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


asked the Taoiseach if he will give details of the reports issued by the Law Reform Commission recommending reform in various areas; the date of each such report; and if he will indicate the action, if any, which is proposed in respect of each such report.

The information sought by the Deputy is contained in a statement which I propose to circulate in the Official Report.

Following is the statement:

(1) Reports produced by the Law Reform Commission:

(a) First Report on Family Law — Criminal Conversation, Enticement and Harbouring of a Spouse or Child, Loss of Consortium, Personal Injury to a Child, Seduction of a Child, Matrimonial Property and Breach of Promise of Marriage.

(b) Report on Civil Liability for Animals.

(c) Report on Defective Premises.

(d) Report on Illegitimacy.

(e) Report on the Age of Majority, the Age for Marriage and some Connected Subjects.

(f) Report on Restitution of Conjugal Rights, Jactitation of Marriage and Related Matters.

(g) Report on Domicile and Habitual Residence as Connecting Factors in the Conflict of Laws.

(h) Report on Divorce a Mensa et Thoro and Related Matters.

(i) Report on Nullity of Marriage.

(j) Report on Recognition of Foreign Divorces and Legal Separations.

(k) Report on Vagrancy and Related Offences.

(l) Report on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and some Related Matters.

(m) Report on Competence and Compellability of Spouses as Witnesses.

(n) Report on Offences under the Dublin Police Acts and Related Offences.

(o) Report on Minors' Contracts.

(p) Report on the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters.

(q) Report on the Liability in Tort of Minors and the Liability of Parents for Damage Caused by Minors.

(r) Report on the Liability in Tort of Mentally Disabled Persons.

(s) Report on Private International Law Aspects of the Capacity to Marry and Choice of Law in Proceedings for Nullity of Marriage.

(t) Report on Jurisdiction in Proceedings for Nullity of Marriage, Recognition of Foreign Nullity Decrees, and the Hague Convention on the Celebration and Recognition of the Validity of Marriages.

2. Action taken or proposed in respect of each report:

(a) First report on Family Law:

The Family Law Act, 1981, abolished the actions for criminal conversation, the enticement and harbouring of a spouse and breach of promise of marriage. It also provided, inter alia, for the regulation of various questions in relation to the property of engaged and formerly engaged persons.

Legislation to give spouses equal rights of ownership in the family home and contents is at an advanced stage of preparation.

(b) Report on Civil Liability for Animals.

The Animals Act, 1985, which took account of the recommendations in the Commission's Report, was enacted on 12 June 1985 and was brought into operation by Ministerial order on 20 September 1985.

(c) Report of Defective Premises:

It is proposed to reintroduce shortly the Building Control Bill, which lapsed at the dissolution of the 24th Dáil. When the Bill is enacted and the building regulations and the building control system provided for in the Bill are in operation further consideration can be given to the proposals contained in the report.

(d) Report on Illegitimacy:

The Status of Children Bill, 1986, which is designed to deal with the matters contained in this report, was introduced in the Seanad in May 1986 and was passed by that House in January 1987. It is now awaiting Second Stage in the Dáil.

(e) Report on Age of Majority:

The Age of Majority Act, 1985, which lowered the age of majority from 21 to 18 years — or earlier on marriage — came into effect on 1 March 1985.

(f) Report on Restitution of Conjugal Rights, Jactitation of Marriage and Related Matters:

Legislation to abolish the action for restitution of conjugal rights is at an advanced stage of preparation.

(g) Report on Domicile and Habitual Residence as connecting factors in the conflict of laws.

(j) Report on Recognition of Foreign Divorces and Legal Separations:

The Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act, 1986, which came into effect on 2 October 1986 abolished the domicile of dependency of married women and provided that a foreign divorce would be recognised if it was granted in a country where either spouse was domiciled or if it was recognised in the country or countries where the spouses are domiciled. It also included some consequential provisions related to these changes.

(h) Report on Divorce a Mensa et Thoro and Related Matters:

Preparation of legislation to amend the law on judicial separation is at an advanced stage.

(k) Report on Vagrancy and Related Offences:

Some preliminary consideration of this report has been carried out.

(n) Report on Offences under the Dublin Police Acts:

The Commission's recommendations in relation to the repeal of a number of obsolete provisions governing offences of a road traffic nature and their replacement where necessary by more modern provisions under the Road Traffic Code are being considered in the context of the preparation of a Road Traffic Bill, which the Minister for the Environment expects to bring before the Dáil in 1987.

(3) (i), (1), (m), (o), (p), (q), (r), (s) and (t)

The recommendations in these reports will be considered as soon as practicable.

Will the Taoiseach agree that over the past decade, and since the Law Reform Commission were established, the amount of reform advocated by the Commission has not been taken up by successive Houses of the Oireachtas? Does the Taoiseach feel that the expenditure of money on that body is worthwhile? Is there any intention by the Government to change this procedure and adopt the law reform measures suggested by the Commission, something that has not been the practice hitherto.

I agree with the Deputy to some extent, that there has not been the same devotion to the cause of law reform in recent years as there might have been. I should like to point out to the Deputy that the last major programme of law reform was undertaken by myself. I could not agree with the Deputy that the work of the Law Reform Commission could be regarded as wasteful. Even if the House is not as assiduous as it might be in taking up the various reports, nevertheless the work on those reports, and their publication, is very valuable. Recently I attended a function of the reorganised Law Reform Commission and I heard from their president an outline of what the new commission propose to undertake. I am glad to give the Deputy an assurance that in so far as is possible we will see what can be done to take up and pursue the reports made by the commission in the lifetime of this Dáil and get as much law reform undertaken as possible.

I should remind the Deputy and the House that this reply is in the form of a tabular statement and, strictly speaking, we should await publication of the Official Report before taking questions on it. However, I will allow a very brief question.

The Taoiseach made comments recently about committees of the House and said he is considering reviewing a number of them. In line with what he said about the committees, will he consider having some committee of this House to follow up some of the major work and proposals put forward by the Law Reform Commission? It is obvious there is no follow up in this House after the furnishing and publishing of the reports by the Law Reform Commission. Individual items are taken but not to the extent that everybody would like the matter to be undertaken.

Most Deputies with experience in this area will agree that it is a matter for the House itself. If we are prepared to allocate the time the work will get done, but I do not think that setting up another committee to consider these reports would help. It is a matter of the appropriate Ministers concerned undertaking the work and securing the co-operation of the House in getting time allocated to law reform.

Would the Taoiseach consider allocating a specific time for debating some of these proposals?

I am moving on to another question.

The matter will be followed up by the Whips.

Can the Taoiseach give the House the cost at present on an annual basis of running the Law Reform Commission?

That is a separate question.

I will let the Deputy have that information.