Government to push amendment allowing backbencher to be Leader of House

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announces amendment to allow backbencher to be appointed Leader of the House

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with Michael Frendo
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with Michael Frendo

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced he intends to push an amendment to the parliamentary Standing Orders to allow the Leader of the House to be chosen from among all MPs and not strictly members of the cabinet.

This would mean that a backbencher could be appointed as the next Leader of the House. Such an amendment would require government to move an amendment to Standing Orders.

The amendment will be moved next week after the Budget is approved.

The role is currently being filled by Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech, but Muscat said he would like a government backbencher to assume the role.

The role of the Leader of the House is to set the agenda of the House, in association with the House Business Committee.

Muscat also revealed that government has had initial contacts with Opposition MPs to determine within which sectors Nationalist MPs could contribute in executive roles. Muscat said that these would include government entities.

Muscat was speaking during a courtesy call by outgoing Speaker Michael Frendo on Wednesday afternoon, who will be replaced as speaker by former PL deputy leader Anglu Farrugia.

During the courtesy visit, Muscat thanked Frendo for his years of service as Speaker of the House, and also praised him for his commitment to the ideal of an autonomous parliament.

Muscat also said that he has instructed the Labour Whip Carmelo Abela to discuss the possibility of a Deputy Speaker that would be chosen by the Nationalist Opposition.

Muscat said that Frendo had carried out his duties as Speaker impeccably and said "despite how we might not have always agreed, there is nothing but mutual respect between us."

Muscat also said that he would like to see that parliament becomes a truly autonomous entity, as Frendo had proposed himself several times. He however noted that this could not take place from one day to the next.

Muscat said that the government would be focused on passing the November Budget, as well as to carrying out amendments to the standing orders so that the Leader of House is not necessarily a member of cabinet.

He said that government would also be focusing on increased parliamentary transparency, and improved attendance by MPs.

He noted that the government is however facing complications over budgeting issues.

Muscat also noted that the time has come for parliament to become more open, especially with regard to the way it broadcasts its parliamentary sittings.

Muscat also welcomed another proposal by Frendo, which is the establishment of Economic and Financial Affairs Committee that would function as a forum for major economic players.

Fielding questions from the media about Farrugia's nomination as Speaker and whether the government had consulted with the opposition, Farrugia replied by saying that when speakers Louis Galea and Frendo were about to be nominated by the then government, the choice was communicated to the Opposition and the Opposition agreed.

He said that now it was up to the Opposition to decide on its position regarding Farrugia's nomination.

The people of this country voted for change. The agenda of the house should be set by the governing party elected by a landslide. If we the people wanted anything to do with the Nationalist party, than we would have elected them instead. The Labour Party has a clear mandate to govern, so that's what it should do! Let the Nationalist, over a period of time, earn the right to share in the decision process. There is nothing undemocratic in governing, as long as things are done transparently, fairly and legally.
Nispera li l-passat ikun ta' mera ghal PM gdid. Tista' tavda certu karigi,izda nisperaw li karigi jaharqu specjalment fejn tidhol sigurta, ma jahtarx lil min ilu jwegga' lil haddiehor u ghax issa sar protagonist, jigi agevolat ghal detriment ta' min dejjem kien onest waqt li baqa' suldat tal-azzar.
L'importanti li jkun JISMA ghax iehed minn ta' l'ahhar li kien bhal Speaker Frendo jew ma jisimghhu ux kienu jew jisimghu li jaqbilhom! Ghal meta kien LEADER OF THE HOUSE DR. TONIO BORG qieghed nghid fejn la hu u lanqas Speaker Frendo ma kienu semmghu il-vot ta' Dr. JUSTYN CARUANA !