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Speaker rebukes MPs for ‘flouting’ Parliament’s rules

Melvyn Farrell, the Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament

The Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament, Melvyn Farrell, on Tuesday told MPs they must abide by his rulings and by parliamentary rules, known as Standing Orders.

Mr Farrell’s statement to Parliament followed tetchy exchanges between MPs during recent sessions that have prompted him to intervene on multiple occasions.

Mr Farrell said some MPs were “disregarding the Speaker's rulings and decisions, and often challenge his authority”.

“I cannot allow the state of affairs to continue,” he said.

Mr Farrell said some Standing Orders, in particular those requiring follow-up questions to the government to be concise and focused on the original subject matter, were being “flouted”.

“Some Honourable members engage in rather lengthy preambles when asking a supplementary question,” he said.

He said too that while MPs were entitled to raise points of order, these should be an appeal to the Speaker for clarification or a ruling on procedural matters.

“It cannot be used to challenge the authority, and in particular the Speaker's impartiality or as a means of making a complaint or expressing dissatisfaction about an answer given to a question,” he said.

“It is the Speaker's responsibility to intervene when words or expressions are uttered which he considers unparliamentary or likely to create disorder in the House.”

Mr Farrell also rebuked GSD MP Elliott Phillips over an exchange in the last session of Parliament in December during which he used the word “misleading” following an answer from the Government to a question he had tabled.

The word is not allowed during routine parliamentary exchanges but when he was asked by Mr Farrell to withdraw it, Mr Phillips instead stormed out of the chamber.

“The word misleading is unparliamentary and not permitted, and requires to be withdrawn immediately,” Mr Farrell said.

“If a member wishes to pursue accusations of the kind not permitted, the proper course of action is to table a motion about the conduct of another member.”

“The Honourable Mr Phillips will know that he was given the opportunity of withdrawing the offending word, but chose not to do so, and angrily and abruptly left the chamber.”

“A number of weeks have elapsed since the incident, and therefore I cannot sanction the Honourable Member, but I must warn him that any repetition will lead to speedy and appropriate action.”

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