MPs BOYCOTT PARLIAMENT
By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
More than two-thirds of the Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday boycotted the sitting of the August House to supervise the exhibition of the Biometric Voters Register (BVR) in their various constituencies. The actions of the MPs made the Speaker suspend sitting for an hour.
When the Speaker entered the House for normal business to start around 10:36 a.m., only sixteen MPs out of the 230 were present. Out of the sixteen members, twelve were from the majority side, while the remaining four were from the minority side of the House.
With this low turn-out, the First Deputy Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, who presided over the sitting, was left with no option than to suspend it for an hour, to enable the House constitute a quorum before proceeding with the business of the day.
His action was legally supported by Order 42(1) of the Standing Orders of the House, which states: “Mr. Speaker may, at any time, suspend sitting of the House.”
Per the dictates of Order 48(1) of the Standing Orders of the House and Article 102 of the Constitution, the House needed one-third of all the Members of Parliament, apart from the one presiding, to form a quorum.
Order 48(1) of the Standing Orders of the House states; “The presence of at least one-third of all Members of Parliament, besides the person presiding, shall be necessary to constitute a quorum of the House.”
Article 102 of the Constitution, which reinforces the provision of a quorum in the House, also states: “A quorum of Parliament, apart from the person presiding, shall be one-third of all the Members of Parliament.”
Checks by the paper to find out the whereabouts of the absentee MPs revealed that they were busily supervising the exhibition exercise of the BVR in their various constituencies.
Earlier on Friday, before the adjournment of the House, some MPs, notably from the minority side, pleaded with the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo, to grant them leave of absence on Monday to enable them supervise the exhibition exercise of the BVR, while also attending to some pertinent issues in their various constituencies.
The request was not granted, but the Speaker made things flexible for members by urging all those who could attend the sitting of the House on Monday to do so if time permitted them.
The House, had on September 3, 2012, reconvened for an emergency sitting to consider the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument, 2012 (C.I.78) and other matters, having gone on recess on August 16, 2012.
On return from suspension at 11:40 a.m., the number had increased from sixteen to thirty-six, which was still not enough to form a quorum.
However, the Speaker allowed the sitting to proceed, having no objection on the quorum, as raised by any member on the floor of the House.
Order 48 (2) of the Standing Orders of the House states that; “If at the time of sitting, a Member takes notice or objection 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 ten minutes, a quorum is not present, the person presiding shall adjourn the House without question until the next sitting day.”
The House at the sitting considered the National Health Insurance Bill 2012, which was at the Consideration Stage.
PIX: Scene from the House yesterday – Some Members of Parliament doing business after the suspension of the House by the Speaker.
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