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Committee of Public Accounts

Posted by bollinsl on 15 November 2011

Leo Bollins
There were some complaints that the 2011 – 2016 Publc Accounts Committee’s ( PAC ) Web page is not coming up high enough in Google. For the record the Committee of Public Accounts Web site is here: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/Committees31stDail/PublicAccounts/document1.htm

Posted in Committees | Leave a Comment »

Oireachtas Committees 2007 – 2011

Posted by bollinsl on 14 June 2011

Paper submitted to TCD

What function do committees serve in the Houses of the Oireachtas?  Which of the principle theories of legislative organisation, if any, (Distributive, Informational or Partisan) best accounts for the origins and practices of the current committee system. 

Leo Bollins

Houses of the Oireachtas Service

 

 

C O N T E N T S

 

 

Introduction. 2

Why do Parliamentary Committees exist?. 2

Categorisation of Committees. 3

Appointment of Committee Members. 3

Election of Chairmen of Committees. 4

Functions of Committees. 6

Making Laws. 6

The Budget 8

Appropriations. 8

Taxation. 8

Oversight of the Executive. 8

Administration of the Parliament 9

Theories of Legislative Organisation. 10

Conclusion. 11

Appendices. 12

Appendix 1 References. 13

Appendix 2 Categorization and Functions of Committees. 15

Appendix 3 Categorised List of Current Committees. 18

Appendix 4 Committee Chairmen, Members, Departments Marked. 22

Appendix 5 Appropriation Example. 27

Appendix 6 Comparison of Principal Theories in the Oireachtas. 29

Appendix 7 Number of Departmental Legislative Committees (1989-2010) 32

Appendix 8 Committees Activity 2009 – 2010. 33

 

 

Introduction

 

“A legislative committee is a sub group of legislators… entrusted with specific organisational tasks… designed to promote majority rule but also to protect minority rights” [Strom 1998. p22]

 

The functions of committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas have changed dramatically since the 1980s. Despite the fact that committees have no constitutional status, their power and influence is growing.

 

While Oireachtas Committees date back to the 1920s, permanent departmental legislative committees were first set up in 1993 (see table 1, appendix 7).

 

This paper will outline why committee exist, how members are appointed, how chairmen are selected, and the roles of different types of committee.

 

Why do Parliamentary Committees exist?

 

It is suggested (Kaare Strom p2] that legislative organisation generates two forms of differentiation: hierarchy and specialisation – and most committees are vehicles of specialisation. The recent neo-institutional literature stresses the following functions:

  1. Economies of operation.
  2. Gains from Trade.
  3. Information Acquisition.
  4. Partisan Co-ordination.

 

Committees can work in parallel, while the House could only work on one matter at a time. This is generally accepted and non-controversial benefit of committees

 

Oireachtas committees have been strengthened by the removal of some impediments over recent years:

  • Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act 1997.
  • Use of the Internet to make committee proceedings available to all in a timely manner as text and as live and recorded video.
  • Absolute privilege is now granted to all witnesses appearing before committees. [2010]

 

Categorisation of Committees

 

I have categorized Oireachtas committees by function as follows:

  • Departmental Committees – marking government departments
    • Dáil select committees – department’s  budget, output statements
    • Joint Committee – general policy
  • Topical Committees – matters of topical interest, e.g. Climate Change
  • General Committees – matters of more general interest, e.g. EU Affairs
  • Internal Committees – looking after the administration of parliament
  • Other Committees, bodies, and delegations

 

(See appendix 2 for more details of the categories, and appendix 3 for the list of current committees in each category)

 

Committees are certainly busy with 414 meetings from January to July in 2010. However, it is somewhat surprising that only 3 committee reports were debated in the Dáil, and only two reports were debated in the Seanad during 2010 (see appendix 8).

 

Appointment of Committee Members

 

It is a matter for each party to decide how its committee members are selected, but Dangaard [Erik Dangaard p 314] suggests the following factors that influence party decisions:

  • Member preferences are incompatible – there are more candidates than seats for popular committees;
  • Incumbency and seniority will put newcomers at a disadvantage;
  • Competence, knowledge and expertise are important, but the party needs members to go on unpopular committees whether they like it or not.

 

Dangaard [Erik Dangaard p 320] goes on to say that the benefits for members of committees are:

  • Get seats on better and more prestigious committees
  • Become chairmen of committees
  • Advance in the party group hierarchy
  • Get leading positions within parliament as a whole
  • Be promoted to government posts

 

In the Dáil, committee assignments are formally made by order of the house, in the Seanad assignments are formally made by the Committee of Selection.

 

In each case this is done following the negotiations between the party whips and the Government Chief Whip.

 

The government parties ensure that they have a majority on all committees. Departmental Joint committees usually have 15 members as follows:

  • 11 Deputies on the Dáil select committee (6 government and five opposition deputies) and
  • 4 Senators on the Seanad select committee (2 government and 2 opposition senators).

 

The parties control committee assignments.  Assignment to a prestigious committee is seen as a reward, and removal is a punishment.  The Labour Deputy Tommy Broughan was punished for not supporting the Labour Party’s position on stag hunting in the Dáil on Tuesday, 29 June 2010, by being replaced on the Committee of Public Accounts by Deputy Pat Rabbitte on 8 July 2010.

 

Election of Chairmen of Committees

 

Committee chairmen are formally elected by their respective committees. Departmental Joint Committees must have the same chairman as the Dáil select committee.

 

In practice, the chairmen posts are negotiated between the party whips and the Government Chief Whip in advance of the first meeting of the committee.

 

Out of 30 committees of the current Dáil and Seanad that I have examined (appendix 4), 7 have non government chairmen, 4 have ex officio chairmen, and 19 have government chairmen. In other words, 77% of committee chairmen are either government party members or ex officio chairmen.

 

Of the 12 departmental / legislative committees, only two are chaired by non government members: Deputy Willie Penrose (The Labour Party) and Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae (Independent).  The independent member invariably supports the government, so only one chairman (or 8%) is truly non government.

 

Functions of Committees

 

“In parliaments of the Westminster tradition committees are in many ways microcosms of the larger legislature. The majority party / parties in the legislature as a whole is also the committee majority, and often controls all committee chairmanships.”  [Kaare Strom. 1998. P65]

 

In the Westminster model, the role of parliament can be defined as follows:

  • Making Laws
  • The Budget:
    • Appropriations
    • Taxation
  • Oversight of the executive
  • Administration of the Parliament

 

The function of committees can be viewed as the delegation of the functions of the Houses to committees under these categories, together with a representative role on international bodies.

 

In the Westminster model the institution of Cabinet government confers proposal power, agenda setting power and effective control of the amendment process on the Cabinet, so there is little need for a reconciliation between the houses as the Cabinet will choose policies that will survive both houses. [Shepsle and Weingast. 1987. p 102]

 

Making Laws

 

In general, after a bill has passed the first and second stages in the chamber, it will either:

(a) be referred by the House for committee stage to a select committee (usual procedure in the Dáil) or

(b) taken in a committee of the Whole House (usual procedure in the Seanad).

 

The committee will consider the bill section by section, and may amend the bill. The amended bill is reported to the House for report stage.

 

A problem with this procedure is that the committee may not redraft the bill (unless the House makes a “notwithstanding standings orders” order allowing the committee to do so). The committee’s influence on legislation may be consequently limited as it is already drafted when they see the bill.

 

On occasion, the heads of a bill (draft bill) may be referred to a Joint Committee. The committee may invite submissions on the heads, and hold hearings. In this way the committee may have an influence on policy formulation. An example of this was the Broadcasting Bill in 2008, where the Joint Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural resources engaged in an eConsultation exercise. [ECRG 2007]

 

The Budget

 

Appropriations

 

Under Irish Financial Procedures, Government Departments may only spend four fifths of their previous year’s budget (with the consent of the Minister for Finance) until their Estimate has been passed by the Dáil [D/Finance2008, B1.2.2].

 

The practice is that the estimates are first referred by the Dáil to the appropriate departmental select committee which will have a meeting with the relevant Minister to discuss the estimate, and will report to the Dáil stating that the Estimate “was considered”.  The estimate will then be passed by the Dáil. See appendix 5 for an example of the consideration of an estimate.

