Parliamentary hours need revisiting, Speaker Anġlu Farrugia says

In his Sette Giugno speech, Farrugia floated ideas on shorter parliamentary speaking time, working hours

Speaker of the House Anġlu Farrugia suggested revisiting the working hours of Malta's parliament in his Sette Giugno speech on Monday evening. 

Farrugia floated three ideas during his speech in front of the Sette Giugno monument in Valletta, namely reducing debating time in parliament, revisiting the operating hours of the parliament, while introducing a citizen's right of reply mechanism. 

"Given the increase in number of Members of Parliament who have the right to speak on any motion, bill or other matters, I believe that we should amend the relative Standing Orders of the House of Representatives as soon as possible, so as to reduce the maximum time allotted for interventions. I have no doubt that Members can make their argument in 20 minutes or less," Farrugia said. 

Farrugia added that debating time in the House can be used more productively in this way. 

"Another matter that I believe needs revisiting is that of the time at which Parliament meets, where this would better accommodate the professional, family, personal and even academic exigencies of the larger number of Members of Parliament."

He mentioned the possibility of introducing full-time members of parliament, and said that this should form part of discussions to see how MPs could be better equipped to fulfill their mandate. "Even, if need by, by reallocating Parliament's present resources," he said. 

Farrugia then spoke about introducing the citizen's right of reply, a mechanism whereby citizens would have a right to reply to what has been stated in parliament in their regard. 

"I believe that the time has come to implement this parliamentary procedure. I reiterate that while it is essential that parliamentary privilege be maintained so that no Member is afraid of speaking the truth, it is equally important that no Member abuses such privilege and ends up harming persons, be they physical or juridical, who cannot reply and defend themselves in Parliament."

He noted how, to date, people cannot take any remedial action if an MP makes a statement in their regard, even if such statements are defamatory.

READ ALSOSpeaker says citizens’ right of reply can curb MPs’ abuse of privilege