MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, as you are aware, the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Michael A aron Oquaye, is unable to be with us at the moment in view of overriding circumstances brought to bear on him on the temporary assumption of duties as the acting President of the Republic. I am therefore standing in his stead to welcome you this morning to the First Meeting of the Second Session on the Parliamentary Calendar. For a little over two weeks now, Hon Members have been in and out of Parliament on two special recalls at rather short notices, but you have on each occasion, cooperated with the Chair, and indeed, the Leadership, by responding to the summons in good numbers. Mr Speaker and Leadership have been impressed by your prompt attendance and can only hope this will be sustained to enable the House go through its work for the Meeting which promises to be busy. Despite the inherent fatigue arising from the stressful pre-Meeting activities, I have no doubt that you are well prepared to commence work in earnest. I expect that Committees of the House that sat during the recess will continue with their unfinished business and those specifically charged to undertake some special assignments should have completed their work by now and are ready to submit their reports to the Plenary. As you know, our mandate of scrutinising Government Business and holding public officials to account garnered much public interest as a result of the special Ad-hoc Committee set up to investigate the alleged levy and collection of various sums of money from expatriate businesses during the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards in Accra. I expect that substantial work has been done by the Committee to meet the deadline given by the Speaker to enable the House consider the report during this Meeting. Above all, Committees of the House around which most of the work here revolve are encouraged to deepen their engagement with the populace to promote more openness and transparency in their work. Hon Members, preparations are also on-going to enable the House receive the President of the Republic to deliver a Message on the State of the Nation pursuant to article 67 of the 1992 Constitution. This constitutional obligation of the President of the Republic affords the House, and indeed all Ghanaians, an appreciable insight of the stewardship of the Presidency held in trust for all Ghanaians. It is therefore important not only to receive him in the House with pomp and pageantry, but also to ensure that we apply ourselves to the requisite rules of the House by giving him the dignified audience, more so, when the delivery of the Address is broadcast live and wide within and outside the country. I hope and pray, with your support and the superintendence of God Almighty, that this Meeting will be fruitful and measure up to the expectations to the people we represent. Thank you.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, we have the Votes and
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 5th January, 2018.]
Hon Member for Suhum?
Mr Speaker, on page 1, the document is titled “In the First Session of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.” Mr Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, the First Session ended on 6th January, 2018. So I am wondering how the Sitting of last Sunday could be captured under the First Session.
Your suggestion is that the Meeting on Sunday, 21st January, 2018 is not part of the Third Meeting of the First Session. Is that right?
Mr Speaker, a Session of Parliament is 12 months from the day it first Sits. Parliament first sat on 7th January, 2017, and so, the First Session expired on 6th January, 2018. So the Sitting last Sunday would not be part of the First Session. That is my assertion.
Yes, Hon Leaders, can I hear you on this issue which has been raised by the House? Hon Member for Wa West?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Today, we are starting the Second Session. The last time we met should belong to the old session. It is today that you have decided is the begining of the Second Session, so any Meeting before then, belongs to the First Session. It is not about 7th January; it is about when the Speaker decides to convene Parliament, so we could be convened even in March. It would still be the First Session; so this other one belongs to the past Session. I do not know why he wants to go to the present when we are in the past. [Laughter.] -- Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I think a Session has been defined for us in our Orders, and a Session means a series of Meetings of Parliament within a period of twelve months, and that is under Standing Order 7. Mr Speaker, so I am inclined to agree with the Hon Member for Suhum, that we started on 7th January, and the Session then ends on the day before that 7th January, which is 6th January. Mr Speaker, you may recollect that I raised this matter in the previous Parliament when we had to have a Meeting and I said that it should be described as the Second Session. On that occasion, it was before 6th January, and so the Speaker drew attention, that indeed, to the extent that it was before 6th January, it should belong to the previous Session, and I agreed with him. Mr Speaker, so, on the face of this, and given what happened earlier, I am inclined to agree with the Hon Member for Suhum, that indeed, the Sunday Meeting is part of the Second Session. I do know that before then, we had programmed to start the Second Session on the 23rd of January. An announcement had already gone out. Mr Speaker, notwithstanding, the Meeting then would alter what programme we have set for ourselves, and that would be the First Sitting. Indeed, that Sitting should also be considered as a Meeting. It was a one-day Meeting. Mr Speaker, that is why I said what I said before we exited. So, I agree with him, that the -- Mr Speaker, as for the Hon Minority Leader, I tell him that his intuitive response to anything is to say no, and then come back to rationalise it later. Mr Speaker, I believe it is right, that indeed, that ought to be considered as part of the Sitting and indeed Meeting, and it ought to be considered as part of the Second Session, to the extent that it happened after 7th January. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader, who has decided to be a student of social psychology now can explain intuitive behaviour -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I do not intend to respond to him, rather than, Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, refer to Order 37 of the Standing Orders, which is on summoning and dissolution of Parliament. Mr Speaker, Order 37 reads; “(1) There shall be a Session of Parliament at least once in every year; except that a period of twelve months shall not intervene between the last Sitting of Parliament in one Session and the first Sitting thereof in the next Session.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like us to advert our minds to Order 5, which says that in case of doubt, the whole of the Orders shall be interpreted by Mr Speaker as he deems fit. Mr Speaker, you have indicated to us that this is the beginning of the Session, and so, that is your interpretation of what is contained here. I think we have no cause to complain or to say that it was not part of the last Session. So, Mr Speaker, I believe we are in the right direction.
