On 20 March 2018, the Chairperson of Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) requested the National Audit Office (NAO) to examine the parliamentary pension paid to the former Member of Parliament (MP) Judge Emeritus Dr Philip Sciberras (former MP). The request was made following allegations in the media wherein it was contended that the former MP was receiving a parliamentary pension that he was not entitled to, paid against the advice of the Treasury Department. The AD was preoccupied about the alleged interference on the Treasury Department in the processing of the relative application. The Auditor General, after due scrutiny, was to assert whether the former MP was receiving payment over and above that entitled to. The NAO sought to establish whether any political interference conditioned the outcome of the parliamentary pension paid to the former MP and to ascertain that public funds disbursed were due.
The NAO concluded that the granting of a parliamentary pension to the former MP was regular and justified. The former MP was first elected to Parliament in 1979 through a by-election and served from 20 July 1979 to 9 November 1981. He was subsequently re-elected in the following election, that of 1981, and served from 18 December 1981 to 13 February 1987. The Members of Parliament Pensions Act stipulates that the period in between legislatures is to be reckoned for pension purposes once an MP is elected to Parliament in the following general election. The NAO established that there is no condition at law that precludes, for pension purposes, the time served by an MP elected through a by-election. Having reviewed all documentation made available, including the advice of the Attorney General, the NAO is in agreement with the advice provided, that the whole period served by the former MP was to be reckoned as pensionable.
Moreover, the Office verified payments made to the former MP in respect of the parliamentary pension and confirmed that all payments made were in fact regular. The pension received in arrears was due, accruing from 2006 when the former MP reached the age of 61.
With regard to the alleged political interference, the NAO did not identify any inconsistency in the treatment of this case or external pressure that could be construed as political interference for the former MP to obtain his pension. The Secretary of the Association of Former Members of Parliament addressed all correspondence to the relevant authorities in efforts to assist the former MP in resolving the matter.
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