Certainly, amendment No. 37 in his name is rather different from the sunset clause recommended by Senator Averil Power and in our 2009 report since it is his presumption that the legislation will not continue unless this is provided for by a resolution.
Having listened carefully to Senator Rónán Mullen whom I did not interrupt, I want to make a couple of points. All the legislation seeks to do — it is a moderate proposal — is to provide targets for political parties when selecting election candidates. It does not intervene between voters and candidates, rather it intervenes between political parties and the candidates they select. The Senator speaks about the nanny state and restrictions on voter choice, but in the real world political parties are the gatekeepers in respect of voters' choices. As I documented in the 2009 report — it has been well documented also by Professor Galligan and others — under the current system there is quite a number of constituencies — five out of 43 in the 2007 elections — in which voters have not been able to vote for a woman. There was no woman candidate on the slate in these five constituencies which, by the way, encompassed both rural and urban areas.
There is an obstruction which is presented largely by political parties in closing the gates to women candidates, not overtly or deliberately but because of the old boy culture and all those matters about which we have spoken which militate against women in either coming forward or being brought forward. All the legislation seeks to do is ensure political parties will no longer hold the gates closed against women. It does not impose any restriction on voters who may vote for whomsoever they wish. It requires certain rules to be applied by political parties in the selection of candidates.
The legislation is evidence based. This is not a whimsical idea that we have plucked from the air. It is based on solid evidence, comprehensive reports produced over many years. It is based on the position in over 100 states that have adopted similar measures. As Senator Cáit Keane pointed out, unfortunately, it seems such measures are required to further women's participation in politics, either through voluntary adoption by political parties as has happened in some Scandinavian countries or by legislation.
Moving to the issue of the sunset clause, certainly it is well established and there is nothing embarrassing about it. One finds it in financial and medical authorisation legislation. One also finds it in many areas of the law and it is not, in any way, an unusual idea. It is also linked, when one speaks about gender laws, with temporary special measures to further participation of an under-represented group and it was in that spirit that we recommended a sunset clause in 2009. As I mentioned on the last occasion, a recent report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on gender sensitive parliaments refers to evidence, following the application of a sunset clause, of a falling back of levels in some countries, and this alarms me. When we were carrying out research in 2009, the evidence was that when there was a critical mass, as had happened in Denmark, one could then move to operate a sunset clause and remove the quota rule. Perhaps I am now a little more cautious. While I agree in principle with the idea of a sunset clause, I can see there may be different evidence as more and more countries adopt legislation on quotas. I would be interested to hear the Minister's response. Perhaps the issue of the sunset clause could be considered.
Turning to the issue of the extension of the legislation to the local and Seanad elections, Senator Keane dealt very well with the Seanad issue. In 2009 we did not recommend extension to the Seanad precisely because our focus was on political parties as gatekeepers and because the political parties are not the nominating bodies for the Seanad as this is for the vocational groups. We did not have any sense that it would be practical to apply the legislation. I know the political parties have a role but people have to be nominated by the vocational groups.