Government fails to set a date for opposition motion debate in parliament
The government this evening refused to set a date for a debate in parliament on an opposition motion on justice and home affairs.
Opposition whip Joe Mizzi said at a meeting of the House Business Committee that the motion should be debated this week.
Leader of the House Carm Mifsud Bonnici said the government's intention was for all private motions to be debated, but he could not give a date.
Dr Mifsud Bonnici said parliament would this week continue its debate on the Collective Actions Bill and a resolution on Croatia's accession to the EU.
The debate on the Croatia resolution would be continued next week and the House would then resume and hopefully concluded the debate on the Education Act and the Sustainable Development Act.
Mr Mizzi and Opposition deputy leader Anglu Farrugia said the government had originally promised to hold the debate on the opposition motion by the end of January.
Clearly, Mr Mizzi said, the government did not know where it stood in parliament.
Yesterday, Labour leader Joseph Muscat called on the government to hold the debate on the opposition motion and to move votes in parliament, arguing that its failure to do so would confirm that the political crisis was persisting.
Dr Mifsud Bonnici said a date for the opposition debate would be set in the future, but a number of MPs needed to go abroad, and some House business needed to be concluded. The House may also start to debate the Constitutional amendment on the 'Golden rule' for a balanced budget.
Government whip David Agius said the government never set a date for the debate on the opposition motion.
Dr Farrugia said the House Business Committee was being used as a rubber stamp for the government's programme.
Dr Mifsud Bonnici said that with the Finance Minister and other MPs needing to go abroad because of the international crisis, he could not set a programme for the next two weeks other than as outlined.
Mr Mizzi said Foreign Minister Tonio Borg, when he chaired the House Business Committee, had made a commitment for the debate to be held by the end of January. The current situation, he said, was unacceptable.
The House was debating various bills in parallel and not concluding anything. Even the urgent Budget Measures Bill had not been concluded.
Mr Agius said Labour would do well to remember how, in its time, Opposition motion were never put on the agenda of the House.
Mr Mizzi said the opposition was refusing to be taken for a ride. It wanted parliament to function well. There were several instances last week when all the government MPs were available, and the government could have put the motion on the agenda of the House, had it wanted to.
Dr Mifsud Bonnici reiterated that he could not indicate a date, although he was saying that it was the government's intention for this debate to be held.
The meeting ended in disagreement.