 

Taxation

 

Taxes are authorised as part of the Finance Bill, which is referred to a committee.

The committee can consider the bill section by section, and make amendments thereto.

 

However, the committee is not empowered to increase taxes – that must be proposed by the Government – it can only reduce taxes.

 

Oversight of the Executive

 

While committees are not empowered to ask questions of Ministers akin to question time in the Dáil, there are a number of ways that a committee can over see the executive both ex ante and ex post.

 

Departmental / Legislative select committees may consider the following ((according to their orders of reference) in relation to the relevant Department

 

  • Ex ante
    • Bills
    • Estimates
    • International agreements;
  • Ex post
    • Annual Output Statements
    • Value for Money
    • Policy Reviews

 

The Dáil Committee of Public Accounts, perhaps the most powerful Oireachtas committee, considers the appropriation accounts of Government departments and the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

 

Joint Committees can consider the following (see Appendix 2 for more details) matters related to broad policy matters in relation to the relevant Department or bodies under its aegis:

 

  • such public affairs as it may select;
  • such matters of policy, including EU related matters, as it may select;
  • annual reports and accounts, statements of strategy and corporate plans.

 

In this way the departmental joint committees have a broad mission to oversee the executive.

 

An interesting case in 1998 was where a regulator refused to appear before a committee. The regulator was eventually forced to appear – a salutary lesson for any recalcitrant public official. [Jonathan Westrup, page 11]

 

Administration of the Parliament

 

The Houses have a number of committees concerned with the administration of parliament, which is consistent with the separation of powers doctrine.

 

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, the “board” of the parliament, is responsible for the administration of the parliament. The Joint Administration Committee looks after administrative matters concerning the Houses, and refers matters to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission for decision.

 

The Committees on Procedure and Privileges consider procedural matters for each House.

 

Members’ Interests committees look after ethics issues concerning Members, including contraventions of expenses regulations.

 

Theories of Legislative Organisation

 

Political Scientists agree that there are four main reasons why committees exist [Tim Groseclose and David C King. 2000, p2] which may be summarised as follows:

 

  • Information Efficiency Theory
  • Distributive Benefits Theory
  • Majority Party Cartel Theory
  • Bicameral Rivalry Theory

 

Appendix 6 contains an analysis of how the principal theories of legislative organisation apply to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

 

Information Efficiency Theory

 

Scholars cast doubt on this theory reminding us that the legislative majority determines all committee powers and voting rules, and assignments. It the committees systematically thwarted the will of the majority, they would not adopt them. [Strom 1998. p 26]

 

Negative indicators include the fact that committee chairs are not subject to votes of parliamentary parties, and committees have limited gate keeping powers.

 

However, the table suggests support for this theory. The seniority system, in the Irish context party spokesmen, means that members are incentivised to become experts in the field, and would expect career advancement in future.

 

Distributive

 

Given the power of the cabinet in the Irish context, exclusive proposal power in relation to taxes and spending, effective control of the amendment process, one would expect this theory to be of limited effect. This is counterbalanced by oversight powers.

 

As expected, the evidence is mixed here, tending against the theory. However, in practice opposition members are represented on committees.

 

Partisan

 

Given the fact that the parties control committee assignments, and a government majority is assured on each committee, we would expect strong support for this theory.

 

There is little evidence against this theory. As the government parties have a majority on the committees, the existence of gate keeping powers to thwart the House is academic.

 

Bicameral rivalry

 

There is some evidence of this theory. Why is legislation referred to select committees of the Dáil, instead of Joint Committees? The effect is to retain the power in the Dáil.

 

Conclusion

 

Committees are microcosms of the Houses, and have certain powers delegated to them by the Houses. However, they are subject to the Houses.

 

The partisan theory seems the best fit for Oireachtas committees, followed by the informational theory, with limited evidence for distributional and bicameral rivalry theories.

 

Appendices

 

Appendix 1 References

 

 

Department of Finance. 2008. B1.2.2 Public Financial Procedures.
http://www.finance.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=5573

 

Erik Dangaard, How Parties Control Committee Members

 

 

ECRG. 2007. ECRG Evaluation of the Houses of the Oireachtas Pilot e-Consultation for the Proposed Broadcasting Bill

http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=8305

 

Tim Groseclose and David C King. 2000. Committee Theories Revisited, Congress Reconsidered.

 

Keith Krehbielm Kenneth A, Shepsle, and Barry R. Weingast. 1987. Why are Committees Powerful? The American Political Science Review, Vol. 81, No. 3, pp.929-945.

 

Kenneth A. Shepsle and Barry A. Weingast. 1987. American Political Science Review Vol 81

 

Kaare Strom. 1998. Parliamentary Committees in European Democracies, The Journal of Legislative Studies

 

Kaare Strom. Parliamentary Government and Legislative Organisation.

 

Jonathan Westrup. 2007. Regulatory Governance, UCD Geary Institute Discussion Paper Series

 

 

Appendix 2 Categorization and Functions of Committees

Categorization and Functions of Committees [30th Dáil and 23rd Seanad] 2007 – 2012

 

Committees of the current Houses of the Oireachtas can be categorized as follows

 

  • Departmental Committees
    Designed to oversee the work of Government Departments and agencies and bodies under their aegis. There are both Dáil Select Committees and Joint Committees. Seanad Departmental Select committees also exist in theory but in practice do not meet except as part of the Joint Committee. Typical order of references would include
    • Dáil Select Committees – legslation
      Orders of reference: to consider such matters referred to the committee by the Dáil including
      • such Bills the statute law in respect of which is dealt with by the relevant Department;
      • such Estimates for Public Services within the aegis of the relevant Department;
      • motions re the approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of international agreements involving a charge on public funds;
      • Annual Output Statements produced by the relevant Department; and
      • Such Value for Money and Policy Reviews conducted and commissioned by the relevant Department as it may select.
    • Joint Committees – policy
      Orders of reference: to consider matters such as
      • such public affairs administered by the Department as it may select, including, in respect of Government policy, bodies under the aegis of that Department;
      • such matters of policy, including EU related matters, for which the relevant Minister is officially responsible as it may select;
      • such related policy issues as it may select concerning bodies which are partly or wholly funded by the State or which are established or appointed by Members of the Government or by the Oireachtas;
      • such Statutory Instruments made by the Minister for Transport and laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas as it may select;
      • such proposals for EU legislation and related policy issues as may be referred to it from time to time, in accordance with Standing Order 83(4);
      • the strategy statement laid before each House of the Oireachtas by the Minister for Transport pursuant to section 5(2) of the Public Service Management Act 1997, and for which the Joint Committee is authorised for the purposes of section 10 of that Act;
      • such annual reports or annual reports and accounts, required by law and laid before either or both Houses of the Oireachtas, of bodies specified in paragraphs 2(i) and (iii), and the overall operational results, statements of strategy and corporate plans of these bodies, as it may select;
      • such other matters as may be jointly referred to it from time to time by both Houses of the Oireachtas,
        and shall report thereon to both Houses of the Oireachtas
  • Topical Committees
    • These committees deal with issues of topical importance
    • Can be permanent such as the Committee of Public Accounts which is a standing committee
    • Can be semi permanent sectoral committees set up at the beginning of a parliamentary session and continue until the next election,
    • or ad hoc, perhaps with a time limit, such as the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children which under its orders of reference: “shall report back to each House with recommendations in a final report four months from the date of establishment”
  • Internal Committees
    • These committees deal with the internal business of running parliament.
    • Matters such as administration, budgets, Members Interests are handled.
    • Examples are the Committees on Procedure and Privileges, Joint Administration Committee.
  • General Committees
    • These committees have a more general remit
    • Examples include the Joint Committee on European Affairs, and the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny
  • Other Committees and Bodies
    • These committees and bodies are set up by the Houses for specific purposes or delegations are sent to represent the House or Houses.

