Bagbin urges Parliaments to strengthen their c’ttees to deliver on mandate

Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has challenged Parliaments to strengthen parliamentary committees to be able to deliver on their mandate and assignments should be the primary focus of all legislatures.

That, he explained, was because every Parliament was as strong as its committees.

“Given the critical role of committees in parliamentary democracy, Ghana’s parliament is considering opening up the proceedings of such committees to the media for coverage,” he hinted.

Mr Bagbin threw the challenge at a meeting in Westminster, London, with the Chairman of the Works and Pensions Committee of the UK Parliament, Sir Stephen Timms.

He is leading a parliamentary delegation to the UK Parliament to discuss cooperation between the Parliaments of Ghana and the UK, approaches to conducting parliamentary business effectively, managing hung Parliaments and narrow majorities, making parliamentary scrutiny and oversight more efficient, and promoting collaborative work environment in Parliament.

Mr Bagbin cited the examples of the Appointments Committee and the Public Accounts Committee, which were the two that currently mostly offered public live coverage.

The Speaker also shared Ghana’s experience regarding the role of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker as a Member of Parliament vis a vis voting on issues before the House and how that had played out in recent times.

Mr Timms said the select committees of the UK Parliament were mandated to undertake enquiries on issues of policy within the various government departments that the committees were expected to have oversight responsibility for.

“Beyond the government departments, the powers of the select committees clothe them with the authority to demand information and other documentation even from individuals outside the government.

“Since the tenure of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister, the media had always had free access to the proceedings of the UK Parliament’s Select Committees and chairing the various select committees in the UK was determined by the composition of the House,” Mr Timms intimated.

He underscored that the percentage of Members of Parliament (MPs) that a political party had in the House determined the number of select committees that representatives of that political party could chair.

As a result, Mr Timms explained, both members of the majority and minority couldchair select committees, which was determined by simple majority vote of members of the committee on eligible candidates.


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