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 Header Item Regulation of Lobbying (Amendment) Bill 2020: First Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2020: Message from Select Committee

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1001 No. 2
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mairéad Farrell: Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell] This section gives effect to recommendation 1 of SIPO's submissions of May 2019.

Section 3 amends section 11 of the principal Act. Sections 11(1)(c) and 11(1)(d) of the Act require that an application to register must include information and contact information, respectively, about the applicant's business or main activities. Section 11(1)(b), however, includes only a reference to carrying out business but omits any reference to main activities. This section of the Bill will ensure that all appropriate contact information is provided for. For the sake of completeness and consistency, section 11(1)(b) will be brought in line with sections 11(1)(c) and 11(1)(d) by the insertion of the words "main activities". This section will give effect to recommendation 8 of Standards in Public Office Commission's submissions of May 2019.

Section 4, on duties of designated public officials, will insert a new section into the Act relating to the duties of designated public officials, DPOs. It will provide that where the DPO becomes aware that a person or body carrying out lobbying activity has failed to comply with the registration of lobbying activities, the DPO shall cease all communication with that person or body and inform them of the reason such communication has ceased. Furthermore, the DPO shall inform SIPO of the cessation of communication. Where the commission becomes aware of lobbying activity by a person or body that has failed to comply with the registration provisions of the Act, the commission can direct the DPO to cease communication. Similarly, where the commission becomes aware of lobbying activity by a person or body that has been found guilty of a contravention in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the commission can direct the DPO to cease communication. The commission has the authority to determine the duration of the cessation of communication in these circumstances and can determine when communication may be re-established. This section will give effect to recommendations 18 and 19 of SIPO's submissions of May 2019.

Section 5 is an amendment to section 16 of the principal Act. Subsection (1) will amend the Act by directing that persons comply with the code of conduct rather than simply having to have regard to the code. Subsection (2) will amend the Act by giving the commission power to investigate and report on breaches of the code of conduct. The commission may now also consider whether a person or body has complied with the code of conduct when investigating or making a decision to prosecute an offence under section 20 of the Act. Furthermore, an authorised officer appointed under section 19 of the Act shall take into consideration, when carrying out an investigation, whether a person carrying out lobbying activities has complied with the code of conduct. This section also directs the commission to prepare an annual report specifically relating to the code of conduct and a copy of it to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas not later than 30 June in the year following that to which it relates. Subsection (2) will give effect to recommendations 10 and 11 of SIPO's submission.

Section 6, an amendment to section 18 of the principal Act, will provide for further contraventions, including failing to follow the direction of the commission in respect of the cessation of communication contravening section 22(1), which provides for the cooling-off period after a DPO leaves office and where a person or body takes an action where its intended purpose is to void or circumvent the obligations imposed by the Act.

Section 7 is an amendment to section 22 of the principal Act and will provide for a cooling-off period to be increased to two years. Section 8 is an amendment to section 25 of the principal Act and will give effect to recommendation 15 of SIPO's submissions. Section 9 concerns the Short Title and commencement of the Act. It will provide that the principal Act and the Bill shall be construed together as one Act. It will provide that the Act shall come into operation on such a day or days that the Minister may make by order and that such a day or days shall not be later than 90 days from the date on which the Act is signed into law.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Bill opposed?

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Mairéad Farrell: Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2020: Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Select Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment has completed its consideration of the Further Revised Estimates for public services for the service of the year ending on 31 December 2020 - Vote 32.

  Sitting suspended at 1.14 p.m. and resumed at 1.34 p.m.


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