Mr Speaker, I think Order 6 might also be very helpful in resolving this matter, Mr Speaker, it reads; In all cases not provided for in these Orders Mr Speaker shall make provisions as he deems fit. Mr Speaker, I think that -- [Interruption.] So, Mr Speaker, there is no problem at all.
Very well. Hon Members -- Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, in this House, we operate with two basic documents; the Standing Orders and the 1992 Constitution. The relative importance of the document finds expression in the content and volume of the document, in this case, the Constitution. And, Mr Speaker, you may apply yourself to article 112, and you would be tempted to vehemently disagree with what my Hon Colleagues on the other side are saying. I am surprised in particular at the Hon Member for Bawku West. I thought we had agreed on this -- [Laughter] -- and now he comes and makes a swerve. Mr Speaker, I think we are very clear in our minds. The summons were issued before the event of 5th January, and the import of it would alter the status quo, that is the event because it happened after 7th January. It is in the new Session, and so I do not see why we should be splitting hairs over this. In any event, we are all learning. Mr Speaker, to those of them who are saying that we should resort to Standing Order 6, I would want to say that there are no doubts and so we should not create doubts where there are none. 11: 50 a. m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am also looking at Standing Order 38, and I interpret it to mean that the Standing Orders make room for special requests and special Sessions. Mr Speaker, I am just wondering and I would want your guidance. If it would not be appropriate to say that the Sittings that we are discussing can, instead of being referred to as the “First Session”, be captured as “during the special session of the Seventh Parliament?” Mr Speaker, I seek your guidance, because that was a special Sitting and it says that if it is outside the First Session and outside the Second Session, then it passes as special Session that was called by Hon Members. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, this is a matter that relates to what happened this morning. Mr Speaker, when you came in, you announced that because the Rt Hon Speaker is acting as President, he is unable to chair proceedings. You then proceeded to commence proceedings.
“Whenever the House is informed by the Clerk-at-the-Table of the unavoidable absence of Mr Speaker, the First Deputy Speaker shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of Mr Speaker in relation to all proceedings of the House until Mr Speaker resumes the Chair, without any further communication to the House.” Mr Speaker, the Clerk-at-the-Table did not tell us that the Rt Hon Speaker was unavoidably absent.
Hon Member, let us take one matter at a time. We have a matter to determine whether the Meeting on 21st January, 2018, falls within the Third Meeting or this new Session. Hon Member, allow us to finish with that and then I would give you time to start a new controversy. Yes, Hon Member for Tamale Central?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I had wanted to remain quiet because the Hon Member for Suhum raised a very important point. However, the Hon Member for Suhum's point has been answered by the matter that Hon Ayariga was trying to raise in limine.
Very well. Hon Members, I believe this is an opportunity for us to define for ourselves this intervening circumstances which were probably not anticipated at the time that we carved the rules. Hon Members, if we interpret it that it falls outside the Second Session, then what would we have? A hybrid in-between the Sessions? The First Session ended on the 6th of January, 2018. Any day after that, we can start the Second Session, even if it is an emergency Meeting. I believe it would be an emergency Meeting within the Second Session, and I direct that the Meeting held on the 21st of January, 2018, be considered a special Meeting within the Second Session. I so rule. Hon Members, we would move on to the item numbered 3 on the Order Paper. Hon Samuel Okudzeto, I have had to reconsider admitting your Statement. We would have -- All right, we would take the Business Statement first. Hon Members, forgive me. On your Order Paper, you would find out that Business Statement is not stated there. So, please correct and insert “Business Statement” before “Statements”. Hon Members, I would now invite the Hon Majority Leader to present the Business Statement for the Week.
Mr Speaker, because we got started on procedural issues, I guess we may have to look at where to appropriately capture the presentation of the Business Statement. This is because, indeed, in the Standing Orders, strictly speaking, Standing Order 53 does not really mention Business Statement. So, maybe, going forward, we should begin to look at exactly where to place it. Other than that it may come under the general provision of Statements. Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to a convention. I am talking about the language and tenor of what is captured in the Standing Orders. Conventions are not caputured in the Standing Orders.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met today, Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018, and arranged Business of the House for the First Week ending Friday, 26th January, 2018.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communica- tions to the House whenever they are available. Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee has programmed the following Ministers to respond to Questions asked of them during the Week: May I urge Hon Members who have interest in the Questions that they submitted previously, but were not responded to to give indication to the Clerks-at-the-Table that they still would want to pursue those Questions. This is because I know that some of the Questions have expired by the nature and form in which they were submitted. No. of Question(s) i. Minister for Railways Development 1 ii. Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection 2 Total Number of Questions 3 Mr Speaker, two (2) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to three (3) Questions during the Week. The Questions are of the following types: i. Urgent -- 1; ii. Oral -- 2 Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70(2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by the Rt Hon Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day, in accordance with Order 119. Papers and Committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the Week. 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.
Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) The 2018 Work Programme of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. (b) Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan-African Parliament Dated 27th June, 2014. Committee sittings. Statements Presentation of Papers -- Report of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the second half year ended 31st December, 2016. Presentation and First Reading of Bills (a) Witness Protection Bill, 2018. (b) Technical Universities (Amen- dment) Bill, 2018. Motion -- Adoption of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the Implemen- tation of Local Content in the Oil and Gas Sector in Ghana. Committee sittings.
To ask the Minister for Railways Development steps being taken by the Ministry to ensure safety on the country's rail network. Statements Motion -- Adoption of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the disposal of Government vehicles by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service. Committee sittings. Questions -- *257. Ms Laadi Ayii Ayamba (Pusiga): To ask the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection whether homes for the elderly have geriatrics, how many each, where they were trained and if there are caretakers in each home. *258. Ms Laadi Ayii Ayamba (Pusiga): To ask the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection what measures the Ministry has been put in place to ensure that the women and girls already living on the streets of urban areas get accommodation and social amenities. Statements Motion -- Adoption of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Public Boards, Corporations and Other Statutory Institutions) for the year ended 31st December 2015. Committee sittings.
Hon Members, any comments?
Mr Speaker, being the first day of our First Meeting, I wish to draw the attention of the Hon Majority Leader to the review of the Standing Orders. I believe if we had reviewed the Standing Orders, which started some years back, we would not have had this problem today. I expected him to mention that by the end of this Meeting or Session, the Standing Orders would be adopted by this House. Let me find out from him when the reviewed Standing Orders would be ready.
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee for the Statement and to raise a very important matter which has to do with the Supreme Court decision on the Gitmo two, where the Supreme Court ruled that pursuant to article 75 (2), the Agreement signed with the Americans would have to be ratified by this House. Indeed, in August last year, the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration presented the Agreement for ratification which expired on 6th January, 2018. When His Excellency the President met the media last week, he indicated that by the time Parliament reconvenes, there would be a decision for ratification. But looking at the Business for the Week, there is only one item -- the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan-African Parliament dated 27th June, 2014 -- That is the only business to do with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. That is a very important matter because as the days go by, we are in breach of article 75(2) and we are affronting the decision of the Supreme Court. So, Mr Speaker, it is a very urgent matter that I would want to find out from the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee, if an Agreement is ready for this House for ratification, seeing that we are breaching article 75(2) of the Constitution.
Mr Speaker, my issue is about Standing Order 53 which talks about the order of Business of the House. Looking through the activities, I realised that the order talks about messages from the Council of State. I have never heard the Council of State send us any messages. I would like to know whether it is because they are not aware that they can send messages or because they do not have the opportunity to do so. I would like us to look at this because the Council of State is a very important national institution and we expect that once in a while, they come out to make Statements to the House and the nation at large. So, I would like to draw attention to that. Thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, following the issue raised by Hon Bedzrah about the Standing Orders, I just want to say that it is important that a Committee is set up to deal with it. But there is a Standing Orders
Mr Speaker, while we are at the Standing Orders, there is also the issue of a code of conduct for Hon Members of Parliament. I have seen a copy that has been worked on previously. My understanding is that it has not been adopted by the House and I wonder if the Hon Majority Leader could comment on that and whether it would be brought back.
Mr Speaker, mine is a rather simple and straightforward question which is drawn from the Chairman of the Business Committee and Leader of the House. It has to do with his explanation that some Questions, perhaps, may have outlived their usefulness and expired. I was wondering the criteria by which he drew such a conclusion. If, perhaps, he could shed some light on that I think it would help the rest of us, so that if we have to refile some of the Questions that we had earlier filed, we would know the parameters to so do. I know that most of my Questions and those of my Hon Colleagues are timeless.
Mr Speaker, I know that the Hon Majority Leader would always respond that I am a member of the Business Committee, therefore, I should not have a bite. There are issues that sometimes escape all of us. I therefore intend to note just four issues. One would be that in the course of this week, probably, we should get the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for National Security to brief the House on the security of citizens and particularly the police. This is very important. Happenings in Kwabenya are worrying and we need to hear from them and resource them adequately. We could probably equip them and even review some of our budgetary allocations if we can, in order that they can deal with matters relative to the incidence of crime in the country. I would wish that the Hon Majority Leader would note that. I know that the Hon Majority Leader indicated in the Business Statement that we should look at the review of Standing Order 83. I disagree with him. That is why conventions are laws when they are practised. Mr Speaker, as a good lawyer yourself, notoriety -- you do not need to repeat and reduce them to law. Once the practice has become notorious, we in our dealings have accepted that the Business Statement is an important business. Mr Speaker, you are the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee and I know your diligence and hard work. Except for the fire disaster and fire outbreak, we should have brought conclusions to that matter. Before the end of March, we should dedicate to this House a better and improved Standing Orders which would deepen the values of parliamentary democracy. Having accompanied the Hon Majority Leader to Westminster, I intend to advocate strongly that the Standing Orders make room for a Minority Day in Parliament which should become a permanent feature in Ghana's Parliament, so that parliamentary business would not just be about Government Business. We would have a dedicated day for the Minority, where Private Members and other business would be considered. With all due respect, I should acknowledge that the Hon Majority Leader, while on the Minority side, advocated for it without success. With changes from the old order to the new order, I would advocate strongly for a Minority Day in Parliament. My other issue would be what has been raised by Hon Ablakwa which we should take as a matter of urgent legal constitutional obligation on the part of the Executive. The Executive should be seen according respect to the courts of Ghana, and indeed, the Supreme Court. The succinct ruling of Justice Sophia Akuffo, now the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, was made on the 22nd of June, 2017. In that ruling, she was emphatic that it should be done within 90 days. Within 90 days, this Parliament has not ratified anything in respect of that matter. If anyone has evidence, they should bring it. This is because the President swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Ghana. Rulings of the Supreme Court are law, and he cannot be seen not respecting them.
Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, do you have a point of order?
Mr Speaker, I am surprised that the Hon Minority Leader who is usually very attentive in Parliament, chose to forget that the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration brought this for ratification. So, when he says that the President is violating the law, I do not know where he is coming from. Hon Ablakwa raised a different issue. It was brought to this Parliament for ratification. Now, unilaterally, the Government has the right to give them visas to stay on and that is an Executive decision. It has nothing to do with Parliament. The issue with the American Government has been properly ratified by this august House. So, the President has fulfilled his constitutional obligations. If the Hon Member wants to ask whether they are still here, that is a different matter. He should not say that the President has not fulfilled his obligations. Several Hon Members -- rose --
Mr Speaker, I am guided by the comments of the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation. Let him also be guided that between 6th January and today, something ought to have happened as a requirement but that has not. I maintain that strongly, but we would compare notes, since this is not meant to be the only issue. Finally, let me request you to indulge me for just one more minute. There are some happenings in this country that I think this Parliament must proactively and preemptively take ownership of and correct for the good of our democracy tomorrow. On 16th March, 2016, we had Hon Edward Doe Adjaho, sworn in under article 60(11) by the then Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood. On 9th November, 2010, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Joyce Bamford-Addo, was sworn into office under article 60 (11) by the Chief Justice and also on 1st October, 2010. On 19th March, 2008, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi- Hughes, was sworn in under article 60 (11). On 24th February, 2003, Hon Peter Ala Adjetey was sworn into office under article 60 (11) by the then Chief Justice, Mr George Acquah. We saw the penultimate on 24th July, 2012, when Vice President John Mahama was sworn in. In all these instances, the Chief Justices have had to rely on an amendment of a version of the presidential oath. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would refer to the attachment of the Constitution. On page 205 of my Constitution, as you rightly noted before you took this high office on behalf of Mr Speaker, the presidential oath is problematic. It is problematic because it says, “having been elected”. When is Mr Speaker deemed to have been elected as President of the Republic? Mr Speaker, the Chief Justices have struggled probably with Parliament to say that in compliance with article 60 (11) of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, I have just referred to the oath and I would want to quote it for emphasis, so I would request your guidance. The Presidential Oath starts, and it reads: “I……………………having been elected to the high office of President….” So, if the Hon Speaker is to assume the office of the President, the Constitution in article 60(11) and (12) requires and makes reference to a Schedule, and that Schedule is constitutionally problematic. This is because -- but they have all done well. All the Chief Justices have avoided what may be a constitutional hiatus -- they have used their own words to manage it, but this Parliament must take ownership. If we would have to amend this Schedule, we would do so accordingly to avoid a future constitutional crisis. This is because if an oath is administered and the words in the oath are not in tandem with what the Constitution itself requires one to do in article 60 (11) and (12) -- Mr Speaker, these days, people walk freely to court invoking the Supreme Court's interpretive jurisdiction. That is a problem. Mr Speaker, secondly, we realised that two oaths were administered to Professor Mike Ocquaye by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo. Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, she administered the Oath of Allegiance. The Hon Speaker has already subscribed to the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath Act is against repetitiveness of oaths. We would need to take a collective decision as Hon Members of Parliament on how Parliament must walk this particular path. Mr Speaker, I discussed this with the Hon Majority Leader and he had some ideas, but we would need guidance. We must prepare for any eventualities as a country, but those eventualities must be dictated and guided by the Constitution and the laws of Ghana, in order that if there are any legal defects, Parliament would be clothed with the mandate and authority to correct them. Mr Speaker, if the Chief Justice comes to say, ‘‘in compliance with article 60 (11)'', but article 60 (12) says -- Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote article 60 (12) and rest my case so that the Hon Majority Leader would share some of his views on this. “The Speaker shall, before com- mencing to perform the functions of the President under clause (11) of this article, take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the office of the President.” Mr Speaker, this refers to the oath I referred to even though I essentially disagree with the notion of an acting President. I believe there cannot be an alternate President. The person only assumes responsibility to perform the functions of the President. This is because we cannot have two Presidents at the same time. That is not acceptable, but I believe this Parliament must wake up and avoid a possible future constitutional crisis because we do not know what to do when we are confronted with this. I have not said that in the past it was done rightly, neither have I talked about the present. Mr Speaker, we have done well as a country in managing this transitional arrangement, but we should deepen it, maybe, by a review of the Constitution, a reconsideration of the Schedule of the Oath to reflect the words that we would want to use. Mr Speaker, I accordingly submit. Thank you.
