The Leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament says it wants equality in the allocation of the Chairmanship of Committees of the House in the 8th Parliament.
Leader of the group in parliament and MP for Tamale Central, Haruna Iddrisu, told journalists at a press conference in parliament today that they are demanding for eight out of the 16 select committees, as well as representations on the Standing Committees.
He said that article 103(5) of the 1992 constitution and Order 154 of the Standing Orders of Parliament provides that “The composition of the committees shall as much, reflect the different shades of opinions in Parliament” and so this must be made to reflect in the composition of the committees for the current parliament.
He is of the view that in view of the fact that both sides of the House have equal number of MPs, the composition of the committees including the selection of the leaders should reflect the numbers and strength of both sides.
We explain below the committee system in Parliament and its functions.
Parliament has two major committees namely the Standing committee and Select Committee. In addition to these committees, parliament may by motion appoint ad-hoc committees to consider matters that do not directly fall under the functions of the two major committees.
Currently, there are 11 committees that constitute the Standing committees and 16 committees that make up the Select committee.
The functions of all these committees are to adjudicate on bills, resolutions, and other matters that are referred to them by the Speaker or others.
The constitution and Parliamentary Standing Orders have prescribed the composition of some of the Committees while others have been left for the Parliamentarians to decide for themselves.
According to Haruna Iddrisu, on the matter of the Standing Committee which is made up of 11 committees in all aside the Seven committees whose leadership composition have been pre-determined by the standing orders, the composition of the remaining four have not been pre-determined hence their counterpart in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) should take note and act accordingly.
“Similarly, the leadership of the 16 Select-Committees are not pre-determined by the Standing Orders.
The NDC Caucus shall therefore insist that in line with Order 154 of the Standing Orders of
Parliament and article 103 (5) of the 1992 Constitution, the composition of committees should
reflect the nature and character of this very 8th Parliament.
“The practice of making one side of the House chair all Select Committees is no longer tenable in the current dispensation.
“Given the current numbers, there must be strict sharing of the leadership of the Select Committees by the two sides of the House.
“Out of the 16 Select Committees, the NDC should chair 8 while the NPP would also chair 8.
“This would be a true reflection of the different shades of opinion in the current Parliament as envisaged in the 1992 Constitution under article 103 (5) and Order 154 of the Standing Orders of the House,” he stated.
He added that in order for the composition of the committees to reflect the different shades of opinion in Parliament, the leadership of both Sides should endeavour to nominate qualified persons to serve on the committees while considering gender, age distribution, experience, regional balance, among other factors.
Touching on the issue of which Side the NDC will sit when the house reconvenes on Friday especially in the absence of a clear majority and minority Iddrisu said that the NDC does not have any issue sitting at the left-hand side of the speaker and that their opponents should respect their strength when it comes to doing business in the house.
The leader also touched on the review of the Standing Orders of Parliament and said that though the 7th parliament started the process and could not finish, the 8th parliament should work hard to finish work on the reviewing of the Standing Orders to solve some of the issues confronting the 8th parliament and subsequent parliaments that would also have the characteristics of the 8th parliament.