Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 25 Jun 1986

Vol. 368 No. 6

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Law Reform Commission Report.


asked the Taoiseach when it is intended to publish the report of the Law Reform Commission; and when this report was submitted to him.

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the Eighth Annual Report of the Law Reform Commission for 1985 which was submitted to the Attorney General, pursuant to section 6 of the Law Reform Commission Act, 1975, in February last. I am arranging to have the report laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas at an early date.

Will the Taoiseach state if it is normal to have such a long delay in the publication of such an important report? He said it has been with him since last February. Will he tell the House why publication of the report has been delayed and what is the content of the report in general terms?

The 1984 report was laid before the Houses in July 1985 and the report for 1983 was laid before the Houses on 30 August 1984. However, I should add the report is under consideration in the office of the Attorney General in the context of a general review of the commission and of how the contribution of the commission to the important question of continuing reform of the law could be made more effective. This review is nearing completion and it is expected that proposals for a work programme for the commission will be brought before the Government soon. The adoption of such proposals would clear the way for the appointment of new commissioners. The report will be submitted to the Government by the Attorney General in conjunction with his review.

Will the Taoiseach agree that the reports of the Law Reform Commission have been very helpful, particularly with regard to reform of the law in relation to marriage and marriage breakdown? They have been responsible for reports on such important matters as illegitimacy, nullity, domicile and other relevant studies.

I do not think we can discuss the contents of this report or of the previous reports on this question.

I should like to know why the Government have delayed for so long publication of this report since it has been in their possession since last February. The Taoiseach tells us he is undertaking a general review. Does he want to suppress something in the report or delay its publication? It seems an extraordinary length of time. I am seeking an assurance from the Taoiseach that there is nothing in the report of urgent importance and relevance that is being delayed and held back from the public at this time.

I can assure the Deputy of that. By the standards of previous years, the report is not even for publication yet. There are particular circumstances here in that a small working group chaired by the Attorney General's office are examining the matter. They are preparing suggestions for a programme of work for the commission in a limited number of priority areas. They are monitoring progress and implementing proposals of the Law Reform Commission. As the Deputy has said, the Law Reform Commission have done very good work and we are concerned that their work should be as closely related as possible to practical issues of immediate concern to the Government and to the House. On the question of their method of working and how we can achieve the best results, these matters are under active consideration. I expect a report from the Attorney General in the near future that will accompany his report on the commission for 1985.

Will the Taoiseach agree that in respect of the reports of the Law Reform Commission the only problem has been in the implementation of these reports within a reasonable time of their publication? There has been a long delay in implementing some of the important changes in family law that have been indicated and suggested in the reports of the commission. I accept the Government must have their view on the suggestions of the commission but a great deal of the basic work with regard to changes in family law reform has been done by the commission and the main problem has been the delay in implementation. Will the Taoiseach agree with that?

No, I do not agree that is the case. With regard to some of the reports, the Government might not necessarily agree with some of the conclusions and in such cases the Government have to make up their mind on the action to take. There have been other problems in the past in terms of the timescale and flow of work of the commission. However, the matter which I think concerns us most is that the reports should be concentrated on areas of importance where the Government would hope to contemplate early action.

Will the Taoiseach state when it is roughly anticipated the report will be published?

I expect to get, the report from the Attorney General fairly soon and to publish the Law Reform Commission's report immediately.