The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has explained that he does not lose his status as a Member of Parliament whenever he presides over proceedings in the House.
He said that is the privilege the two deputy speakers have over a substantive Speaker of Parliament.
He observed that referring to him as ‘Mr Speaker’ during deliberations anytime he is chairing does not make him the Speaker of Parliament to lose all privileges as MP for Bekwai Constituency.
“We call the person ‘Mr Speaker’ [and] that is the term adopted by the House to refer to the person presiding,” he explained in an exclusive interview with Media General‘s Evelyn Tengmaa on Thursday, December 16.
“But ‘The Speaker’ is the Speaker created by the constitution in Article 95. The Speaker is different from the deputy speakers. The Speaker is not a Member of Parliament, so you can never count him when you are counting members of Parliament.
“The deputy speakers are, in fact, members of Parliament.”
He said proceedings in the past couple of weeks the Right Honourable Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has been away, he has been captured as an MP as well as Speaker.
“So, you see the vote and proceedings, at the end of it signed there – Joseph Osei-Owusu [as] First Deputy Speaker but then you go to members present and members absent and Joseph Osei-Owusu is also there because Joseph Osei-Owusu is a member of Parliament.
“The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, is not a Member of Parliament. If he presides, it will be there, Rt Hon Speaker ASK Bagbin but when you go to members present or absent with permission, his name will not be there. That’s the difference between the two of us.”
This comes in the wake of confusion over the legality behind recent proceedings in Parliament.
Speaker Bagbin on Friday, November 26 presided over the loss of Minister of Finance’s motion on the 2022 budget statement and government’s economic policy.
This took place in a House of 137 Minority MPs.
The Majority later described the exercise as illegal, insisting the Speaker, who left the country just a day after the vote, committed a wrong.
“We want to put it on record that the Speaker was totally wrong in what business he purportedly undertook in the House in our absence,” the Leader of the Majority MPs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said.
But when he returned from his medical review, Speaker Bagbin insinuated that his first deputy had erred in counting himself on Tuesday, November 30 to quorate the House in adopting the Finance Minister’s motion.
“As to whether a vice president can preside over a cabinet which had earlier on taken a decision on a subject matter presided over by the President and without consulting the president to rescind the decision earlier taken, is for your kind debate as instructed but who am I to say my deputy, the First Deputy Speaker, the Honourable member for Bekwai Constituency, Honourable Joseph Osei-Owusu, Joewise, he might have indulged in an act of misconduct tantamount to insubordination?” he sought.
But Joewise, as the First Deputy Speaker is affectionately called, insists: “When I preside, I lose my vote. I can’t vote but it doesn’t mean I am not a Member present.
“There is no way our proceedings will be correct if I am not marked present.”
By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana