Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, has subjected Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin’s official statement on the rejection or rescission of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government to scrutiny.
Bagbin on December 16, as part of his speech, said, the precedents and the practices and conventions of the House, require that the issue of quorum be only raised on the Floor.
“When the matter is not raised on the floor, the only prima facie indication of the number of Members present is in the record of the Votes and Proceedings of the House,” he said.
He added, “On the 20th of June 2002, the sitting of the House was suspended after an objection was raised by Hon. Kwakye Addo, MP for Afram Plains South for the absence of a quorum to commence public business. The Rt. Hon. Peter Ala-Adjetey began the process of adjourning the House until his attention was drawn to the fact that Members had begun to fill the chamber. It is important to reiterate the comments of the then Majority Leader, Hon. Paapa Owusu-Ankomah who cautioned that the issue of quorum be looked at since members could be in attendance at Committee sittings, and be conducting Parliamentary business, but not present on the Floor of the House and thus, not counted for the purpose of forming a quorum. Hon. Paapa Owusu-Ankomah’s premise is viewed on a point of law. The issue of quorum is on members present in Parliament and not on the floor or in the Chamber of Parliament. Refer to Articles 102, 104, etc.”
This, Kweku Baako stated on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Morning Show that, the statement by Alban Bagbin was factual but upon looking through the Parliamentary Hansard for the said date, it did not refer to the votes and proceedings as being claimed by Alban Bagbin.
“They did not even count the number. What they did or the procedure that was adopted was Standing Order 48(2) – where a bell rings and after 10 minutes if you still do not have a quorum you proceed – so they apply the issue of time which is allowed,” he explained.
Kweku Baako proceeded in reading Alban Bagbin’s statement where he [Bagbin] said, “Similarly, on the 22nd of February 2014, this House stood adjourned when the issue lack of quorum was raised by Hon. Afenyo-Markin.”
Unfortunately, Baako said, “there was no Parliamentary sitting on this day.”
“Again, on the 9th of November 2018, it was Hon. K.T Hammond who raised the issue of lack of quorum in the House during the consideration of the RTI Bill,” Bagbin’s statement read.
Kweku Baako responded that, the Parliamentary Hansard which is available to him with the date 9th November, 2018, “has nothing like that in it.”
“On 20th November 2019, Rt. Hon. Speaker Prof. Ocquaye suspended sitting after the Hon. Mahama Ayariga indicated that the House did not have the numbers to continue the debate on the 2020 Budget. Again, in this instance, the issue of quorum was raised by a member during the proceedings,” Bagbin’s statement read further.
This, Baako noted that, on 20th November, 2019, Parliamentary Hansard, “I cannot find Ayariga raising the issue of quorum, it’s not there.”
In all these, Kweku Baako stated that he will not blame the Speaker of Parliament for those errors but rather his research team which did not help him with factual statements.
Kweku Baako proceeded with to subject three instances where Alban Bagbin stated that walkouts and boycotts have been deployed and the business of the House has continued despite the walkouts.
“On August 22, 2003, the Minority staged a boycott of the House in protest against the NHIA Bill. Business of the House continued despite boycott. The total number of majority members used to justify a quorum was the number 101, recorded on the Votes and proceedings of the day and not the number on the floor.
“August 22, 2003, Hansard, there is no evidence of Minority walking out on that particular day,” Baako said.
Bagbin said, “On the 23rd of February 2005, the Minority staged a walkout of the House because of the consideration of the Customs & Excise Petroleum Taxes Bill. Despite the walkout, proceedings continued and the quorum relied upon was the number of members recorded on the Votes and Proceedings as present, including names of the minority who had all walked out.
“It is true that on the day, Minority walked out but his reference to votes and proceedings on that day is incorrect,” Baako stressed.
“On the 19th November 2014, the Minority staged another walkout of chamber because of the Bill on the introduction of 17.5% Special Petroleum Tax levy. Again, despite the walkout, Votes and proceedings recorded 274 members present which was more than half of all members to take decisions of the day,” Bagbin said.
But Baako noted that, the votes and proceedings recorded 247 and not 274, so he suspects are.knustnews.com