Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

SPEAKER OF Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has said it is “unconstitutional, illegal and offensive” for the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Wusu to overturn his rulings in the House.

According to him, although the Standing Orders of Parliament are silent on this, “Many Standing Orders and Rules on several sister parliaments provide persuasive rules, which suggest that when Deputy Speakers or other Speakers are in the chair, whatever happens in the House is that officers’ responsibilities and the Speaker cannot be called upon to overrule it.”

Mr. Osei-Wusu aka Joe Wise on Tuesday upheld an objection to a motion by some Minority Members of Parliament to constitute a bi-partisan parliamentary committee to be chaired by a member of the Minority Caucus to enquire into the expenditures made by Ghana Government in relation to COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

He dismissed the motion, asserting, “My view is that this motion ought not to have been admitted, and it is improperly before the House. I so rule.”

But Mr. Osei-Wusu’s overruling of the motion did not go well with Speaker Bagbin, who had admitted it and got it advertised on the ‘Order Paper’, intimating that “the penchant of the First Deputy Speaker to overrule my rulings is, to say the least, unconstitutional, illegal and offensive.”

Delivering his former communication in the House yesterday, Speaker Bagbin took a swipe at his deputy and said his deputy has no right to upend his admission of the motion and “ruled that the motion should not have been admitted in the first place.”

“It is interesting to note that this is the second time the First Deputy Speaker has taken the chair and made a ruling which in effect was to over-rule a position I had earlier on established for the House.”

“In fact the First Deputy Speaker was at my office and what I am telling you today I told him before he left to the airport,” Mr. Bagbin stated.

He said the First Deputy Speaker had contended and rightfully so, on several occasions, that “he is not the Speaker. I have also on several occasions alluded to various areas of  parliamentary practice where when the Speaker is in the chair and makes a ruling, another presiding officer may not overturn that ruling.”

Quoting his former statement on the matters arising from the budget, the Speaker said, “Similarly, the reverse is also the case that when the Speaker is in the chair, whatever happens in the House is the Speaker’s responsibility, and the Deputy Speaker or acting Speaker cannot be called upon to overrule it.”

“Be that as it may, I shall not take any steps to overrule the decision of the First Deputy Speaker to dismiss the motion as moved by the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee,” the Speaker posited.

He indicated that he and his two deputies would deliberate on how to present a “more coherent and uniform structure in respect of rulings” so that the House is guided at all times during deliberations.

“Our Standing Orders provide the procedure for challenging the rulings of the chair and those aggrieved by the rulings may take the necessary steps. The proposers of the private members’ motion may thus be guided by the Standing Orders of the House to write the wrong,” he concluded.

By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House

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