majority Leader, in supporting that you set up this ad hoc committee to look into the matter and bring a report to Parliament for us to act on the outcomes and recommendations of the Committee. Mr Speaker, we would wait for your guidance on the matter [Interruption] - I do not need to second the Motion. I do not think it should come by a Motion. I have got guidance from Mr Speaker and so, I beg to second the Motion.
Hon Majority Leader, are you inclined towards a Motion approach?
Mr Speaker, by our standing Orders, the establishment of the special or ad hoc committee requires a Motion to be moved, and that was what I did under Standing Order 191. There is no other way out. The Committees of this House are established by the Committee of Selection. It is only the special or ad hoc committee that is established on the spur of the moment on the phase of any development. Mr Speaker, if it has to be established, it must be established by a Motion moved on the floor, and that is what I did and it was duly seconded by the Hon Minority Leader, who initially was on some waters.
Hon Members, in the circumstances, I would first agree that there should be such a committee established. Then Hon Leaders may move a Motion in terms of the length and membership for approval. It would be neater if the two stages are taken one after the other. First, is the agreement that there should be such an ad hoc committee and then a Motion in which the House would approve of membership and time frame for that. Hon Members, with regard to this request, which is an appeal to the House, and with regard to what we all know is a matter of concern today, I am of the opinion that this is not just a matter of privilege of Hon Members of the House and allied matters under Standing Order 31. I am also of the view that the chairmanship of a committee may not necessarily affect such a situation. In other words, a chairman may be asked to recuse himself in certain circumstances as it is done in any corporate or other situation -- it is doable. I am more inclined towards Standing Order 191 which says that: “The House may at any time by motion appoint Special or Ad hoc Committee to investigate any matter of public importance...”
This is where the inherent inquisitorial power of Parliament is captured in our rules. This should also put to rest whether Parliament can inquire into matter “a” or “b”, anytime in the history of this Republic. Parliament as the representative of the people, is empowered inherently and it is recognised in this particular part of our Standing Orders, to inquire into any matter from archeology to zoology within the Republic of Ghana. It may affect Hon Members of Parliament, Hon Ministers; it may concern some cattle rearers or “galamseyers”. [Laughter]But one thing is that Parliament has that power to set up a special committee to investigate a matter that is of public interest. Hon Members, I will want members of the public to know that this is not like pushing anything under the carpet, but that it is a power of general application, and it may involve Members of Parliament and any other person, body or authority within this Republic. In the circumstance, Hon Leaders, having ruled and approved the setting up of such a committee, if you would advise on time frame and membership of this committee by Motion, in that regard, regarding which Hon Members may contribute and we conclude on that matter — [Pause] — And for the record, that will include members, terms of reference and time frame, and I will put the Question on that and we will conclude the matter.
Mr Speaker, Leadership has had some consultations and we have agreed to have the following Hon Members to constitute the committee. They include: 1. Hon Joe Ghartey -- Chairman 2. Hon Ben Abdallah Banda -- Member 3. Hon Ama Pomaa Boateng -- Member 4. Hon Magnus Kofi Amoatey-- Member 5.Hon Benson Tongo Baba-- Member
Hon Members, Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, for the time frame, Hon Members, including the members of the Committee, know the gravity of the issue and we do not want to stampede them. We want them to do a very thorough job, and at the end of the day, come with their own observations and recommendations, the way forward as a Parliament. Mr Speaker, respectfully, we want to leave the time frame to the members of the ommittee, that they should be conscious of the exigencies of these times and public interest in the matter. I believe they will not disappoint us. Mr Speaker, with the terms of reference, I guess one should approve —
Hon Majority Leader, so what is the time frame?
Mr Speaker, I said that, we would leave the time frame to the members of the committee. They themselves should be conscious of the gravity of the issue at hand and also, the enormous public interest in the matter. But certainly, they would also know that, given the fact that the budget season is with us, they may have to finish with the discharge of this responsibility before the budget comes to this House. Mr Speaker, I guess that if we would have to press, I would suggest that we give them a period of not more than four (4) weeks.
Hon Majority Leader, for the avoidance of doubt, terms of reference.
