Liam Byrne (MP), Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Inclusive Growth and a member of the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee, has congratulated Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Speaker of Parliament, for his lead role in setting up the Parliamentary Network on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Africa.
He was impressed with the patronage and interest in the network that the speaker has been able to generate among Members of Parliament on the continent and the strides that the network has made so far in countries where it has been set up.
The British MP was speaking at a meeting with the parliamentary delegation from Ghana to Westminster in London, led by Mr. Bagbin. With Byrne at the meeting was Dame Caroline Dinenage (DBE MP), former Minister of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The meeting focused on ministerial obligations and parliamentary scrutiny.
Byrne also told the speaker that: “I am proud of your role in the current difficult situation of a hung parliament in Ghana, and your efforts at maximising the power and authority of Parliament”. He referred to the conflicts in the Legislature that the speaker has had to manage, and his endeavours at promoting collaboration and consensus building, indicating that they deserved commendation.
He pointed out that one of the best ways for parliament to hold ministers accountable is through the Ministers’ Question Time on the Floor of the House. He described the concept of Urgent Questions as one of the most innovative interventions in parliamentary democracy in the last decade.
He had some advice for ministers of state who inevitably will have to respond to questions from Members of Parliament: they must develop the capacity to anticipate when they could be invited to the House to field questions from Members of Parliament and pre-empt these with statements on the vexed issues which provide some steer on how they are being managed.
Hon. Dinenage said the conundrum of Members of Parliament juggling two roles – that is the addition of ministerial appointment to the job of the MP – is real. Success in this case depends largely on one’s ability to assemble a strong team for the constituency work and an equally strong team for the ministerial job.
The Speaker of Parliament said the dual role of MPs who are also ministers is a challenging one. Developing policies and other instruments for parliament to approve, and then sitting in as an MP to scrutinize, approve it, and then exercise oversight responsibility for how it is implemented could be puzzling.
Yet, he said, the role of Members of Parliament as leaders is also to provide hope and optimism for the majority of the population. Consequently, MPs must not be seen complaining about situations in which they find themselves, else it will generate despondency among the populace. This is in spite of the fact that current uncertainties within the political domain have had adverse effects on the work of the MP.
With the speaker at the meeting, include the Clerk to Parliament, Mr. Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah; the Assistant Clerk, Mr. Ebenezer Djietror; Legal Counsel to the Speaker, Hon. Magnus Kofi Amoatey; the Director of Communication, Mr. Gayheart Mensah; and the Deputy Director of Parliamentary Relations, Mr. Charles Dery Tenzagh.