 

Sources

[Oireachtas Web Site, Lists of committees]

[Oireachtas Web Site, Orders of Reference]

 

 

 

Appendix 3 Categorised List of Current Committees

Categorised List of Committees [30th Dáil and 23rd Seanad] 2007 – 2012

 

  • Departmental Committees
    • Dáil Select Committees – Sectoral Committees
      • Select Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
      • Select Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs
      • Select Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
      • Select Committee on Education and Skills
      • Select Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
      • Select Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
      • Select Committee on Finance and the Public Service
      • Select Committee on Foreign Affairs
      • Select Committee on Health and Children
      • Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Women’s Rights
      • Select Committee on Social Protection
      • Select Committee on Transport
    • Joint Committees – Sectoral Committees – consisting of select committees of Dáil Éireann joined with select committees of Seanad Éireann to form Joint Committees
      • Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
      • Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs
      • Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
      • Joint Committee on Education and Skills
      • Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
        • Sub Committee on Job Creation through the Use of Renewable Resources
      • Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
      • Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service
      • Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs
        • Sub-Committee on Overseas Development
        • Sub-Committee on Human Rights
      • Joint Committee on Health and Children
        • Sub-Committee on the High Level of Suicide in Irish Society
      • Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Women’s Rights
        • Sub Committee on Women’s Participation in Politics
      • Joint Committee on Social Protection
      • Joint Committee on Transport
      • Conjoined Committees – two Joint Committees meeting together
  • Topical Committees
    • Joint Committees
      • Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
      • Joint Committee on Constitution
      • Joint Committee on European Affairs
      • Joint Committee on European Scrutiny
      • Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security
      • Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children
      • Joint Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs
  • General Committees
      • Committee of Public Accounts [Dáil]
      • Joint Committee on European Affairs
      • Joint Committee on European Scrutiny
      • Standing Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.
      • Joint Committee on Private Bills
      • Special Committees
      • Conference Committees
      • Joint committees set up to consider the impeachment of the President or a judge
      • Committee of the Whole House (Dáil)
      • Committee of the Whole House (Seanad)
  • Internal Committees
    • Dáil Committees
      • Committee on Procedure and Privileges [SO99]
        • sub-Committee on Dáil Reform
        • sub-Committee on Compellability
      • Committee on Members’ Interests (functions conferred on it by the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001) [SO101]
    • Seanad Committees
      • Committee of Selection
      • Committee on Procedure and Privileges
        • sub-Committee on Compellability
      • Committee on Members’ Interests (functions conferred on it by the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001)
    • Joint Committees
      • Joint Administration Committee which amalgamates
        • sub-Committee on Members’ Services,
        • Joint House Services Committee and
        • Joint Committee on Broadcasting and Parliamentary Information
      • Joint sub-Committee on Compellability
      • Working Group of Chairmen consisting of the Chairman of each
        • Standing Committee (other than the Committees on Procedure and Privileges),
        • Select Committee,
        • Special Committee, and
        • Joint Committee
    • Houses of the Oireachtas Commission
      • Supported by the Management Committee composed of the Secretary General and four directors.
    • Informal Feedback Forum – members make their views known to the Houses of the Oireachtas Service
    • Parliamentary Parties and Groups (Caucuses in US)
    • Whips (Meetings of the party Whips with the Government Chief Whip to discuss the Dáil agenda)
  • Other Committees, Bodies, and Delegations
  • Government of Ireland – the “Cabinet”
  • British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Assembly
  • Presidential Commission
  • Committee of Privileges (constitutional body dealing with disputes between the Houses over money bills)
  • Delegations
    • Inter-Parliamentary Union (Irish Parliamentary Association) (Cumann Parlaiminteach na hÉireann)
    • Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
    • Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
    • Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU) (Observer status)
    • COSAC (Conférence des organes spécialisés dans les affaires communautaires) (Conference of the Community and European Affairs Committees)
    • Conference of Chairmen of Foreign Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union and the European Parliament
    • Conference of Speakers of EU (European Union) Parliaments
    • Conference of Speakers and Presidents of European Parliaments

 

Source: [Oireachtas Web Site, Lists of committees]

 

Appendix 4 Committee Chairmen, Members, Departments Marked

 

Committee

Number of Members

Chairman Party

Committee No. 1 – 30

 

Joint

Dáil Select

Seanad Select

 

Chairman

G | NG | ex o

Oversight

 

Departmental / Legislative Committees

 

Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 17 13 4 Johnny Brady
Fianna Fáil
1

G

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs 19 13 6 Tom Kitt,
Fianna Fáil
2

G

Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism
and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 15 11 4 M.J. Nolan,
Fianna Fáil
3

G

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Joint Committee on Education and Skills 15 11 4 Paul Gogarty,
Green Party
4

G

Department of Education and Science

Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation 15 11 4 Willie Penrose,
Labour Party
5

NG

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government 15 11 4 Sean Fleming,
Fianna Fáil
6

G

Department
of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service 15 11 4 Michael Ahern
Fianna Fáil
7

G

Department of the Taoiseach

and the Department of Finance;

Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs 17 11 6 Michael Woods,
Fianna Fáil
8

G

Department of Foreign Affairs

Joint Committee on Health and Children 17 13 4 Seán Ó Fearghaíl,
Fianna Fáil
9

G

Department of Health and Children

Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Women’s Rights 17 13 4 Brendan Kenneally,
Fianna Fáil
10

G

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Defence

Joint Committee on Social Protection 15 11 4 Jackie Healy-Rae,
Independent
11

NG

Department of Social and Family Affairs

Joint Committee on Transport 15 11 4 Frank Fahey
Fianna Fáil
12

G

Department of Transport

 

Other Committees

 

Joint Committee on the Constitution 15 11 4 Sean Ardagh
Fianna Fáil
13

G

Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement 15 11 4 Noel Treacy, Fianna Fáil 14

G

Northern Ireland MLAs may attend

Joint Committee on European Affairs 17 11 6 Bernard Durkan,
Fine Gael
15

NG

Irish MEPs may also attend

Joint Committee on European Scrutiny 15 11 4 John Perry
Fine Gael
16

NG

Irish MEPs may also attend

Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security 17 13 4 Dinny McGinley,
Fine Gael
17

NG

Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children 17 13 4 Mary O’Rourke,
Fianna Fáil
18

G

Joint Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs 15 11 4 Michael Moynihan,
Fianna Fáil
19

G

Committee of Public Accounts Na 12 Na Bernard Allen
Fine Gael
20

NG

By convention chaired by an opposition member

Committee on Procedure and Privileges Dáil Na 18 Na Séamus Kirk

Ceann Comhairle

21

Ex officio

Committee on Members’ Interests of Dáil Éireann Na 5 Na Noel O’Flynn 22

G

Committee of Selection Na Na 10 Paddy Burke,
Fine Gael
23

NG

Committee on Procedure and Privileges Seanad Na Na 12 Pat Moylan  Cathaoirleach 24

Ex officio

Committee on Members’ Interests of Seanad Éireann Na Na 7 Pat Moylan Cathaoirleach 25

Ex officio

Joint Administration Committee 23 15 8 Ned O’Keeffe,
Fianna Fáil
26

G

Standing Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills 6 3 3 Sean Fleming Fianna Fáil 27

G

Working Group of Committee Chairmen 24 22 2 Noel O’Flynn Fianna Fáil 28

G

Chairmen of all joint, select, standing, and special committees except Procedure and Privileges

British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body 25 17 8 Niall Blaney (Co-Chair)  Fianna Fáil 29

G

UK Parliaments also represented

Houses of the Oireachtas Commission 11* 6 4 Séamus Kirk
Ceann Comhairle
30

ex officio,
* Houses of the Oireachtas Secretary General is also a member

 

G = Government Chairman

NG = Non Government Chairman

Ex officio = chairman determined by standing orders

 

Out of 30 committees, 7 have non government chairmen, 4 have ex officio chairmen, and 19 have government chairmen. 

 

Of the 12 departmental / legislative committees, only two are chaired by non government members: Willie Penrose (The Labour Party) and Jackie Healy-Rae (Independent), and the independent member invariably supports the government.

 

Source: Oireachtas Web site

http://www.oireachtas.ie/ViewDoc.asp?fn=/documents/committees30thdail/JointCommittee_list.htm&CatID=12&m=k

 

 

Appendix 5 Appropriation Example

 

Department of Transport 2009 €3.1 billion

 

This is a brief summary of how the appropriation for the Department of Transport was processed by the Houses of the Oireachtas during 2009.

