The reform and enlargement of Parliament is a positive step that would improve the quality of our democracy and how we are governed. To keep the situation as it is short-changes people from the democracy they deserve.
Enlarging Parliament would allow better accountability of Ministers and would ensure that Parliament can properly fulfil its role as the people’s democratic watchdog. With a larger Parliament reforms could then be introduced that would not be possible today that would also ensure voters can more directly influence the way our Parliament runs. This is not about having more Ministers. There should not be an increase in Ministers or wages. This is about having backbenchers on both sides that could help scrutinise matters and allow the Parliament to carry out tasks it cannot do today. This would be an enhancement of democracy. Other comparative territories like Jersey, Guernsey or Bermuda have much larger Parliaments because it is recognised that without a larger Chamber it is impossible to properly hold Government to account. Here we have lagged behind and have fewer elected members than we did in the early 1960s.
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said:
“The possibility of enlarging Parliament was explored as far back as 1998 when we were first considering constitutional reforms. Following the work of the previous Select Committee it was provided for in the 2006 Constitution. I have been openly campaigning for this democratic reform since 2006 as I firmly believe it will enhance our democracy and improve how we are governed. The GSD sought to introduce a Motion on enlargement in 2011 and it was also official Party Policy at the last election in 2015 and therefore supported by all GSD candidates – including Marlene Hassan- Nahon.
This reform makes sense. All aspects of our lives are affected by what goes on in Parliament. If we improve how it runs and how it is able to keep Ministers in check it will also improve the decisions that are taken on issues like housing, health, education or social services. This is not a party political point. The quality of our democracy delivered by our Parliament is a public service. It is our duty to improve how the system works and it can be done at minimum cost. This should have happened years ago and there is no valid argument against this change.”