Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 28 May 2015

Vol. 240 No. 6

Statute Law Revision Bill 2015: Second Stage

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh.

It is a pleasure for me to take Second Stage of the Statute Law Revision Bill 2015.

It is a surprise rather than a pleasure.

The Bill is the latest of a series of measures which have been enacted since the establishment of the statute law revision programme over a decade ago, as well as further measures planned for the future, to overhaul the Irish Statute Book. The Bill is the largest repealing measure in the history of this or any other state, measured by the number of laws expressly repealed. Previous statute law revision Bills have been brought before this House and received cross-party support. Those Bills have dealt with primary legislation dating from before Independence. This Bill now continues the process and deals with secondary instruments such as proclamations and orders.

The Bill revokes all Government orders or other secondary instruments made prior to 1821, apart from a specific list of 43 instruments which are being preserved. In total, the Bill expressly revokes 5,782 secondary instruments, and repeals almost 7,000 others implicitly. In addition to the revocation of secondary instruments, the Bill also amends the Statutory Instruments Act 1947 by removing the exemption of certain statutory instruments or classes of statutory instruments from publication, which will lead to greater transparency in our Statute Book.

Statute law revision refers to the process of removing legislation from the Statute Book that has lost its purpose and relevance. The term "Statute Book" is a broad term referring to all primary legislation - that is, statutes or Acts - and secondary legislation, which consists of orders, regulations, rules, schemes, by-laws and similar instruments, that have not been formally repealed or revoked. Much material remains on the Statute Book simply because of inertia, and this material is obsolete or has long since served its purpose, or has ceased to be in force without ever being formally repealed. However, until it is actually removed, it will continue to clutter the Statute Book. The purpose of such revision is to enhance public accessibility to the Statute Book and pave the way for further modernisation measures. There is a particular need for such revision in Ireland, as we have a unique legislative past which has left us with a complex stock of legislation, with enactments from Parliaments of Ireland, England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Ireland's pre-Independence statute law consists of primary legislation - public, local and personal, and private Acts of Parliament - and secondary legislation such as Government proclamations and orders. Best practice in regulatory governance requires states to review their stock of legislation on a regular basis and to repeal and revoke that which is spent, unused, unnecessary, or otherwise appropriate for removal from the Statute Book.

The benefits of statute law revision, which have been well documented, include the creation of certainty as to which laws remain in force, facilitation of the process of regulatory reform, enabling modernisation of the Statute Book, enhancement of public accessibility to the Statute Book, the facilitation of steps to put the texts of in-force laws online, the facilitation of future legislative measures to repeal or re-enact legislation, with amendments where necessary, and the codification or consolidation of the statute law of the State.

This Bill continues the important work of the statute law reform programme, which is part of the current Programme for Government 2011-2016 and is a specific element of the public service reform plan for 2014 to 2016. The current programme of statute law revision was established in 2003 and has resulted in four Statute Law Revision Acts, in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2012. Collectively, these Acts have repealed approximately 95% of pre-Independence primary legislation either expressly or implicitly. Taken together, this Bill and its predecessors expressly repeal 13,547 pieces of legislation and implicitly repeal more than 47,000 others.

In 2012, the statute law revision programme was transferred from the Attorney General's office to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Following this transfer, the Statute Law Revision Act 2012 completed the review of pre-Independence primary legislation. In July 2013, the Government approved a second phase of statute law revision, including the drafting of this Bill to revoke secondary instruments. A draft list of instruments and details of the Bill was published by the Department.

The preparation of the Bill began in September 2013 with the chronological identification and assessment of numerous secondary instruments such as orders and proclamations. There is no single source, or even index, of pre-Independence secondary instruments applicable to Ireland. As a result, a full review of items contained in The Dublin Gazette, The London Gazette and certain other printed collections was carried out by the statute law revision programme. Secondary instruments identified following this review were then examined as to whether they were applicable to Ireland and suitable for revocation. There are 43 instruments that were found to be applicable to Ireland but not suitable for repeal, and these are listed in Schedule 1 for retention. A total of 5,782 instruments were identified as suitable for revocation, and these have been listed in Schedule 2. As with previous Statute Law Revision Bills, the format of the legislation will be to revoke all instruments coming within the ambit of the Bill, except those listed in Schedule 1. Schedule 2 provides, for information purposes, a list of revoked instruments.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform engaged in a consultation exercise with other affected Departments, and a draft list of instruments and details of the Bill was published on the Department's website in September 2014. In addition, relevant bodies and organisations that could potentially be affected by proposed repeals continue to be made aware of the ongoing work of the statute law revision programme.