Hon Majority Leader, we would want to hear you on the comments and questions.
Mr Speaker, I thought we were dealing with the Business Statement, but unfortunately, we have veered off to what otherwise is not contained in the Business Statement at all. But because some of them have been raised and I believe, maybe, to set the record straight, I must react. I may attempt some reactions. Mr Speaker, with the first issue that was raised by the Hon Member for Ho West, Hon E. K. Bedzrah, that related to the review of the Standing Orders ̧we have had some discussions on this and we have indicated that we would put together the technical committee that worked on the
Standing Orders for them to review what they earlier did and then act very timeously to enable the Standing Orders Committee deal with it and come out with a report to the House. So, we have anticipated that in this Meeting we would be able to finish with this. Mr Speaker, I thought the ruling you gave as to whether or not the Meeting that we held last Sunday was part of the Second Session ought to have settled the issue. Unfortunately, before Hon Bedzra asked the question, he stated that “today being the first day of this Meeting”. I thought your ruling settled the matter, so the Hon Bedzrah should take a cue from that. Mr Speaker, with the issue raised by the Hon Okudzeto, he quoted that the President made a specific statement. I honestly did not follow the statement that the President made because I was outside the jurisdiction of Accra. But I was told on authority that the ascription that he gave on the President is not entirely correct, so, he may want to crosscheck his facts. Mr Speaker, having said so, the Business Committee could not programme it because the remit of the Business Committee is defined under Standing Order 160 and we cannot import into this House anything that has not been referred to us. So, if he ask us to programme it for deliberation by the House, it cannot be so done, because no such thing has been referred to us. Mr Speaker, we do not go fishing outside the Chamber. The Business Committee does not go fishing outside Parliament to insert matters that are outside the purview of the Business Committee. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Hohoe, Dr (Mrs) Bernice Heloo referred to the Standing Orders and related to what the Council of State had to tell us. Mr Speaker, I would want to draw the attention of the Hon Colleague to article 91(3) of the Constitution. What the Council of State could do and the communication it could transmit to this House is captured in article 91(3) of the 1992 Republican Constitution. Mr Speaker, with the issue raised by the Hon Ras Mubarak on the code of conduct, once we come to consider the Standing Orders we would need to consider same pari passu and that of course would include the dress code in the House. Mr Speaker, Hon Dr Clement Apaak wants to be educated about the status of Questions. Mr Speaker, it is not for nothing that Ministers are required to give answers to Questions within three weeks, informed by that, I know many Questions that have been asked, at least, from my side of the House that may be time bound. That is why I said that if Hon Members would want to pursue such Questions, they would know how to treat those Questions in order to let them be still relevant for answers to be provided by the relevant Ministers. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader raised issues about security and I believe clearly that they are matters that could come later in the course of this Meeting, if the relevant resort would be applied. Mr Speaker, I do not intend to further litigate any matter with him with respect to his own reaction to the Business Statement. I related to the provisions of the Standing Orders and not to conventions. So, if he is drawing attention to the fact that my reference to any convention is inaccurate, that could hold. I never made reference to any convention. I related to the Standing Orders and I said that technically, we have not made any provision for it, apart from the general provision under Statements. That is what I said, and unless he can fault me on that. I do not see the purpose of that intervention. Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader that we may have to dedicate a day to the course of the Minority, or indeed, even to the backbenchers. That is what obtains in many Parliaments. Special days are dedicated to the backbenchers in order for them to make short statements, and these statements help to liberate some of the backbenchers who may suffer from tongue tiedness —- [Laughter.] To liberate them to be able to warm themselves to the processes and procedures in this House. And it really helps very much in those jurisdictions. So my emphasis would even be to dedicate special days to backbenchers. Mr Speaker, I share the sentiments of the Hon Minority Leader when he says to us that he is aware that I have canvassed for this idea over the past eight years and I did not have any good ears to listen to me. And today, he says that he agrees with me, that we should look at this practice and see whether we would not be able to implement same in the Parliament of Ghana. Mr Speaker, I noticed that almost every day, people suffer from “Road to Damascus” experience. And so we would take that on board. But we should not wait until we go into opposition before we canvass for a principled position. But I share the sentiments, and I believe that being principled, I would certainly attach myself to what issues we have raised. But we should not wait until we go to opposition before we associate ourselves with issues that are raised to better, and indeed, enrich Parliament. Mr Speaker, the Gitmo 2 affair —- I believe the Hon Minority Leader corrected himself when he conceded that indeed, the matter had come to this House and Parliament indeed has ratified the Agreement. It was to a specified date, and what we should do to go beyond that. Mr Speaker, I am aware of certain moves that are being made with respect to that. I would not want to make any disclosure until the relevant information is transmitted to Parliament. And I believe it would be anytime soon.
Very well Hon Members, one matter caught my interest which relates to an Agreement to be ratified on Gitmo 2.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader raised some other matter that we had discussed earlier, with respect to the Presidential Oath. I indicated to him what convention this House has applied itself to. I am happy that on occasions, the Hon Minority Leader is applying conventions. But sometimes he would also want to depart from conventions. Because he just
“This article shall, with the necessary modification by Parlia- ment, apply to an international business or economic transaction to which the Government is a party as it applies to a loan.” Mr Speaker, Parliament is charged to do this. Again, we have applied ourselves to a convention and we have never confronted the reality by coming with a specific Act to modify the contents of article 181 (3). So, while we are at this, let us be ad idem on these matters, where it is required of us to provide the necessary modifications as the Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa asks us to do in respect of the Second Schedule -- the Presidential Oaths.
