The MP marked down as ‘absent’ from the highest number of Parliamentary sittings in 2020 was Konrad Mizzi, data analysed by The Malta Independent on Sunday reveals.
In total, from his time both as a government MP and his time as an independent MP in 2020, he was marked down as being absent from 26 sittings.
The data given spans from the first sitting in January to 15 December. In that period, 124 Parliamentary sittings were held.
Mizzi, according to the data, was a government MP for 59 Parliamentary sittings, of which he was marked absent for 9. He was present for 13 and was marked down as being excused from attending for 37. Mizzi was then kicked out of the Labour Party’s parliamentary group but stayed on as an independent MP. He has been an independent MP for 65 plenary sittings, of which he was absent for 17, attended 44, was excused for 3 and was unable to attend one sitting because he was listed as being on government work.
The two MPs with the highest number of sittings marked as absent after Mizzi are Godfrey Farrugia (17) and Marlene Farrugia (16).
The data stems from a request made by this newspaper, after having asked Parliament to provide information as to the number of absences each MP had from Parliamentary sittings for all of 2020.
Not every no-show in Parliament is marked as an absence. MPs who could not attend due to government commitments including trips abroad, party matters or separate parliamentary duties were not marked as absent but excused.
The Standing Orders of the House read that an MP “shall be excused from service in the House or on any committee thereof so long as he has leave of absence from the Speaker. Members who are on business related to the House, the Parliamentary Group or on official party business, and Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries on Government business and Members of Parliament who accompany a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary on Government business, outside Malta shall be entered in the minutes of the House as being excused… The Minutes shall distinguish between Members who are abroad on Parliamentary, Government, Parliamentary Group or official party business.”
“Members who are sick or are subject to an extraordinary circumstance shall be entered in the Minutes of the House as excused, after producing evidence which will have been approved as such by the Speaker.”
The Parliamentary Clerk’s Office told this newsroom that, “the official records regarding absenteeism of MPs remain those contained in the Minutes of the parliamentary sessions,” however provided an excel sheet they “update from time to time following the publication of the above mentioned Minutes.” The data provided by the Clerk’s Office makes differentiations based on the Standing Orders. It indicates the number of sittings each MP was present for, differentiates between the number of sittings they were marked as absent, the number of sittings they were marked as excused from, and the number of sittings they were unable to attend due to the following reasons: government business, Parliamentary work, Parliamentary Group work or official party business.
There were a number of Ministers and MPs who had no absences marked (this does not mean that they did not have any sittings in which they were marked as being excused for not attending). These are Carmelo Abela, Owen Bonnici, Clyde Caruana, Deo Debattista, Joe Mizzi and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi from government’s side; and David Agius, Karol Aquilina, Frederick Azzopardi (who passed away earlier this year), Toni Bezzina, Robert Cutajar and Joseph Ellis from the opposition benches.
Overall, there were 28 MPs who had 10 sittings or more in which they were listed as being absent.
Of these, 16 were government MPs. The PL member with the highest number of absences was Jose Herrera, with 15 absences. The others were Prime Minister Robert Abela (14), Clayton Bartolo (14), Joseph Muscat – who was only in Parliament for 80 sittings before resigning (14), Edward Scicluna (14), Edward Zammit Lewis (14), Silvio Schembri (13), Ian Borg (12), Clint Camilleri (12), Aaron Farrugia (12), Chris Fearne (12), Anton Refalo (12), Chris Cardona – who was only an MP for 37 sittings (11), Evarist Bartolo (10), Clifton Grima (10), and Manuel Mallia (10).
From the Opposition, 12 MPs had 10 sittings or more marked as absent. The PN MP with the highest number of sittings marked as absent was Godfrey Farrugia (17). The others are Marlene Farrugia (16), Mario de Marco (15), Stephen Spiteri (15), Robert Arrigo (14), Adrian Delia (14), Jason Azzopardi (13), Edwin Vassallo (13), Kevin Cutajar (11), Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici (11), Mario Galea (10) and Claudio Grech (10).
Opposition Leader Bernard Grech has been an MP for 44 sittings, 6 of which were marked as him being absent.