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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 29 Jan 2015

Vol. 865 No. 3

Central Bank (Amendment) Bill 2014 [Seanad]: Committee and Remaining Stages

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

There is one issue that I did not have an opportunity to deal with which replying to Second Stage, that of sanctions. It is not the role of the Department of Finance or any other Department to interfere with the operations of this House. In that context, it is the responsibility of both Houses of the Oireachtas to decide their own Standing Orders. However, the Bill places an obligation on the Dáil to pass Standing Orders which provide sanctions for Members who breach the rules with regard to the disclosure of information. The approval of the Standing Orders is obviously separate to the passing of the Bill. As I have outlined, Standing Orders are for the Houses to adopt. The Department of Finance was not involved in the preparation of the Standing Orders, nor would it be appropriate for it to be involved. Under the Constitution, it is entirely a matter for the Houses to decide on the sanctions that would apply and not the legislation. The changes to the Standing Orders were proposed by the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis in its relevant proposal to the Committee on Procedures and Privileges, which recommended that the necessary changes be made to section 33AK of the 1942 Act.

Deputies inquired as to whether the sanctions in question would prove sufficient. Again, it is a matter for the House to decide its Standing Orders, but there is obviously a legal reality to the effect that Members are protected by privilege. The comments of Deputy Creed and - oddly enough - Deputy Ross on privilege and how it is used were interesting. I say this as a Member of the House rather than as Minister of State at the Department of Finance, but that matter could make for an intriguing debate.

I again thank Deputies for their very constructive engagement in respect of the Bill. I hope it will enable the banking inquiry to continue with its work. I am sure we all wish those involved with the inquiry well.

I welcome the passage of the Bill. I apologise that I, as my party's spokesman on finance, was not present to contribute on Second Stage. My reason for not being here is that I was obliged to attend a private meeting of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis. I hope the Bill will assist the inquiry in its work by enabling information crucial to its investigations to be provided by the Central Bank. The latter is fundamentally important. Essentially, what we are doing here is enabling documentation and information to be provided, in so far as is possible, by the Central Bank to the joint committee. In that context, we are dealing with restrictions which have their origins in EU law. The Bill is important in the context of the work of the inquiry and I welcome its passage. I look forward to fully participating in the deliberations of the inquiry in the coming weeks and months.

Question put and agreed to.

A message will be sent to the Seanad acquainting it accordingly.