Nationalist MPs to appeal Speaker's ruling on blocked PQs about Keith Schembri

Speaker Anglu Farrugia said that the prime minister's chief of staff attending an individual's wedding is a private matter and not to be debated in Parliament 

Nationalist MPs Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi will be appealing the Speaker’s decision to block their questions on whether the prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri attended the wedding of Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad. 

Speaker Anglu Farrugia remarked that attending an individual’s wedding in a private capacity is not an appropriate question to ask in parliament, as the questions must relate to what ministers are personally responsible for. 

“Whether a person is invited may or not be public debate, but whether it is an appropriate question to put in parliament is another issue. [The matter] is not connected to public business,” he said.

The proper practice, the Speaker said, would have been for any MP who objected to the Speakers’s ruling to take their objections to him privately and not call for a point of order. 

He noted that, even though he had explained this previously, Busuttil and Azzopardi had still called a point of order.

The Speaker had blocked parliamentary questions by Azzopardi, specifically on whether Schembri attended the wedding and how many times the prime minister met Hasheminejad prior to the wedding, saying that the questions went against the Standing Orders – namely 26(1) which limits PQs to the “public affairs” of ministers and MP “relating to any business of the House for which such minister or member is responsible”; and 27(6) which states that PQs “shall not be asked as to the character or conduct of any person except in his official or public capacity.”

Farrugia had previously blocked questions by Busuttil on Schembri’s offshore accounts, as he said that PQs must relate to public affairs which ministers are officially connected with and personally responsible for, have a factual basis, and not seek confirmation of media rumours.