Thursday, 8 June 2006
Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Bill 2005 [Seanad]: Second Stage.
Brendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
I accept the Government's view that this Bill is important. It is certainly large legislation and, for that reason, I regret the manner in which it was introduced. To be blunt, it was introduced by a Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government who read a script and then left immediately. He was replaced by a Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children who was replaced within an hour by the current incumbent, the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon.
If there is to be an engagement with Parliament, a Minister should attend the House who is in a position to listen to arguments and respond to them on Committee Stage. Otherwise, one is left with Members reading pre-prepared speeches on important legislation.
Last Thursday, a different filler Bill from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform was placed on the Order Paper. It was not reached and this week another Bill has been placed before the House. As the previous speaker noted, half of the legislation to come before the House emanates from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. There should be some decent co-operation with Opposition spokespersons to ensure the House does its job, to properly examine, scrutinise and debate to make good law. Deputy McDowell is a Minister who is particularly good at listening, although he will probably faint when he hears I said something positive about him, but at least he is capable of absorbing a good argument and changing his view. For that reason, I regret he is not present and that justice matters are not scheduled so that we can have proper debates.