In regard to the point being made by the Minister and by Deputy Wilson and me about what happens in the case of an order before the House, if everybody was to adopt an amendment like this one and change legislation I would envisage a resultant foul-up. I think that is a fair point to make. The Minister has said that perhaps the Director of Public Prosecutions or somebody else should examine this matter.
On the other side of the coin it is important to point out that as the Bill stood and had the Minister not amended it — and I commend him for doing so — he or any of his successors could then come along and change the whole function or purpose of a most important State office. Effectively, orders laid before this House are rarely examined in any great detail. The insertion of the provision for the making of such orders is something which has been followed by the parliamentary draftsman for many years. When it comes to the point of there being restrictions in regard to proposed legislation, the parliamentary draftsman must then deal with the powers of the Minister. To put it nicely, for administrative reasons it can be of benefit to a Minister to be able to do a number of things under a statutory instrument or order.
I totally agree with the Minister, that that provision should be omitted from as many Bills as possible. When such is done and when an amendment such as this is agreed, then there must be some provision in any Bill to meet the point made by Deputy Wilson. If everything is to be laid before this House and if there were, say, ten or 15 Bills with, say, five or six orders to each, how would they be dealt with? Perhaps the Whips could decide which ones should be debated and have them passed through the House within an hour on a Thursday evening. Let the Whips nod them through but allowing that, if a Minister or spokesman wants to say something, he can do so. It would be much more democratic and meaningful to the House to do it in that fashion rather than having some official in a Department suggesting that it be done by an order about which nobody really hears. We must remember the old tradition of having matters laid before the House for 21 days when, it could be contended, everybody would be aware of them, but this is really a total nonsense.
I would say that the Minister's colleagues are not following his good example. For example, in regard to the Nurses Bill, the Minister for Health, who is to be feared in regard to a number of matters on this side of the House, could come along and change the whole ethical code of the nursing profession, which is similar to what this Minister could do under the provisions of the Bill before the House had he not introduced this amendment.
Might I ask the Minister how many orders he would foresee being made under the provisions of a Bill such as this? I presume we are talking about one or two only at any given time. But, bearing in mind his suggestion of extending this to other Bills, would it be advisable that there be a distinction drawn between what is an order in regard to a major matter, such as an amendment of the remit of the Ombudsman, as against perhaps some other minor orders, or does such not arise?