Well, it has happened; Bill No. 229 - Cultural Heritage (Amendment) Bill has now passed into law and become an Act of Parliament. It is now ACT No. XLI of 2021, AN ACT enacted by the Parliament of Malta. AN ACT to amend the Cultural Heritage Act, Cap. 445.
The Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta is now lawfully in existence. HOWEVER, sadly the Act does not provide any powers for the new Chief Herald at all and the expected 2nd and 3rd readings did not apparently, contrary to the opinions of some, provide any powers allowing for any granting of arms and as a consequence any business transacted by the Chief Herald in regard to the granting and recording of new or foreign arms remains ultra vires - of no lawful foundation and therefore null and void. Useless. All of which is very sad as it has been a missed opportunity.
Despite the fact that there is absolutely no mention in the Act of anything but the creation of an empty office, I am beginning to wonder if the Chief Herald of Malta is still wilfully misleading potential clients or if he really doesn't understand what is going on. I believe that he is a reasonably intelligent man but today it has come to my attention that he has written to someone asking about a grant in the following terms:
“My Office, which previously had the protection of the Prime Minister of Malta now also has the protection of Parliament which has confirmed its powers in law. Thus, any Arms granted are fully recognised by the State of Malta and will be entered, for all time, into the Armorial Register of Malta.”
Whilst I am please to say that, after my extensive efforts to bring the fact that his office didn't even exist on a lawful basis, there is, thanks to the recent passing of the new - Cultural Heritage (Amendment) Act, now a lawful office of Chief Herald of Arms of Malta. However, the Act, regrettably, still did not provide for any powers or functions of this office (I have made a thorough search of the Parliament website and there isn't even any reference to heraldry of herald in "Papers Laid" before Parliament).
So, let us dissect the latest communication from the man whose Office now exists in law but has, still, absolutely no powers in law.
The Chief Herald would have us believe that his Office "previously had the protection of the Prime Minister of Malta" This is a disingenuous statement. He may well be under the impression that the Prime Minister and Cabinet lent their approval to his Office however, I have proved beyond a doubt that the procedures, whatever they may have been, undertaken by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were incorrect and had no basis in law so the Office he thought had been created did not actually exist and, in fact and in law, did not exist until, through my intervention, the Ombudsman advised that proper legislation must be sought. This legislation has recently been passed but it only created the Office. In his latest communication the Chief Herald states that his Office "now also has the protection of Parliament which has confirmed its powers in law ". I should like to know where and when since, according to the Act and everything I can find on the Parliamentary website, there has yet to be anything other than the mere creation of an empty shell of an office with absolutely no powers.
If anyone can point me to where I can find these alleged powers I would be very grateful. The details of the Act in full can be found here:
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