The Speaker rules on 'unparliamentary? language by Chief Minister

The Speaker Haresh Budhrani ruled in the House of Assembly yesterday afternoon that the Chief Minister had used 'unparliamentary' language, when making an allegation against Oposition member Fabian Picardo, unless the allegation can be substantiated.

It happened when Mr Caruana was making a speech with reference to the health service. Mr Picardo stood up to say that it was the practice of the House that when it is alleged that a member may have misled the House, the person making the allegation had to show how the member had misled the House.

The Speaker returned in the afternoon to correct an earlier ruling by him.

Mr Picardo had invited The Speaker to revisit his ruling on the point of order he had raised during the Chief Minister's speech.

This was before lunch. On return to the House, The Speaker said: "In response to Mr Picardo's contention that the Chief Minister ought not to make an allegation that a Member had misled the House unless he was in a position to substantiate that allegation, I ruled that that was what the Chief Minister had been seeking to do by citing the facts and fgures that he did."

The Speaker's attention was drawn to a passage in Erkine May's 'Parliamentary Practice' which reads that expressions which are unparliamentary and call for prompt interference include 'Charges of uttering a deliberate falsehood.'

There was reference to a number of rulings in the past by Speakers of the House of Commons such as "The suggestion that a Member is deliberately misleading the House is not parliamentary,...and the proper course, if such an allegation has been made, is to table the appropriate motion..."

"My earlier ruling, therefore, stands corrected," said The Speaker.

The Chief Minister said he would be very happy to bring the motion.

Mr Picardo wanted to know if Mr Caruana would be withdrawing his allegation.

Mr Caruana said he accepts and bows to the Speaker's ruling until such time as the motion is tabled.

The Speaker's ruling in full:

Ruling re-visited:

When the House adjourned for lunch earlier this afternoon, the Hon. Fabian Picardo invited me to re-visit my ruling on the point of order he had raised during the Hon. The Chief Minister?s speech.

In response to Mr. Picardo?s contention that the Chief Minister ought not to make an allegation that a member had misled the House unless he was in a position to substantiate that allegation, I ruled that that was what the Chief Minister had been seeking to do by citing the facts and figures that he did.

I am grateful to Mr.Picardo for drawing to my attention the passage at pages 440 - 441 of Eskine May?s Parliamentary Practice (23rd Ed.) which reads:

?Expressions which are unparliamentary and call for prompt interference include:

(3) Charges of uttering a deliberate falsehood.?

the footnote to which refers to a number of rulings in the past by Speakers of the House of Commons and reads:

?The suggestion that a Member is deliberately misleading the House is not parliamentary,... and the proper course, if such an allegation has been made, is to table the appropiate motion...?

My earlier ruling, therefore, stands corrected.






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