 

There was little debate in the Houses. While the select committee did discuss the estimate, no report was made to the Dáil, so there was no debate in the Dáil.

 

(1) Circulation and referral of Estimates to select committees

 

Circulation of Revised Estimates 2009: Motion. Thursday, 23 April 2009 Dáil Eireann Debate Vol. 680 No. 4

 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Brian Lenihan):     I move:

 

That, notwithstanding Standing Order 154(1) or (2) of the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business, Revised Estimates for the Public Services for the year ending 31st December 2009, be presented to the Dáil and circulated to members on 23rd April 2009, being a date later than that prescribed for the presentation of Estimates and that the Revised Estimates be referred to Select Committees pursuant to Standing Order 154(3) and paragraph (1)(a)(ii) of each Committee’s Orders of Reference.”

 

Question put and declared carried.

 

(2) Consideration of the Estimates by the select committee and report agreed

 

Committee consideration – Select Committee on Transport – 16 June 2009

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=TRS20090616.XML&Ex=All&Page=1

Message to the Dáil

 

“The Select Committee on Transport has completed its consideration of the following Estimates for public services for the year ending 31 December 2009: Vote 32 — Department of Transport (Revised).”

 

Appropriation of sums voted for supply services, totalling €47,868,895,000.

Appropriation Bill 2009 – text and debate available here

http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=13753&&CatID=59

 

(3) Message from select committee read to the Dáil

 

Estimates for Public Services 2009: Messages from Select Committees.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009 Dáil Éireann Debate

Vol. 684 No. 5

 

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

 

… the Select Committee on Transport has completed its consideration of Vote 32 for the year ending 31 December 2009;…

 

 

(4) Estimates agreed by the Dáil

 

Estimates for Public Services 2009.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009 Dáil Eireann Debate

Vol. 685 No. 4

 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Brian Lenihan):     I move the following Revised Estimates:

 

 

Vote 32 — Transport (Revised Estimate).

 

That a sum not exceeding €2,515,935,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2009, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Transport, including certain services administered by that Office, for payment of certain grants and certain other services, and that a sum not exceeding €78,500,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

 

An Ceann Comhairle:     Question put, “That the Revised Estimates for public services, Votes 1 to 41, inclusive, for the year ending 31 December 2009 be agreed to.”

 

The Dáil divided: Tá, 73; Níl, 63.

 

(5) Appropriation Bill passed by the Dáil – no debate

 

Appropriation Bill 2009: Second and Subsequent Stages.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009 Dáil Eireann Debate

Vol. 698 No. 4

 

An Ceann Comhairle:     In accordance with the Order of the House today, I must put the following question: “That the Bill is hereby read a Second Time; that sections 1 to 4, inclusive, Schedules 1 and 2, and the Title are hereby agreed to in Committee, and the Bill is, accordingly, reported to the House without amendment; that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed.”

 

Deputy Emmet Stagg:     I wish to oppose this measure.

 

Question put.

 

The Dáil divided: Tá, 73; Níl, 69.

 

(6) Appropriation Bill Passed by the Seanad

 

Appropriation Bill 2009 [Certified Money Bill]: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

 

Bill reported without recommendation, received for final consideration and ordered to be returned to the Dáil.

Appendix 6 Comparison of Principal Theories in the Oireachtas

 

 

  Informational Distributive Partisan Bicameral Rivalry
Legislative committees are separate not joint across the chambers

Information could be provided by one committee, why use two?

Could be supplied by one committee – why need two?

?

Not clear if support for party re-election chances in other house

+

House (Dáil) keeps power to its own committees, not shared with other House (Seanad)

Opposition Parties receives Committee Seats +

Committee representative of House

+

Interests from opposition are represented

If Government parties are cartel why give seats to opposition?

+/-

Theory not party based

Proportionate seats for opposition parties +

Committee representative of House

Not matched to highest demanders

If Government parties are cartel why give seats to opposition?

+/-

Theory not party based

Seniority System – based on Spokespersons? +

Spokespersons will have seniority, incentive to specialise

 

Career incentive also

+

Intense interests cannot be easily removed, aim may be a Cabinet position or chair

Takes away power from party leadership, parliamentary parties

+/-

Theory only interested in maximising resources for House

Committee chairs are subject to votes of parliamentary parties

Would not support information theory

Would not support distributive theory

+

More power to the parties

+/-

Theory not party based

Committees have limited gate keeping powers -/+

Less power to floor median

+

Committees must have gate keeping powers to protect previous logrolls

-/+

Committees are usually controlled by the Government parties, so gate keeping power is irrelevant

+

Committee must have gate keeping power to get extra resources for the chamber

Discharge motions / Guillotine motions +/-

House retains the power to discharge an bill from a committee, or make a guillotine order

Restricts gate keeping power, hence ability to enforce logrolls

?

Stops committees from thwarting the will of the Government parliamentary parties

Negates hurdle that committee create

 

 

+ = evidence supports theory

– = evidence does not support theory

 

 

Based on analysis by Tim Groseclose and David C King. 2000.

 

 

Appendix 7 Number of Departmental Legislative Committees (1989-2010)

 

Dates House Number of Departmental Legislative Committees
2007 – 2012 30th Dáil 12
2002 – 2007 29th Dáil 12
1997 – 2002 28th Dáil 12
1993 – 1997 27th Dáil 5
1989 – 1992 26th Dáil 0
Table 1 Number of Departmental Legislative Committees (1989-2010)
Source [On-line Committee Archives]

 

 

 

 

Appendix 8 Committees Activity 2009 – 2010

 

 

 

Committees (1/1/2010 to 31/7/2010)

No. of Committee meetings (Total)

414

No. of Committee sitting hours (Total)

722

No. of Committee reports (Total)

61

Committee Reports debated in Dáil (Total)

3

Committee Reports debated in Seanad (Total)

2

   

Committees (1/1/2009 to 31/12/2009)

No. of Committee meetings (Total)

571

No. of Committee sitting hours (Total)

1,032

No. of Committee reports (Total)

58

Committee Reports debated in Dáil (Total) N/A
Committee Reports debated in Seanad (Total) N/A
   
Table 2: Committee Activity 2009 and January – July 2010

Source: Oireachtas MIF (Management Information Framework) Unit

 

 

Posted in Committees | Leave a Comment »

Delegated Legislation and Article 15.2

Posted by bollinsl on 14 June 2011

Paper submitted to TCD

The impact of Article 15.2 on the power of a Minister to make delegated legislation.

Leo Bollins

14 June 2011

CONTENTS

Introduction.. 3

Administrative power or legislative power?.. 5

The principles and policies test. 5

Comments on Article 15.2.. 11

Summary.. 13

Appendix 1: References. 14

Appendix 2: List of Cases. 15

Exhibit A Check List. 17

Exhibit B: Extracts from the Constitution of Ireland.. 19

Exhibit C: Extracts from the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1927   20

Exhibit D: Extract from the European Communities Amendment Acts 1972 – 2009   22

Exhibit E: Extract from the Programme for Government 2011.. 24

Introduction

Article 6.1 of the 1937 Constitution establishes the separation of powers principle:

“All powers of government: legislative, executive, and judicial, derive from the people…”

Article 15.2 states that only the Oireachtas can make laws for the State:

“The sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is hereby vested in the Oireachtas: no other legislative authority has power to make laws for the State.”

However, in practical terms, the legislature would not have the time to legislate for every detail. The courts have accepted that it may be necessary to delegate certain limited legislative functions. [Kelly 2003, p 235]

The Cityview test states that the parent act must contain “principles and policies” while the delegated legislation may only fill in the details. However, the courts have taken a pragmatic approach in practice by not being too stringent when applying the test.

Nevertheless, the powers of a Minister to make delegated legislation are severely limited by Article 15.2 as interpreted by the courts.

The Constitution Review Group is of the opinion that the Article makes it difficult to fill in gaps left in an Act or to deal with specific details which were not anticipated. [CRG p 39]

There are provisions for parliamentary scrutiny and annulment of statutory instruments implementing EU law (see exhibit D).

A suggested checklist of questions to be asked when considering if a delegated legislation proposal is valid is included in Exhibit A, and the major issues are discussed below.

