Only plenary has mandate to determine fate of 3 MPs – Speaker

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has ruled that only the plenary of the House has the mandate to determine the fate of embattled Dome-Kwabenya lawmaker, Sara Adwoa Safo, Assin Central Member, Kennedy Agyapong and Ayawaso Central legislator, Henry Quartey. 

According to the Speaker, the report of the Committee on Privileges, like all other committees of the House, should be subjected to the scrutiny of the plenary. 

“The Committee of Privileges is a Committee of Parliament constituted pursuant to Article 103 of the Constitution. As a Committee of Parliament, the way in which the committee conducts its business is regulated by the Standing Orders of the House   

“Our orders specifically require that the recommendations of a committee must be subject to the consideration of the House and that plenary plays an important role in choosing to adopt or reject the recommendations. 

“The rationale for this structure is that committees of Parliament are microcosms and extension of the House as a whole; they are handmaidens whose core constitutional function is to assist Parliament,” Mr Bagbin ruled. 

He has by this decision, directed the Table Office to re-programme the report for same to be debated by the House and a decision taken on the trio. 

Mr Bagbin had to, on July 28, 2022, deferred a ruling on whether or not the report of the Privileges Committee should be subjected to the scrutiny of the plenary. 

It followed a preliminary objection raised by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, to the motion for the adoption of the committee’s report on the three absentee MPs. 

“The Privileges Committee has presented its report and, in my considered opinion, based on the Constitution and not sentiments, is that, there should be that automaticity, one the makes a determination. I disagree that the decision should be taken by the House,” the Majority Leader argued. 

In his view, the provisions of Article 97(1)(c) that a Member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament if he is absent, without the permission in writing of the Speaker and is ”unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges” gives the Committee the ultimate say on whether or not a seat is declared vacant or not. 

The Speaker in his ruling admitted that there were exceptions to this rule in Articles 106(3) and 177 of the 1992 Constitution as argued by the Majority Leader, and that though most parliamentary decisions were made by the House, acting on the recommendations of its committees, “it does not follow that all decisions in Parliament must be done that way.” 

He said “where the Constitution itself specifies a particular process for deciding, then it is that process that must be followed. This is because general things do not derogate from special things.

“However, in contrast with these instances, there is nothing expressly stated or necessarily implied in Article 97(1)(c) to the effect that the conclusion of the work of the Committee of Privileges also concludes the matter and no action may be taken by the House on the findings and recommendations of the committee.” 

He continued: “The House is well within its rights to receive and consider the report of the committee and make a determination arising out of the recommendations.

“In this circumstance, it is my ruling that, the motion was rightfully admitted and the report of the committee is subject to the consideration of the House. It goes without saying that the preliminary objection by the Majority Leader to the admissibility of the motion for consideration of the report of the committee, is hereby dismissed in limine.” 

The Committee was divided on the Dome-Kwabenya MP but reached a consensus on the reasons given by Mr Agyapong and Mr Quartey for absenting themselves for more than 15 sittings in a meeting as “reasonable.”

The responsibility of those justifications, the Speaker said would also be subjected to scrutiny.   

Whiles the Majority wanted the Dome-Kwabenya seat declared vacant automatically, the Minority wants that decision to be taken by the plenary. 


Show More
Back to top button