I, too, compliment former Senator, Pádraig Ó Céidigh, on the excellent initiative he brought to the House in this legislation, which puts on a statutory footing what was already an offence under common law. This body of work is a credit to him. It is good that the Government accepted it and that amendments were made in the Dáil on Committee Stage. Indeed, at the time this was being discussed in the Seanad, former Senator Ó Céidigh credited the advocacy of the Irish SME Association on this issue because it was clear that many businesses were being affected by false and misleading claims made under oath in the context of court proceedings.
I acknowledge the remarks of Senator Ward. I agree with him 100% that it is regrettable that the time for the discussion of the Bill has been foreshortened. By the way, the reason for that is the Government insistence on guillotining the consideration of legislation. That has to be challenged. It led to an unnecessary vote and, as a result, we have less time for the discussion of legislation. I urge the Government, and Government Senators in particular, to stop guillotining the detailed consideration of legislation, particularly on Committee Stage. It is a scandal and it is increasing disrespect among the public for the Houses of the Oireachtas and for the Seanad in particular. It is an irresponsible thing to be doing and it is disrespectful of colleagues and of our responsibilities as legislators.
The second issue on which I agree with Senator Ward is that the Bill points up the ability of the Legislature to bring forward important initiatives, that is, to legislate, and that not everything has to come by way of an initiative from the Government. In that context, in the House earlier we witnessed an example of the resistance of the Government to taking on board important ideas with regard to the amendments that need to be made to legislation. The Minister of State, Deputy Browne, responded on a related issue I raised as a Commencement matter this morning, that is, the fact there is no legal penalty of any kind for making false or misleading statements in an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, PIAB, for a claim of damages. In the context of the legislation before the House, which applies to court proceedings and statements made under oath or subject to a statement of truth, as Senator Ward reminded us, it is clear why it should be a criminal offence to make a false and misleading statement in a court context, but it is not just an offence to make false and misleading statements in a court context. I gave several examples in that regard earlier. I mentioned statements made to the Revenue Commissioners or in the context of applications for social welfare benefits. It is interesting that the Minister of State, Deputy Browne, actually denied this is a lacuna in the law. I was astounded by what he said this morning. He said it is on purpose and he seemed to say it is because the PIAB is somehow not a quasi-judicial body, when I had given him the example of another non-quasi-judicial body-----