Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Vol. 215 No. 11

Statute Law Revision Bill 2012: Committee and Remaining Stages

Three amendments have been tabled, all of which have been ruled out of order as they are outside the scope of the Bill.

I was particularly interested in amendment No. 2 to Schedule 2 which includes an effort to repeal the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011.

I am advised that all three amendments are outside the scope of the Bill.

It was a good effort.

Amendment No. 1 not moved.
Section 1 agreed to.
Sections 2 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedule 1 agreed to.
Amendment No. 2 not moved.
Schedule 2 agreed to.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass".

I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, for bringing forward this Bill and all of the officials for the substantial research work that went into it. As we acknowledged on Second Stage, there has been an immense and time-consuming endeavour in compiling the contents of the legislation. I have long been an advocate of codifying our legal system, statutes and criminal law system. Several former Ministers for Justice and Equality, including John O'Donoghue, a former colleague of mine at third level, and Dermot Ahern, had a keen interest in upgrading the law. When we look through the list of obscure items of legislation dating back hundreds of years, we realise what a comprehensive job has been done. This exercise was of great academic interest to me because of my area of study in college many years ago. However, there are also significant practical advantages to this codification effort in that it will make the law more accessible to legislators, academics and the general public. A great deal of time-consuming work has been done behind the scenes and has often gone unnoticed. On Second Stage the Minister of State referred to the research facilities of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It is interesting to hear that there is such co-operation. The Bill is a positive step in an ongoing process of consolidation that offers significant benefits, both academic and practical.

I am loath to repeat what has been said, but a body of work of this quantity and displaying such a level of expertise must be acknowledged. I am sure officials spent many a long, dark and lonely night battling the difficulties presented not only by archaic language but also by archaic print and binding. The Bill is reflective of an ongoing task of legacy work that requires a great deal of time and effort. Senator Denis O'Donovan referred to King George III during the Second Stage debate. Having just read an interesting book on that monarch, I am pleased to inform the Senator that the first Irish republic was the republic of Wexford.

I thank the Senator for sharing his knowledge.

I am not sure whether I can find a way of mentioning Galway or Athenry. I thank everybody involved in this codification endeavour. I am aware from my own legal work that it can be tedious to read through the various items of legislation that might apply to a particular case. This consolidation effort is something I welcome both as a practising barrister and as a legislator. As I observed last week, it is one of the largest such reforms that has taken place anywhere in the world. It is good to see Ireland leading the way in this area.

I thank colleagues on all sides of the House for their helpful contributions to what was a particularly useful Second Stage debate. The range of experience in this House was of great benefit in accommodating the passage of the Bill. It is only when one goes through the list of Acts and Private Bills, retained and repealed, as set out in Schedules 1 and 2, that one can appreciate the amount of work done and the time and resources involved. Each item of legislation set out in the Schedules, those we are retaining and repealing, required a detailed forensic analysis of whether it had merit today, had prescribed rights and so on. It is only when one sees all of the Acts together that one gets a sense of the colossal amount of work that has been done within the various Departments. As I said on Second Stage, this work is ongoing. After this part of the work, as represented by the Bill, has been brought to Dáil Éireann for ratification, we will move on.

Members rightly observed last week that a great body of work remained to be done in ascertaining the relevance and applicability of legislation implemented after independence. I very much take the point that in any regulatory environment legislators have a responsibility, in the first instance, to create good law that is straightforward and easy to understand.

They also have a responsibility to codify the law and make sure it is in a standard format in order that every citizen and practitioner, whether legal or non-legal, can understand the position on any aspect of Irish life. This revision lends itself to Ireland improving its position in the world because we are standardising many legislative provisions that have become obsolete and irrelevant in modern Irish life. I am indebted to the House for once again showing its worth and highlighting the strong cross-party expertise applied when Bills of this nature are discussed.

I welcome Mr. Richard Humphreys, SC. I know he has put a huge amount of work into the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 4 p.m. and resumed at 4.45 p.m.