Definition of delegated legislation

Delegated legislation may be defined as legislation made by a body authorised to do so by the Oireachtas, in this case by the executive (members of the Government (Cabinet Ministers)).

The Statutory Instruments Act 1947 includes this definition:

“… the expression “statutory instrument” means an order, regulation, rule, scheme or bye-law made in exercise of a power conferred by statute.”

Another form of delegated legislation is the set of financial resolutions proposed by the Minister for Finance following his Budget speech and passed by the Dáil hours later. These amendments to Acts of the Oireachtas in relation to taxation are effective for four months unless they are confirmed by an Act of the Oireachtas.

See Exhibit C: Extracts from the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1927.

Administrative power or legislative power?

The first question that arises is whether the power in question is legislative power delegated or administrative power assigned.

The former is questionable under Article 15.2, the latter is permissible constitutionally as the Constitution does not assign administrative power to the Oireachtas.

In Re Article 26 and the Health Amendment (No. 2) Bill 2004 the Supreme Court held that power given to the CEO of a Health Board to remit nursing home charges was not a delegation of legislative power but merely an administrative function.

The court did not precisely define the difference between legislative and administrative powers, but Doyle [Doyle 2008 p313 [11-08]] said that

“… the distinction surely turns on the power to lay down generally binding rules.”

In this case the CEO’s discretion covered certain cases only, and as an administrative power it would not fall foul of Article 15.2.

The principles and policies test

The idea is that principles and policies should be dealt with by primary legislation of the Oireachtas while details may be handled by secondary legislation.

This test is easy to state but difficult to apply.

In Cityview Press v An Comhairle Oiliúna [1980] IR 381 the Supreme Court had to consider whether levies imposed on a designated industry were an unauthorised delegation of parliamentary power or merely giving effect to principles and policies contained in the statute itself, that is the law is contained in the statute and the Minister or subordinate body is only filling in the details.

The court found that there was no unauthorised delegation of authority because:

“The Act contains clear declarations of policies and aims and establishes machinery for the carrying out of those policies and the achievement of those aims…

This is doing no more than adding the final detail bringing into operation the general law which is laid down by the section…

In addition the Oireachtas has taken care to ensure that a levy order made under this section will continue to be under the supervision of either house of the legislature itself…. A levy order may be annulled by either House of the legislature.”  [O’Higgins, CJ] [Doyle 2008, p314]

However, it is suggested that this test is not applied with stringent rigour.  David Gwynn Morgan says [Morgan 1997, p 239], writing about the judgment,

“And yet there is nothing here, or in the Act itself which tells us anything about the principles to be used in fixing the amount of the levy…”

Morgan goes on to quote Professor Casey (Casey, Constitutional Law inIreland, p181):

“If provisions of such vagueness can pass muster it is not easy to imagine what would not.”

McDaid v Sheehy [1991] was a case where the High Court did find provisions of an act (Imposition of Duties Act 1957) unconstitutional having applied the principles and policies test. However, this was overturned on appeal on the grounds that the delegated legislation was granted retrospective validity because it was referenced in the Finance Act 1976, and the principles and policies text should not apply. [Doyle 2008, p314, [11-13].

The Laurentiu v Minister for Justice [1999] case was the only case where legislation (s 5(1)(e) of the Aliens Act 1935) was struck down because it failed the principles and policies test.  Keane J (with whom Hamilton CJ concurred) found that

“The Oireachtas of Saorstát Éireann did not legislate for deportation. It merely permitted the Minister for Justice to legislate for deportation.”

Keane J also found that the parliamentary control procedure (annulment resolution of either House) could save an enactment which was otherwise clearly in breach of Article 15.2. [Doyle 2008, p 317, [11-17]]

In the High Court Leontjawa v DPP and Chang [2004] Finlay Geoghean J held that the Aliens Order 1946 made under S 5(1)(h) of the Aliens Act 1935 fell foul of the principles and policies test for much the same reasons as stated by Keane J in Laurentiu.

However on appeal this was overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the policy enunciated in 5(1)(h) was clear.

Thus it seems that the courts apply the principles and policies test in a restrictive way,

“and draw the false inference that if the primary legislation deals with some matters of policies and principles then all the primary legislation deals with all matters of principle and policy.” [Doyle 2008, p 318, [11-23]]

Henry VIII Clauses: Non delegation & Ultra Vires doctrines

The Oireachtas cannot delegate power to amend legislation.

In East Donegal Co-operative Ltd v Attorney General [1970] the Supreme Court following on from the presumption that all post 1937 acts are constitutional, held that where two or more interpretations of a statutory provision are open, and where only one is constitutional, the court ought to adopt the constitutional reading. This will limit the scope of the provision and increase the likelihood that the public authority will have acted ultra vires. [Doyle 2008, p321]

In Cooke v Walsh [1984] the Supreme Court found that regulations made by the Minister for Health providing that health services would not be available to persons injured in a car crash unless they can establish that they are not entitled to compensation or damages from a third person were ultra vires the Health Act 1970, as the legislative could not have delegated such power. [Doyle 2008, p322]

O’Higgins CJ reasoned that

“This is, in reality, an attempt to amend the two sections by ministerial regulation instead if by appropriate legislation. In my view the National Parliament could not and did not intend to give such a power to the Minister for Health when it enacted section 72 of the Health Act 1970.”

The effect of this case and Harvey v Minister for Social Welfare [1990] is that the Supreme Court has outlawed the so called Henry VIII clauses. That is a Minister may not amend primary legislation by using delegated legislation, and may not act inconsistent with primary legislation. [Doyle 2008, p 324, [11-34 – 11-36]]

Effect of EU Membership

Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 (see Exhibit D) grants legal status to Community law withinIreland, and is protected by Article 29.4.

Section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 enables a Minister to make regulations to implement Community law.

Section 3 is clearly a Henry VIII clause as it allows a Minister of State to amend primary legislation by regulation, and would be unconstitutional except for Article 29.4.

This was decided by the Supreme Court in Meagher v Minister for Agriculture [1994] where the applicant had been prosecuted under regulations that amended primary legislation. [Doyle 2008, p393]

Finlay CJ delivering the judgement of the court said

“The court is accordingly satisfied that the power to make regulations in the form in which it is contained in section 3(2) of the Act is necessitated by the obligations of the State of the Communities and now of theUnionand is therefore virtue of Article 29.4 subsections 3, 4 and 5 immune from constitutional challenge.”

While the constitutionality of S 3 of the Act was upheld, it does not mean that this is appropriate in all cases.

In the context of the regulations at issue Denham J formulated her approach in terms of the Cityview case:

“Where there is in fact no choice on a policy or a principle the matter is appropriate for delegated legislation. If the directive or the Minister envisaged a choice then it would require legislation by the Oireachtas…”

In Maher v Minister for Agriculture [2001] the Supreme Court found that even though there was some choice open to the Minister, the principles and policies were to be found in European Law and consequently the making of the regulation was not an impermissible use of the Oireachtas legislative power. [Doyle 2008, p396]

In Browne v Attorney General [2003] the Supreme Court found that S 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 could not be used to make regulations creating an indictable offence. However, Browne was reversed by the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1997 and indictable offences may be created now. [Doyle 2008, p399]

Comments on Article 15.2

The Constitution Review Group (CRG) felt that Article 15.2.1 as interpreted in the Cityview Press Ltd v AnCO [1980] case severely restricts the power of Ministers to make statutory instruments or subordinate legislation, by subjecting the delegated legislation to the “principles and policies” test. Subsequent cases have taken both a broad and narrow interpretation of this test.  [CRG 1996, p39]

The CRG felt that

“… the effect of the test was to make it difficult to make secondary legislation to fill gaps left by a Act of the Oireachtas or to deal with specific details which may not have been anticipated when the Act was passed… for example with matters such as rapidly developing technology or matters of detail affecting different areas in different ways”.

The CRG spoke of the attractions of subordinate legislation

“… in view of the complex, intricate and ever changing situations which confront both the legislature and the executive in the modern state”.

The CRG noted that

“The court referred to the practice of making secondary legislation subject to annulment by either House of Parliament but while this was a measure of control the two Houses of the Oireachtas are not the Oireachtas as such.”

