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Order of Business (Continued)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] However, he was given precious little time to debate his amendments. The Minister appears to agree. It is now proposed to guillotine the Report and Final Stages of the Bill.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Two hours have been provided for today's debate.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The purpose of today's Order Paper is almost exclusively to guillotine debates.

  During Questions yesterday, the House was treated to a presentation by the Taoiseach in which he stated he wanted to have a chat with me, Deputy Adams and others about Dáil reform.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Deputy Martin's party in government did not generate much Dáil reform.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We have been hearing this message every week for the past year and a half. I have never had a discussion with the Taoiseach about Dáil reform because since taking office he has not volunteered to have one. The guillotine is increasingly being used to ram legislation through the House without proper debate.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin That is not true.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin This practice is totally contrary to the specific commitment made by both parties in the programme for Government in which they signed up to ensuring that non-emergency legislation would not be guillotined. The social welfare Bill, legislation on the property tax and other Bills were guillotined before and after Christmas and the practice is being continued in the case of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013 and the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013, which is the legislation that will make it easier for banks to repossess family homes. These Bills are being rammed through the House, as is the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2012. This proposal relates to the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013, on which Deputy Sean Fleming has done a great deal of work and to which he has tabled many amendments. It is not good enough that he has not been given the time or space to discuss his amendments.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams This proposal is characteristic of the way in which the Government is doing its business. The guillotine has been used in more than 50% of Bills before the House and it is proposed to use it today with three other Bills. The Government must show some respect for the process of debate and the right of Opposition and other Deputies to table amendments.

I join Deputies in extending congratulations to the Ombudsman, Ms Emily O'Reilly, on her election to the post of European Ombudsman. I remind the Minister that the Ombudsman has made a number of proposals which the Government has not yet implemented. I hope it will keep faith with the proposals she has made, one of which dates back to the time of the previous Fianna Fáil-led Government, namely, the recommendation that the families of those who have been lost at sea be compensated. I refer specifically to the Byrne family. No action has been taken on foot of this recommendation. There is no point in commending and congratulating the Ombudsman if her recommendations are not taken seriously.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I join Deputies in congratulating the Ombudsman, Ms Emily O'Reilly, on her achievement, which shows the quality of her work. I am sure she will bring the same diligence and quality of work to the new responsibilities she is assuming.

In respect of the proposal, as Deputies will be aware, we had a long Second Stage debate and open-ended Committee Stage debate on the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013. We are now moving to Report Stage where the net points of the committee's deliberations will be debated in the Chamber. It is conventional to have a short debate on Report Stage. The two hours provided for the debate will be sufficient to allow Deputies to address the relevant issues. This legislation is urgent. Everyone recognises that the Oireachtas requires powers of inquiry to enable it to hold inquiries into issues such as banking. This is the reason for the genuine concern on the part of the Government to have the legislation passed before the summer recess.

The other Bills before the Houses for the final Stages of consideration are also subject to time constraints arising from finance commitments in respect of membership of the European Union and so forth.


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