Parliamentary standards commissioner to be appointed by two-thirds majority

New parliamentary commissioner for standards to be appointed by two-thirds majority.

Speaker Anglu Farrugia
Speaker Anglu Farrugia


The Commissioner for Standards who will be responsible for the independent and impartial investigation of alleged breaches of the Parliamentary code of conduct is to be appointed by the Prime Minister upon consultation with the leader of the Opposition.

However, the appointment will need to be approved by two-thirds of all MPs, the Parliamentary Select Committee on the appointment of a commissioner and a standing committee on standards, ethics and proper behaviour in public life, decided. The removal of the commissioner will also require a two-thirds majority.

The declared intention of the committee is to create a code of conduct for MPs, the appointment of a commissioner of standards who will investigate and make recommendations and whenever an MP is in breach of the code of ethics the permanent committee will take the necessary action.

In its third meeting, the committee chaired by Speaker Anglu Farrugia also decided the permanent committee should be composed of two members each from the government and the opposition and the Speaker of the House.

MPs and persons of trust appointed by ministers shall fall under the remit of the commissioner and the permanent committee, while for the time being local councilors will remain under the remit of the local governance board.

In today's meeting, government representatives George Vella and Justyne Caruana agreed with opposition MPs Francis Zammit Dimech and Ryan Callus that local councilors shall remain under the responsibility of the local governance board, however they did not exclude the possibility of including councilors under the new parliamentary bodies in the future.

In its previous meetings, the committee had also decided to hold a public consultation process before presenting a final report in Parliament which would lead to the creation of new institutions which will oversee the upholding of standards by MPs.

The select committee had set a 15 December deadline to table a final report and a motion which would lead to the appointment of a commissioner and permanent committee.

Based on the Ombudsman model, the select committee agreed that the commissioner will be granted investigative powers. Investigations shall be undertaken upon written complaints or on the commissioner's own initiative.

The commissioner will be granted the authority to review declaration of assets of MPs and will also have a consultative role, allowing MPs the opportunity to seek the commissioner's advice on whether their planned actions or events were in line with the code of ethics.

Speaker Anglu Farrugia also explained that the commissioner will be able to investigate alleged breaches of the code of ethics "independently" while maintaining confidentiality. This would protect both the accused and the sources.

However, once the commissioner concludes that enough evidence exists on a prima facie violation, the commissioner will put the case forward to the committee. The committee will then compile a report with its recommendations to the House of Parliament where the ultimate sanction will be decide.

In the case of perspons of trust appointed by ministers, the commissioner will have the authority to order sanctions, unless the person involved falls under the remit of the public service commission.

The commissioner will also be able to forward cases to the police if the investigations lead to suspects of a criminal nature. However, the committee decided that the commissioner is duty-bound to inform the permanent committee about such matters.

If no evidence is discovered on any alleged misbehavior, the commissioner will end investigations and inform the committee. 

2 nominations - John Dalli and J. Pullicino Orlando. Parliament is a joke anyhow.
One test David Agius would not take COPY ;)