Thursday, 30 July 2020
Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 6, line 2, after “provisions” to insert the following: “and continue in operation until the 9th day of November 2020, unless a resolution approving of its continuation has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas”.
This amendment concerns a time limit on this legislation. As was acknowledged by the Minister, all the other legislation enacted regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the emergency actions that needed to be taken, which were all appropriate, had a time limit set down for when they will come to a conclusion. We believe this should also be the case with this legislation. One thing struck me when the Minister was making her Second Stage contribution was that we had accepted there would not be pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill because we understood it was going to be pandemic-related. That was why we and all the other Opposition Members regarded it as fair enough that we would not have pre-legislative scrutiny, because there was a precedent in respect of other pandemic-related legislation.
Then, however, it was acknowledged in the first or second paragraph that the Bill goes beyond the pandemic. If we had been told that at the outset, we would not be in this position now. We would have said, "No", and that there must be proper pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill. That we are in this position now means that we need to ensure we at least have a time limit for this legislation. The time limit we have suggested is in keeping with the ending and renewal, most likely, of the health sections of legislation regarding Covid-19.
Our amendment states: "In page 6, line 2, after “provisions” to insert the following: “and continue in operation until the 9th day of November 2020, unless a resolution approving of its continuation has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas". The reality is that we expect that would happen if the pandemic is then still the crisis that it is now and it is looking most likely that it is heading in that direction.
In that context, I commend this amendment to the Minister and to the House to ensure there is a time limit on this legislation, just as there has been on all the other legislation concerning the pandemic. She may argue that this legislation is as it is because it extends beyond the pandemic. There is an issue with that, because we do not believe that this Bill should go beyond the pandemic. We believe that any Bill with provisions that extend beyond the pandemic should get proper pre-legislative scrutiny. That has been denied to this Bill and we believe that is to ensure that the vulture funds will benefit from it the most, as well as other large businesses that may go into disputes in court. That is totally unfair and reprehensible regarding how we do our business in this House. We should not be here in this position on the last day the Dáil is sitting before the summer recess.