Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Standing Orders 82 and 165A to 165F: Motion

 

11:00 am

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Department of An Taoiseach; Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders -

(1) the Order of the Dáil of 8th June, 2011 relating to the Joint Committee on Investigations, Oversight and Petitions, as amended by the Order of the Dáil of 29th September, 2011, is amended—

(a) in paragraph (1) by the deletion of all words from and including 'Investigations,' down to and including '2011' and the substitution of 'Public Service Oversight and Petitions, to consider the activities specified in Standing Order 165A.', and

(b) by the deletion of paragraphs (2) and (3) and the substitution of the following:

'(2) Standing Orders 165A to 165E, inclusive, shall apply to the Joint Committee.',

(2) the Order of the Dáil of 9th June, 2011 relating to membership of the Joint Committee on Investigations, Oversight and Petitions is amended by the deletion of all words from and including 'Investigations, Oversight and Petitions' and the substitution of 'Public Service Oversight and Petitions'.

and

(3) until further notice in the 31st Dáil, the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business are hereby amended

-

(a) by the adoption of the following additional Standing Orders:

'165A.(1) There shall stand established, following the reassembly of the Dáil subsequent to a General Election, a Standing Committee, which shall be joined with a similar Committee of Seanad Éireann, to form the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions.

(2) The Standing Committee shall consist of fifteen members of Dáil Éireann. The quorum of the Joint Committee shall be six, of whom at least one shall be a member of Dáil Éireann and one a member of Seanad Éireann. The Chairman of the Joint Committee shall be a member of Dáil Éireann.

(3) The Joint Committee shall have oversight of public service delivery generally, with a particular focus on investigating and identifying improvements in the delivery of such services to citizens.

(4) (a) There shall stand established, following the reassembly of the Dáil subsequent to a General Election, a sub-Committee which shall be called the sub-Committee on the Ombudsman, which shall be joined with a similar sub-Committee of the Seanad Committee, to form the Joint sub-Committee on the Ombudsman.

(b) The sub-Committee shall consist of all fifteen members of the Standing Committee. The quorum of the Joint sub-Committee shall be six, of whom at least one shall be a member of Dáil Éireann and one a member of Seanad Éireann. The Chairman of the Joint Committee shall be the Chairman of the Joint sub-Committee.

(5) (a) There shall stand established, following the reassembly of the Dáil subsequent to a General Election, a sub-Committee which shall be called the sub-Committee on Public Petitions, which shall be joined with a similar sub- Committee of the Seanad Committee, to form the Joint sub-Committee on Public Petitions.

(b) The sub-Committee shall consist of all fifteen members of the Standing Committee. The quorum of the Joint sub-Committee shall be six, of whom at least one shall be a member of Dáil Éireann and one a member of Seanad Éireann. The Chairman of the Joint Committee shall be the Chairman of the Joint sub-Committee.

(6) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (3),

(a) the Joint sub-Committee on the Ombudsman shall consider—

(i) the reports of the Ombudsman which are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas under the Ombudsman Acts 1980 to 1984;

(ii) motions pursuant to section 2 of the Ombudsman Act 1980, which shall stand referred to the Joint Committee for consideration and report to the Houses of the Oireachtas thereon; and

(iii) such other matters as may be referred to the Joint sub- Committee by the Houses of the Oireachtas;

(b) the Joint sub-Committee on Public Petitions shall consider—

(i) public petitions addressed to the Houses of the Oireachtas which shall stand referred to the Joint sub-Committee in accordance with Standing Orders 165B to 165E, inclusive; and

(ii) such other matters as may be referred to the Joint sub- Committee by the Houses of the Oireachtas;

and

(c) the Joint Committee shall consider—

(i) the quality and standards of public service delivery informed by its sub-Committees' consideration of the reports and petitions under paragraphs (a) and (b), including the effectiveness of public service complaints and redress systems;

(ii) such other matters as may be referred to the Joint Committee by the Houses of the Oireachtas; and

(iii) any other related matters.

(7) The Joint Committee and the Joint sub-Committee on Public Petitions shall have the following powers:

(a) the powers defined in Standing Order 83, other than paragraphs (2A), (4A), (4B) and (6A) thereof; and

(b) power to refer any matter which has been considered by it (and which has been concluded to be of sufficient importance to require additional consideration) to the relevant Joint Committee appointed under Standing Order 82A for further consideration and report back to the Committee.

