I just want to note that section 1 of the Bill is the section dealing with the abolition of actions for criminal conversation. In itself it is almost identical with the Private Members' Bill which the Government unanimously defeated here over a year ago. I welcome the abolition of a concept which is outdated, though I do say in passing that perhaps it is symptomatic of this House and of the manner in which we transact our business that we are dealing with issues about which there is no major public concern at this time and which are essentially dealt with in a most reactive and belated fashion.
This is legislation which, in a civilised society, in a society which cares passionately for proper human values and for the dignity of men and women, would not even be a matter for Dáil debate but should have been done long ago. I suppose it is too much to expect that in what appears to be the autumn of a Dáil from which the soul appears to have fled long ago, we could be dealing with anything other than something which is very belated. It is welcome in itself but it would be nice if for once this House could be involved in initiating some action in the family law area, or indeed in any area, instead of reacting slavishly years and years after it has been evidentially shown that this kind of action is long overdue. It would have been possible for the Government to have accepted our Bill a year ago. It would have meant that the charade we went through then and apparently now in this respect would have been unnecessary.
A lot of play is regularly made by Government Ministers about the Law Reform Commission. I have said, and I repeat, that the Law Reform Commission is too often used as an excuse for prevarication. They are a body who are doing good work, short-staffed though they may be. I would like to know why it is, when so much store is regularly placed by Ministers in reply to Dáil Questions and in general debate on the deliberations of the Law Reform Commission, the implication being that the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission will be pursued inevitably and inexorably by the Government and that anything that suggests any slight deviation from that is tantamount to heresy, that on this occasion in regard to section 1 the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission for a replacement action are not being taken up by the Government. I am happy that they are not. But I would like to know the kind of wisdom, the kind of thought process that went into a contribution by the Minister in the debate on the Private Members' Bill where the implication was that the findings of the Law Reform Commission would probably be approved of by the Government. But these thought processes are now, 12 months later, fundamentally different and there is no replacement action and we appear to have grown up just a little. Why the apparent change of heart?