Independent TD for Kildare North Catherine Murphy
On May 26, the Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht: Select Sub-Committee on the Environment, Community and Local Government met to discuss the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014.
During the meeting, junior environment minister Ann Phelan told the committee:
“I want to point out to the committee that while the Government is not presenting any amendments to the Bill at this stage in the process, it intends to propose a number of amendments on Report Stage in the Dáil. This will require a motion to be tabled to amend the Long Title and scope of the Bill. These amendments will cover a range of issues, including further amendments to waste legislation and provisions relating to water services legislation. While I am not in a position to go into more detail about the amendments at this stage, they will be published in good time ahead of Report Stage so that Deputies will have time to consider them in advance of the debate on the floor of the House.”
In response, Independent TD Catherine Murphy told the meeting:
“I have to tell the Minister of State that I do not like stuff coming to us on Report Stage. I know it can happen when things are worked on late in the day. It is nice to see the totality of what we are doing on Second Stage. The Minister of State has said that a motion will come before us. What is the nature of that motion? Will it be debated in the Dáil? If so, will that debate precede the Report Stage debate?”
“I am aware that a certain system applies if a quite substantial change is being made to legislation. I remember that a legal services Bill introduced by a former Minister, Michael McDowell, had increased in size by two thirds by the time it got to Report Stage. The Minister of State might tell us about the nature of the changes she is proposing in this regard, with specific reference to the nature of the motion that will come before the Dáil.”
Ms Phelan went on to insist that the deputies would “have plenty of time” to look at the amendments…twice.
Further to this, Ms Murphy said this morning:
“The deadline for amendments to be submitted is 11am this morning and a debate on these issues will happen in the Dáil next week – with late sittings likely. We have now had it confirmed that opposition will not get sight of the amendments that Government are submitting before the deadline passes. In effect, this ensures that opposition are denied the chance to table their own amendments to the Government proposals because we don’t know what they are. The deadline for submitting our amendments will have passed yet we don’t know what we are supposed to be amending. In what way is that proper democratic functioning of Parliament?”
Thanks Catherine Murphy