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The functions, powers and limitations of the National Assembly under the 1957 independent constitution of Ghana

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THE FUNCTIONS, POWERS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY UNDER THE 1957 INDEPENDENT CONSTITUTION OF GHANA
Introduction                                                                                                                                              The constitution made provision for the establishment of a bicameral legislature and it was referred to as the National Assembly. It had a membership of 104 excluding the Governor-General.

FUNCTIONS AND POWERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Law-making
One of the major functions of the National Assembly under the 1957 constitution of Ghana was to pass laws for the administration of the newly independent nation. This was usually after the issues were duly discussed in the Assembly.

Approval of annual budget
Another major function of the National Assembly was to approve the annual budget, which was usually prepared by the Executive arm of government. The budget contained the details of how the government intended to raise funds and how it intended to spend that money in the following year.

Forum for discussion
All matters of national importance were discussed in the National Assembly. In that sense, therefore, one of the functions of the National Assembly was to discuss matters of national importance that were affecting the nation or may affect the nation, either positively or negatively.

Link between the leaders and the electorates
Members of the National Assembly were elected from the various constituencies, therefore, they served the dual purpose of carrying the concerns of the people to the government and bringing important information from the government to the electorates.

Supervises the Executive
Under the 1957 independent constitution of Ghana, the members of the Executive were collectively responsible to the National Assembly. For example, the National Assembly could question the actions of the Executive if in its opinion, it violated certain rules of engagement.

Power to remove the Executive
Under the constitution, the National Assembly had the powers to get rid of the executive. This was mainly achieved through the exercise of the vote of no confidence in the Executive. Whenever this happened the Executive resigned collectively.

Power to amend the constitution
The National Assembly was empowered to amend certain portions of the constitution, that is, the ordinary provisions of the constitution. The National Assembly could amend such ordinary provisions with a simple majority of members present in the house.

LIMITATIONS
Constitutional Limitations
The National Assembly was guided by the provisions of the constitution. For this simple reason, the National Assembly could never go beyond the powers that were granted to it under the constitution. The powers of the National Assembly were therefore, limited by the constitution.

Judicial limitations
Another limitation to the powers of the National Assembly was that their laws could be reviewed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain. This was especially so if the law passed was in contravention of the provisions of the constitution.

Initiation of Bills
In most cases, the National Assembly was not the entity that initiated bills in the National Assembly. Most of the bills were initiated by the Executive and this rendered the National Assembly less in control of its law-making powers.

Supremacy of the National Assembly
The National Assembly could not be described as supreme like that of the British Parliament on which it was modeled. This was because of the existence of the Regional Assemblies in the various regions at the time. These Assemblies also had some locus in law-making within the jurisdictions allowed them.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS

1. What were the powers, functions and limitations of the National Assembly under the 1957 independent constitution of Ghana.

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