Very well, in respect of article 108, I recall that the former Rt Hon Speaker, Doe Adjaho set up a committee, and we actually put together a lot of working documents but we never completed the work. Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini —- rose--
Hon Member, we are done with the Business Statement so let me conclude work on the Business Statement or you would want another bite on the Business Statement?
Mr Speaker, rightly so.
Very well. Let me hear you.
Mr Speaker, we have heard a lot of conventions and seeking of guidance from you this morning. There is a very important provision of the Standing Orders that probably would require guidance from you. Mr Speaker, when you came in this morning, you addressed us. But Mr Speaker, you addressed us sitting in your Chair. Order 97 of the Standing Orders says that: “When Mr. Speaker rises to address the House any Member then standing shall immediately resume his seat, and Mr. Speaker shall be heard in silence.”
Hon Member, Order 97 comes under “Order in the House”. So, that situation arises when there is disorder and Mr Speaker would want to be heard in silence, he would then rise to indicate that everybody else must resume his seat. We have never had a disorder in this House ever since I have been in the House. So, the need has not arisen yet. Hon Members, I really want us to address our minds to this GITMO 2 issue. To the best of my knowledge, we ratified a convention here, the date and records are available. We ratified the Agreement but that Agreement has expired. So, if there is no new Agreement, what would come before the House? I think the issue is not really about bringing anything before the House because the Agreement under which the two ex-detainees were brought into the country has expired. If the Government is minded to enter into another Agreement and he so does, then that Agreement may be brought to the House for ratification. Hon Members, the Business Statement of the House is hereby accordingly adopted. Hon Majority Leader, is the Hon Minister in the House or is there anybody ready to lay the Paper on his behalf?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, unless I am suffering from optical illusion; I believe the item that we are dealing with is Presentation of Papers which is item numbered 4. [Laughter.]
Hon Majority Leader, the Order Paper has been amended. You would recall that the Business of the House was not on the Order Paper. So when it was inserted as number 3, the numbering of the order of business had to change.
Mr Speaker, I am not sure you said the convention is being added to the item to increase the number to 5.
Mr Speaker, we cannot add the convention. [Laughter.]
Yes, Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, we all heard you and agreed with you. In any case, this convention we are talking about is important and has to be isolated. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader should look at the Order Papers that he has been preparing as the Hon Majority Leader -- what do we have there? We have Business of the House on Fridays then we have Statements. Why has the Hon Majority Leader been doing that? The Rt Hon Speaker said that he has inserted ‘Business of the House' and then invited him, he has forgotten. He should not forget things like that.
Mr Speaker, do not allow the Hon Member for Wa West to lead you into temptation, to on your own amend the Order Paper for us. I believe the Hon Member for Wa West knows that the Rt. Hon Speaker would not attempt to do that. [Laughter.]
Hon Majority Leader, I invited you to tell me who is going to present the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Energy.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation would do the work for the Hon Minister for Energy for the item now numbered 5 (a).
Mr Speaker, if you would indulge me, once we have the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in the House, I am aware that there are many other international treaties and protocols that Ghana, and for that matter, the President has signed onto on behalf of the Republic. It is important that in view of the Supreme Court ruling, we are apprised of them. Mr Speaker, relative to the GITMO 2 ruling, Parliament must be seen together with the Executive working in tandem with that judicial organ of State that all these treaties and conventions are ratified in accordance with article 75 of the Constitution. We do not need to wait until somebody goes to court to question whether these Agreements have passed through Parliament or not. So, this is just a comment, so that the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration can take note. [Interruption.] If the Hon Member wants me to name some of these cases since he is only eyeing there, I will leave my case to the Rt. Hon Speaker.
Very well. Hon Minister, do you want to comment?
Mr Speaker, yes.
TREATIES AND CONVENTIONS
RATIFIED IN ACCORDANCE
Mr Speaker, the Table Office has informed us of those that are outstanding. So, we are working with them to ensure that they come to the House eventually.
Mr Speaker, except to caution that it is not at all times that when a President signs an international Agreement that he has to automatically have it ratified in his country. This is because our Constitution makes a distinction between “signing” and “ratification” for it to come into effect. Sometimes, you sign because you accept the principle at the international level, but at the domestic level, your situation has not reached a point where you want the force of the terms of that Agreement to become binding on you. Mr Speaker, so one may want to have a time lag between when one signed as a President and when one wants the Agreement to come into force in his or her country. So, I would caution the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration that we should not just have a wholesale transmission of every Agreement that we have signed. This is because, sometimes, we ratify them and either our business community or some other interest group begins to think that we have not really paid attention to their interest in wanting those terms to come into force in our country. So this is just a caution -- we should not think that anytime the President signs an Agreement, it must automatically come into force in our country. It must not be in our interest.
Yes, Hon Minister?
