There are a number of proposed amendments, all in the name of the Minister. I refer members to the grouping list which has been distributed. I invite the Minister to make his opening remarks on the Bill.
Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Bill 2016: Committee Stage
I merely wish to acknowledge the ordering of business by the committee to facilitate Committee Stage of the Bill. I very much welcome the opportunity to engage with Deputies to ensure that we can report progress. I am joined by my officials, Ms Regina Terry and Ms Mary Joy, and by Mr. Philip Murphy from the General Register Office, GRO, in case there is an issue of concern relating to that office. Approximately nine parliamentary weeks remain before the summer recess and I hope all Deputies will see their way towards advancing this legislation, which was introduced as a Private Members' Bill in the Seanad. I acknowledge the sponsors of the Bill, namely, Senators Marie-Louise O'Donnell and Ruane and my colleague, Senator Colm Burke.
I am happy to engage with members on Committee Stage.
Before proceeding, I note, for the information of members, that the money message is on the Order Paper for today.
Amendments Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. I understand that all the amendments are in the name of the Minister.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 5, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
“(2) The Civil Registration Acts 2004 to 2018 and Part 3 may be cited together as the Civil Registration Acts 2004 to 2019.”.
This a technical amendment to update the citation provision for the Civil Registration Acts consequent on the changes introduced in the Bill. The combined effect of amendments Nos. 2 to 4, inclusive, is to provide that the commencement order for Part 3, which amends the Civil Registration Act 2004, will be subject to consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The rationale for this is that the Bill will amend legislation for which that Minister has primary responsibility.
Do any members wish to comment on the grouping?
The amendments make sense and I will support them.
As Deputies Ó Laoghaire and Jack Chambers have no objection either, we will proceed to address each of the amendments.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 5, line 12, after “Act” to insert “(other than Part 3)”.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 5, lines 12 and 13, to delete “for Justice and Equality”.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:
“ (3) Part 3 comes into operation on such day or days that the Minister may, after consultation with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, appoint by order or orders either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or provisions.”.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related and may be discussed together. I call the Minister.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 5, line 17, to delete “, unless the context otherwise requires”.
These, too, are technical amendments. The purpose of amendment No. 6 is to remove any ambiguity that may arise over the fact that the term "applicant", as used in section 8, means an applicant as defined in section 4. The term is used in section 4 where an application is made for a presumption of death order. It is also used in section 8 where a variation order is sought in respect of what was an original presumption of death order. The amendment is for clarity, therefore. An applicant in section 4 is defined as the spouse or civil partner of a missing person; the cohabitant of a missing person; any other family member of the missing person, including a child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the missing person; a person who is acting in loco parentis for the missing person; a dependant of the missing person; or any other person with a sufficient interest, including, where relevant, the Attorney General or another person acting on behalf of the State in the circumstances. The definition is all-embracing.
As no members wish to comment, we will proceed.
I move amendment No. 6:
In page 5, to delete line 20 and substitute the following:
“ “applicant” shall be construed in accordance with section 4;”.
Only one amendment to the section is proposed, although it is included in the grouping of amendments Nos. 7 to 14, inclusive, which contains all the amendments to section 5. Amendment No. 14 concerns section 15.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 6, line 9, to delete “of this Act”.
It is again my contention that amendments Nos. 7 to 14, inclusive, are technical in nature. Amendments Nos. 7, 11 and 13 provide for the deletion of extraneous text. Amendments Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive, and 12 concern punctuation issues. Amendment No. 14 provides that neither Part 5 nor Part 5A of the Civil Registration Act 2004 shall apply to a presumed death, thereby correcting an earlier omission of a reference to Part 5A. In that regard, members should note that Part 5 concerns the registration of deaths in general and that Part 5A concerns the keeping of a record of deaths abroad. As these are technical amendments, I seek support for them.
Does any member wish to speak to an individual amendment in the grouping or to the entire group in which there are eight amendments?
No. They are appropriate technical amendments.
They are, as the Minister described. We are all happy.