A review of the instruments listed in the Bill gives significant insight into the regulatory environment of the period in question. It includes details in regard to matters at international, national and local level, concerning areas as diverse as the exportation of corn and cattle, Catholic suppression and the plantations, quarantine on account of the plague, pardon of deserters and rewards for information in relation to murders and thefts, and also orders for the sitting of Parliament. Examples include an order of 1815 directing that a prayer of thanksgiving be held for the victory at the Battle of Waterloo; an order of 1654 prohibiting any papist, Irish or other, whatever his nation, to teach school or instruct children; a declaration of 1655 ordering the removal of all Irish papists remaining within Dublin; and a declaration of 1560 prohibiting the sale of corn from the Pale.

One of the earliest references in the Bill is to an order concerning the publication of the Magna Carta in 1215. As many Senators will know, the Magna Carta is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year and its significance still resonates today, as it is seen as the foundation of both the common law and many human rights instruments. It is of note that aspects of it and the Irish Magna Carta of 1216 continue in force in Ireland today, having been retained by the Statute Law Revision Act 2007.

I wish to outline to the House the main provisions of the Bill. Section 1 is the interpretation section. I want to refer to one definition in particular. "Instrument" is a key term of the Bill and is defined to cover three categories of instrument. Category (a) means any instrument that describes itself as an order, regulation, rule, by-law, scheme, or proclamation that is made under statutory, charter or executive or administrative authority or published in The Dublin Gazette or The London Gazette. Category (b) covers similar instruments, irrespective of their descriptions, which are of a regulatory, general or public nature, where such instruments were made under statutory, charter or executive or administrative authority or published in The Dublin Gazette or The London Gazette. This category will capture instruments that are akin to orders, regulations and rules but are not described as such. The definition specifically excludes charters and letters patent, because these will be the subject of a separate Bill, in accordance with the Government decision of July 2013 to which I referred to earlier. Category (c) relates to instruments referred to in Schedule 2, which lists instruments that will be revoked by the Bill.

Section 2(1) is the central feature of the Bill. It provides for a fundamental clarification and simplification of the Statute Book by drawing a line at 1 January 1821 and revoking all instruments made prior to that point except for the instruments listed in Schedule 1. Schedule 1 contains the instruments that it is considered necessary to retain. Section 2(2)(a) saves the instruments in Schedule 1. Section 2(2)(b) saves, for the avoidance of doubt, any transitional or continuing provision that applies to any instrument that has already been revoked prior to the present Bill. Section 2(5) provides a clear new power to revoke the instruments in Schedule 1, as in some cases the original power to revoke has ceased to apply, such as where the order was made under the prerogative or has become unworkable.

Section 3(1) provides that, for information purposes, Schedule 2 will list the instruments identified by the statute law revision programme as coming within the scope of the revocation by section 2. These are the specific instruments which were identified as being obsolete, unnecessary or as having ceased to be in force. Section 3(2) provides that an instrument being omitted from Schedule 2 does not imply that the instrument is saved. Section 3(3) provides that the inclusion of an instrument in Schedule 2 does not deem it to have been of full force and effect immediately prior to the Act.

Section 4 assigns citations to any instrument that is listed in Schedule 1. The section is based on section 4 of the Statute Law Revision Acts 2007 and 2009. However, unlike in those Acts, there is no reference to existing citations as none of the instruments already had citations. Section 5 provides for a standard savings clause and is based on section 9(1) of the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 and section 6(1) of both the subsequent Acts.

Section 6 amends the Statutory Instruments Act 1947 to remove the power to exempt statutory instruments from publication. Section 6(a)(i) inserts a new subsection, (2A), into the Act of 1947, to exempt instruments made under certain sections of the Defence Act 1954 and the Defence (Amendment) Act 1990 from the operation of the general application of the Act of 1947. Instruments made under those sections will not be affected by the amendments to the 1947 Act. Section 6(a)(ii) repeals sections 3 and 4 of the Act of 1947 and section 6(a)(iii) removes references to directions from section 2 of the Act of 1947, which is a consequential amendment. This will have the effect of removing the power, which has existed for nearly 70 years, to exempt instruments from normal publication. I hope the House will agree that this provision is a further important step towards transparency in our Statute Book. Paragraph (b) of section 6 will delete the obligation of the Stationery Office to send hard copies of all instruments to the chambers of commerce. Given that all statutory instruments are now available online, the need to send out hard copies has significantly lessened and the removal of this provision will achieve savings and greater efficiency.

