Friday, 19 October 2012

Independent: IVF and Cohabitation Bills: On agenda but no date for debate
19 October 2012 by Annaliza Borg

It is unclear when the debate on the Embryo Protection Bill, which according to Leader of the House Tonio Borg should have started on 15 October, will be held as there are other matters before the House that first need to be concluded.

The Embryo Protection Bill debate is to be followed by another on the Cohabitation Bill and the plan seems to be for these to be discussed before the Budget, for which no date has been announced.

According to information given during House Business Committee meetings, the discussion on the two Bills is expected to take a minimum of nine sittings, which would be spread out over three weeks since Parliament generally meets three times a week, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, government whip David Agius said the Resolution on the Ratification of the Treaty for Stability, Coordination and Governance, first needs to be concluded. A very technical discussion continued on Wednesday evening between Finance Minister Tonio Fenech, PL MP Alfred Sant and the shadow minister for finance, Karmenu Vella. The date for the conclusion of this debate cannot as such be predicted because this depends on the number of questions asked by the Opposition. However, a spokesperson for the finance ministry estimated the debate should take about another session, which will be on Monday.

Following this, the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill is to begin being debated at second reading stage but this should not take long since the government and Opposition seem to be in agreement. Once this is concluded, the debate on the Embryo Protection Bill will start.

However, this is not expected to be before Wednesday. If all goes according to plan and no extra sessions are held, the debate on these two Bills will be wrapped up in mid-November.

A spokesperson for the Justice, Dialogue and the Family Ministry said questions made at this stage are hypothetical. What can be said is that the items are on the agenda but a few more days are necessary before a better idea on timelines can be given.

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