The Malta Independent 6 June 2023, Tuesday
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PN Whip asks for investigation into PL MPs taking photos in Parliament

Semira Abbas Shalan Monday, 20 March 2023, 17:43 Last update: about 4 months ago

PN Whip Robert Cutajar has asked the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia to investigate on whether it is acceptable for MPs to take photos with their mobile phones in Parliament without the permission from both sides, after a photo was published on the Sunday issue of Kullhadd.

Cutajar made two objections in Parliament on Monday, saying that it seems that from today onwards, there is no need for permission from both sides of the House for pictures to be taken.


Cutajar then made reference to last Thursday’s heated debate, which resulted in the Opposition party storming out of Parliament after the Labour Party were allowed to present amendments to the PN's motion about the hospitals deal at a time when the PN argued it was not allowed to do so.

Cutajar said that Farrugia gave an interview with newspaper Torca, where he said that government still had 10 minutes of allocated time to present the amendment.

Cutajar however said that in a ruling given by Farrugia just minutes earlier that the government had no allocated time left, therefore had no right to present its amendments. Cutajar said that Farrugia failed to address the issue according to the facts as they happened.

Farrugia said in his ruling that because of interruptions, calls for points of order and the suspension of the sitting because of disorder, the speech by the Prime Minister ended later than expected.

He said that he had been prepared to extend the debate beyond 7pm but this was not accepted by the Opposition.

He pointed towards several instances dating back to 2004 to show when amendments motions were moved after speeches and without notice, and were accepted.

Farrugia’s ruling also took the opportunity to condemn the events which happened on 16 March’s session, for the use of disorderly and unparliamentary expressions.

PN MP Adrian Delia had asked for a ruling after Prime Minister Robert Abela proceeded to call Delia a liar over the Steward’s hospital deal. The Speaker at that point asked for an explanation from Abela, and to withdraw the comment.

In his ruling though, he dismissed the complaint, saying that Abela had clarified his comment.

In the ruling, Farrugia said that he is disappointed over the way the debate happened, as well as the comments passed by both sides of the House, including offensive words. The Speaker said that Abela clarified what he has said with regards to Delia.

The ruling also noted that the allocated time for speeches must be equal for both government and the Opposition, albeit saying that it was prepared to extend the time allocated for government to speak given the many interruptions during the debate, but could not do so as the Opposition did not agree.

Cutajar’s objections led to the government's Whip Andy Ellul in saying that after the Opposition’s behaviour in last Thursday’s discussion, he expected that the Opposition asks for an apology for the “not at all dignified actions.”

Ellul said that there was indeed an agreement from all sides that 65 minutes would be allocated to each side, however the Prime Minister was interrupted several times, “whilst he was exposing the PN’s deceit.”

PL MP Randolph Debattista said that PN MP David Agius implied and asked whether it was Debattista himself who took photos without permission in parliament.

“I did not take the photos, but I am sorry that it wasn’t me,” Debattista said, adding that he would have taken such photos to show who the PN truly are.

Cutajar asked the Speaker to investigate and say if the MP who took the photos did well, discern who it was, and say whether they should, in fact, take photos in Parliament.

The Speaker is to give a ruling on the matter.

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