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Snippet Contents:

Before moving to the next business, at the request of the Sub-Committee on Dáil Reform, I wish to update the House on the work of the sub-committee, which has met on four occasions since its establishment.
The sub-committee agreed a formal work programme at its first meeting on 23 March based on the broad range of submissions it had received. At the meeting, the sub-committee also discussed the establishment of a business committee, rules governing Technical Groups allowing for more than one Technical Group and fewer Members to form a Technical Group, dedicated committee time, fixed times for voting and provision to allow for formal abstentions in votes. The sub-committee completed its deliberations on these matters at its second meeting on 5 April, the details of which were set out in the interim report laid before the House last week.
The intention is to bring forward new Standing Orders which will permit the business committee to be established. The committee will agree the sessional and weekly agenda of business for the Dáil and will give all groups represented in the Dáil access to and control over the business coming before the House. The sub-committee has also agreed a fixed time for voting, which it is envisaged will take place on Thursday afternoons. There will be a number of exceptions, such as for the Order of Business, the naming of a Member for disorderly behaviour, which I am sure will not happen, and for Committee and Report Stages of Bills. Apart from these, all votes will take place together and Members will be able to register their intention to abstain.
The combined impact of the more effective planning of business and the new voting arrangements will be to improve the working environment, particularly for Members with young families. It is very evident from the submissions to and discussions at the sub-committee that Members are faced with competing demands on their time due to the fact that the Dáil and committees meet at the same time. The sub-committee has, therefore, proposed splitting committee and plenary time. Committees will meet on Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and plenary time will commence at 12 noon on those days and at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.