Parliament’s Standing Committee for Standards in Public Life held its first meeting on 22 January 2019. Dr George Hyzler, Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, was present at the meeting together with Charles Polidano, Director General in the Commissioner’s office.
In his opening remarks the Hon. Anġlu Farrugia, Speaker of the House of Representatives and chairman of the Committee, noted that the Standards Committee was the only parliamentary committee in which both sides of the House of Representatives were represented equally. The government had a majority on other committees, reflecting the composition of the House as a whole.
The Commissioner for Standards informed the Committee that his office had been established and equipped, and core staff were in place. A financial plan had also been approved. The office was located in the fourth floor of the building used by the Ombudsman’s Office. This would allow for synergies between the two offices, given that both performed an investigative role (albeit with different remits) and reported to Parliament.
The Commissioner informed the Committee that he had received and was investigating three complaints. A fourth complaint had been received but it was inadmissible since it concerned an individual who did not fall under the Standards in Public Life Act.
The Commissioner also informed the Committee about a duty visit he had undertaken to the United Kingdom to learn about how his UK House of Commons counterpart dealt with cases. He had invited Kathryn Stone, UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, to visit Malta to address local members of Parliament. This visit was provisionally scheduled for the end of May 2019, subject to agreement with the Speaker.
The Committee discussed the procedure that was to be followed in every case once the Commissioner concluded his investigations, particularly in cases where the Commissioner found that there were no grounds for further action.
Photo: The Standards Committee.