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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021

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Report and Final Stages

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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021\Report and Final Stages
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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021

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Snippet Contents:

On foot of the debate on this amendment on Committee Stage, I wrote to the Ceann Comhairle to table the existing standing order that Deputy Pringle referenced, Standing Order 197, which, on the face of it, requires all legislation to be scrutinised after 12 months. In fact, the level of assessment or scrutiny that has taken places is either non-existent or extraordinarily limited and thin. We need a fundamental re-examination of the entire mechanism relating to post-legislative scrutiny. While I certainly support the proposed amendment, it is a universal principle that we should apply to all legislation.
I understand that this matter has been tabled for the next meeting of the Committee on Standing Orders and Dáil Reform. We need to make preparations on how Standing Order 197 is being implemented in order that the sort of information being sought by Deputy Pringle would be readily available to every member of the committee and that a proper timeframe and appropriate mechanism and template for post-legislative scrutiny would be established and made a requirement for every Department. Enormous work goes into the preparation of legislation but it is almost as though once legislation has been dealt with and the commencement orders are signed, it is on to next business and we do not look in the rear view mirror at all at how the Acts that we pass impact on the lives of our citizens. This is an important and timely issue to raise.
I support the amendment in the context of this legislation. A three-year horizon is reasonable, I think 12 months would be too tight. I do not think that any ,complex legislation would have yielded worthy scrutiny in 12 months and certainly not a fundamental change in, say, legal procedure, which is what is envisaged in this legislation and which will change the way criminal proceedings are dealt with. Three years is reasonable as an initial period but it will take several years before all the intricacies of this are worked out.
There is another issue that in many items of legislation, the actual commencement of sections can take years. There are items of legislation that are enacted but that are never formally commenced. Members do not even know that either. If we pass legislation and send it to the President and he or she, having adjudicated on it, signs it into law, we should know if it never actually becomes law because a Minister simply determines not to sign a commencement order for some section. These are the matters that need to be teased out in some detail. A fundamental principle has arisen in this regard and will merit a great deal of future scrutiny. In the interim, in the context of this legislation, the amendment deserves support.