I move amendment No. 8:
In page 6, line 24, to delete “including:” and substitute “including—”.
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 6, line 25, to delete “person;” and substitute “person,”.
I move amendment No. 10:
In page 6, line 27, to delete “communication;” and substitute “communication,”.
I move amendment No. 11:
In page 7, to delete line 8.
I move amendment No. 12:
In page 7, line 13, to delete “is:” and substitute “is—”.
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 7, line 28, to delete “and” where it secondly occurs.
I move amendment No. 14:
In page 12, line 11, to delete “Part 5” and substitute “Parts 5 and 5A”.
Amendments Nos. 15 to 26, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. This grouping includes the entirety of the remainder of the amendments.
I move amendment No. 15:
In page 12, line 15, to delete “the appropriate registrar” and substitute “to an tArd-Chláraitheoir”.
Members will be aware that the Bill currently provides that the "appropriate registrar" shall be provided with a copy of the presumption of death order, or the variation order, if applicable, by the court which made the order and that the appropriate registrar shall register the death or remove the entry from the register, as appropriate, depending on the circumstances. The appropriate registrar is:
a registrar in the functional area of the authority in which—
(a) the death was presumed to have occurred, or
(b) if a place of presumed death cannot be determined, the area in which the missing person was normally resident.
The proposed amendments are in the interests of the efficient management of the registration process. They allow an tArd-Chláraitheoir the flexibility to perform registrations centrally or to assign the task to a registrar, thus simplifying the registration process by comparison with the process in the Bill as passed by the Seanad. The proposed arrangements will also act to provide a single point of contact for the receipt of court orders. The text has regard to the wording used in section 65(3) of the Civil Registration Act 2004, to which I made reference. Again, it is in the interests of the efficient and careful management of the process and to allow for clarity. I ask that the amendments be given favourable consideration by members of the committee.
I agree with the Minister. The amendments make sense.
I move amendment No. 16:
In page 12, line 17, to delete “that registrar” and substitute “he or she”.
I move amendment No. 17:
In page 12, lines 18 and 19, to delete “ in such manner as an tArd-Chláraitheoir may direct” and substitute “, or cause it to be registered”.
I move amendment No. 18:
In page 12, line 21, to delete “the registrar concerned” and substitute “an tArd-Chláraitheoir”.
I move amendment No. 19:
In page 12, line 22, to delete “the registrar” and substitute “he or she”.
I move amendment No. 20:
In page 12, line 23, after “register” to insert “, or cause it to be corrected”.
I move amendment No. 21:
In page 12, line 26, to delete “the registrar concerned” and substitute “an tArd-Chláraitheoir”.
I move amendment No. 22:
In page 12, line 26, to delete “the registrar” where it secondly occurs and substitute “he or she”.
I move amendment No. 23:
In page 12, line 28, after “order” to insert “, or cause it to be so removed or adjusted”.
I move amendment No. 24:
In page 12, line 35, to delete “the registrar concerned” and substitute “an tArd-Chláraitheoir”.
I move amendment No. 25:
In page 12, line 36, after “register” to insert “, or cause it to be removed.” ”.
I move amendment No. 26:
In page 12, to delete lines 37 to 40 and in page 13 to delete line 1.
I express my appreciation to the Chairman and members of the committee for dealing with this legislation. In the context of the earlier legislation, I said we had approximately nine weeks left in this parliamentary session. This is important legislation and I am very keen to ensure its safe passage through the House on Report Stage in plenary session. I know that there are members present who will have an interest in dealing with the Bill on that Stage. I am very keen to have the Bill enacted and make a commencement order at the earliest opportunity. I acknowledge our colleagues in the Seanad for sponsoring the Bill. I thank members of the committee for their efficient management of the Bill on Committee Stage, for which I am grateful to them.
I remind members that we will be back to a 9 a.m. start for the meeting of the joint committee next Wednesday, at which we will commence a series of hearings on the system of direct provision. I thank the Minister and his officials for attending.