The reaction of government to Franco Debono’s motion on St Philip’s Hospital is of serious concern. It will certainly be no feather in the cap for Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg if he has to face hearings in the European Parliament in the weeks to come as a possible successor of John Dalli. It is unheard of in a democracy to postpone the consideration of a motion in order that you have a free hand as a result of obstructing Parliament from expressing itself.
Tonio Borg as Leader of the House has to shoulder political responsibility for the manoeuvres which he is orchestrating in the House Business Committee. The motion calls for withholding the conclusion of an agreement between Government and Good Shepherd Group Limited until such time that the process leading to the agreement has been thoroughly examined by the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee.
Such actions contradict Tonio Borg’s credentials built up in the 70s and 80s as a result of which he is known to one and all as a democrat: a reasonable person, respecting the views of others. These manoeuvres point to a different Tonio Borg.
These manoeuvres are motivated by the fact that it is clear that government no longer enjoys the confidence of the House. Faced with such a fact any democrat would not dare to create obstacles to ensure that such a motion is not considered.
Last Monday’s debate in the House was conceded by government as it did not involve any decision taking. The debate revealed that there are a large number of unanswered questions in respect of the proposed agreement to lease and eventually possibly purchase St Philip’s Hospital. These require an answer before not after the signing of the agreement.
A democratic government would ensure that Parliament expresses itself at the earliest, and once it has spoken it would seek to follow meekly as directed by Parliament.
This is a democratic test which government must face. So far it has avoided it.
Published in di-ve.com on Friday, 19 October 2012