Speaker flags minister’s shortcomings over parliamentary questions no-show

In a ruling delivered on Wednesday, Speaker Anglu Farrugia says Aaron Farrugia’s behaviour was not in line with the parliamentary code of ethics

Speaker Anglu Farrugia
Speaker Anglu Farrugia

Speaker Anglu Farrugia has flagged shortcomings by Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia for refusing to show up during parliamentary question time on Tuesday.

The ruling was delivered on Wednesday’s parliamentary sitting following a request by Opposition Whip Robert Cutajar on Tuesday.

A parliamentary sitting had to be temporarily suspended on Tuesday after the House descended into a frenzy of shouting MPs following Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia's no-show.

During question time, Opposition MPs questioned why Farrugia was not present to reply to questions concerning a video that showed two Transport Malta officials beating up a man in Marsa.

Farrugia had earlier condemned the behaviour of the two officials and said they were suspended pending an internal investigation. Police are also investigating the case.

However, Farrugia was not present inside the chamber to reply to the questions despite being in the building.

Parliamentary questions for Farrugia were instead answered by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and government Whip Andy Ellul.

Farrugia said that Bonnici and Ellul had no intention to misguide the House when they said the Transport Minister was on official duty.

He said that it was established that Farrugia was indeed in the parliament building at around 4:20pm.

Farrugia also explained the principle of collective responsibility where minister can even present Bills in the name of other ministers.

He also said ministers are responsible of their respective portfolios, and they should provide the corrective information to the House. Farrugia said that according to the parliamentary  code of ethics, ministers have the duty of attending and participating in parliamentary debates and questions.

The speaker said that while it has no power to order ministers and MPs to be present, he feels ministers should do what is expected of them.

He said it was a shortcoming from Farrugia’s end, insisting the minister’s behaviour should be in line with the code of ethics.

Anglu Farrugia concluded by saying that the Speaker should be informed beforehand that ministers would be absent.