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Speaker plans parliamentary childcare centre

The country’s highest institution may soon be getting its own childcare centre, in a long overdue service that will serve to support parents who are members of the House of Representatives or work at parliament

miriam
Miriam Dalli
22 August 2017, 11:07am
It’s not the first time that MPs hailing from different parties have called for childcare facilities
It’s not the first time that MPs hailing from different parties have called for childcare facilities
The country’s highest institution may soon be getting its own childcare centre, in a long overdue service that will serve to support parents who are members of the House of Representatives or work at parliament.

In comments to MaltaToday, Speaker Anglu Farrugia confirmed holding meetings with Ministers Evarist Bartolo, Helena Dalli and Owen Bonnici, during which he discussed his proposal and the way forward.

“The target is to have a childcare centre in place before the end of year,” Farrugia told MaltaToday.

The childcare centre will not be housed inside the parliament building – a search is on for premises close to the Renzo Piano building. 

The provision of a childcare service will not only be made available to members of parliament but will also be offered to ministerial aides and to the staff employed by parliament. 

Farrugia argued that he holds increased control over the project, and can push it forward, thanks to a recent law that made parliament’s administration autonomous of the government. Approved by both sides, the law gave the House the legal personality, budget, resources and structure to function efficiently.

It’s not the first time that MPs hailing from different parties have called for childcare facilities, arguing that the late hours made it even more difficult to juggle between work, politics and child-minding.

Adding to a part-time working parliament are the hours, from 6pm till 9.30pm, excluding extra sittings that are sometimes held on Thursdays and Fridays or Saturday mornings. 

Farrugia, who has long been calling for shorter parliamentary speeches and different hours during which the plenary sessions are held, also told MaltaToday that he would be the first to push for “decent hours” if the request is made. 

Just before parliament rose for the summer recess, the government presented a parliamentary procedural motion that provides for the convening of parliamentary sittings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 6.00pm to 9.30pm.  

“Although the House has been meeting for quite a number of years during these time frames, the Standing Orders still say otherwise and therefore, as happened during previous legislatures and administrations, a motion of procedure was moved in this sense,” Clerk of the House Ray Scicluna told MaltaToday.  

“What is innovative in this motion is that a disposition has been introduced which allows the government to convene parliament on these ‘normal days’ from 2pm.”

Recently, the Nationalist Opposition called for revised hours, and suggested the option for MPs to work on a full-time basis. The introduction of family-friendly measures, the PN’s deputy leader Mario de Marco had said, would ensure that more “talent” is attracted, which in turn would result in debates of a higher quality.

In comments to MaltaToday, PN whip David Agius reiterated that the opposition was in favour of revised hours, but commented that it had not received any feedback from the government on its proposals. On its part, the government said it had not received any official correspondence from the PN.

miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...