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MPs can`t rely on Service Personnel… As research assistants


Alban Bagbin

Alban Bagbin

THE Majority leader in parliament, Mr. Alban Bagbin, has recommended that Members of Parliament should move beyond relying on national service personnel to well seasoned and well informed resource persons as research assistants.

According to him, the research assistants who have been assigned to MPs can only do some basic collection of data but not research into laws or bills because the assistants themselves lack that capacity.

Hon. Alban Bagbin, who was speaking to a motion on the second reading of the interpretation bill, regretted that the capacity of the house in terms of technical support is very weak, as such the leadership is working strongly to strengthen it. He reiterated that the house is enjoined to debate the principles and the policy behind the bill, as contained in article 106 (2) (a) of the constitution.

He said as a house, they have on several occasions drawn the attention of the promoters of bills to the scrappy nature of various memoranda, which has compelled some members of the house to call for its rejection. They however took the position that since it is the house that makes laws, and not any other person, they can change from the first word to the last word of any draft law that is presented to the house.

The majority leader hinted that they are also establishing a department for drafting and legal services that can help the house to do a more comprehensive research on bills that are presented to parliament.

Hon. Bagbin said they are working on the bill so that as a house, if they are able to pass it into law, they would also be called to amend the parliamentary service act so that they can establish a department to resource them with the requisite personnel to support them.

He said some members would have difficulty in standing to the test that is being proclaimed by using language that is clear, unambiguous and simple because language is a tool that is used in various communities to mean various things. “So, to impose that standard on the house might be asking for too much”.

He said parliament everywhere in the world is a reflection of the society in which those parliaments exist, as such the diverse interest of the country has to be represented in the house.

The Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddirisu, in his submission said there is always one challenge to lawyers and judges in the interpretation of words, either the word is plain or is ambiguous and without clarity. This, he said, is because nobody can go into the mind of a person to know what the person intends to mean when a person constructs a word.

Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Ambrose Dery on his part said what the house says today would also guide the court in their application, as such the judges should see the Act as an aid and not a comprehensive manual that should be used to the exclusion of the supreme law of the state.

He stated that although it would serve as a guide, whatever is being considered must be subordinate to these provisions and also the Act should be an aid and not a limiting factor because there should be a certain level of judicial activism.

MP for Adansi Asokwa, K. T. Hammond, for his part said bills crafted from the house should be looked at critically, so that there is no ambiguity and the courts would be properly guided in the discharge of their duties.

Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, stated that in the use of any ambiguous language, one has to be clear and also to establish beyond dispute the intent behind any bill. “The rules of procedure in the house clearly establish that in considering bills, we should be minded of the explanatory memorandum”, he said.

He stated that order 127 provides that “when a motion on a bill is moved for the second time, a full debate shall arise on the principle of the bill and on the basis of the explanatory memorandum and the report of the committee”.

According to him, most often the house does not insist on the provisions of order 127 which explains why they don’t have indepth knowledge on some bills, as a result, from now onwards, they should insist on a clear direction so that at the end of it, the obvious intent of legislation would be able to affect the final act. “We should agree to be more diligent, more scrupulous when it comes to debating bills”.


Source: modernghana

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