Section 7 provides for evidence of instruments and is based on section 8 of the 2007 Act. There are, however, a greater number of sources for the pre-1820 instruments. It also includes a number of abbreviations used in the Schedules. Section 8 provides for the powers in relation to evidence of early Acts to transfer from the Taoiseach to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. This reflects the transfer of the programme to my Department in 2012 to which I alluded earlier. Section 9 provides for a Short Title and collective citations including a collective citation for the 36 previous Statute Law Revision Acts.

Schedule 1 lists the instruments to be retained. Each part of Schedule 1 lists the instruments which it is considered are not appropriate for revocation at this stage and are being retained in force specifically. The format of the Schedule is based on the Schedules to the Statute Law Revision Acts 2007, 2009 and 2012 with the addition of a new column 1 with a reference number and a new column 4 to identify the Minister conferred with a revocation power in respect of that instrument pursuant to section 2(5). Schedule 2 lists the specific instruments identified in the course of the review as appropriate for revocation at this stage because they have ceased to be relevant or have become unnecessary. They will be instruments which, while applicable to Ireland, have been identified in the course of the review as appropriate for revocation because they are spent, obsolete or have otherwise become unnecessary, and where no existing revocation has been identified at this stage of the research. They are not saved by the saver in section 2, and thus will cease to be in force following enactment of the Bill. Other instruments that do not relate to Ireland or have only a tenuous connection with Ireland will not be included in Schedule 2 but will be implicitly revoked by virtue of the general revocation in section 2.

Having regard to the volume of legislation involved and the careful analysis given to each instrument, it is clear that the Bill is the culmination of a significant programme of work. The progressing of the statute law revision programme has required meticulous research and has underpinned further modernisation and accessibility measures such as the electronic availability of the majority of Acts that were retained by the Statute Law Revision Act 2007. The Law Reform Commission has made available for the first time the text of most of the pre-1922 public general Acts that remain in force and those texts are now on the Irish Statute Book website. In addition, the statute law revision programme has provided assistance to other Departments on the repeal and re-enactment in modern form of extant pre-1922 Acts in some subsequent sector-specific legislation. The project staff also received texts of legal instruments and valuable assistance and co-operation from the Oireachtas Library and the National Library of Ireland. I express my gratitude to those institutions for their continued and ongoing support and assistance. I give a special mention to the Irish Manuscripts Commission, which was responsible for the publication of the five volumes of the Proclamations of Ireland between 1660 and 1820, edited by James Kelly with Mary Ann Lyons. These volumes were of great assistance particularly due to the quality and clarity of the texts contained within the publication.

As I mentioned, the Bill should be viewed in the context of the wider programme which includes not just the major Statute Law Revision Acts already enacted, but further measures planned as part of the next steps for the programme. I am pleased that work is well under way on the next Bill which will repeal spent and obsolete Acts enacted after 1922. This is the first comprehensive review of Acts enacted by the Oireachtas. Work has also commenced on a further Bill to continue the review of secondary instruments to dovetail with the current Bill and to deal with the post-1820 period. The Bill before the House today will achieve the repeal of almost 6,000 spent or obsolete legal instruments. The removal of these instruments represents another important step towards the aim of a clear and concise Statute Book which reduces the regulatory burden on businesses and citizens and enhances accessibility for the general public. I commend the Bill to the House.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. This is a very important series of work that has been ongoing since 2006, if not earlier. The Minister of State's officials have been working very hard on it. It has been ongoing since 2003 and there were Acts in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2012. A significant amount of work has been done on trying to get the Statute Book in order in the best way we can, acknowledging all the laws still exist. It always interests me to see matters that are of particular interest to my locality. If one takes the time to look through the Bill, as I have done, one finds some very interesting matters. I am glad to be able to tell the people of Warrenstown and Dunshaughlin-Culmullen parish that their pilgrimage to St. John's Well in Warrenstown, Drumree will no longer be the subject of a proclamation banning such pilgrimages which was issued by the Lord Lieutenant in 1710. His text stated: "Whereas 10,000 papists riotously assemble at place commonly called St. John's Well under the pretence of worship ... they are a great terror to her Majesty's Protestant subjects and so endanger the peace of her kingdom the High Sheriff will suppress such insolent practices with a posse [Senator Norris can be in the posse] and apprehend the principal actors in the said riot and have them prosecuted with the most rigorous of the law."

