I move amendment No. 2:
In page 5, between lines 1 and 2, to insert the following:
"Parliamentary oversight of Covid-19 regulations
1. (1) Every relevant statutory instrument made by the Minister shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas not less than 48 hours before they come into effect and—
(a) where, before the date on which paragraph (b) would have effect, a resolution annulling the instrument is passed by either such House, the instrument shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under it, or
(b) if, in respect of each House, a resolution confirming the instruments is not passed by it—
(i) on the day it is laid before that House or within the next subsequent 14 days on which that House has sat after the instrument was so laid, or
(ii) in any other case, within 21 days after the instrument was made, whichever first occurs, then the instrument shall be deemed to be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under it,
(c) where, following the agreement of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, the need of such a regulation is deemed urgent, every relevant statutory instrument may be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is
made for the purpose of this section.
(2) The period of time to which subsection (1)(b) relates in respect of a relevant statutory instrument that has been subsequently amended is the period of time concerned for that instrument and not to any other period of time by reference to the amending
(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), subsection (1)(b) does not apply to a relevant statutory instrument where, before the date on which subsection (1)(b) would have had effect—
(a) the instrument ceases to have effect in accordance with its provisions,
(b) the instrument ceases to have effect in accordance with any subsequent amendment duly made to it or has been duly revoked, or
(c) the instrument has been annulled by either House in accordance with subsection (1)(a).”.
This amendment gets to the meat of the issue. It is about trying to establish parliamentary oversight. That is our key point here. Amendment No. 2 seeks to do a number of things. It provides that a statutory instrument made by the Minster shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas not less than 48 hours before it comes into effect.
It talks about statutory instruments being annulled if they do not have the approval of both Houses. However, it also refers to exceptional circumstances where it may be deemed appropriate, because of urgency, that "following the agreement of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, the need of such a regulation is deemed urgent, every relevant statutory instrument may be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made for the purpose of this section". We are trying to establish better parliamentary oversight here. We think it is important because all of us are held to account for those statutory instruments when they are introduced. Therefore, it would be helpful, useful and democratic to have some degree of oversight over them. The counterargument that came back was that there are too many of them. I respectfully suggest that this is where the Business Committee comes in. The Business Committee can determine which instruments - obviously I would say only the key ones - would be subject to this type of oversight.
Again, I come back to the principle that we support the public health measures; we are just not happy with the degree of accountability in that regard. That is why I will press this amendment.