The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

PM Abela disagrees that appointing backbench MPs to government roles buys their silence

Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 17 January 2020, 11:50 Last update: about 2 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela has not yet considered the issue of backbench MPs being appointed to government posts, but did say that neither he, nor other PL MPs  had ever had their silence bought due to such a practice.

The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, George Hyzler, had last year issued a report calling for an end to the practice of giving backbench members of Parliament jobs or consultancies with the government. The report describes the practice as “fundamentally wrong”.

On Thursday, PL MP Anthony Agius Decelis was seen accompanying the Prime Minister on an official visit, and told the media that the Prime Minister had offered him a number of roles.

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The Malta Independent asked the Prime Minister on Friday morning whether he intends to continue the practice of appointing backbench MPs to government positions. Abela said that it is something he has still not considered.

“I had seen the report by the Standards Commissioner. I did not agree with the principal point that when the government appoints their MPs to positions it would be buying their silence. It never happened in my case nor in the case of other MPs. We were always critical of the government in the years that passed and as long as the role of a backbencher is not affected and it was in no way ever affected, the backbencher continues doing their work to scrutinise the government and I do not think it has to impact on the independence of MPs.”

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