The CRG said that consideration should be given to amending Article 15.2.1 to extend the limits of what the Government or a Minister (and no others) may legislate using a statutory instrument beyond the Ctyview test, to include matters of substance in the parent Act. However, safeguards should be included to maintain the supremacy of the Oireachtas, such as a requirement that a positive resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas must be passed before the secondary legislation comes into force. There was some concern that such a procedure by bypassing the normal legislative process would undermine the power of the President to refer a bill to the Supreme Court under Article 26 of the Constitution.

Article 15.2.2 provides for the Constitution to accommodate an “agreedIreland”. This subsection could also be used to delegate certain limited rule or law making powers to local authorities. [CRG 1008, p42]


Summary

The power of a Minister to make delegated legislation is limited by Article 15.2.

Delegated legislation must pass the principles and policies (Cityview) test.

However, the courts have allowed certain flexibility in the application of the Cityview test, preferring to accept the presumption of constitutionality of the parent Act (if post 1937) and reply on the ultra vires doctrine.

Henry VIII clauses are invalid, except where necessitated by EU membership.

Appendix 1: References

[Byrne 2009] Byrne and McCutcheon on the Irish Legal System,BloomsburyProfessional, 2009

[CRG 1996] Constitution Review Group, Report of the Constitution Review Group, 1997

[Donovan 2010] Donovan, Dorothy, The Irish Legal System, Round Hall, 2010

[Doyle 2008] Doyle,Oran, Constitutional Law: Text, Cases and Materials, Clarus Press Limited, 2008

[Kelly 2003], Kelly J.M., The Irish Constitution, Fourth Edition, Tottel Publishing Ltd., 2006

[Morgan 1997], Morgan, David Gwynn, Separation of Powers in the Irish Constitution, Round Hall Sweet and Maxwell, 1997

Appendix 2: List of Cases

Browne v Attorney General [2003]

The Supreme Court found that s 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 could not be used to make regulations creating an indictable offence.

Cityview Press v An Comhairle Oiliúna [1980] IR 381

Supreme Court – “the test as to whether delegated power is constitutional or not is whether the power is no more than merely giving effect to principles and policies which are contained in the parent Act”

[Donovan 2010, p26]

Also parliamentary scrutiny

[Doyle 2008, p313-314]

Laurentiu v Minister for Justice [1999]

This is the only case where legislation has actually struck down as a breach of Article 15.2.1.

Leontjawa v DPP and Chang [2004]

Finlay Geoghegan J held that s 5(1)(h) fell foul of the principles and policies test for much the same reasons as stated by Keane J in Laurentiu.

McDaid v Sheehy [1991]

Section of Act found unconstitutional under Article 15.2 and principles and policies test but overturned by the Supreme Court because retrospective validity by reference granted to section of Act.

Meagher v Minister for Agriculture [1994]

Supreme Court held that it was constitutional for a Minister to amend primary legislation by regulation where it was necessitated by membership of the European Community, nowUnion.

Re Article 26 and the Health Amendment (No. 2) Bill 2004

The Supreme Court held that power given to the CEO of a Health Board to remit nursing home charges was not a delegation of legislative power but merely an administrative function [Doyle 2008, P 313, [11-07 – 11-08]]

Exhibit A Check List

Check list to determine if a proposal (delegated legislation) is valid in terms of Article 15.2

The following series of questions could be asked in relation to delegated legislation to determine if it falls foul of Article 15.2. The questions need not necessarily be asked in this order.

1)     Is the proposal delegated legislative power or assigned administrative power?

  1. If administrative power it is presumed to be valid (at least under this article 15.2)
  2. If it is delegated legislative power then further consideration is necessary – go to 2

2)     Is the proposal necessitated by EU membership with little discretion given to the State?

  1. Yes

                                                              i.      Apply principles and policies test (using EU law to source principles and policies) – if yes

  1. Use European Communities Act 1972 – 2007 to make SI
  2. Or use other relevant Act to make SI

                                                             ii.      If no go to 3

  1. No – go to 3

3)     Does the proposal satisfy the principles and policies (Cityview) test?

  1. Yes – go to 4
  2. No – invalid (only if there are no principles or policies in the parent Act)

4)     Does the proposal use a Henry VIII clause in the parent Act? (Power to amend a law)

  1. Yes – invalid
  2. No – go to 5

5)     Is the proposal ultra vires the parent act? (if the act is post 1937 it is presumed constitutional, and if more than one reading of the Act is possible use the constitutional reading)

  1. Yes – invalid
  2. No – go to 6

6)     Is the relevant section in the parent Act unconstitutional?

  1. Yes – invalid
  2. No – go to 7

7)     Is the proposal male fides?

  1. Yes – invalid
  2. No – go to 8

8)     Is the proposal coming from a subordinate legislature in accordance with law? (Article 15.1.2 but no cases or statute law so far)

  1. Yes – valid
  2. No – go to 9

9)     Is the proposal (or the effect if implemented) unconstitutional?

  1. Yes – invalid
  2. No – valid

Exhibit B: Extracts from the Constitution of Ireland

Article 6.1

All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.

Article 15.2.1

The sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is hereby vested in the Oireachtas: no other legislative authority has power to make laws for the State.

Article 15.2.2

Provision may be made however, by law for the creation r recognition of subordinate legislatures and for the powers and functions of these legislatures.

Exhibit C: Extracts from the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1927

Resolutions of the Dáil relating to tax and amending Acts of the Oireachtas to have statutory effect for up to four months.

Extract from the Act follows.

Certain resolutions to have statutory effect.

2.—Whenever a resolution (in this Act referred to as a resolution under this Act) is passed by the Committee on Finance resolving—

  (a) that a new tax specified in the resolution be imposed, or

  (b) that a specified permanent tax in force immediately before the end of the previous financial year be increased, reduced, or otherwise varied, or be abolished, or

  (c) that a specified temporary tax in force immediately before the end of the previous financial year be renewed (whether at the same or a different rate and whether with or without modification) as from the date of its normal expiration or from an earlier date or be discontinued on a date prior to the date of its normal expiration,

  and the resolution contains a declaration that it is expedient in the public interest that the resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of this Act, the resolution shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, have statutory effect as if contained in an Act of the Oireachtas.

Duration of statutory effect of resolution.

4.—(1) A resolution under this Act shall cease to have statutory effect in or upon the happening of whichever of the following events first occurs, that is to say:—

  (a) if the resolution is not agreed to, with or without modification, by Dáil Eireann within the next ten days on which Dáil Eireann sits after the resolution is passed by the Committee on Finance;

  (b) if Dáil Eireann disagrees with the resolution;

  (c) if a Bill containing provisions to the same effect (with or without modification) as the resolution is not read a second time by Dáil Eireann within the next twenty days on which Dáil Eireann sits after the resolution is agreed to by Dáil Eireann;

  (d) if those provisions of the said Bill are rejected by Dáil Eireann during the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas;

  (e) the coming into operation of an Act of the Oireachtas containing provisions to the same effect (with or without modification) as the resolution;

  (f) the dissolution of Dáil Eireann before any such Act as aforesaid is passed by the Oireachtas;

  (g) the expiration of a period of four months from the date on which the resolution is expressed to take effect or, where no such date is expressed, from the passing of the resolution by the Committee on Finance.

  (2) When a resolution under this Act is agreed to by Dáil Éireann with modifications, the resolution shall have statutory effect under this Act with and subject to such modifications.

Exhibit D: Extract from the European Communities Amendment Acts 1972 – 2009

Annulment procedures are included.

General provision. 2.

(1)

From the 1st day of January, 1973, the treaties governing the European Communities and the existing and future acts adopted by the institutions of those Communities and by bodies competent under the said treaties shall be binding on the State and shall be part of the domestic law thereof under the conditions laid down in those treaties.
   

(2)

Without prejudice to subsection (1) of this section, from the coming into force of the EEA Agreement, the provisions of that Agreement and the acts to be adopted by institutions established by that Agreement which, pursuant to the treaties governing the European Communities, will be binding on the State and an integral part of the legal order of those Communities, shall have the force of law in the State on the conditions laid down in those treaties and in that Agreement.
Power to make regulations. 3.

  (1)

A Minister of State may make regulations for enabling section 2 of this Act to have full effect.
   

