Home Affairs minister, Carm Mifsud Bonnici refuses to set date for parliamentary debate on justice an home affairs.
The parliamentary house business committee meeting was once again overshadowed by Carm Mifsud Bonnici's refusal to set a date for the discussion of the Opposition's motion on justice and home affairs.
Labour's deputy leader Anglu Farrugia reminded the committee that during the previous meeting Mifsud Bonnici who is the leader of the house, had declared that the date for the debate on the Opposition's motion will be set at a later stage.
I would like to ask the leader of the house whether he can provide a date for the discussion of the motion," Farrugia said.
Mifsud Bonnici who currently holds the home affairs ministry was also responsible for justice before the recent Cabinet reshuffle in January. In his reply Mifsud Bonnici insisted that "at the moment a date cannot be set because the situation has not changed since the last meeting."
He added that the agenda is set according to the country's priorities and according to Mifsud Bonnici the European circumstances "demand that Parliament discusses the Greek bailout and the new fiscal measures first."
"This does not mean that the Opposition's motion should not be discussed but it will simply be discussed at a later stage," Mifsud Bonnici said.
On hearing this Anglu Farrugia warned that "the Opposition does not agree with the way the government is setting the agenda in parliament and will therefore take all necessary measures to manifest this disagreement." Farrugia added that "there is no reason to meet in the house business committee under these circumstances."
Labour whip Joe Mizzi accused Mifsud Bonnici of hiding behind "excuses" and said that the home affairs minister, who was only appointed leader of the house in January, is "not showing any cooperation because he might be motivated by other reasons than the ones given." Mizzi repeated Farrugia's warning and said "We will take remedies to protest against the way agenda is being set
Mizzi added that during the committee meetings Mifsud Bonnici has no intention to "find consensus" but only declares his unilateral decisions. Mizzi explained that in the past few weeks the discussion on the justice and home affairs motion could be held as all MPs were present, although Mifsud Bonnici "hid behind the excuse of having a number of MPs abroad"
"When the government is assured of unanimity in parliament, such as the motion regarding Croatia's EU adhesion, the debate is held were b ut when the government has no assurances on the vote the debate is not held," Mizzi said.
Mizzi added that the previous leader of the house, foreign minister Tonio Borg felt that the Opposition's motion was a priority as he had set a target to discuss the motion by the end of January but the new leader of the house "does not think that the motion on justice and home affairs is a priority."
The motion was presented in December by justice and home affairs shadow ministers José Herrera and Michael Falzon. The motion was presented before Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi held a Cabinet re-shuffle and split the justice ministry from home affairs on 6 January.
The separation between justice and home affairs was one of Nationalist MP Franco Debono's main concerns, which ultimately led to the Opposition's motion of no-confidence, which government survived in spite of Debono's abstention. Gonzi's reshuffle meant that the justice and home affairs portfolios held by Carm Mifsud Bonnici since 2008 were split. Mifsud Bonnici held on to home whilst Chris Said became minister of justice and social policy.
Herrera and Falzon's motion presented in December, demanded that political responsibility be assumed for 'endemic problems' in the sectors falling under the responsibility of the then Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs. Back then Franco Debono had said that he will support government. However, since the motion was presented, the ministry has been separated and Franco Debono abstained on the Opposition's no-confidence motion.