Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2011: From the Seanad

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.

Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 1:

Section 2: In page 10, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

" "Act of 1939" means the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939;".

These are technical amendments and deal with definitions. They provide for the comprehensive definition of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the Bill, and they also provide for the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939 to be referred to as the Act of 1939 throughout the Bill.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 2:
Section 2: In page 10, to delete line 15 and substitute the following:
" "Minister" has the meaning assigned to it bysubsection (2) of section 6;”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 7, 11 and 16 to 19, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Seanad Amendment No. 3:

Section 3: In page 10, to delete lines 25 to 27, and substitute the following:

"3.—(1) For the purposes of this Act, each of the following is a public service body, and "public service" shall be construed accordingly:".

These relate to technical amendments, including the tidying up of text. They cover the substitution of items of text for reasons of specificity and the inclusion of correct references to individual provisions as well as the disapplication of section 7 of the Official Languages Act 2003.

As we are discussing amendment No. 11 as part of the grouping schedule, will the Minister flesh it out a little more? Is he essentially substituting the new ministerial title and the name of the Minister in place of the Minister for Finance in legal action pending prior to this legislation? Will he provide more detail on this? Is this the normal legal practice to be able to change the Minister's name? Is it possible that it may be a requirement to name both the Minister for Finance as well as the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in legal proceedings rather than a direct substitution of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for the Minister for Finance?

The Deputy is referring to the substance of the section as opposed to the amendment. Amendment No. 11 seeks to delete "in addition to" and substitute "as well as". It is a different form of wording.

That is my mistake, I was referring to section 11 instead of amendment No. 11. We will come to it in a moment.

I will put the question that Seanad amendment——

Will the Ceann Comhairle allow me to correct——

Is the Deputy referring to section 18?

I am dealing with amendment No. 7, which amends section 11. I am sorry.

Deputy Fleming wishes me to comment on amendment No. 7. This is a technical amendment that allows for the substitution of "have such reference" for "so relate" in relation to the name of the Minister in any legal proceeding. I understand the Deputy is discussing the substance of the section as opposed to the Seanad amendment which is the technical matter to be discussed.

The amended section states:

"11.—Where, immediately before the appointed day, any legal proceedings are pending to which the Minister for Finance is a party and the proceedings have reference to functions transferred by this Act, the name of the Minister shall, to the extent that they have such reference, be substituted for the Minister for Finance in those proceedings and the proceedings shall not abate by reason of such substitution.".

In essence it is simply that where legal proceedings are under way, the legal documents are amended to refer to this Minister, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform as opposed to the Minister for Finance, where appropriate where those functions are now being taken over by my Department.

That is exactly the point I was raising.

The point I was making is that it is proper in debating the section, but what is before us now is the Seanad amendment.

I am reading it from the sheet in front of me, which refers to amendments made by the Seanad, amendment No. 7, section 11.

Amendment No. 7 refers to section 11 and states: "In page 15, lines——

I read out the amendment in full.

Amendment No. 7 proposed to delete lines on page 15 and substitute the following——

Yes, and I am querying what we are substituting.

All that is substituted is "have such reference" for "so relate". That is the technical amendment.

I do not see that in front of me.

We are deleting the section and inserting a new section with a new inclusion.

My specific question is whether it might be a requirement to have more than one Minister's name to be part of legal proceedings. People can regularly sue the Attorney General and various Ministers. Could there be a case where both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform would be required? The Minister has allowed for a straight substitution of one for the other. Will this also allow both Ministers to be named?

I understand the point now. This section simply deals with proceedings which are currently under way. Where the proceedings relate up to now to the Minister for Finance, the name "Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform" will be substituted where that is clear. If there are proceedings, now or in the future, that relate to the functions of both Ministers, of course, it is perfectly in order for both Ministers to be recited.

Thank you, Minister.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 4 has been discussed with amendment No. 3.

Seanad amendment No. 4:

Section 4: In page 12, before section 5, but in Part 1, to insert the following new section:

5.—Section 7 of the Official Languages Act 2003 shall not apply to this Act.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 5 has been discussed with amendment No. 1.

Seanad amendment No. 5:

Section 6: In page 12, lines 25 to 29, to delete subsection (2) and substitute the following:

"(2) The member of the Government who is in charge of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform—

(a) shall be known, in the Irish language, as an tAire Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe or, in the English language, as the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and

(b) is, in this Act, referred to as the “Minister”.”.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 6 has been discussed with amendment No. 1.

Seanad amendment No. 6:

Section 6: In page 12, subsection (4), lines 35 and 36, to delete "Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939" and substitute "Act of 1939".

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 7 has been discussed with amendment No. 3.

Seanad amendment No. 7:

Section 11: In page 15, lines 19 to 24, to delete section 11 and substitute the following:

11.—Where, immediately before the appointed day, any legal proceedings are pending to which the Minister for Finance is a party and the proceedings have reference to functions transferred by this Act, the name of the Minister shall, to the extent that they have such reference, be substituted for the Minister for Finance in those proceedings and the proceedings shall not abate by reason of such substitution.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 8:
Section 15: In page 16, subsection (4)(a), line 25, to delete “public body” and substitute “public service body".

