18 May 2016, 17.46

The Oireachtas sub-Committee on Dáil Reform, which has been tasked with agreeing a programme of reforms for how the Dáil will operate, today, Wednesday 18th May 2016 published its draft final report on amending parliamentary procedures.

The draft final report has been submitted to the Dáil and will be debated in the chamber tomorrow, Thursday, 19th May before a vote on Tuesday, 24th May.

Among the key reforms proposed in the draft final report are:

•    more power for parliament to plan and make arrangements for its own business, with a new Business Committee comprising both Government and Opposition TDs, who will together plan the House business on a weekly, sessional and yearly basis;
•    better scrutiny of the annual budgetary cycle by a new Budget Oversight Committee, supported in its work by a new Independent Parliamentary Budget Office, which will ‘crunch the numbers’ for the new Committee;
•    an increased role for the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor, to allow that Office assist backbench members in drafting legislation, and give advice on all legislation coming before the House;
•    changes to the rules around ‘groups’, to allow more than one ‘technical group’ to be formed; this will enable independents and members in small parties to join forces to get a greater share of parliamentary set pieces, for instance, private members’ time;
•    a rearrangement of the sitting day, so that the House, wherever possible, does not clash with Committee meetings; this will enable members to give more time to both plenary sittings and Committees – members will not have to choose whether to attend one or the other;
•    a new Irish Language Committee will be established.

Other changes are also proposed to improve both the Parliamentary Questions process and the way in which the Government answers questions on its promised legislation on the Order of Business. To make the sitting hours more family-friendly, it is proposed to hold a great many of the House’s votes in a particular time slot on a Thursday afternoon. This also represents a more efficient use of the House’s time.

The full report can be accessed here.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Chairman of the Sub-Committee, said: “The prospect of reform has been embraced by all sides of the House. Today the Sub-Committee finalised its draft report on Dáil reform and amending parliamentary procedures. I am delighted, as chair of the Standing sub-Committee on Dáil Reform, to present this draft final report to the Dáil. I’m delighted that we could get agreement on a number of important reforms which will improve and strengthen our parliamentary procedures and give more powers to the Oireachtas and Members. I’d like to thank all of the Members of the Sub-Committee for their input into this draft final report and their constructive contributions. As Ceann Comhairle and Chair of this Sub-Committee on Dáil Reform, I personally am fully committed to overseeing the crucial task of reforming how the Dáil does its business.”

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Committee membership

Deputies

Fianna Fáil

Social Democrats

Fine Gael

Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil

Independent

Independent

Green Party

Fine Gael