30 Jan Full-time MPs should not be considered until number of MPs is reduced – Franco Debono
My contribution to questions by the Malta Independent of today . . . .I would like to thank the Malta Independent for asking for my views on this topic about which I have spoke a lot as a member of Parliament.
Former PN MP Franco Debono has said that considering the introduction of full-time Members of Parliament should not be considered without reducing the size of Parliament.
The issue of full-time MPs has been cropping up in the media for quite some time. Recently, a PN MP used his own situation to explain why he believed Malta needs to introduce the option to have full-time members of Parliament
Writing in a blog post, and also reiterating his points in comments with The Malta Independent on the idea of full-time MPs, Debono said that the idea should not be considered if not in the context of having a smaller Parliament. He highlights that, when comparing the number of Parliamentary representatives per capita with other countries, Malta has a large Parliament. This is not the first time Debono had spoken up about the idea of full time MPs and a smaller Parliament, having done so when he himself was a Nationalist Party MP in Parliament back in March of 2012.
“We should have a smaller Parliament. There is an issue where, for example, people would vote for their family doctor simply because he is their doctor and helped them out. This does not mean he would be a good politician. People would vote for that person, who would then be elected, but contribute absolutely nothing to political life of the country.
“Since we have a large Parliament, such people are still elected. If the Parliament was smaller, people would need to be more selective in who they vote for. You would not afford to send, for example, a doctor to Parliament simply because he or she helped you out, but then he would not do anything.
“There is a parochial mentality where some people vote according to their personal sphere. The criteria should be what this person can contribute to the political life of the country.”
He highlighted that changes for MPs and Parliament have come quite a long way over the years, stating that in the past, for example, he had spoken of the need for there to be Parliament TV in order for the message of Parliamentarians to get across, which today there is. He said that in the past, he had spoken about the need for MPs to be given resources, including those to aid in research, adding that today MPs do have more resources available to them.
He said that wages should increase for MPs, “But it must form part of a vision, a holistic vision. As part of this vision, once one has Parliamentary TV by which ones message could be transmitted, once there are resources by which research could be made then yes, you can raise wages, but reduce the size of Parliament.”
He also said that some people argue that if one does not want politicians to fall prey to corruption then raise their wages. “I think that this argument is dangerous. If one is ready to become dirty with a salary of €20,000, be certain that if you double that person’s wage the temptation to do that is still there.” One must never give into the temptation of corruption, he said.
There is another argument which needs to be considered, he said, that if MPs are full-time, it could discourage certain people of a certain success level going out for politics. He said that one wants to attract the best minds to politics, adding that such people would, most probably, have reached a certain level in their occupation. “One wants to attract the smartest people to Parliament.”
“If one does not have a good job and is not being successful, how does one expect that person to contribute to Parliament?”