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16.10.2008 General News

Parliament argues over adjournment of proceedings… For lack of quorum

By Linda Akrasi Kotey - Ghanaian Chronicle

Parliament was yesterday thrown into a state of controversy when both sides of the house argued over whether the business of the house should still go on with the number of members in the chamber.

The Deputy Minority leader, Doe Adjaho, who raised an objection on the issue that the business of the house could not proceed because the house did not have the needed quorum as stipulated in the standing orders.

He argued that according to the items before the house, it was important that members of the house make an input into the fine tuning of the legislations, so that it would not raise unnecessary questions in future.

He explained that the business of the house was allowed to take place in previous times despite the low numbers, because nobody raised the question of a quorum, but today it has been raised and as such they have to look at it and suspend sitting till the house gets a reasonable number of people.

The Deputy leader noted that the members of the committee as well as the ranking members were not present in the house, as a result of the filing of the nominations, as a result it was important for the house to push the business to next week.

However, the Majority chief whip, Okerchire Adusa, told the house that although the leadership knew that members would be out of town to file their nominations, they came to a conclusion that business of the house should go on.

He argued that during consideration stages of bills, members do not take interest in contributing to it, and as such even when the number of members available for the business is little, the house could still proceed.

He added that in other civilised jurisdictions, such instances do occur, as such the case in Ghana is not different, and so he called on members to ignore the number of members present and instead proceed with the business of the house.

The flagbearer of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, who sided with the minority, said the National Pension Reform Bill is not any ordinary bill, and as such it is important that the house operates with a quorum.

He insisted that proceedings be adjourned to allow the house get a reasonable number of members, because it is one of the most important bills that the country should look at and implement accordingly.

The MP for New Juaben North, Hackman Owusu Agyeman, said the house had on several occasions conducted business without a quorum, although the standing orders gives members the right to raise it. He asked that the minority should be flexible in the conduct of the business of the house.

The Speaker, in his ruling asked that in view of the critical reasons raised, the house should be adjourned till the next morning.