(2)

Regulations under this section may contain such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister making the regulations to be necessary for the purposes of the regulations (including provisions repealing, amending or applying, with or without modification, other law, exclusive of this Act).
   

(3)

Regulations under this section shall not create an indictable offence.
   

(3)

Regulations under this section may—
   

 

(a)

make provision for offences under the regulations to be prosecuted on indictment, where the Minister of the Government making the regulations considers it necessary for the purpose of giving full effect to—
   

 

 

(i)

a provision of the treaties governing the European Communities, or
   

 

 

(ii)

an act, or provision of an act, adopted by an institution of the European Communities or any other body competent under those treaties,
   

 

 

and
   

 

(b)

make such provision as that Minister of the Government considers necessary for the purpose of ensuring that penalties in respect of an offence prosecuted in that manner are effective and proportionate, and have a deterrent effect, having regard to the acts or omissions of which the offence consists, provided that the maximum fine (if any) shall not be greater than €500,000 and the maximum term of imprisonment (if any) shall not be greater than 3 years.
   

(4)

Regulations under this section may be made before the 1st day of January, 1973, but regulations so made shall not come into operation before that day.

Annulment of an SI which applied EU law and creates an indictable offence

  3.A Every regulation to which subsection (3) (inserted by section 2(a) of the European Communities Act 2007) of section 3 of this Act applies shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House withinthe next 21 days on which that House sits after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

Annulment of and SI which applied EU law

4.

(1)

(a)

Regulations under this Act shall have statutory effect
 

 

(b)

If the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs Joint Committee on European Affairs (1995 amendment) recommends to the Houses of the Oireachtas that any regulations under this Act be annulled and a resolution annulling the regulations is passed by both such Houses within one year after the regulations are made, the regulations shall be annulled accordingly and shall cease to have statutory effect, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.


Exhibit E: Extract from the Programme for Government 2011

http://www.finegael.ie/upload/ProgrammeforGovernmentFinal.pdf

Transposing EU Legislative Measures

The situation can no longer be tolerated where Irish Ministers enact EU legislation by statutory instrument. The checks and balances of parliamentary democracy are by-passed. The parliamentary treatment accorded home-produced draft legislation must be extended to draft legislation initiated within the EU institutions.

The Regulatory Impact Assessments prepared for Ministers on all EU Directives and significant Regulations will be forwarded automatically to the relevant sectoral Oireachtas Committees. These Committees should advise the Minister and the Joint Committee on European Affairs as to whether the transposition should take place by Statutory Instrument or by primary legislation. Where primary legislation is recommended the full Oireachtas plenary process should be followed.

Posted in Legislation On-line | Leave a Comment »

Dáil Éireann – Podcast experiment

Posted by bollinsl on 18 February 2010

The full text of the Official report of the Parliamentary Debates of Dáil Éireann on 16 September 2009 are available on this page as HTML

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=DAL20090916.XML&Dail=30&Ex=All&Page=1

and as PDF (with a table of contents) in this file

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/Xml/30/DAL20090916.PDF

An experimental Podcast of Dáil Éieann (Parliament of Ireland) provided by HEAnet is available on these links:

http://flashhost.heanet.ie/podcast/

Audio: http://flashhost.heanet.ie/podcast/oiraudio.xml

Video: http://flashhost.heanet.ie/podcast/oirvideo.xml

Posted in Oireachtas TV | Leave a Comment »

Dáil Éireann on YouTube with Subtitles

Posted by bollinsl on 17 February 2010

The full text of the Official report of the Parliamentary Debates of Dáil Éireann on 16 September 2009 are available on this page as HTML

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=DAL20090916.XML&Dail=30&Ex=All&Page=1

and as PDF (with a linked table of contents) in this file

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/Xml/30/DAL20090916.PDF

An experimental video recording of a small extract of the  Dáil debate linked to the text of the debate is available on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRW5YE1EPBw

The clp was transcoded by HEAnet from a raw broadcasting file supplied by the Oireachtas Broadcasting Unit. This version of the file is usually supplied to broadcasters, and no captions are provided.

However,  subtitles are available. In the bottom right corner of the player, you can switch on subtitles. These were synchronised from a plain text file of that day’s debate.

Subtitles are available in several languages.

YouTube is also able to timestamp the text, see below.

0:00:00.080,0:00:03.290

it does not change the fact that this is based

on sand. As most people in the

0:00:03.290,0:00:07.749

Chamber will know I am a capitalist and I

believe in capitalism, the free market and

0:00:07.749,0:00:10.200

enterprise.

It is the best way to generate wealth and

0:00:10.200,0:00:14.009

it is then the job of Government to ensure

it is spread

0:00:14.009,0:00:20.430

fairly. However, I do not believe in capitalists

any more because they seem to want socialism

0:00:20.430,0:00:25.140

for themselves. When they start up they want

subsidies, when they are making profits they

0:00:25.140,0:00:30.240

want to be protected and when they fail they

want to be bailed out. That is what this is.

0:00:30.240,0:00:32.029

It is

socialism for the super rich.

0:00:32.029,0:00:39.029

As politicians we need to defend capitalism

against the capitalists. That is the key question

0:00:39.450,0:00:46.450

which comes before us today. This is NAMA,

it does not protect the taxpayer and does

0:00:46.530,0:00:49.800

not

get credit flowing to businesses or homeowners.

0:00:49.800,0:00:53.730

It merely saves the banks from nationalisation.

It must be asked if it is really worth just

0:00:53.730,0:01:00.730

that.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to commence

0:01:01.350,0:01:04.680

my contribution

to this debate on NAMA. It is important to

0:01:04.680,0:01:08.850

look at the record of the Minister for Finance

on

0:01:08.850,0:01:15.010

initiatives he has taken in banking. One such

initiative is the guarantee that was given.

0:01:15.010,0:01:19.390

We

know up to now more than 1 billion has accrued

0:01:19.390,0:01:26.390

in fees to the State as a result of it. The

situation regarding bank recapitalisation

0:01:27.090,0:01:34.090

is far better. The figures given in the NAMA

document

0:01:38.620,0:01:45.220

were eye-opening and it was the first time

many of us got such inside information on

0:01:45.220,0:01:49.520

the

finances of Bank of Ireland and AlB.

0:01:49.520,0:01:56.520

The market capitalisation of AIB today at

5.30 p.m. was 2.3 billion and the share price

0:01:58.460,0:02:05.460

was

2.63. When the Minister for Finance took up

0:02:10.200,0:02:15.840

the redeemable convertible preference shares

along with the warrants of 8%, there was an

0:02:15.840,0:02:19.170

option to convert those shares into 25% of

the

0:02:19.170,0:02:25.730

issued capital. If one took AIB and Bank of

Ireland on the basis of their share price

0:02:25.730,0:02:32.730

today,

there would be a profit of 1.3 billion just

0:02:34.700,0:02:41.700

from converting preference shares into equity.

Along

0:02:42.530,0:02:49.530

with that, the Minister is getting 8% of a

coupon. The recapitalisation was a significant

0:02:55.590,0:02:59.440

investment

and a very good deal.

0:02:59.440,0:03:06.440

Deputy Varadkar mentioned the 1.5% coupon,

asked how long it would last and when it

0:03:06.989,0:03:13.989

would be unwound. The banks will get a significant

amount of money——

0:03:14.840,0:03:16.870

Does the Deputy know the answer?

that they will have at 1.5%.

0:03:16.870,0:03:20.520

He does not know it.

At this point in time, according to the green

0:03:20.520,0:03:27.520

book, they have available

certain amounts of money for SMEs and mortgages.

0:03:27.900,0:03:34.270

The amount drawn down under those

headings in both banks is substantially less

0:03:34.270,0:03:36.530

than what they have available at this point

in

0:03:36.530,0:03:41.150

time, without the availability of cheap money.

When the 1.5% coupon becomes

0:03:41.150,0:03:48.150

available the banks should, in order to continue

in business, be chasing loans of

0:03:51.390,0:03:56.620

all descriptions. Those who this year could

not get a loan for a car, washing

0:03:56.620,0:04:03.620

machine or furniture will see the banks going

hand over fist to give out such loans. We

0:04:04.239,0:04:08.349

all

know that savings are at a record high. Consumer

0:04:08.349,0:04:14.560

confidence and spending are needed. This

proposal will bring about significant confidence

0:04:14.560,0:04:20.029

among everyone in Ireland, particularly consumers.