Mr Speaker, once again, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, even before you proceed to hear us on the composition, terms of reference and time lines for the committee, I would have wished that, you put a Question to the earlier Motion on the Ad hoc committee that is, the special and investigative committee as you decided, to look into this matter. Mr Speaker, but be as it may, I support the five (5) member committee. We have Hon Benson Tongo Baba and Hon Magnus Kofi Amoatey, together with the other three (3) names that the Hon Majority Leader mentioned. Mr Speaker, there is enormous public interest in this matter. It is also a matter which affects the reputation of persons and that of Parliament. I would support that, not later than 30 days, the committee should submit its report. Its terms of reference is already defined and known. Firstly, to investigate into the alleged bribery allegation by Hon Mahama Ayariga and company. Secondly, and to do an internal inquiry whether, there were efforts and attempts to bribe Hon Members of the Appointments Committee and thirdly, the complaint of the Hon First Deputy Speaker. Mr Speaker, as a rule, and thankfully, we have done that; no member of the Appointments Committee should be associated with the work of the committee. So, part of the terms of reference is, to look into the remit of the complaint of the Hon First Deputy Speaker and the assertions he made on matters affecting his standing.
Hon Majority Leader, are you inclined to add any other related matter?
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader has indicated, specific allegations were made. So, it would be for the committee to determine the allegations and who made them. They have been attributed to some people. Mr Speaker, for all we know, they may appear before the committee and perhaps indicate that well, there has been some cut and paste, or maybe, their voices have been doctored, et cetera. Mr Speaker, it is for the committee to determine. So, it is the allegations as espoused or as set out by the Hon First Deputy Speaker, that they may have to investigate, and any other related matters.
Mr Speaker, I have heard what the Leaders have suggested. I will reluctantly agree to it, but the specific allegation that, I, Joseph Osei-Owusu took money from Hon Boakye Agyarko and
That, it should be specifically captured and a question answered, whether the Hon First Deputy Speaker did take money from the Hon Minister-designate and handed it over for an improper motive. Hon First Deputy Speaker, it is important to have it fully and properly captured, so that the terms of reference would be made clear. Hon Minority Leader, do you have any further comments?
Mr Speaker, if you may direct, that as he stated, it is captured as his primary terms of reference, and other related matters as the Hon Majority Leader said. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, just as I stated, I said the basis for the Statements -- the attributions should be the basis for defining the terms of reference, and then we shall have any other connected matters put before the committee, relating in particular to determining the way forward for us as a House. Mr Speaker, so, I agree that, that should be the remit of the committee. Question proposed.
Hon Members, contri- butions are restricted to membership, terms of reference and length -- Hon Members, in the circumstances, I will put the Question. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Meanwhile, it would be very dignifying if, Hon Members of this Honourable House would not undermine the work being done by public comments; in fact, that may amount to contempt of a high powered parliamentary special committee. [Hear! Hear!] Hon Members, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Chairman of the Appointments Committee?
— rose --
Mr Speaker, a referral has been made to the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development in respect of the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017. I just noticed that it is a one subclause amendment, and I believe the Committee may be able to deal with it today. Of course, it does not lie with me to determine whether they may consider it as a matter of urgency, for which reason, I would appeal to you, Mr Speaker, to have the House suspended and to allow the Committee to go and sit over the referral and if they deem it, as a matter of urgency, to show the report to us. If indeed, they could deal with it in two or three days, so be that. Mr Speaker, let the Committee go and sit on the matter in earnest.
Mr Speaker, the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was laid and appropriately referred to the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development; it does not lie within the power of the Hon Majority Leader to stampede the Committee's work. Mr Speaker, he has said that, it is just a one clause amendment; the Committee must go and relate that one clause to every other clause in the Act. So, the Hon Majority Leader should not just construe it as a one item agenda. Mr Speaker, therefore, under the circumstance, you may adjourn the House. We are not in any rush to see through this particular amendment. When the Committee meets tomorrow, they can report to us. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I guess what the Hon Minority Leader spoke about really does not add any value to what I said. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I said that it did not lie with me to determine the urgency or otherwise of the referral. He rises now to say that we should closed shop today. So, he is rather determining that it is not of urgency at all. I have not made any such determination. A referral has been made -- Mr Speaker, we are supposed to close at 2 o'clock but it is not yet 2 o'clock. That is the reason I appeal that we suspend Sitting to allow the Committee to proceed to consider the referral. They may determine for themselves and indeed, for this House, whether it should be considered under a certificate of urgency. So, that is it, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, since he attempted to move for a closure, may I indicate -- it is an appeal indeed, because it is not yet 2.00 o'clock, that we suspend Sitting to enable the Committee to go and consider the referral. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I am not too sure that Hon Members have the Bill and have looked at it. It is not just the work of the Committee; it is the work of Parliament. I still cannot understand the haste and speed with which the Hon Majority Leader wants this matter looked at.
