Amendment No. 35 relates to the making of regulations and the need for this House where seven Members so request within ten sitting days, to approve the order making the regulations, before they can take effect. The manner in which regulations are made and the need for Oireachtas reform, particularly reform in the way we do our business in this House, is a matter for wider reform of the Oireachtas. We cannot do it in the context of this Bill. If, as the case will be next summer, we are endeavouring, having established the Environmental Protection Agency, to have devolved on them a number of powers by way of regulation, it would be very difficult if we had to wait for the return of the Dáil in the autumn in order to be able to approve the regulations before they could take effect. Given the complexities of the matters covered in this Bill and the fact that it will fundamentally reorganise the way we deal with environmental protection, it is impossible to put every detail into the legislation.
This is a Bill to enable certain things to happen. Regulations will be made in relation to many administrative and housekeeping matters. They will be mere formalities as far as the House is concerned. As I said already, where formalities are concerned, we very often agree to them without any difficulty or debate, as we did yesterday morning in relation to four matters and as we did on Tuesday afternoon in relation to another matter. This would be the case in the vask bulk of regulations to be made under the Bill when it is enacted. However, it is important that a Minister does not have the power to make changes in the fundamentals of the Bill — the manner in which the director general and the directors are appointed, changes to the First and Second Schedules or other substantive matters. The Minister would have to get affirmative approval from the Houses of the Oireachtas before regulations in relation to changes of substantive matters could take effect. I believe that is a satisfactory arrangement. However, how we deal with the legislative process is a much wider issue. My experience in general tells me that there is a better way to conduct business and I hope the parties in this House will be in a position, sooner rather than later, to initiate and then implement the kinds of reforms that will make the job of legislators far more meaningful. There may then be a different way to deal with regulations and matters of this kind.
Deputy Mitchell made some good suggestions in relation to a more effective committee system which would be involved in the legislative process in a meaningful way. Yesterday I said I had considered referring this Bill to a special committee of this House but when I considered the long passage of both the Child Care Bill and the Companies Bill by way of special committee, I quite honestly felt, given the way the committee system works at present, that this would lead to undue delay. We have had already a long delay from the time the legislation was first mooted to the Committee Stage in this House.
In all the circumstances, I cannot accept this amendment. I said also that I believe there is nothing special about seven Members — perhaps because of the position I am in — I am sure that Deputy Gilmore and Deputy Garland would say that six people can achieve a great deal, indeed one person can often achieve a great deal. I do not see the need to keep the number at the figure that constitues a group for the purposes of business of this House. Reluctantly, I am not in a position to accept the amendment. I believe it would lead to undue delay and would completely tie the hands of any Minister. It would also mean that when enacting primary legislation and setting up a completely new body every tiny housekeeping matter would have to go into the primary legislation or you would have to wait for approval from the Houses of the Oireachtas before regulations could take effect.