The legislation will remove this from the Statute Book, and I am very glad of it. All joking aside, these were very difficult times for the Roman Catholic population of the country and it would be very unwise of us to forget it. It would also be very unwise of Roman Catholics to forget it in the context of the possible oppression of other people, which has sometimes happened in our history when the Roman Catholic Church got too much power. The objective should be to have tolerance and respect for all different faiths, which certainly did not exist during the Penal Laws. Also of considerable local interest would be the provision in the legislation which continues two orders from 1781 regarding the Conyngham family, the family of Lord Henry Mountcharles. Lord Henry will be glad to hear his name is safe with the Minister of State.

There is an amazing amount of history in these laws. There are proclamations issued in counties Antrim, Cork, Meath, Clare, Westmeath and Tipperary instructing Tories, robbers and rapparees to surrender to the authorities. There is also an order promising a pardon to anyone involved in the theft and fire at a house on the estate of the Lord Bishop of Meath. I presume it refers to the Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath, who is a very respected lady and an excellent Bishop. Anybody who robs or burns her house will no longer be pardoned if this legislation is passed.

We support the legislation. It is part of a programme of work that was started when we were in government and we are delighted to see the Government continuing with it. It should not take up too much of our parliamentary time and I hope the work will continue. It has been a long but very necessary piece of work. This year, I hope to attend the pilgrimage to St. John's Well in Warrenstown knowing that it is no longer banned and that this particular Penal Law, among many others is being removed by this legislation.

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh. I echo Senator Thomas Byrne's remarks and marvel at what was required to bring this Bill to the House. The sheer volume of the legislation is unbelievable, and the programme has taken 12 years work, which is phenomenal. When I look at the Acts and orders that are being repealed, what jumps out at me is the proclamation prohibiting the sale of cattle other than on a market day that dates from 1543. One could not call it a spring clean of the Statute Book, as it took 12 years, but when one sees the number of Acts and the number of secondary instruments, which run into the thousands, that had to be repealed, one would realise it was laborious. I do not envy those who were tasked with this work, which will put the Statute Book on a better standing. Should people from other jurisdictions look at the Statute Book, they would see laws dating back to the 1500s, but I hope that when this body of work is completed we will have a modern, up-to-date Statute Book. I congratulate the Minister of State on this body of work.

This is the third time I have had the pleasure of speaking on this kind of Bill. I remember the time when Dr. Martin Mansergh was Minister of State. I thank those Ministers who preceded the present Minister. The Irish Manuscripts Commission did very valuable work in preparing the volumes concerning these defunct statutes. I think we owe a great debt to them and also to the National Library of Ireland and the Oireachtas Library, which have done tremendous work. I pay tribute to the people who went through these statutes, but unlike Senator Tom Sheahan, I think it would have been a fascinating task. These old laws give one a tremendous feeling of the history of the country. Sometimes from our current perspective they appear laughable, but they were far from laughable at the time. The Minister of State is quite correct when he said that much material remains on the Statute Book simply because of inertia. This material is obsolete and has long since served its purpose. It is out of date and is cluttering everything up, so it is good to get rid of it. It will continue to clutter up the Statute Book until it is removed. This is done not just as a kind of tidying-up exercise but to enhance public accessibility to relevant and vibrant statute law.

Among the issues dealt with are restrictions on exports. I found that interesting, because that law hampered this country during its association with the neighbouring island, which, in a very mean-minded way, restricted Irish trade. People such as Molyneux, Jonathan Swift and Bishop Berkeley were all to the fore in resisting it. There is a reflection of religious wars, the proclamation of James II, followed by restrictions on Catholics. There were also a number of instruments that specify persons. It is astonishing that there should be statutes dealing with individual citizens - so-and-so who was a victim of robbery, or somebody who was impeached and a reward was offered for them. I have picked out a number of things of particular interest. We could spend the whole afternoon on this fascinating work - I see the Leader is nodding his head in agreement. On 26 June 1663 there was a proclamation ordering the burning by the common hangman of a book about the "murthers" and massacres committed on the Irish. That is a very interesting example of censorship. There were murders and massacres committed against the Irish and the Government was intent on preventing any dissemination of these ideas. Something we could do with, and that I think should not be repealed - I wonder if I should table an amendment providing that it be retained - is a proclamation ordering the apprehension of street robbers in Dublin. Why are we getting rid of that? Street robbers should be apprehended. I do not see any reason for getting rid of that at all. On 3 February 1755, there was an order for the surveying of pavements in the city of Dublin. Was that ever more relevant? Have a look at Parnell Street, which would benefit from a survey of the pavements. Do we have the opportunity of tabling amendments?

