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Legislative Process

Prior to its publication and coming into force, each legislative Act has to go through a number of parliamentary procedures. 

First Reading

The parliamentary legislative process is initiated by the presentation of a motion consisting of just the title of the bill at the Office of the Clerk to the House. After three days the bill is put on the parliamentary agenda for its First Reading.  The motion is put to the vote without any  debate.

Second Reading

Upon publication, the bill is again included in the agenda of the House, this time for its Second Reading.  The discussion generally commences on such date as agreed upon in the House Business Committee. If the provisions of the bill constitute a charge on the Consolidated Fund, the Second Reading stage starts off by the Minister informing the Speaker that he has a message from the President of Malta recommending it to the House for consideration.  This message is passed on to the Speaker who shall then read it and invite the Minister to introduce the bill to the House. The Standing Orders stipulate that the Minister moving the Second Reading of a bill and the Opposition Member speaking first in reply to such motion may each speak for one hour and a half.  At the end of the discussion when no more Members request the floor, the mover of the bill is allowed an additional half hour for the winding up. All other Members may speak once and for not more than 40 minutes with a 30 minute extension if the House so agrees. There also exists the practice whereby a Member may go on speaking indefinitely by ‘Leave of House'. Only the principle of a Bill, as distinguished from its details, shall be discussed on the motion for Second Reading.  After the winding up, the motion is put to the vote by Mr Speaker.

Committee Stage

The next legislative process is the Committee Stage. The Speaker leaves the Chair and the House resolves itself into Committee which is now presided over by a Chairperson.  If the bill does not provide for any appropriation from the Consolidated Fund, a Minister may move that it be considered by the Standing Committee for the Consideration of Bills. During the Committee Stage, each clause of the bill is examined separately and in detail. Both Government and Opposition Members may propose any number of amendments during the discussion on a particular clause, at the end of which a vote is taken on all said amendments and the clause as amended.  When the discussion ends the Chairperson informs the House about the progress made and whether the bill was passed with or without amendments.

Third Reading 

The Third Reading of the bill may now be put on the Parliamentary agenda and moved by the Minister concerned. After putting the question Mr Speaker may either declare the bill unanimously approved (nem. con.) or carried.  If a division is requested, the House shall suspend its proceedings for 20 minutes. Upon resuming, the Chair shall order the Chamber doors to be closed and requests the Clerk to the House to call out all the Members' names and record the number of ‘Ayes' and ‘Noes'.  Mr Speaker will then be in a position to declare whether the bill has been carried through its Third Reading stage by a majority of Members present and voting, save as otherwise provided in the Constitution.  This voting procedure applies to all votes taken during the previously mentioned stages of the bill.

The bill is then presented to the President of Malta for his assent and published in the Government Gazette, thus becoming a Parliamentary Act.