A plenary sitting of Parliament, Thursday, was rocked with confusion following the Speaker’s decision not to recognize the leadership of the Minority who had wanted to bring to the notice of the House a pertinent issue regarding the Legislative Instruments on the creation of new District Assemblies that were laid on the floor on November 16, 2017.
Second Deputy Minority Whip and MP for Banda, Hon. Ahmed Ibrahim, had stood on his feet prior to the commencement of the debate on the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy statement of the government, hoping to catch the attention of the Speaker to enable him to present his case.
However, his hopes were dashed as the Speaker continued to allow proceedings to go without any unwarranted interruption from the 2nd Deputy Minority Whip.
As the Speaker refused to recognize Hon. Ibrahim Ahmed, Members from the Minority side became angry and in an effort to thwart proceedings, started banging the tables and shouting on top of their voices.
This provoked the anger of Members of the Majority side of the House to react, thereby, compelling the Speaker to suspend sitting for an hour to enable him address the issue at stake.
After resuming sitting, Hon. Ibrahim Ahmed was allowed to make his case where he called on the Speaker to order the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to withdraw all the Legislative Instruments for the creation of new District Assemblies.
His argument stemmed from the fact that, the Papers which were laid in Parliament on November 16, 2017, copies of which were expected to have been in their mails, had been withdrawn to effect certain corrections.
He quoted Article 11(7) of the Constitution and Order 75 of the Standing Orders of the House to support his claim.
Article 11 (7) of the Constitution states that “Any Order, Rule or Regulation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitution or any other law shall –
(a) Be laid before Parliament
(b) Be published in the Gazette on the day it is laid before Parliament; and
(c) Come into force at the expiration of twenty-one sitting days after being so laid unless Parliament, before the expiration of the twenty-one sitting days, annuls the Order, Rule or Regulation by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament.
Order 75 (1) states that “As soon as sufficient copies of a Paper for distribution to Members have been received in the Office of the Clerk notice of the presentation of that Paper may be placed on the Order Paper, and as soon as Mr. Speaker announces “Papers for Presentation”, the Paper shall be deemed to have been laid on the Table.
“Rt. Hon. Speaker, these Papers were laid on November 16, 2017. Today is 23rd. The Legislative Instruments are in connection to the new districts that are being created. I followed up to the Mails Room. I was told that the Papers were brought to Parliament and there was a problem with the typos and so they’ve been carried back to go and do the corrections before they bring them. Rt. Hon Speaker, once the Papers have been laid, and they have taken back … They are Legislative Instruments; the days are counting. Once they’ve been sent back for corrections, I think it will be proper and appropriate for the Papers to be withdrawn because the Supreme Court ruling says that once Legislative Instruments have been laid, Parliament shall have no other power to make corrections on them. So, I was just drawing your attention on this,” he explained.
Commenting on the issue, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said he finds it very difficult to believe why the 2nd Deputy Minority Whip will seek for information regarding the Legislative Instruments from officers at the Mails Room when the Table Office and the Clerk of Parliament is there. Nonetheless, he said the issue raised will be considered when the House adjourns sitting.
Speaking on the issue, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye questioned why such an issue could be raised when it had been listed as part of the agenda to be considered by the House for the day.
“This Honourable House comes with an agenda for the day. And we will want to be very careful about anything that interrupts the agenda of the day.
“In any respectable company, when you attend Board Meetings, they have an agenda and they go by the agenda. They also have other matters. So, if you have any other matter, you raise it at the end of the agenda. The matter under reference was not listed to be dealt with today. It is something that has already happened in this House. You don’t refer to them in the manner that clearly interrupts the agenda we have set for ourselves today. You realize that when it is past two, even though I have the right to simply adjourn the House as per our own rules, I nevertheless, ask Leader if there are something to raise. At the time like this, it is quite appropriate to raise a matter that has not been listed and which is not appropriately before the House and then something can be done about it. I will not want us to simply rise in a manner that will bring about surprises”, Rt. Hon. Prof. Mike Oquaye noted.