Yes, Mr Speaker. I do not know where he is getting the word, “sign” from. Our Constitution is not seized with the word, “sign”; it is, “execute” or “caused to be executed”. When were the two the same thing? It says, “execute”. It did not say, “sign”. So, the caution is irrelevant. [Interruption.] It says, “execute”. It did not say, “sign”. So, let us be careful.
Hon Member, bring your advice to a conclusion now.
Mr Speaker, at an International Conference, when one goes and signs an Agreement, usually with a green pen, he or she would have executed it. But ratification and it coming into force would be a completely different matter. So, the words are interchangeable. When I say, “sign”, it also means, “execute”.
Now, I would want to hear the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Mr Speaker, I think --
Hon Member, I did not recognise you. [Laughter.] I recognised the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Mr Speaker, I would not go into this argument -- [Laughter] -- but I can assure the Hon Member that,
Mr Speaker, the Hon Ayariga cautioned. In one breadth, my understanding was that he was making a legal argument in respect of ratification of treaties. I accordingly took the Constitution to look at what he was referring to. Mr Speaker, with the greatest of respect, when an Agreement is signed or executed, as the Hon Akoto Osei would want it put, the provision in the Constitution per article 75 is that same shall be ratified by Parliament. The issue of getting the ratification done belatedly is another matter. This is because, once the President has executed, it presupposes that --
Hon Member for Effutu, listen to me.
There is no issue. [Laughter.] The Hon Minority Leader had drawn the attention of the Hon Minister to the fact that there were a number of international Agreements signed but not ratified. So, he advised her to bring them. If I understood the Hon Member for Bawku Central correctly, he said that sometimes the non-ratification is a strategy and so she should not consider bringing them wholesale. There is no real issue to be debated. If you would want to raise any other issue, I would recognise that because we have some time. There is nothing to be considered on this one.
Mr Speaker, I thank you. You know that we would always take a cue but when the Constitution makes a mandatory provision, is there any option to delay?
“A treaty, agreement or convention executed by or under the authority of the President shall be subject to ratification ...” It means that once you have done it, it shall be done. So, I would rest my case on this -- [Laughter] -- except to say that I agree with the Hon Minority Leader that all those that have been executed should come.
Mr Speaker, I disagree with my Hon Colleague, the Member for Effutu -- [Laughter] -- to the extent that when some treaties are executed by the President, the terms require that a certain number of States assent to them before they come into force.
Hon Members, I think the more critical part is that some of these Agreements impose some responsibilities on the country. If a country thinks that it is not economically ready, it delays the ratification, hoping that there would be a shortfall in the number of countries that would ratify, so that your responsibility would not come into force soon. So, it is still a strategy that countries employ during those circumstances. Hon Majority Leader, it is just before 1.00 p.m. The Business before me is exhausted. Is there any indication?
Mr Speaker, the issue that we discussed this morning was to create some space for the Leadership. The Hon Minority Leader gave indication that he wanted to address some few things. I do not know whether he has exhausted them. If he has not, then space may be given to him to make a few remarks. Mr Speaker, but on the matter that you have adequately ruled on, we have all quoted the relevant article relating to the ratification of treaties and so on. That is article 75. Is it not the case that if a President executes a treaty, agreement or convention in the name of Ghana which has to be ratified by Parliament, Parliament, in scrutinising the treaty could apply itself to article 40 and say as representatives of Ghanaians, that this treaty is inimical to the interest of the people of this country, and therefore stall the implementation of it? Mr Speaker, it could be done. We could apply ourselves to article 40 and prevent the implementation of a treaty, convention or agreement. That is my take. Having said so, I believe as agreed, you may allow the Hon Minority Leader to make his Opening Remarks.
Mr Speaker, this is just to take opportunity to join you in welcoming Hon Colleagues back to the Second Session of this Parliament. Mr Speaker, I would look at absenteeism and general lack of demonstration of respect to time by Hon Members of Parliament. We are accountable to the Ghanaian and there are deep concerns as to when the House commences work. Additional to it is when the House is in Session or having a Sitting and dealing with any matter, because of the coverage by GTV., I am told that the Ghanaian public is concerned and worried about numbers whenever we are considering a particular Business as Parliament, be it scrutiny of the Budget Statement or any other Statement. They could observe a number of vacant seats, as you the Hon Speaker is observing. That cannot be acceptable. We need to marry the constituency obligation and responsibilities with Business, and therefore, I would urge that Hon Members report to work on time. Hon Members should not even wait until you assume your Seat. I know that sometimes you have to gauge the temperament in the House before you enter the Chamber for Sitting to commence. Mr Speaker, generally, I think we had a very good First Session, unprecedented in terms of the workload and Business. The second comment would be the work of the committees, but again your good Committee on Standing Orders -- Committees are not making use of the budgetary allocations allocated to committees, particularly to conduct further scrutiny and to make use of the money. Sometimes, even to travel for better experience and exposure. I believe that we should get -- the Hon Committee Chairmen and Ranking Members to work assiduously on this particular matter. While we were away at Westminster, the President announced the appointment of his candidate for Office of the Special
