Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform
Business of Joint Committee
I do not have the minutes to hand, but it was agreed in private session at the previous meeting that we would circulate the cost since the election of travel to conferences. Has this note been agreed?
It has not been prepared yet but I will ask the clerk to bring it forward.
Apologies have been received from Deputies Peter Mathews and Liam Twomey. The Oireachtas broadcasting unit has advised that this meeting is being televised live on UPC channel 207, with transmission commencing at 2 p.m. To facilitate transmission it is proposed to defer consideration of correspondence until after the public session concludes. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I remind members to switch off mobile phones because they create massive distortion in the broadcasting signals in the committee rooms.
In that case, I propose we bring all of the witnesses before the committee together and ask them to summarise their presentations. A practice I will bring from my previous chairmanship is to encourage members to engage in questioning witnesses as opposed to making Second Stage speeches.
I know it is a problem for the committee administrators, but we tend to receive statements, which can be lengthy, the day before a meeting. My copy did not arrive until after 5.30 p.m. yesterday. It does not give us a proper opportunity to peruse the statements with the attention they deserve. I know it is difficult for the secretariat but it would be helpful if we could receive them sooner.
Does the Chairman propose to take the submissions as read? Given that the committee meeting will be broadcast live and the significance of the subject under discussion, I suggest that while it might be appropriate on other occasions, we should think twice about this approach in these circumstances. The submissions as presented to us contain significant issues with which the public tuning in may not be familiar.
I agree with Deputy Creed. I wish the Chairman the very best of luck. I believe people who question witnesses should be brief and I agree with what the Chairman said about Second Stage speeches. It is inclined to happen in this committee so I hope we will see a new direction.
I asked the clerk whether the witnesses were given a time limit for their presentations. They were given between five and ten minutes each, which I think is fair enough.
Although I have just been elected Chairman of the committee, I had already scheduled a meeting, which took me two months to organise, for later this afternoon, so I will have to ask to be excused from the Chair and for an Acting Chairman to take over for a portion of the meeting. If the meeting is still in session when I have finished I will return. With the members' permission, can this be agreed? Agreed. I thank the committee members.
I welcome the Chairman to the committee. I followed the proceedings of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht from afar, and if the Chairman gives this committee the same attention he gave that one we will all be well served.