Parliament adjourns prematurely for lack of quorum

Parliament yesterday adjourned sitting prematurely because it could not form a quorum. 

Per Article 102 of the 1992 Constitution as replicated in Standing Order 48(1) “A quorum of Parliament, apart from the person presiding, shall be one-third of all the members of Parliament.”

By this, at least 92 of the 275-member House would be required to form a quorum for any business to be done. 

The Standing Order continues in 48(2) that “If at any time during a Sitting of the House a Member draws attention to the fact that there are present in the House, besides the person presiding, less than one-third of the number of all the Members of Parliament, and after an interval of 10 minutes a quorum is not present, the person presiding shall suspend the Sitting of the House for a period not exceeding one hour….” 

Fortified by this provision, NDC Member for Adaklu, Governs Kwame Agbodza, right after the correction of votes and proceedings of Tuesday, moved that the House be suspended because there was no quorum. 

But Deputy Majority Leader and NPP Member for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, wanted proceedings to continue because “Parliament is a master of its own rules.” 

The Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew AmoakoAsiamah, after listening to the arguments suspended sitting in line with the provisions of the Standing Order. 

Despite persistent ringing of the bell to call Members from their offices during the recess, the House reconvened after an hour but still could not form a quorum. 

Unbending in his insistence for a quorum before the House proceeded, Mr Agbodza said it was time the House respected rules it set for itself and asked that Speaker adjourned the House.

“Since Parliament resumed (on October 26, 2021), we have never formed a quorum at the start, yet we continued to work in co-operation but today, Mr Speaker, (we can’t continue). The world is looking at us,” he argued. 

But Afenyo-Markin wanted his colleague on the opposite side to “look at quorum in context” and not ambush the House. 

“A House which is a master of its rules and acts in the interest of the nation, where we know Members can be unavoidably absent in the chamber but will be carrying out Parliamentary business….if we assume quorum to be (being in the chamber), then we will be ambushing our own bonfides as Members of Parliament in this chamber,” he posited. 

The Deputy Majority Leader explained that for instance, the Finance, Defence and Interior, Subsidiary Legislation and Finance Committees were on Parliamentary business in and outside the precincts of Parliament and same must be taken into consideration. 

After conferring with his colleague Deputy Minority Leader and NDC MP for Ketu North, James KlutseAvedzi, for about 10 minutes out of the Chamber, the duo returned and agreed that Speaker adjourned the House. 

Urging that Members took the sittings of the House seriously, the Second Deputy Speaker said the House was embarrassed because Ghanaians were watching.

“We deliberately suspended the House for one hour just to make sure we get the numbers, yet we could not make up the numbers. I have counted and counted and counted but we still don’t have the numbers. Please, let us advise ourselves,” he entreated as he adjourned the House. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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