Yes, on Committee Stage.

I will table an amendment to retain these two provisions, as they definitely should be kept.

Another law that should be retained is the proclamation of 1779 prohibiting the publishing of false, wicked or malicious reports or news. That is one in the eye for the tabloid newspapers.

The privacy Bill.

Exactly. When will the Leader move it? There is the Leader's privacy Bill and my privacy Bill. I think the three matters I have isolated are of particular concern still.

Two on the same page have a certain poignancy, particularly for Members in this room. I am talking about the proclamation of 11 May 1798 promising a reward for the discovery of Lord Edward FitzGerald, wanted for high treason. FitzGerald would have walked many times through these rooms. There is a proclamation on 29 June offering a £1,000 reward for the capture of Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, another one of the great people of 1798. The Minister of State referred to the first citation among the instruments of England from 1066 to 1707, "Proclamation publishing the peace (Magna Carta)"; therefore, we can see that by 1215 the Magna Carta had reached Ireland. There is a tremendously interesting amount of history and for that reason I am not surprised that the Irish Manuscripts Commission published this series of volumes of scholarly work. Of course, such instruments should be cleared out of the way so that people will have greater accessibility to the living statutes.

I think it was in the time when Dr. Mansergh was Minister of State that they got rid of a capital offence, the uttering of the phrase "Crom abú", which was the war cry of the Butlers of Ormond, the traditional enemies of my own Gaelic Irish family, who had very considerable difficulties. I did not have time to see if they were reflected in this.

I congratulate the Minister of State. I am sure that even though he was not expecting to be in this Chamber, he found it interesting and amusing if he had an opportunity to roll his eye over the many and various quirky, curious and antiquarian aspects of this legislation. It is very appropriate that in this House, Seanad Éireann, we should be discussing such an interesting Bill.

I welcome the Minister of State and thank him for his very detailed and informative submission, which went through the various provisions of the Act. It is very good to hear other speakers refer to their relevance in current times, for which I thank Senators David Norris and Thomas Byrne.

I welcome the opportunity to lead the debate on behalf of the Labour Party in the Seanad and to contribute to this important legislation. As legislators we have a tendency to add laws to the Statute Book, but rarely do we remove any. On that basis, I commend the Minister and his Department on this Bill. It is the most extensive statute law revision attempted anywhere. We can be very proud to have undertaken this course of action, as it marks us out as reformers in the true sense of the word. It is clear that a great job is being done in combing through the Statute Book for material that should no longer be there. I understand that throughout this process a number of Bills have already come through the Houses, and in total approximately 8,000 Acts have been identified for repeal. Together with these, some 40,557 Acts have automatically been repealed by the legislation.

With the Office of the Attorney General, the Minister and his Department have outlined a purposeful project to review all legislation on our Statute Book and to repeal any legislation that is spent, obsolete and no longer of practical use. Having worked in law, I think I speak for most members of my profession in welcoming this development, because no longer will I have to worry about some ancient, archaic law coming up and biting me if I am working in a courtroom again sometime soon when trying to fight a case. More seriously, it will revoke just over 5,700 secondary instruments, which were assessed by the statute law revision project as spent or obsolete. It also amends the Statutory Instruments Act 1947 by removing the provisions that permit certain individual instruments and classes of instrument to be exempted from the publication requirements of section 3(1) of the Act of 1947, except, I understand, instruments made under specified sections of the Defence Act 1954 and the amendment Act of 1990.

As with earlier phases and other matters brought before the Seanad relating to statute law, this Bill has been widely canvassed and accompanied by a consultation process with the various Departments, local authorities and other relevant companies, bodies and organisations. Some of these laws date back to 1542. While some are completely obsolete, they have enjoyed the full force of law up to the present, notwithstanding their age and the fact that they were designed for a very different era. One might question why these laws survived our independence from the British crown. However, by virtue of an Act passed in 1922, many ancient laws were transposed into Irish law. While we might be thankful that time has moved on in legal terms, it will not really have done so until this Bill is passed.

The Bill contains a comprehensive list of the secondary instruments and statutory instruments to be repealed and those to be retained. For instance, some of the laws that have been scrapped in the past relate to the removal of the 700 year old obligation for every citizen of Ireland to own a bow and arrow and to practise archery. The Act concerned with locking people into stocks so that they could be pelted with tomatoes - I know a few I could put in there - is also to be repealed, as are the private divorce Acts, which are obsolete in light of the judicial divorce Acts of 1996 and the statutes relating to conferring of citizenship on non-nationals, where Ministers have no power to confer naturalisation. This had to be done by Parliament.

