I thank the Seanad for passing this legislation. The Senators opposite conducted a good debate on Second Stage and I accepted a number of the issues they raised. I hope to reflect as many of them as I can by means of the budget or in subsequent legislation.
I remind the House of the unique nature of this legislation. The last consolidation legislation was enacted in 1993 and the Bill before us, which with 364 sections is the largest to date, puts the legislation of the past 12 years in a single accessible document. Since the passing of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 1993, 18 social welfare Acts have been passed by the Oireachtas and it is important that these Acts are put in an accessible format.
In response to requests by Members, we intend to publish a guide to this Bill which will express the contents of the legislation in lay person's language. That will prove useful to Deputies, Senators, councillors and the general public because it will specifically address the consolidation of earlier legislation.
I acknowledge the work of my officials with regard to legal services and advice on this legislation. It is clear from the size of the Bill that a significant effort was devoted to it. We are indebted to the people who addressed the many technical and legal aspects of this legislation over the past number of years. Although it was not the most glamorous work in the legislative calendar, it was important. I also thank staff of the Bills Office and the Seanad. This legislation is unique and I am grateful to the House for its prompt passage.