Are we taking amendments Nos. 8 and 9 together?

No. Amendment No. 8 is taken on its own.

This is a technical amendment to allow for "public service body" to be substituted in place of "public body", to be consistent in the term used throughout the Bill.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 9:
Section 15: In page 16, subsection (4)(c)(iii), line 44, to delete “, 7C, 7E or 7G”.

Amendment No. 9 provides for the deletion of the reference to section 7C, 7E or 7G of the Act of 1976, which is the Gas Act, again allowing for consistencies in the sections listed under the relevant enactments listed under section 15, subsection (4)(c). Section 7C, 7E and 7G of the Act of 1976 relate to matters other than shares or stock issued by the Minister for Finance by a public body.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 10 and 20 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Seanad amendment No. 10:

Section 17: In page 18, lines 20 to 37, to delete subsections (3) and (4) and substitute the following:

"(3) The Minister for Finance shall not, without the approval of the Minister, perform a function consisting of the payment of moneys out of the Central Fund—

(a) under a provision specified in Schedule 3, or

(b) that is performable in accordance with, or for the purposes of, such a provision.

(4) The Minister for Finance shall not, without the approval of the Minister, perform a function consisting of the payment of moneys out of the Central Fund for the purposes of, or in connection with, the superannuation or remuneration (including emoluments and allowances) of any person to which the Presidential Establishment Acts 1938 to 1991 apply.".

Amendments Nos. 10 and 20 are technical amendments and are consequent on the deletion of Part 2 of Schedule 3. Part 2 of Schedule 3 listed a number of enactments which govern payments of pensions and remuneration from the Central Fund. The amendments are for the purpose of consistency.

Will the Minister explain if these are payments out of the Central Fund where the Minister of Finance will require the approval of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, but where the payments are in connection with superannuation or remuneration, including emoluments and allowances of any person to which the Presidential Establishment Acts 1938 to 1991 apply? Will he specify if we are referring to the President or the staff in the President's office?

The President's staff. That is what the President's establishment is defined as.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 11:
Section 18: In page 19, subsection (1), line 2, to delete "in addition to" and substitute "as well as".
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 12 to 14, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Seanad amendment No. 12:

Section 22: In page 20, subsection (1), lines 15 and 16, to delete all words from and including "had" in line 15 down to and including "Act" in line 16 and substitute "vested in the Minister for Finance".

Amendments Nos. 12 to 14, inclusive, are technical amendments. Amendment No. 12 tidies up the wording of the section. It refers to the Minister's belief that the function performed was vested in him. Amendment No. 13 removes the word "or" from the end of the line and the additional line is included by the following amendment. Amendment No. 14 excludes from section 22 functions transferred from the Minister for Finance to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform by order under section 6(1) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 13 was discussed with amendment No. 12.

Seanad amendment No. 13:

Section 22: In page 20, subsection (3)(a), line 25, to delete “section 8, or” and substitute “section 8,”.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 14 was discussed with amendment No. 12.

Seanad amendment No. 14:

Section 22: In page 20, subsection (3)(b), line 27, to delete “applies.” and substitute the following:

"applies, or

(c) a function transferred to the Minister by order under section 6(1) of the Act of 1939.”.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 15:
Section 53: In page 26, lines 30 to 32, to delete paragraph (c).

This amendment removes the reference to section 7(1) of the National Building Agency Limited Act 1963. This provision relates to guarantees to borrowings. Deputies will be aware that the functions in regard to the provision of guarantees to borrowing remain with the Minister for Finance. This is consistent with the approach taken in regard to guarantees of all other State bodies. The amendment, therefore, ensures consistency. The functions on the provision of guarantees to borrowings remain with the Minister for Finance. This is consistent with the approach taken with guarantees of all other State bodies. This amendment ensures consistency by adding the National Building Agency to the list of agencies that are left with the Minister for Finance for loan guarantees.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 16:
Section 59: In page 29, paragraph (j), line 4, to delete “of subsection (1)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 17:
Schedule 2: In page 44, to delete lines 3 to 4.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 18:
Schedule 2: In page 44, between lines 40 and 41, to insert the following:
"

No. 1 of 2001

Aviation Regulation Act 2001

Section 25

".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 19:
Schedule 2: In page 44, to delete line 43.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 20:
Schedule 3: In page 46, to delete lines 34 to 48.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendments reported.

The question is: "That Seanad amendments Nos. 1 to 20, inclusive, are hereby agreed to and agreement to the amendments is accordingly reported to the House."

I again thank the Deputies opposite. I assure them we will not be under the same pressure on procedural matters and we will have a full debate on them. I thank the Deputies for their indulgence but the enactment of this legislation makes me more accountable to the House.

Is the Minister satisfied with the procedure, having gone through the Bill in the House, that we had to come back with 20 Seanad amendments? Is the Minister happy we have made all the necessary amendments? Why did it take so long to come forward with these amendments?

Some of them were tidying up amendments where it would not have done any harm to the Bill if the amendments had not been made. The amendments allowed for the removal of the recital of articles that are no burden to recite but were not needed.

Question put and agreed to.