It will also lead to significant spending

0:04:20.029,0:04:26.370

which will result in more employment, more

activity within the economy, more taxation

0:04:26.370,0:04:31.370

and an improvement in the budget figure, which

is

0:04:31.370,0:04:37.719

the bottom line.

The haircut that will apply to AIB will account

0:04:37.719,0:04:44.719

for 7.2 billion of the 24 billion total.

According to the bank, it has made provision

0:04:49.180,0:04:52.529

for 2.2 billion. Therefore, there is a shortfall

of

0:04:52.529,0:04:59.059

5 billion in its provision. Its core tier

1 capital is approximately 10 billion or 11

0:04:59.059,0:05:04.490

billion. As

5 billion can be taken from that figure as

0:05:04.490,0:05:11.490

a result of NAMA, further private or Government

capital will be needed by the bank. I hope

0:05:13.199,0:05:16.569

the private capital people will come in and

avail of

0:05:16.569,0:05:18.520

the opportunity available. There is market

capitalisation of 2.2 billion for the whole

0:05:18.520,0:05:19.969

bank. As

it will be difficult to secure the remaining

0:05:19.969,0:05:22.889

5 billion, the Government will have to go

in again.

0:05:22.889,0:05:29.419

I hope it will be able to do as good a job

as it did with the recapitalisation deal and

0:05:29.419,0:05:32.909

that the

interests of the taxpayer will be well looked

0:05:32.909,0:05:39.909

after.

I remind the Deputy that, in accordance with

0:05:41.479,0:05:44.460

an order made

by the House earlier today, his contribution

0:05:44.460,0:05:51.460

will resume tomorrow after the party leaders

have

0:05:53.740,0:05:58.439

contributed to the debate and Private Members’

business has concluded.

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Testing Characters

Posted by bollinsl on 2 February 2010

ÁÉÍÓÚ áéíóú

Testing character sets

BILL

entitled

Long title example long title example long title example. Long title example long title example

long title example.

Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:

Testing difficult characters

1. First to test the emdash—

More characters

2. Testing euro €.

(a) Capital a fada Á

(b) Capital e fada É

(c) Capital i fada Í

(d) Capital o fada Ó

(e) Capital u fada Ú

(f) Small a fada á

(g) Small e fada é

(h) Small i fada í

(i) Small o fada ó

(j) Small u fada ú

(k) At symbol @

Test some curly quotes

3. Single quotes around some ‘text’. Followed by double quotes around some “text”

Test some Mathematical and other characters

4. Some mathematical & other characters Σ and ℅ and Π and ™ and ∞ and ≥ and ≤

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Flash Webcasting – Dáil Éireann

Posted by bollinsl on 13 October 2008

A new broadband Flash Webcasting service of Dáil Éireann is now available on the Houses of the Oireachtas Web site.

This is in addition to the Oireachtas Live Windows Media Player, MPEG2 and MPEG4 services already available.

This service will be available for the Budget Debate on Tuesday 13 October 2008.

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Publication of Legislation

Posted by bollinsl on 13 October 2008

Publication of Bills, Explanatory Memoranda, and Financial Memoranda

Bills and Explanatory Memoranda and Financial Memoranda are published by the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas on the Houses’ Web site, and on paper through the Stationery Office (Government Supplies Agency).

If a bill is amended by a House or by a parliamentary committee, the bill is printed again “as amended in committee” or “as passed by Dáil Éireann” or “as passed by Seanad Éireann” and published on the Houses’ Web site.

If a bill is passed by both Houses, it is printed again “as passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas“.


Publication of Acts of the Oireachtas

When a bill is passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, and signed by the President, it becomes and Act of the Oireachtas (statute law).

 

The Act is promulgated as a law when:

  • A notice appears in the Iris Oifigiúil (the Official Irish State Gazette) http://www.irisoifigiuil.ie/ by direction of the president
  • A signed copy of the bill is enrolled in the Office of the Supreme Court
  • The Office of the President informs the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas that the president has signed the bill, and the Act number is also supplied.
  • The Office of the Supreme Court informs the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas that the Act has been enrolled in the Office of the registrar of the Supreme Court.

At this stage, the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas will pubish the Act, and the official translation, on paper through the Stationery Office, and on the Houses’ Web site as a PDF file.

 

At a later stage, the Office of the Attorney Will publish a bound volume of the Acts of the Oireachtas, and add the text of the Acts to the Irish Stature Book Web site. The Legislation Directory will also be updated.

 

The Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas will pubish the bound volumes of the official translations of the Acts of the Oireachtas.


Publication of Statutory Instruments

 

Statutory instruments are usually published by agency responsible for the instrument, and a notice appears in the Iris Oifigiúil.

 

Statutory instruments are later added to the Irish Statute Book Web site.

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European Parliament Web TV

Posted by bollinsl on 18 September 2008

The European Parliament launched its EuroparlTV Web TV service on 17 September 2008. The Dublin launch took place in the European Parliament offices in Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

You can see the service at: http://www.europarltv.europa.eu/ 

An extract from the briefing note follows:

Europarltv is not a single channel but rather is split into four channels, each directed to a different audience:

Your Parliament, aimed at those with a particular interest in politics at the EU level: informed citizens, industry groups, social partners, lobbyists, academics as well as those working in the EU institutions.

Your Voice, conceived for the general public and providing the possibility of featuring user-generated content.

Young Europe, aimed particularly at school-aged children, high users of the Internet and the European electorate of the future.

Parliament Live provides continuous coverage of live events in the Parliament, notably debates in the plenary sessions, with a link to the audiovisual archives of previous sessions, as well as in the coming months, the activities of the committees.

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Legal Basis for Publishing Legislation

Posted by bollinsl on 11 September 2008

This post outlines the legal basis of the publication of legislation in Ireland.


Documentary Evidence Act 1925

Proof of Acts of the Oireachtas

2. —

Prima facie evidence of this or any other Act of the Oireachtas whether public, or private, and whether passed before or after the passing of this Act, or of the Journal of the Proceedings of either House of the Oireachtas, may be given in all Courts of Justice and in all legal proceedings by the production of a copy of such Act or Journal printed under the superintendence or authority of and published by the Stationery Office.


Constitution of Ireland – Bunreacht na hÉireann 1937

Signing and Promulgation of Laws

Article 25 4

2° Every Bill signed by the President under this Constitution shall be promulgated by him as a law by the publication by his direction of a notice in the Iris Oifigiúil stating that the Bill has become law.

5° As soon as may be after the signature and promulgation of a Bill as a law, the text of such law which was signed by the President or, where the President has signed the text of such law in each of the official languages, both the signed texts shall be enrolled for record in the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court, and the text, or both the texts, so enrolled shall be conclusive evidence of the provisions of such law.


The Statutory Instruments Act 1947

3.—

(1) The following provisions shall apply in respect of every statutory instrument to which this Act primarily applies

 (a ) within seven days after the making thereof, a copy thereof shall be sent to each of the following, namely, the National Library of Ireland, the Law Library, Four Courts, Dublin, the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Cork Chamber of Commerce the Limerick Chamber of Commerce, the Waterford Chamber of Commerce and the Galway Chamber of Commerce,

( b ) as soon as may be after it is made, it shall, notwithstanding that it is liable to be annulled, be printed under the superintendence of the Stationery Office,

( c ) as soon as may be after it has been printed, notice of the making thereof and of the place where copies thereof may be obtained shall be published in the Iris Oifigiúil,

( d ) as on and from the date of the issue of the Iris Oifigiúil containing the said notice, copies of the said statutory instrument shall be kept at the place specified in the said notice and may be obtained there.


Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Copyright in Acts, etc.

192.—

(1) The copyright in any Bill or enactment vests in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

(2) The copyright provided for in this section subsists from the date of the first lawful making available to the public of the work and shall expire 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was so made available.

Interpretation.

2. —(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

‘‘enactment’’ means an Act of the Oireachtas or an instrument made thereunder;

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