While I have outlined only some of the Acts that have been consigned to history, this Bill will also specify those secondary instruments and statutory instruments that are to remain in effect. As well shedding light on Ireland's economic, social and political life, this constant renewal of legislation saves time and money. Our Parliament passes laws to deal with current circumstances and when these circumstances no longer apply, the legislation should cease to apply immediately. It is important that we remove legal deadwood from our Statute Book to facilitate a process of regulatory reform. A modern democracy like Ireland requires us to replace outdated and outmoded legislation with laws that are passed by the democratically elected representatives of the people. Obsolete laws have survived for too long because of the belief that they were not causing any harm. This is where people are wrong, however. Many of the archaic laws have frustrated the legal and judicial system and hampered its efficient operation because of the time legal practitioners were required to spend in the Law Library to determine the legal standing of a particular point. The Bill reflects the Government's agenda for better regulation. I thank everybody who has worked on this Bill and commend it to the House.

I think I also spoke on the previous Bill we had on statute law revision. It is a fantastic piece of work and I compliment all involved because it obviously took hours, months and years to compile all these laws and to bring them before us. It is a picture of history over centuries and it is certainly worth looking at. It deals with spent and obsolete laws, but it is a fantastic mirror of many things that happened in the past.

I will choose a few of them that are of historical interest. There is mention of the licence to Robert Gore to use the name and arms of Booth. We have heard a great deal of the Gore-Booths, regarding property and so on, in recent years. Another order settles the currency in Ireland and brings it to the same value as the coin in England. I am sure that could be the subject of many debates over a pint or two. There is also a proclamation in 1601 renewing the offer of a reward for the capture and death of the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill. What kind of connotations does that have in Irish history and the historical facts we were taught in primary school? From a Waterford point of view, there is a proclamation from 1639 for glass-making, which was very prominent in my city. Another declaration orders the removal of Irish papist proprietors with their wives, children and families from Leinster, Munster and Ulster to Connacht, dating from 1654. When we look again at the plantations and so on, it is all a very significant part of Irish history. In 1679 an order was made forbidding tobacco growing in Ireland. I am sure that if Senator Crown were here, he would be suggesting that rather than growing it, we should have banned it back in 1654. Another significant part of Irish history is an order made in 1689, before the battle of the Boyne in 1690, offering payment to Schomberg's soldiers to enlist in the Jacobite army. How much a part of Irish history was that? It continues to be a very important part of Irish history, north and south. A proclamation from 1374 concerns free access to victuals in Waterford. That is going back a long way. The Minister of State himself pointed out to me a proclamation from 1607 concerning the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell. We all know of the flight of the earls.

There is so much entwined in this about the history of Ireland. It is a very important piece of work and I compliment everybody involved in repealing up to 6,000 statutory and secondary instruments. I compliment everyone involved and commend the Bill to the House.

In the time I spent listening, I had a chance to look through a few items. I agree with Senator Maurice Cummins that this gives us a chance to reflect on our geographical areas and to go through history. There is a great opportunity to get much of this information out into the schools. I acknowledge all the officials who have been working diligently on this over the years. I am sure it was a learning journey for them, too. For example, as Senator Maurice Cummins pointed out, there is a proclamation dating from 9 July 1607 repealing the statute and restraining subjects from departing out of the realm. That was two short months before the flight of the earls on 14 September 1607. This Statute Book and the removal of these obsolete pieces of legislation brings much of history to life. It is an important catalogue of our history. There are some very interesting pieces in it. For example, on 28 November 1798, there was an order "extending the prohibition of the transport coastwise of any gunpowder, saltpetre, or any sort of arms or ammunition for six months commencing on 7 December 1798", coinciding with significant dates. It brings our history to life.

I will conclude on one interesting item. On 5 August 1714, there was a proclamation declaring Prince George the king of Great Britain, France and Ireland. There is a Prince George around at the moment, if I am not mistaken; therefore, it might be important to remove this from the Statute Book.

I thank everyone involved, including the Minister of State, Deputy Simon Harris, and his officials, for being diligent in their approach. I also thank Senators for their contributions.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

Do we not want to take it now? We could take Report Stage also.

Senator David Norris mentioned that he wanted to table amendments. I am unsure whether that was in jest.

He wants to keep the Penal Laws.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 9 June 2015.
Sitting suspended at 2.50 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.