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Earlier parliament hours expected from October

The Labour Party’s parliamentary group has agreed to plenary sessions being pushed forward by two hours, when the House of Representatives would start meeting at 4pm

miriam
Miriam Dalli
15 August 2017, 9:15am
Changes to the hours are long-overdue: former and current MPs have argued in favour of this change with the request intensifying as the country’s political parties struggle to attract women candidates
Changes to the hours are long-overdue: former and current MPs have argued in favour of this change with the request intensifying as the country’s political parties struggle to attract women candidates
In a bid to introduce more decent working hours at parliament, the Labour Party’s parliamentary group has agreed to a decision under which plenary sessions are pushed forward by two hours, when the House of Representatives would start meeting at 4pm, instead of 6pm.

The earlier working hours are also in reply to repeated calls by various members of parliament, who argue that the late hours make it harder for MPs with small children. It also aims to help attract more female candidates, where Malta faces a huge deficit.

The Labour parliamentary group’s decision was confirmed by government whip Byron Camilleri, which he explained was in line with the procedural motion approved by parliament just before it rose for the summer recess.

“The Labour parliamentary group has also agreed to forward the proposal to the opposition, once the new PN leader is elected,” Camilleri said.

But viewers at home will still be able to follow more crucial debates, such as the Budget speech and the replies by the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister – or any other business agreed to by the House – which will be held at 6pm, or any other time agreed on.

For years, plenary sessions were mostly held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 6 to 9.30pm. 

As Clerk of the House Ray Scicluna explained to MaltaToday, a motion presented by the government just before the summer break allows it to convene parliament on these “normal days” from 2pm. 

“Following calls from both sides of the House and from parliamentary staff for more family-friendly hours for parliamentary plenary meetings, it is hoped that an agreement to convene parliament at this hour will be reached,” Scicluna had told MaltaToday. 

Following internal discussions, the PL parliamentary group decided to go for 4pm.

Meeting at an earlier hour will also mean decent hours for experts called in to assist Cabinet members during debates and the parliamentary staff.

Changes to the hours are long-overdue: former and current MPs have argued in favour of this change with the request intensifying as the country’s political parties struggle to attract women candidates: only 42 of this year’s candidates were women, who out of a total of 377 candidates, put the female percentage at a poor 11%. 

Both former MP Deborah Schembri and PN MP Kristy Debono have spoken against the current ill-devised working hours.

“It would be quite frivolous if we impose quotas to help women get elected, only to face the current obstacles politicians encounter in our daily life as MPs. I would rather impose a more family-friendly environment and include better hours and a support system. A better structure would attract more quality candidates, irrespective of their gender.”

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