Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament, has declined reversing the First Deputy Speaker Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu’s ruling, dismissing the Minority’s Motion to probe Government’s COVID-19 expenditure.
“It is interesting to note that this is the second time that the First Deputy Speaker has taken the Chair and has made a ruling which in effect was to overrule a position I had earlier on established before the House,” Mr Bagbin said in his statement to the House.
“The First Deputy Speaker has contended and rightly so on several occasions that he is not the Speaker. I have also on several occasions alluded to various areas of parliamentary practice where when the Speaker is in the Chair, makes a ruling, another presiding officer may not overturn that ruling.”
Mr Bagbin said events emanating from the House on Tuesday, February 22, had occasioned the need for him to make the statement and provide clarity and some perspectives on some of the issues raised on the floor of the House.
He said Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam and Ranking Member for Finance Committee, moved a motion for the House to constitute a bi-partisan Committee to look into the activities of the Government with respect to Covid-19 expenditure.
“I must note that this Motion was submitted to me and I admitted same within the context of Order 79 (4) of the Standing Orders of the House,” Mr Bagbin said.
He said when Dr Forson was on his feet in an attempt to table the motion, the Deputy Majority Leader Mr Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin rose to make a preliminary objection to the Motion.
“It was at this juncture that I asked him to suspend his objection, wait for the Motion to be tabled and then he may proceed to submit his objection.”
The Speaker said it was improper to object to a Motion that had not yet even been tabled in the first place and that to that extent, he (Mr Afenyo-Markin) could only object to a motion after it had been tabled and before it had been seconded by another member.
He said when he was handing over to the First Deputy Speaker, he gave him the message that he had ruled that the Deputy Majority Leader could raise his objection after the Motion had been tabled and seconded.
“Because some of you were talking to each other, you did not hear the ruling.”
The Speaker recalled that in his formal statement on the matters arising from the 2022 Economic and Budget Statement, he said: “Honourable Members, although our Standing Orders are silent on this, many standing orders and rulings from several sister Parliaments provide persuasive rules, which suggest that when Deputy Speakers or other Speakers are in the Chair, whatever happens in the House is that Officer’s responsibility and the Speaker cannot be called upon to overrule it.”
He said similarly, the reverse was also the case that when the Speaker was in the Chair, whatever happens in the House was the Speaker’s responsibility, and that the Deputy Speaker or Acting Speaker could not be called upon to answer.
“The penchant of the First Deputy Speaker to overrule my ruling is to say the least unconstitutional, illegal, and offensive. Be that as it may, I shall not be taking any steps to overrule the decision of the First Deputy Speaker to dismiss the Motion as moved by the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee,” he said.
He noted that the Deputy Speakers and himself would deliberate on how to present a more coherent uniform structure with respect to rulings so that the House would be guided at all times during deliberations.
He said the Standing Orders of the House provided the procedure for challenging the rulings of the Chair and that those who were aggrieved by the rulings might take the necessary steps to right the wrong.
“I hope this statement provides clarity on the matter of the dispute that arose yesterday. I hope we can forge ahead for the common good of the people who have entrusted us with leadership and the mandate to better their lives.”
The Speaker said the Standing Orders would guide those who brought the Motion and that the proper thing would be done for the House to consider the Motion.
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