The new Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has pledged to provide opportunities for all members of Parliament to contribute to proceedings on the floor of the house.
In his acceptance speech as the Speaker of the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic, Prof Oquaye said, he intends to be fair to all during his tenure.
“It is a unique opportunity to serve our dear nation. I look forward to maximizing the opportunities for every member to contribute. I trust the experienced ones will mentor the up-coming. Those who sit in front should please learn to look behind them to allow others to contribute and remember that whereas they cannot normally see from the back of their heads, I have been placed on this platform so that everyone can catch my eye. I intend to be fair to all and therefore seek your understanding in advance.”
While encouraging new Members of Parliament to be vocal and get involved in Parliamentary business, he said he will work with the leadership of the House to devise means of encouraging new MPs to contribute to discussions on the floor.
“I need to remind the new MPs that the highly procedural nature of Parliament calls for an equally high level of commitment to the rules and procedures of the institution. Serious learning will therefore have to be undertaken to sharpen your competencies in order to function optimally,” he added.
He called on all parliamentarians to work hard to uphold and defend the constitution of the country and work in the interest of all Ghanaians.
Rt. Hon Mike Oquaye described as “tragic”, the inability of Members of Parliament to initiate legislation independent of the Executive.
He called for a change in the practice, adding that it was an archaic one from the UK Parliament.
“The principle was that, the Commons would not give to the King/Queen, monies that the Crown had not asked for. But over the years, the British Parliament has developed means of allowing private members to introduce legislation. Recent studies I have made show that, there are a number of procedures whereby Private Members may initiate bills. Certainly, the Executive cannot sit aside while Parliament alone passes laws which impose obligations which the Executive cannot meet. We shall broaden our horizon in the lawmaking process to benefit our people.”
On boycotts and walkouts, he said he was hopeful the House will develop “systems of accommodation, tolerance and openness that will minimize this practice to the barest minimum.”
Rt. Hon Oquaye further bemoaned the low representation of women in Parliament, saying there was a need for a study of the factors accounting for the problem, and find ways of addressing it.
He further mentioned that, the house needed a New Chamber, a good library among other things, to enable it further carry out its duties effectively.