The select committee will today begin its consideration of the Local Government Bill, 2000. It is an extensive Bill, with 241 sections and 14 Schedules. A substantial number of amendments have been tabled, which reflects the importance of the Bill to local government. The Bill is one element of a broad programme of measures for the renewal of local government, some of which have been completed while others are in train. I hope the committee will conduct its business efficiently and make a positive contribution to the Bill.
In the spirit of co-operation within the committee, I welcome Deputies, including the Minister of State, Deputy Molloy, and on behalf of the committee extend best wishes for a speedy recovery to the Minister for the Environment and Local Government and hope it will not be too long before he returns to the House. I also welcome the officials from the Department accompanying the Minister of State, Mr. Kevin Curran and Ms Patricia Curran. I remind members that, as agreed, we will meet to consider the Bill over four days this week, although I hope we can reach a conclusion on Thursday.
Today we will sit until 8.30 p.m. with a break from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tomorrow we will commence business at 10 a.m. and consider the Bill until 10 p.m. We will break from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. We will review the progress late on Wednesday evening and we will meet again on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. and continue our consideration of the Bill. We will break from 1 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. I hope to conclude business at some stage on Thursday so we can report to the House accordingly. With the committee's co-operation, I am confident the target we have set for consideration of this important legislation can be met.