Thursday, 30 July 2020
Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
I will do my best. I hope we will be in more proximate circumstances after the recess.
The amendment suggests the insertion of a sunset clause to this Bill. As I indicated in my contribution on Second Stage, I believe there is a lot in this Bill that should be made permanent, particularly the long-awaited amendments to the Coroners Acts. The two-year waiting period for coroner's inquiries in Dublin is entirely unacceptable. Many of the administrative changes that are proposed in this Bill should be made permanent. Deputy coroners should be able to act. It should be possible to appoint more than one coroner per district outside Dublin to be able to respond to a build-up of cases beyond simply dealing with the pandemic.
Having said that, there are aspects of this Bill that as the Minister is aware, do not fit in as requirements to address the pandemic and the emergency provisions that we are facilitating here. I cannot recall too many debates in this House where every speaker from each group has urged caution on the Minister, as has happened here. All contributors have asked that the sections that relate to the presentation of business evidence in civil cases be withdrawn from the Bill so that there can be proper legislative scrutiny applied to it in the cold light of day through the taking of expert testimony. The Minister wishes to persevere and, in three hours, enact legislation that would normally take weeks or months to enact. In light of that, it is a reasonable request that a sunset clause be inserted for the entirety of the Bill in order that we have the chance to put on a permanent basis those things that we will have a consensus to put on a permanent basis and to properly scrutinise, parse and analyse the potential impact across the civil legal process of the profound changes contained in this Bill, which is to go through this House in a period of three hours.