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Our View: No surprise that deputies do a sloppy job

ATTORNEY-GENERAL Costas Clerides had another go at the legislature over the laws it had approved in its last session. It was the second time in the space of a few days he accused deputies of a lack of responsibility and sloppiness, pointing out that the first two laws approved last Thursday, including the law about bank bonds, had already been referred to the State Legal Service for scrutiny. The way in which the legislature had acted created many problems he said.

Clerides predicted that many more laws, approved last Thursday, would eventually find their way to the Legal Service and wondered whether the staff would be able to cope with such a heavy workload. He felt that the heavy workload could have an effect on the quality of the work by the Legal Service, as employees would be under pressure to examine each law within a limited period of time; the implication was that more mistakes could be made.

The AG’s frustration is understandable given the sloppy and superficial way in which the legislature operates. In the last plenum before its dissolution it approved 60 laws, some of which had been gathering dust at committees for months while others were hastily put together a few days earlier. If deputies had performed their duties more responsibly and with a little professional pride none of these problems would have arisen.

Unfortunately, neither deputies nor the parties they belong to attach much value to doing a good job in the legislature. They are only concerned in passing ‘laws’ that would win votes, by appealing to interest groups, as in the case of the bondholders, regardless of whether their ‘laws’ are blatantly unconstitutional, inconsistent or incomplete. They give the impression that law-making is some kind of joke, a distraction from the serious business of thinking up sound-bites that would get them a mention on the television news.

Instead of carefully studying bills – usually they do not even bother reading them and have been caught out not knowing what they had voted – and having a proper discussion about them at House committee, committee meetings waste most of their time discussing current affairs because these meaningless debates attract more media attention. This is why deputies table so many issues that are in the news for debate, forgetting that the boring aspect of the job, law-making, is what they are paid to do. Unfortunately, they are elected and cannot be sacked for failing to do the job they had been entrusted.

This was not always the case – there were many hard-working deputies who took their job seriously, 20 or 30 years ago. Nowadays, superficiality and sloppiness reign supreme and unless the leaderships of the parties start forcing their respective deputies to show real commitment to law-making we should not expect things to be any different in the new parliament.

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