Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

7:25 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 50, subsection (4), line 21, to delete “land” and substitute “property”.
I imagine that Deputies opposite read this amendment and wondered what it was about. I will explain. It is not actually essential to the legislation but it is a vehicle that I wanted to use. As the members will know, a private Bill is a Bill promoted for the particular interest or benefit of a person or which interferes with the private property of a person, otherwise than in the interests of the public generally or as a matter of public policy. Normal Bills are not private because they have general application and are a matter of general public policy. Private Bills, which are rare enough in the Houses, have a particular focus. Examples of recent private Bills dealt with include The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Charters Amendment) Act 2003 – the original charter set up by an Act of Parliament needed to be amended – and The Trinity College Dublin (Charters and Letters Patent Amendment) Act 2000.

A petitioner of a private Bill means a person who submits to the House or committee a petition opposing the private Bill or a provision in the Bill. Subsection (4) provides that a petitioner who owns an interest in land and who opposes a private Bill which proposed the acquisition of all or part of that interest shall not be liable to pay legal costs to the promoter under this section. This subsection is based on section 2 of the Parliamentary Costs Act 1865, as applied by section 5 of the Private Bills Costs Act 1924.

I am proposing to delete the word "land" in the original legislation and replace it with the word "property". The word "land" is taken directly from the 1865 Act. However, I am concerned that the word "land" may be unduly narrow in today's context. To bring the wording up to date, I would like to broaden the scope of this provision to encompass "property" generally, as opposed to “land”. The amendment is to improve the mechanism with regard to the bringing of private Bills before the House.


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