Yes, Hon Majority Leader? Do you wish to comment on the issues raised by the Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I also rise to add my voice to welcome Hon Members to this Meeting from recess. I would want to believe that the recess has been worthwhile, restful and fruitful despite the short duration and the intermittent recalls that the recess period came to be subjected to. Mr Speaker, on Friday the 5th of January, 2018, the House was recalled under article 112(3) of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Order 38 (1) of the House which required the Speaker to convene a Meeting of the House within seven days after the receipt of a request for a special meeting of the House of a minimum of 15 per cent of the total membership of this House. This was upon request by the Hon Minority Chief Whip and Hon Member for Asawase, inviting the House to investigate the levy and collection by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Ghana cedi equivalent for various sums of money in the United States of American dollars from expatriate businesses and related matters during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards in Accra. Mr Speaker, the House subsequently constituted a five-member ad hoc Committee to fully investigate the matter and report to the House on the 24th of January, 2018. The Leadership is informed by the Committee that they have not been able to conclude their public sittings on the matter and want an extension of time to finish with the enquiry. Leadership has accordingly agreed to the request and granted them one more week. In the event, the Committee is required to submit their Report not later than Wednesday, 31st January, 2018. Mr Speaker, on Sunday, 21st January, 2018, the House was again recalled for the swearing-in of our own Rt Hon Speaker, Prof. Michael Aaron Oquaye to fulfil the functions of the President in accordance with article 60 (11) of the 1992 Consti- tution. Let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Hon Members for responding to the call to duty, especially on the second occasion despite the very short notice that was given to Hon Members. Mr Speaker, this Meeting promises to be a very hectic one since there are a number of Businesses that the House is expected to transact. The President is scheduled to deliver his State of the Nation Address on Thursday, 8th February, 2018 and the House is also expected to approve the Proposed Formula for Distribution for the various Statutory Funds for the year 2018; GETFund, Health Insurance Fund and District Assemblies Common Fund during the Meeting. Mr Speaker, presentation and consi- deration of a number of Bills, Agreements, Legislative Instruments among others have been scheduled for this Meeting. Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader that we shall have to deal with the vetting of the Special Prosecutor who has been nominated by the President. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has raised an issue relating to how the Rt. Hon Speaker has responded to Motions that have been filed. The content of a Motion that is filed could be referred to a Committee, the essence of a Motion is to cause Parliament to perform a function or to do a task, and if the matter is referred to a Committee, the Committee brings the Report and Parliament votes on that Report by taking a decision on the Motion whether to do what the proposal contained in the Motion or otherwise. Mr Speaker, so, procedurally, I do not think that the resort by the Rt Hon Speaker could be faulted by any stretch of imagination. Mr Speaker, you will agree with me that at the review of the Standing Orders, we witnessed same this morning, it has been long overdue. Permit me therefore to entreat the appropriate Committee in this case, the Technical Committee and sub- Committees to work expeditiously in order for the House to bring the matter of the review of the Standing Orders to a definite closure. This matter has lingered on for far too long. Mr Speaker, this year marks 25 years of parliamentary democracy in Ghana; a quarter of a century of robust parliamentary democracy without any liberationist, redemptionist, revolutionist or defensive afflictions. Whether or not they are supreme, provisional or transitional, they have always bore the name council and they have always combined Legislative and Executive functions. In that regard, the nation has lost out on transparency and accountability in spite of the spirited pretentions to the contrary. Mr Speaker, God has indeed been gracious to us as a nation and as such, this milestone anniversary has occasioned to reflect on the accomplishments of our Parliament and ponder on key challenges facing us as a country in our quest to expand the frontiers of Ghana's democratic governance. I would therefore propose that the House sets aside one week; preferably, the first week of March to celebrate this enviable achievement. Mr Speaker, in our quest to ensure that we have a productive Session, I would entreat my Hon Colleagues to be time conscious and participate in all the activities of both the Chamber and Committees. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader has alluded to, on occasions during the previous Meeting, this House had to often suspended Sittings because of lack of quorum.
Hon Leaders, very well said. I hope that at the next Business Committee meeting you would consider how you plan and the contents that should be in the celebration of the 25th anniversary of our continuous democracy. Parliament is the biggest gainer because any time there is an interruption, it is Parliament that suffers. So, for the first time, it is Parliament that has gained 25 years of uninterrupted parliamentary practice, and I believe it is worth celebrating, except that I would suggest we make sure that the celebration is relevant to the people that we represent and how we would engage them on this occasion. Having said that, I have often been worried about the numbers as well, and so I would suggest that the Hon Whips should be more proactive this time. This is because on any day when you look down to see less than 50 Hon Members in the Chamber, the Votes and Proceedings would show over 200 Hon Members and this means that either Hon Members are signing and staying in their offices or on any day there are too many committee meetings. So, I think that we should also regulate the number of committee meetings we register a day so that we could free Hon Members to be able to be in the Chamber. Hon Members, there is just one more issue that I wish to acknowledge -- during
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has just given me a very good indication. He informed me that during the recess, one of the Hon Members got pregnant and that is worth celebrating. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, on that happy note, I beg to move, that this House adjourns until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and to note that former President Mbeki of South Africa is reported to have said that pregnancy is a good indication of how and why women are not able to keep some secrets. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, on that note, you could adjourn the House.
Very well. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.19 p.m. till Wednesday, 24th January, 2018, at 10.00 a.m.