The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Discussion on Bill leading to autonomy of Parliament begins, MPs' pay decided by independent board

Monday, 11 January 2016, 20:03 Last update: about 7 years ago

Parliament has started to debate a Bill that will lead to Parliament gaining autonomy from the government.

The Bill was presented by the Leader of the House Louis Grech and seconded by Opposition Whip David Agius.

Mr Louis Grech explained that the proposed legislation will lead to more modern and democratic parliamentary set up.

The Speaker's and MPs pay will be decided by an independent board.

Parliament will be given its own budget, resources and structures to allow it to function more autonomously from the government.

An Administrative Board will be established to provide assistance to the Speaker and the Clerk of the House, with the latter being given a stronger legal position.

Funds will be given to Parliament in the same way that they are given to the Ombudsman and Auditor General, Mr Grech said.

He stated that workers who are transferred from the civil service to Parliament will not see a deteriorating in their working conditions.

Mr Grech said that under the proposed legislation, the Speaker of the House will serve as the Acting President if there was no agreement on who would fulfill the role.

The current system which sees the Chief Justice assuming the role blurred the distinction between the legislative and judicial branches of the state, Mr Grech said. 

PN deputy leader for Parliamentary Affairs Mario de Marco emphasised the importance of Parliament in scrutinising the government of the day.

He said that MPs, particularly those in Opposition, should be given more resources in order to better carry out their role and prepare for the scrutiny of complex legislation.

He hit out at the Labour government for not coming through on its pledge to increase transparency, saying that a number of major contracts signed by the government, such as those related to the new power station and bus service have not been tabled in Parliament.

Dr de Marco said the current practice of allowing MPs to sit on government boards undermines the distinction between the legislative and executive branches. 

Opposition whip David Agius noted that the House Business Committee will play a much bigger part in the running of Parliament.

He said that the fact that the government has a majority in this Committee could undermine the drive for more autonomy for Parliament.

 

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