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Friday, 24 March 2017

The 32nd Dail and the do as little as possible government.

A do Nothing Dail or a do as little as possible government?

FactFind: One year in, is this really a "do-nothing" Dáil? Dan Mc Gilll theJournal.ie March 2017

Interesting stats thats you can't deny, the least amount of bills passed bar 1 other Dail, the slow government formation, Dail procedural changes is only part of the reason but it kinda misses the point, that the government still mostly controls the amount of bills that get to the Dail, and can still delay and block bills from the opposition. Its the do as little possible government not the "do nothing Dail".

Pre-legislative scrutiny where the General Scheme of Bills goes to commmittee before it is introduced to the Dail was introduced over the last Dail and it has slowed down the process of bills getting to the Dail.

Unfortunately the above article and many others article perpetuates a mistaken meme started by the recently ex-government party, Labour. Despite the minority government and the Dail reforms the government still mostly controls the amount of bills that get passed in the Dail. They can still delay (sometimes with the help of Fianna Fail TDs) and block bills the opposition are not allowed to introduce bills that put a charge on the state and any government bills that do have to be approved by the Taoiseach.

Consolidated Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann 2017

Bills involving the appropriation of revenue or other public moneys.
179. (1) A Bill which involves the appropriation of revenue or other public moneys, other
than incidental expenses, shall not be initiated by any member, save a member of the
Government.

Article 17.2 of the Constitution
CONSTITUTION OF IRELAND
THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENT
CONSTITUTION AND POWERS

ARTICLE 17 2 Dáil Éireann shall not pass any vote or resolution, and no law shall be enacted, for the appropriation of revenue or other public moneys unless the purpose of the appropriation shall have been recommended to Dáil Éireann by a message from the Government signed by the Taoiseach.
Noel Whelan: New politics means little legislation Noel Whelan Irish Times January 2017
Arguably the only substantial piece of new legislation passed by the Dáil was the Act to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis


Government Legislation Programme
Government Legislation Programme Spring/Summer session 2017
This Government Legislative Programme is divided into a number of sections

The first sets out the details of 31 Government Bills to be published by July 2017.
The second sets out the details of 33 Bills to undergo Pre-Legislative Stage in this Session.
The third sets out the details of 69 Bills each Department plans to introduce in the longer term.

The fourth sets out the 27 Bills which have already been published and are currently before the Oireachtas, detailing the progress they have so far made.
The final two sections set out the 18 Acts passed and the 28 Bills published by the current Government since it took office on the 6th May 2016.
Its always hard to say what bills will actually appear the departments are black boxes and its very labourious to track their progress once they do start. (Bills of 32nd Dail spreadsheet) There is so much focus on a do nothing Dail and little discussion of whats coming out of the departments. On This Week (mp3) in February Regina Doherty says theres plently of legislation 20 bills passed (how many of them started in previous Dail, how many were must pass budget bills?), 30 government bills started, 63 private member bills (how far have any PMBs got?). Not entirely convinced of government ambition. Minister of State for Disabliity Finian McGrath defends his pace of executive action on the Irish Times March 1st Inside Politics podcast (from ~25 mis).

Legislative Strike
The ‘new politics’ one year on: Different? Yes. Better? No Pat Leahy February 2017
The power of the Opposition has largely been used to slow the work of Government. Privately, many senior civil servants believe that the experiment of a minority government has been an abject failure; some even say that they are reluctant to propose legislation because they are afraid that the Dáil will amend it beyond recognition.

RTE Prime Time investigative reporter Katie Hannon says the 'government is largely paralysed, little legislation of merit of note being produced' (at 5:30 minutes)


Are the government on legislative strike because they cannot get their way 100%?


Private Members Bills
Over 90 private members bills initiated in 32nd "do nothing" Dail over 80 still in play although very few getting much further.

List of all 32nd dail pmb since yesterday on workingSheet3 List of bills in 32nd Dail


(If a bill is introduced and not blocked does that mean it automatically ordered for the second stage?)

Are there too many different "issue raising" private members bills being initiated for them all to suceed? are they blocking each others progress through to committees or would they not get very far through the Oireachtas anyway? so might aswell draft lots of them?

Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor
Capacity review of the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor (OPLA) of the Houses of the Oireachtas Recommends .5 million spent a year to increase legal techinical drafting help to members drafting private members bill. Notes need to increase PMB quality and issues with regard to the number of PMBs being initiated and going to busy committees.
The reality is that most substantive and complex legislation across all areas of Departmental responsibility will continue to emanate in the form of Government Bills.

Committees
There has been some concern about the changes to committees which have been given their own morning slots so as not to clash with the Dail.

Splashing the cash: Oireachtas committees costing €265,000 Sarah Bardon Irish Times October 2016
Committee changes The new reform measures mean committees can only meet on a Wednesday and a Thursday morning to allow members be present for Dáil business.
It also means additional settings must be sanctioned by the business committee. However, chairpersons who attended the meeting on Wednesday evening claimed they are unable to hold regular meetings. There are now only four committees that meet regularly with others struggling to hold fortnightly meetings.

Members raised concerns that they are unable to properly scrutinise legislation due to constraints.

New politics beset by old problems in slow-moving Dáil Sarah Bardon Irish Times March 2017
“Everything has come to a shuddering halt,” he said. “For example, the finance committee is allocated a certain time every week to conduct its business. That is allocated to us by the business committee. If we want to deviate from it we have to make a request to the committee of committee chairpersons, who then have to seek approval from the business committee.
“It is a layer of bureaucracy that is ensuring absolutely nothing gets done.”
Standing Orders changes made in March to address this, a Dail motion to expand and define the powers of the Working Group of Committee Chairmen. Standing Orders: Motion Dáil debates Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Committee regularity Tableau Public Chart Click through to embiggen and compare Dail 31 and Dail 32.
Chart of Committees of 32nd Dail including private Meetings Links A year on, has 'New Politics' gone stale? writes Conor McMorrow and Michael Lehane for RTE analysis March 2017 The post originally said,
Even though his party’s whip Michael Moynihan had agreed to the week off at an earlier business committee meeting
until I pointed out that a Hugh O'Connell in the Sunday Business Post reported that Michael Moynihan had misssed the meeting due to a bereavement and I questioned whether he or FF had agreed to the week off at any business committee. Pat Leahy: Government needs a reboot – whoever leads it Pat Leahy Irish Times February 21017 Pat Leahy says creeping stasis in government has been "privately confirmed". I wouldn't call that confirmed at all. The ‘new politics’ one year on: Different? Yes. Better? No Pat Leahy February 2017
The power of the Opposition has largely been used to slow the work of Government. Privately, many senior civil servants believe that the experiment of a minority government has been an abject failure; some even say that they are reluctant to propose legislation because they are afraid that the Dáil will amend it beyond recognition.
Pat Leahy uses anonymous sources to say the current government is a failure. Senators angered by 'do nothing Dáil' Elaine Loughlin Irish Examiner 2016
In response to Mr Daly’s complaints, leader of the Seanad Jerry Buttimer said pre-legistlave scrutiny was now “stalling” the work that can be done.

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