What has changed?
- Substantial reforms have already been introduced since the general election, with the election of Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot and the establishment of an all-party committee on Dáil reform which will sit throughout the lifetime of the 32nd Dáil.
- The programme sets out a number of specific proposals for Dáil reform such as: establishing an Independent office to assist members and committees on budgetary matters, strengthened legal adviser to Oireachtas, introduction of a Parliamentary Investigations Unit, a relaxed application of the party whip system and more technical groups within the Dáil to allow smaller parties and independents to play a fuller role.
- A number of initiatives are outlined to reform committee business including: a more focussed committee structure, committee chairs voted for on proportional basis and a move to have each member of Oireachtas sit on a committee. Panels of outside experts are to be made available to committees.
- Several changes are proposed to reform conduct of Dáil business: a Dáil Business Management Committee would allow cross party input into the Dáil weekly agenda, programmes for enactment will give structured timelines to passage of bills, grouping of votes at fixed times would support more family friendly working arrangements, the introduction of abstentions and proposals to guillotine a debate would need certification from the Attorney General, approval from Ceann Comhairle and Dáil vote.
Positives for business
- The move to make panels of outside experts available to committees is very welcome. This would increase the input industry-related expertise.
- A strengthened legal adviser to Oireachtas will improve the drafting of legislation.
- Structured timelines to passage of bills via a Dáil Business Management Committee will bring more certainty to potential changes for business.
- A Dáil that enables more family friendly working arrangements shows leadership and reflects an evolving work environment.