The new Parliament building will be closed off to the general public because of security concerns, despite it having been designed to convey an idea of openness, the House Business Committee heard this afternoon.
The committee met today to discuss the plans for the inauguration of the new Parliament Building today week. (see also http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150427/local/update-4-president-will-inaugurate-new-parliament-after-lawrence-gonzi.565703 )
During the discussion Speaker Anglu Farrugia explained that the police will take over security from the AFM.
Mario de Marco (PN) asked if the ground floor would be open for the public, as planned when the project was conceived.
Dr Farrugia said the idea was good, but he asked Dr de Marco what his position would be if there was a terrorist attack, such as if a car bomb was driven into the building from Ordnance Street.
Dr de Marco said one could erect bollards as, for example, the US embassy had done. Parliament was a symbol of democracy and that space should be open.
Dr Farrugia said he agreed about the bollards but they were currently not there and had not been planned for.
He agreed about the comments made about democracy, but one should protect it and not risk everything crumbling down literally.
Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech said one should hear suggestions by the police.
David Agius (PN) asked if the police agreed with having the monti near Parliament.
The Speaker said the police were not happy about it, nor about young people loitering near the parliament's glass doors. Security issues had been discussed for weeks and this was constantly under discussion, he said.
Dr Farrugia said as from next week, MPs will park near the Central Bank while members of Cabinet and the leader of the opposition will park in Ordinance Street near Palazzo Ferreria.
Mr Agius disagreed, insisting that in parliament there should be no distinction between ministers and other MPs.
Dr Farrugia said space was limited and it was up to MPs to decide.
Mr Agius said parking spaces should be divided according to the representation in Parliament. But ministers went to Parliament as MPs and there should be no distinction.
Deborah Schembri (PL) asked if parking was limited to the time of sittings, since some MPs worked much more than that.
Dr Farrugia said there were only 62 parking places near the Central Bank. During the day there will be 20 parking spaces near the Central Bank.
SITTINGS TO BE VIDEO STREAMED
During the committee meeting, both sides agreed in principle that Standing Orders will be amended to allow video-streaming of plenary sittings as from next week. Cameras will focus only on whoever is speaking.
Repeats of recordings will be broadcast by agreement between both sides.
FASHION SHOW IN OLD CHAMBER
During the discussion MPs were told that a fashion shoot will be held in the old Parliament chamber at the Palace a week after it falls into disuse. A decision will be taken in the future.
A fashion shoot is also planned in OrdnanceStreet. The MPs agreed it could go ahead, but only when Parliament is not sitting.