Parliament would like to assure all Ghanaians that the House places a very high premium on consensus building. Indeed, most of the work of Parliament is based on the two sides of the House finding common ground on most issues and occasions where antagonism wins the day are exceptions rather than the rule.
In Parliament, the maxim is that members agree to disagree and arguments in the House could sometimes be not only vociferous but also forceful.
It would be recalled that the Rt. Hon Speaker, on Saturday April 04, 2020 suspended proceedings indefinitely amidst some level of misunderstanding and acrimony in the House and it is therefore important that the public understands the underpinnings of the events that unfolded.
Ordinarily, to end a Meeting, the Speaker would adjourn the House to an undetermined date or to a date not more than fourteen days from the date of such adjournment under which circumstances, a recall of the House would require a fourteen-day notice by the Clerk as authorized by the Speaker. Such a notice will draw Members’ attention to the Constitutional Instrument summoning Parliament as provided for in Order 32 of the Standing Orders of the House.
On this particular occasion, there were two options opened to the Speaker; either to adjourn the House sine die as per Order 32 of the Standing Orders of the House or to suspend the House indefinitely, in which case the House can be recalled at the earliest convenience without the recourse to the mandatory Constitutional and Standing Order requirements. The Speaker chose to suspend the House indefinitely to avoid the structures of formalities in as per Order 42 where the Speaker would have to consult the House through the leadership of the House before recalling the House.
Moreover, the provisions in Order 42 are in particular reference to a day’s Sitting and not for the adjournment of an entire Meeting and recourse to that particular Order therefore does not provide the needed remedy in the present matter.
This was to give the Speaker the freedom to recall the House at the shortest notice, should an urgent need arise for Parliament to contribute in any form to an emergency, in this case, the fight against the corona virus. This point becomes even more poignant as a result of the fact that not being in normal times, the House could be recalled at any time and it is important that both sides of the House find common ground to bring resolution to the many issues that plague our country.
What the Speaker did was in recognition of the fact that the whole nation is in a general state of emergency and so it is only prudent that the House acts in a manner that will bring utmost benefit to the welfare of the nation.