The Minister of State mentioned two points in his contribution on Second Stage on which I wish to touch. He said that the Minister, Deputy Brendan Howlin, wanted the commission to be as representative as possible. I agree and have no doubt that the Minister of State does too. Perhaps the Minister did not have any input into it. The current commission is the only one in history so far where the Government did not use the ministerial appointment mechanism to put in somebody independent. As such, the only non-government representatives on the commission were Deputy John Browne and me. That is poor practice.
While the commission did a good job and we worked well together with not too many rows, it is not a good practice. Ministerial and Government appointments, while ensuring that there are adequate Government representatives, should also be used to ensure that small parties and Independent Members are represented. There were ten or 12 of us on the commission, only two of whom are not from Government parties. It raised issues at times because certain groups were not represented. We tried to represent them, but they were not happy about it. I make the point in the interests of transparency.
I note another thing the Minister of State might bring back to the Department and the Minister and his efforts. Obviously, the commission is responsible in people's eyes for salaries and expenses and all of those types of things, but the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is the body that determines rates. That is not for the commission.
The other thing that came up several times over the five-year period was that there was a change to the expenses regime which we all supported. Expenses went down and things became a great deal more transparent. That is very much to be commended. We all welcomed it. What did not change, notwithstanding the fact that it needed to, was that Senators in particular were entitled to claim for certain expenses but did not have a list of tangible things they were allowed to put expenses towards, as Members of the Dáil did. The Minister consistently ignored it for no reason other than that it might not have played out that well in the media from an aesthetic point of view. There was a pool of money there and it was not going to make it any more expensive, but the menu of issues permitted for Senators to draw down was much smaller and much narrower than for Deputies. One could argue that this was necessary as Deputies certainly have expenses which Senators do not incur. I get that. However, it was prohibitively narrow and made life extremely difficult for Senators in trying to do their work over the course of the past five years.