Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Statute Law Revision Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second and Subsequent Stages


12:00 pm

Photo of John Paul PhelanJohn Paul Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)

I am glad to have a few moments to speak on the Statue Law Revision Bill 2012 and to commend the work of the officials of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform who were belonging to a different Department, I assume the then Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, until the new Department was created a year ago.

As somebody who has been a legislator for ten years and a student of law for four years, I am a bit nerdy about matters such as this. It is fascinating to read and learn about the amount of legislation that has been passed by different parliaments that have had jurisdiction over what we know today as the Republic of Ireland over more than 250 years. It is a fascinating area of study, and fascinating to think that 60,000 pieces of legislation have been reviewed from the period prior to independence and that this Bill, along with three or four previous Acts that have been passed, mostly in the past decade, is the fruition of that work. I commend the officials who were involved in the drafting of this particular piece of legislation.

As Deputy Regina Doherty outlined, when the State was created, it is clear, certainly from this legislation if one did not know previously, that we did not start with a blank canvas when it came to legislation governing all aspects of people's lives.

One of the most interesting things about this Bill is the notion of private Acts of parliament, which do not exist in this jurisdiction nowadays. Before much of the main body of current company law came into existence, most companies were brought about through Acts of parliament, in those days Acts of the House of Commons in Westminster. This was prior to the establishment of company law currently in existence. Much of the legislation being repealed relates to private Acts from 1751 until 1922 and local and personal Acts from 1851 until 1922. I understand 40,000 Acts were considered and the Bill repeals almost 10,000 of them. Some private and personal Acts which pre-date Independence will remain on the Statute Book. Many of these contain archaic nuggets of interesting historical information. The debate pack provides a number of examples, including an Act passed in 1877 to legislate for how St. Stephen's Green was to be maintained and managed. It is appropriate that some of this historical legislation, such as that concerning the maintenance of public facilities, including St. Stephen's Green, be maintained.

It is crucial in terms of company law and the manner in which business is done that Acts of Parliament are codified, reviewed and, where necessary, repealed. For this reason, I wholeheartedly support this welcome legislation. I also commend the efforts of the officials involved who have completed a major task in bringing this legislation to fruition.


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