Mr Speaker, I have not even sighted the Bill. Even if I sight it, I have to do work and research on and understand why they are seeking to move the amendment relative to the decentralisation principles and concepts we are working with. So, I still would think that this is not a matter we should be looking at today -- the Hon Majority Leader should allow the Committee to go and do its work, so that the Appointments Committee can continue with its public hearing. Thank you.
Thank you very, Hon Minority Leader. Hon Members, we are all aware that --
Bonsu — rose
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has indicated
What is urgent about this? What is urgent about this? -- [Interruption.]
Order! Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, I guess Hon Members, and indeed, some of the new Hon Members may have to learn, that when the Majority Leader is on his feet, they do not disrupt by talking into the microphone. They do not have to do that. That is very much unacceptable -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, the point being made is that, we should leave the Committee to determine for itself, whether it is urgent. That is all and that is how it is done. The Hon Deputy Minority Leader wants to interject. Mr Speaker, may I remind him that less than three weeks ago, he invited this House in his capacity as the Chairman of the Committee on Finance, to consider Reports from his Committee virtually. He wanted approval for Reports that had been written virtually. I believe he would not go there at all. But let us allow the Committee to do the consideration and report back to us.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, even though the Bill has not been shared, the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development is in the Chamber. If it pleases her, she should lead us on what she seeks to do with the amendment. It is permissible. She is in the Chamber. So, let her lead the discussion on it. [Interruption] That is done. At the First Reading of Bills, he requested the Hon Minister -- [Interruption]-- She is there. Let her lead the process, so that we understand why she seeks an amendment.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, the Hon Minority Leader is totally out of order. I do not know the Order he is coming under to invite the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to respond to his own application. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has disqualified himself to make the application. Indeed, nobody has the right to make the application for the Hon Minister to speak to the Bill at this Stage. May I repeat my Motion, that you suspend the Sitting of the House and let the Committee go and consider the Bill. I thank you very much.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I saw your counterpart on the other Side of the aisle, but I thought I would make a ruling, so that we make progress. But since you are also up, then I may let him come, so that you can follow. I am giving due regard to Leadership on both Sides. I thought we would end there, but since you would want to make a contribution, I am obliged to let him contribute, then you can come in.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I moved a Motion for the suspension of the House and I thought my Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader would second it. Having waited for a while, and he not rising up, she got up to be noticed to second the Motion for suspension. It was not to contribute to anything.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, please, you may continue.
I thank you, Hon Speaker.
Hon Members, you are all aware that for good reasons, we started late, going through a number of issues very relevant to the work of the House. It requires therefore that we have this House suspended, come back and do some more business in the interest of the House and our people. In the circumstances, the House will stand suspended for an hour. After all, it is the Committee itself that can determine the urgency or otherwise of the matter and the House would be advised accordingly. Meanwhile, my attention has been drawn to the fact that some members of the public believe it is part of my ruling that they cannot talk about this matter. That is not so! I am talking about Hon Members of Parliament, and that they should hold their horses while we go into the matter by the special committee. It does not affect the general public. I thank you very much. The House will reconvene one hour thereafter. Thank you. 1.54 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 6.40 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Hon Members, the Order Paper Addendum. Please note that in view of the business before us and the time, the normal hours are accordingly extended. Hon Members, item numbered 1 on the Order Paper Addendum -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Hon Member, is there any difficulty?
Mr Speaker, you just directed that the Report should be distributed. Hon Members at least, need time to read the Report.
