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Government publishes Programme of Dáil Reform

2nd September 2013 - Susan Moss

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste today announced the Government’s proposals for the next phase in its programme of Dáil Reform.

The Government is continuing on its reform drive by publishing specific proposals around Dáil Reform which are designed to:

· Make parliament more efficient
· Give the public access to law making
· Improve oversight of the law making process

Speaking at the announcement, the Taoiseach said:
“Creating a more effective political system is at the heart of the Government’s reform agenda.

“This phase of our Dáil reform programme will deliver real improvements to the Dáil’s examination of legislation and scrutiny of budgets and spending. It will also bring civil society, interest groups and experts into the legislative process at an early stage.”

The Tánaiste said:
“This Government came to office with a commitment to fix our broken politics. These Dáil reforms are one part of a wider agenda to make our parliament more effective and more efficient, to open up the legislative process to more scrutiny and more voices, and to shine a light on Government.”

Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe said:
“These reforms open up the lawmaking process to the public in a way that has never been done before. It will also see the Government engaging more with the Oireachtas through an annual statement of priorities to the Dáil and Oireachtas committees having more influence over the Budget process.”

Reforms to be implemented in upcoming Dáil term:
Extending Dáil sitting week and providing additional time for legislative debate

The Dáil will start earlier each day meeting at 12.30pm on Tuesday and 9.30am on Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday sittings will take place every second week and be extended to include a 2 hour debate on a Private Member’s Bill and a 2 hour discussion of a Committee Report.

More structured system for the drafting and enactment of legislation and reduced use of guillotine.
Meaningful role in law making for citizens and civic society groups

Oireachtas Committees will be able to consult with civil society groups, advocacy groups and individuals with expertise in a specific area at Pre-Legislative Stage to develop legislation before bills are drafted.

Pre-Legislative Stage will be a requirement for all Bills. Where a Minister does not bring a Bill to Committee for Pre-Legislative Stage, they will be required to outline to both the Cabinet and the Dáil the reasons for this decision.

Extended involvement of Oireachtas Committees in the Budget process

With the Budget now taking place in October, the Oireachtas Committees will carry out the Estimate process between Budget day and the Christmas recess allowing them to review the Estimates in advance of any funding being spent.

Oireachtas Committees can review the annual Stability Programme Update provided by the Government to the EU between April and the summer recess and provide Departments with a report in advance of the October Budget.

The Government have also decided that under a unicameral system, the next Dáil would include an enhanced Oireachtas Committee system and an additional pre-enactment stage in the legislative process.  

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