Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (171)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

171. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the details of the process by which circulars introduced by his Department since 2011 without statutory instruments and without having being laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas have legal validity in view of the provisions of section 4 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011, which requires for the governance of the Civil Service to operate by way of ministerial statutory regulation. [2422/21]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Section 17 of the Civil Service Regulation Act 1956, in conjunction with s.9 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011, empowers the Minister for PER to regulate the terms and conditions of civil servants by way of administrative acts such as circulars. Section 17 of the 1956 Act has not been repealed, and the power given to the Minister under that section remains in effect.

Section 4(1) of the 2011 Act provides that the Minister “may by regulations provide for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed.” It is not a power to make regulations in respect of any matter referred to in the Act, but only in respect of those matters that are referred to in the Act as “prescribed or to be prescribed.” The regulation of civil servants’ terms and conditions is not such a matter. Accordingly, s. 4 of the 2011 Act does not affect the power of the Minister to regulate terms and conditions by way of circular under the 1956 Act.