Hon Members, Order! Order! I am satisfied the Report is available. Hon Minister, you may move the procedural Motion numbered as item 2 on the Order Paper Addendum.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1), which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the Second Reading of the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper. Hon Minister, you may move the Motion numbered 3 on the Order Paper Addendum.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017 be now read a Second time. Mr Speaker, the object of the Bill is to amend the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) to provide for the President, who is the appointing authority for an appointed member of the District Assembly, to exercise discretion to revoke the appointment of the appointed member of the District Assembly. Mr Speaker, the Local Government Act, 1993(Act 462), which was repealed by the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936), provided for the discretion of the President in paragraph (a) of subsection (6) of section 9. Mr Speaker, however, this provision has been omitted in subsection (9) of section (10) of the Local Governance Act 2016 (Act 936). This Bill, therefore, seeks to provide for the discretion of the President to revoke the appointment of an appointed member of a District Assembly by amending subsection (9) of section 10. Mr Speaker, I would like to emphaside that, this Bill relates only to appointed members who can be described as appointees of the President. Mr Speaker, the ground rules -- and normal practice and normal legal regulation requires that, the appointing authority also has the power to revoke the appointment. Indeed, the Interpretation Act 2009, Act (792) states in section 23, Mr Speaker, I beg to quote section 23 (1): “Words in an enactment which authorises the appointment of a person to an office confer, in addition, on the authority in whom the power is vested, (a) a power, at the discretion of the authority, to remove or suspend that person.” Mr Speaker, this may be construed as an Act, but it is a guiding principle that we usually use in the Interpretation Act. I would therefore, move that we consider and provide for the amendment of the Bill accordingly. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Hon Minister. The Hon Chairman of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development may now present the Report of the Committee. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion on the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017. In so doing, I beg to present your Committee's report. Introduction The Local Governance (Amendment) Bill 2017 was laid before the House on Tuesday, 31st January, 2017 by the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hon Alima Mahama and was subsequently referred to the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development by the Mr Speaker for consideration and report. Reference Documents In considering the Bill, the Committee made reference to the following documents: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana ii. The Standing Orders of Parlia- ment iii. The Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) iv. The Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792). Background Members may recall that following the passage of the consolidated Local Governance Bill in 2016 (Act 936), the Local Government Act 1993 (Act 462) was repealed. However, there is no provision in Act 936 enabling the President to revoke the appointment of his appointees as provided under article 249 of the Constitution, which states that “Subject to any procedure established by law, the mandate of a member of a District Assembly may be revoked by the electorate or the appointing body.”
Hon Members, pursuant to Standing Order 127 -- “. . . a full debate shall arise on the principle of the Bill on the basis of the explanatory Memorandum and the Report of the Committee.”
Mr Speaker, I beg to support the the Motion moved by the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. Mr Speaker, when this document was brought to this House, we needed to consider whether it was of urgent nature. The Memorandum did not specify why this Bill must be taken today, in accordance -- [Interruption] -- The Memorandum did not state the urgency of the Bill and the reasons for the rush have not been adequately explained by the Hon Minister. We would want to note that it is a policy change that -- [Interruption.]
Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, Hon Benjamin Kampa Kpodo is a good Hon Friend of mine and perhaps he said something that I believe he did not mean to say. The Memorandum cannot specify why it has to be an urgent Motion. It is the Committee that is allowed to decide. I believe that he meant the “Committee” and not the “Memorandum”.
Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, yes. What I sought to explain was that, it was not properly laid; why the Bill should be taken urgently and now? Mr Speaker, the Constitution truly gives power to the President to appoint and also to revoke. But to appoint, the Constitution requires that the President should consult the local authorities and other interest groups within the district. When we seek to give power to the
President alone to revoke appointments, we take off the element of that consultation with the interest groups and the traditional authorities in the particular district.
Mr Speaker, given the time of the day, Hon Members who would want to contribute should be concise and precise. Mr Speaker, I would like to listen to my Hon Colleague, but in this House, the President who has the power to appoint Ministers does so with the prior approval of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, we also believe that this rush to change the existing law could have a ripple effect on other laws. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, if we look at the Bank of Ghana Act, there is a provision in it which grants security of tenure to the Governor. But if we begin to bring amendments in this manner to take away such protective provisions, then very soon the President can do anything. He could revoke anybody's appointment.
Hon Member, your Colleague stands on a point of order.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague said by amending this Act, it would affect the Bank of Ghana Act, which says that -- [Interruption] -- He also mentioned rippling effect of this amendment affecting the Governor of the Bank of Ghana. Mr Speaker, how can he compare an appointee at the District Assembly to the Governor of the Bank of Ghana? The Governor has security of tenure. It is guaranteed in the Act. This is an entirely different matter.
