When on Monday 29th November, there was an ongoing protest outside Parliament against the Speaker, while in the House there was a debate against Angelo Farrugia. This discussion could take place because the Deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg was in the chair. The permanent guidelines of the house allow such discussions when it is felt that the matter is of national urgency. In all frankness, I do not believe that the subject was of national urgency because the accusations against the Speaker had been ongoing for a while, but I do believe that the Nationalist Party wanted this debate to run concurrently with the group Repubblika’s protest outside Parliament. In this country, urgency is dictated according to the vested interests of this group.
After the parliamentary debate, as Bernard Grech was leaving Parliament, he spoke to journalists as follows:
“This evening we presented a motion”
These are the precise words that Dr. Grech used when meeting journalists and was asked:
“What do you believe should become of the Speaker Angelo Farrugia”?
It should be noted that when Bernard Grech spoke in Parliament he never mentioned the word motion. In Parliament he presented his request as follows:
“Mr. President. Since permanent order 13 provides that a member at the beginning the sitting of the house can request permission to ask for an adjournment of the chamber in order to discuss something defined as of urgent public national importance, mentioning the subject and presenting the Deputy Speaker with a written declaration about the subject to be discussed…”
When he presented this request, Dr. Grech never called it a motion and this makes a great difference in parliamentary procedure. Had it been a matter of a vote of no confidence, he would have had to call for a division, meaning that there would have had to be a vote on the motion. But since Dr. Grech did not mention any motion of no confidence then it was not necessary to vote. Was there a valid reason why a motion of no confidence in the Speaker was not submitted? Could it be that Dr. Grech did not want to present the motion because he possibly did not have all the deputies backing him? Perhaps he feared that his vote of no confidence would expose even more the rupture within the Nationalist Party.
But the important question rests here. Why did Bernard Grech during his speech in Parliament invoke standing order no. 13 and as soon as he left Parliament and went to speak with the journalists, he immediately said that he had presented a motion? Why two different narratives? One for Parliament and another one outside parliament? What was he trying to do? To mislead the journalists or those who were listening? Let us hope that it is not a case that had he presented the motion he would not have had the majority of his deputies backing him. While had a motion been requested and a division called, the motion would not have passed because the government has the majority votes backing it. It would have also revealed that Dr. Grech did not have all his deputies backing him on this matter!