MPs To Be Locked Out After 10am
-Speaker Proposes New Measures To Curb Lateness
From 2024, which marks the last year of the 8th Parliament, Members of Parliament (MPs) are expected to be in the Chamber by 10:00 AM on each sitting day.
According to the Speaker, any lawmaker who arrives after 10AM will be locked out until such a time he orders for the doors to be reopened.
Alternatively, the Speaker has suggested that sitting can also start in the afternoon at 2:00PM, which may appear more convenient for most MPs.
It is expected that this second option will allow committees to hold meetings in the morning and have their reports ready for consideration in the afternoon.
“At 10 am, the doors will be locked. The Speaker will be in and it will take some time before the doors will be opened. Not that they won’t be opened but it will take some time. And so if you are not able to comply with it, let us all agree that we will start sitting in the afternoon, from 2 p.m. or 4 p.m.; the Committees will have their meetings in the morning; reports will be ready for us to consider in the afternoon; and then by the time we adjourn around 8 p.m., the traffic situation will have improved,” the Speaker said.
On Friday, December 8, when Mr. Bagbin made the suggestion, he tasked the two sides of the House to deliberate on it and make their views known.
The MPs were informed that in the event that they fail to reach an agreement, the aforementioned proposals would be implemented from next year.
Mr. Bagbin acknowledged the difficulty of attending early sessions.
He said, “Your coming to Parliament too will not be that early, so you can decide to leave at noon and by that time, there would have been less traffic and you won’t consume more fuel and then you can come in. I can see that it is not easy for members to report that early for sitting, so the two Caucuses either have joint Caucus meetings or, at your level, discuss these things and come back with proposals. If not, these are the measures that I want to put in place which will take effect from our next meeting.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Africa Center for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), Dr. Rasheed Draman, has applauded the Speaker’s proposal.
Speaking on Citi FM, Dr. Draman said that the implementation of the proposal will help stop lateness and absenteeism.
“We are not only dealing with MPs showing up late; we are dealing with the Chamber being empty over and over again and the Speaker after making attempts to deal with this issue has failed and so it is very welcoming to hear the Speaker say that at the beginning of the next meeting, the Chamber will be locked.
“This is very long overdue, and some of us have proposed in the past and some MPs have picked an issue with our proposal that we should try and do what other countries do, take a realistic approach and try and put in measures that could be very biting when it comes to absenteeism and we were proposing that as it happens in other places, if you don’t show up, some of your salary is taken away in place to stop the lateness,” he said.
Dr. Draman added that the closure of the entry points to the Chamber would be a more viable solution to the absenteeism than hauling people before the Privileges Committee, which has done little to curb the situation.
“We have had people brought before the Privileges Committee for absenting themselves for more than some days mandated by the law and that has happened a couple of times and that has not changed the behaviour which has been very consistent even during most important occasions like the period when they have to pass the budget,” he pointed out.