The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

TMID Editorial: Parliamentary time limits, bickering and the changes needed

Monday, 9 May 2022, 09:12 Last update: about 7 days ago

Parliament officially opened on Saturday, as MPs took their oaths and the Speaker of the House was re-elected.

This legislature, Malta has the largest number of MPs in history - 79.

There are a few things that this newsroom would like to see done differently than have been done in the past legislatures.

As an example, MPs should be allowed to vote their minds more frequently, rather than being made to toe the party line more often than not. Here we are not just speaking about bills brought before Parliament, but also on motions brought before Parliament. MPs represent those who voted for them, not just the party.

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We also hope that the two parties can find a way to work better together, to really listen to each other.

Another issue is that there are times in Parliament when arguments erupt, and do so for the right reasons... but there are other times when pointless bickering effectively becomes a time wasting exercise. We hope that MPs can conduct themselves in a professional manner that avoids such situations. Where there is a good reason for disagreement then by all means, argue the point, but pointless snide or cheeky comments to spur on a reaction is just a waste of time.

Tied to the above, one hopes that in committees MPs can be more critical of their own party colleagues. Too often have we seen MPs from one party or another defend their colleagues who are clearly in the wrong, or choose to remain silent. This must end. The good of the nation must come first and foremost, above party loyalty.

One major point that needs to be addressed is the amount of time allocated to MPs to speak in Parliament. It is far too long. The European Parliament model works better. We don't need to hear an MP speak for 20 minutes just to repeat what the MP before him or her said. Perhaps the main speaker could take 10-15 minutes and subsequent MPs could take 5 minutes each, or something along those lines. This needs to be considered especially now that we have substantially increased the size of Parliament.

Parliamentary Questions is undoubtedly a very important time during a Parliamentary session. On many occasions the minister who a question is being put to is not present and one of their colleagues would answer. This practice needs to stop, unless of course there is a good reason - like the minister being abroad or ill. In reality, this practice means supplementary questions cannot really be answered properly.

Lastly, Parliament needs to consider some form of staff for MPs who do not hold government posts. These MPs are currently doing this job part-time, and until that changes, how can we expect them to do their research well when they are holding down a full-time job and possibly also have a family to raise? Some form of support is needed, unless we consider the concept of full-time MPs.

 

 


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