Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Constitutional Provision Review.

John Bruton

Question:

1 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach if, having regard to his reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 4, 5 and 6 of 13 March 1990, he has since then come to any conclusion as to whether the constitutional provision, which states that a Member of either House going to or returning from the House may not be arrested, ought to be referred to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges for further discussion as to the possibility of defining the constitutional provision more precisely in legislation.

On 13 March last, I indicated to the House that there may be a case to have the constitutional principle behind Article 15.13 more precisely defined by legislation and that if this view was widely held I would be happy to have that question examined by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

On that occasion, the then Leader of Fine Gael, Deputy Dukes, disagreed with this approach. In view of this, and as my suggestion did not receive the support of any of the other parties in the House, I did not pursue it further.

I want to indicate to the Taoiseach that I would welcome a determination of this matter once and for all by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges or some other mechanism. I invite the Taoiseach to submit this matter, through his Chief Whip to the committee for consideration.

I will follow that up; I will be happy to do so.

The Taoiseach indicated that he received no support from the other parties in the House for his suggestion. I certainly received no formal request to support the proposal made by the Taoiseach and I would welcome an opportunity to consider it with him.

In an effort to be helpful, will the Taoiseach agree that it would be of assistance to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges if the Government could set some draft or alternative proposals before them so that they would have something concrete to work on?

I believe it would be best to have a general discussion first.