ERG calls for individual MP voting records to be made available
‘When it comes to providing information, we want Parliament to be more open and responsive to the public than it currently is,’ Equality Rights Group has said in a press release today, adding that ‘It’s the People’s House. We should respect it as the seat of a modern and open democracy, but not as some mysterious and unfathomable temple.
‘Democracy depends on the fullest information being made available to citizens. After all, for our parliamentary system to work at all, ordinary people must be fully informed about those they voted for in order to not only hold them to account, but also to decide their future options. This means that any citizen who wants to check on the voting record of his or her MPs should be able to depend on Parliament.
‘Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case. According to our enquiries, and in a recent reply to ERG’s questions on the subject from Mr. Adolfo Canepa, the Speaker of the House, individualised MP voting histories are not recorded, except under exceptional circumstances when there is what is known as a ‘division’ in Parliament.
‘Given the tiny number of MPs in our Parliament, the work entailed in maintaining such records and, consequently, in providing such an important service to the public can be no acceptable excuse or impediment in taking this step towards more service and openness by our legislature.
‘Parliamentary records should also unfailingly reflect when members are absent from their parliamentary duties – particularly in the case of the introduction of legislation in the House. Taxpayers are, after all, paying members’ wages, and parliamentary procedure should admit no discretion whatsoever from any source to hide or omit such information from public reporting or scrutiny. That much is owed to the electorate.
‘As Chairman of Equality Rights Group, I have therefore asked the Speaker in writing whether he would consider making arrangements for the availability to the public of the object of my original request: an individualised, detailed MP parliamentary voting record. Unfortunately, no response on this question has been forthcoming.
‘ERG has therefore written directly to both the Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and independent MP Marlene Hassan-Nahon on this matter, and we look forward to keeping the public updated on an issue, which in our view, reflects a reasonable request and tests our political appetite for real, not spun, transparency in our democracy.
‘The public everywhere is in an increasingly impatient mood when it comes to fundamental issues of access to clear and verifiable information, and Gibraltar is no exception. We must continue lifting the lid on a number of issues that impede the development of our society and institutions,’ the statement ended.