As there are no amendments to the Bill, we will proceed to Fifth Stage in accordance with the order of the House.
Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2011: Report and Final Stages
I thank Members opposite for their assistance in completing the passage of the Bill through this House. This is a short but important Bill and if it completes its passage through the Seanad next week, the effect will be to ensure the courts will be in a position to implement it on their return in September after the summer vacation. In a case in which someone is convicted of a criminal offence and the judge is considering imposing a sentence of one year or less, an obligation will be imposed on members of the Judiciary to first consider the appropriateness of community service as an alternative to imprisonment. This constitutes a good change in public policy and I hope it will result in far greater use of the mechanism of community service orders to the overall benefit of the community, while at the same time saving the State money with regard to short-term imprisonments which do not achieve a great deal and in general are of no benefit to the community. I again thank Members opposite for their assistance in facilitating the completion of the passage of the Bill on the last sitting day before the summer vacation.