The Hon Member on the floor may continue.
Mr Speaker, I believe my Hon Friend did not follow what I presented. I did not say that the Bank of Ghana law is being amended. I cited it as an example of the possibility of taking away that protective clause from that Act, because it is also an Act. Mr Speaker, so, it is possible. We believe that the life of a particular Assembly should be allowed to run fully, so that there would be continuity of service. But when we truncate appointments of public officials in this manner, it would not inure to good governance. With these observations made, and the pressure bearing on us to change this law to suit the present Administration, I support the Motion.
Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity given me to contribute to this amendment proposed on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, I am very happy that the Local Government Committee of which I am a member, arrived at a consensus decision, given the urgent nature of the amendment. Mr Speaker, at the Committee sitting, members took cognisance of the urgency to do Government business and the fact that Ghanaians are yearning to see this particular Government putting its act together to deliver services to the citizenry. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister and the Hon Chairperson have already read the amendment proposed to be inserted under section 10 (9) (a) of Act 936. So, I may not have to read it again. But the amendment is only to give effect to the President to be able to, as it were, revoke appointees to a District Assembly once he has been clothed with the opportunity to appoint same under section 5 (1) (d) of the Local Governance Act,(2016) Act (936). Mr Speaker, section 23 (1) (a) of the Interpretation Act has also been quoted to buttress the argument by the Hon Chairperson and the Minister. It is trite knowledge that-- [Hear! Hear!] -- any person given authority to appoint must also have authority to remove.
Hon Member, there is a point of order.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I am happy that this amendment --
Hon Member, we would hear the point of order, then you would conclude.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, it is not always true to say that, he who is given the power to appoint has the power to terminate. It is not always true that who has the power to appoint has the power to terminate. For instance, the President has the power to appoint the Supreme Court Judges, but does he have the power to terminate their appointment? So my Hon Colleague is misleading this House by saying that everybody that is invested with the power to appoint has the power to terminate.
Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I am very happy that the Committee, regardless of the deliberations that took --
Hon Member, you are concluding.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would only thank the House, that the Committee came by consensus in approving this amendment. This would undoubtedly facilitate the smooth administration of the work at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs). Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, this particular Bill, is problematic in a number of ways. First of all, the Local Governance Act was passed and assented to by the President on 20th of December, 2016. [Pause] --
Mr Speaker -- [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, respectfully, my attention has been drawn to a rainstorm. We are told that, while Sitting in here, the roof of the Chamber has been blown off. Hon Members, can we please, listen to one another?
Hon Members, we have a duty to perform. [Uproar.] Hon Members, order! Hon Members, we shall continue with business.
Mr Speaker, I said that, there was no immediate risk, but if we should leave here, tomorrow, the House may not be able to Sit here.
Hon Majority Leader, we are continuing.
Yes, Mr Speaker, we are continuing. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was accordingly read a Second time.
Hon Members, if we are concerned about the roof, then we should as well be concerned about going on with the Business of the House, as fast as we can. Hon Members, item numbered 4 on the Order Paper. Hon Minister, you may now move the procedural Motion numbered 4 on the Order Paper Addendum.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 128 (1), which require that when a Bill has been read a Second time, it shall pass through a Consideration Stage, which shall not be taken until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed, the consideration Stage of the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be taken today.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper Addendum -- the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, paragraph A, after “President”, add “or”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Section 10 of Act 936 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. The Long title ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Minister, you may now move the procedural Motion numbered 6 on the Order Paper Addendum.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131 (1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof shall not be taken until at least, twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the Third Reading of the Local Governance (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
BILLS -- THIRD READING
Hon Majority Leader, any indication?
Mr Speaker, as you said, we have worked diligently. Now the time reads 7.24 p.m. Mr Speaker, I must commend my Hon Colleagues, those on the Majority Side of the House, who, at the risk of their lives, have stayed to conduct Public Business. Mr Speaker, the irony of events that we have witnessed is that, my Hon Colleagues left the Chamber, yes -- we came under a severe storm and they left. In any event, they are outside hanging out there in the precincts of Parliament. So, what did they run away from? Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
The House was adjourned at 7.25 p.m. till Wednesday, 1st February, 2017 at 10.00 a.m.