Government shuns PN anti-corruption Bills

Speaker Anglu Farrugia says anti-corruption legislation proposed by the Opposition has to be put on the parliamentary agenda by the government side because it is a money Bill

File photo
File photo

An omnibus Bill presented by the Nationalist Party to strengthen laws against corruption is a money Bill and will require the government to place it on parliament's agenda, Speaker Anglu Farrugia said.

Farrugia said he had legal advice that the Opposition's Bill required the President to give ascent since it was a money Bill.

He made the statement in Monday's parliamentary sitting when PN Deputy Leader David Agius asked why the Opposition's Motion 610 was not on the agenda. 

Farrugia replied by saying it is the leader of the House who presents the agenda, and not him. “I do not draw up the agenda. The advice the Speaker received is that the Bill needs the President’s address for it to be put on the agenda,” he said.

Government Whip Glenn Bedingfield said the Opposition’s proposals are a “money bill”, and so they need the President’s address. “You know that it is so, and only a minister can table such a Bill.”

He urged the Opposition to use the time allotted to it on Thursday when it can present a private member's motion for discussion.

The PN Bills include a proposal for a special inquiring magistrate tasked to fight corruption, new crimes targeting mafia-style organisations and unjustified wealth, and rules for interim governments during electoral campaigns.

READ ALSO: Bernard Grech unveils PN’s anti-corruption package of 12 legislative Bills

Agius disagreed with Bedingfield, calling for a ruling from the Speaker on the issue. Farrugia said he will try to deliver the ruling as soon as possible.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Robert Abela called the Opposition’s Bills a “pre-electoral gimmick.”

“The Opposition has a problem, its lack of credibility, especially of the laws’ author, who was once a parliamentary secretary, and whose behaviour at the time was compatible with anything but good governance,” Abela had said.