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Select Committee on Finance and General Affairs debate -
Thursday, 12 Oct 1995

Business of Select Committee.

The fact that this committee hearing will conflict with discussion on another Environment matter, the Electoral Bill, was raised by Opposition spokespersons in the House this morning. They sought an adjournment of the meeting. Following discussions between the Opposition spokespersons, the Whips and the Minister, the suggestion is that we suspend the sitting until 1.30 p.m. and work through until 4.30 p.m.

It is proposed that next week we sit on Wednesday, 18 October from 2.30 p.m. until 10 p.m. and on Thursday, 19 October from 11.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to discuss the Waste Bill. The Minister can only be here until about 3 p.m. on Thursday but the Minister of State will be here for the rest of that day. I do not know how much we will get through. I propose that, with the leave of the committee, I will have discussions with the convenors to formulate a time programme for the discussion of sections and amendments so we can pace ourselves as we work through the Bill. As Deputy Sargent is not represented by the convenors we will also consult him.

The committee will agree that we have had a great deal of discussion on this Bill and have now set aside three days for Committee Stage which is more than most Bills get. It is a bigger Bill than most but it is not the biggest Bill we have ever had. Civil servants from the Department of the Environment will be available from 1.15 p.m. to give a briefing on the Bill if anyone requires it. Are those proposals agreed?Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 11.40 a.m. and resumed at 1.30 p.m.

I welcome the Minister. The committee has had extensive discussions on the Bill which, it is hoped, will help us deal with it in an expeditious manner.

The proposed timetable for dealing with the Bill was mentioned during the private session. I am not happy with it. I have no difficulty with being present from 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and 11.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a sos, on Thursday. The committee should review its progress at that stage. I would not agree to put a guillotine on the Bill. It is not my intention to filibuster or to attempt to delay the Bill. However, this is my first time in committee dealing with Committee Stage of a Bill as a member of the Opposition and I find it difficult to judge how long it will take to deal with different parts of it. I do not want the committee limited to a timetable until we can review progress after two days.

I agree to the time outlined for today, 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. I suggest the committee sits from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday and 11.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday next.

The Deputy does not want the committee to sit beyond 6 p.m. on Wednesday next?

Correct, and I do not want the committee to sit any later than 4 p.m. on Thursday next.

I am in the hands of the committee in this regard. We have a great amount of other work with which to deal. I am anxious that we dispose of Committee Stage as expeditiously as possible.

I do not believe anyone suggested there will be filibustering or time-wasting while dealing with this Bill. It would be very unhelpful if Conmmittee Stage were delayed. The Minister has mentioned the enabling provisions which permits him to proceed with important regulatory work. It is worth bearing in mind that this is an enabling Bill in a far wider economic context and should be taken on a par with any of the other economic matters with which the committee deals. The Bill will have a major positive impact if it is understood and dealt with properly. The committee should be wary of dealing with it as a matter dealing only with waste.

The Deputy could search through many records of the Dáil before discovering a Bill that received as much time and attention as this one. I say that in response to any suggestion that the committee is not giving adequate attention to an important Bill. The timetable before the committee is a draft and its purpose is to focus our minds on how much time we should spend dealing with Committee Stage. The committee could spend weeks dealing with a Bill without improving it. I would like the committee to come to some reasonable understanding regarding the amount of time we should spend on it.

More than three days.

The Chairman indicated to me this morning that it was his intention to meet Deputy McCormack and me to discuss the timetable. I had a brief conversation with Deputy Dempsey and, unfortunately, the suggested times are not very suitable. We are not trying to filibuster, however, all Members are aware of the large number of submissions presented to the committee due to the widespread interest and concern about the Bill's future implications for the country. Perhaps the Chairman might accept the times suggested by Deputy Dempsey and then he, Deputy McCormack and I can monitor the situation to see if further time is required.

You are requesting that the committee meets from 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and from 11.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, including a sos. I have no objection to that. Does the Minister object?

The Wexford Festival is opening on 19 October and I hope to be present that evening. Therefore, the arrangements suit me admirably.

It is decided we will meet from 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. today; 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday; and from 11.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, with a break between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

That seems reasonable.

Waste Bill, 1995: Committee Stage.