(8) The Joint sub-Committee on the Ombudsman shall have the following powers:

(a) the powers defined in Standing Order 83, other than paragraphs (4A), (4B) and (6A) thereof; and

(b) power to refer any matter which has been considered by it (and which has been concluded to be of sufficient importance to require additional consideration) to the relevant Joint Committee appointed under Standing Order 82A for further consideration and report back to the Committee.

(9) Each Joint sub-Committee shall have the power to report directly to the Dáil.

(10) The provisions of Standing Order 92, other than paragraph (1) thereof, shall apply to the Joint Committee and its sub-Committees.

(11) In carrying out their roles under this Standing Order—

(a) the Joint sub-Committee on the Ombudsman—

(i) shall agree guidelines on collaborative working between the Joint sub-Committee and the Ombudsman, including a right of initiative for the Joint sub-Committee in bringing specific matters to the attention of the Ombudsman;

and

(ii) may liaise with such other Ombudsmen, regulatory public bodies or bodies established for the purpose of redress, as the Joint sub-Committee considers appropriate;

and

(b) the Joint sub-Committee on Public Petitions may engage with the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament including in relation to the European Citizens' Initiative.

(12) It shall be an instruction to the Joint Committee and its sub-Committees that they shall not consider any matter which is being considered, or of which notice has been given of a proposal to consider, by the Committee of Public Accounts pursuant to Standing Order 163 and/or the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993.

(13) The Joint Committee shall prepare an annual work programme and an annual report as outlined in Standing Order 86, which shall be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

(14) The Joint Committee shall review its role generally on an ongoing basis and may make recommendations for change by way of report to the Committees on Procedure and Privileges of both Houses.

165B. (1) A petition may be addressed to the Houses of the Oireachtas on a matter of general public concern or interest in relation to their legislative powers or an issue of public policy.

(2) A petition may be lodged by person, a body corporate or an unincorporated association of persons.

(3) A petition shall clearly indicate—

(a) the name of the petitioner;

(b) an address of the petitioner to which all communications concerning the petition should be sent; and

(c) the name and address of any person supporting the petition.

(4) All petitions addressed to the Houses of the Oireachtas shall stand referred to a Committee or sub-Committee empowered to consider petitions under this Standing Order and Standing Orders 165C, D and E (referred to in this Standing Order and Standing Orders 165C, D and E as 'the Committee').

(5) The Committee shall, from time to time, determine—

(a) the proper form of petitions;

(b) the manner in which petitions are to be lodged with the Houses; and

(c) such other matters in relation to the consideration of petitions as the Committee considers appropriate and which are not otherwise provided for in these Standing Orders.

165C. (1) A petition is admissible unless it—

(a) requests the Dáil to do anything other than the Dáil has power to do;

(b) does not comply with Standing Orders or is otherwise not in proper form;

(c) is sub judice within the meaning of Standing Order 57;

(d) contains the name or names of individuals;

(e) contains language which is offensive or in the nature of being defamatory;

(f) is the same as, or in substantially similar terms to, a petition brought by or on behalf of the same person, body corporate or unincorporated association during the lifetime of that Dáil and which was closed by agreement of the Committee;

(g) is frivolous, vexatious or otherwise constitutes an abuse of the petitions system; and

(h) requires the Committee to consider an individual complaint which has been the subject of a decision by the Ombudsman, by another Ombudsman, or by a regulatory public body or a body established for the purpose of redress.

(2) In relation to admissible petitions, where a petition deals with—

(a) local or regional matters; or

(b) matters which are more appropriate to a regulatory public body or a body established for the purpose of redress;

the Committee shall establish that all available avenues of appeal or redress have been utilised by the petitioner prior to the Committee considering the matter.

(3) The Committee shall consider and decide in a case of dispute whether a petition is admissible and shall notify the petitioner of its decision and of the reasons for that decision.

165D. (1) If a petition is admissible, the Committee shall take such action as it considers appropriate in relation to that petition.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), the Committee may—

(a) refer the petition to the Ombudsman, another Ombudsman or a regulatory public body or a body established for the purpose of redress;

(b) refer the petition to any other Committee as it considers appropriate, with a request for further consideration and report back to the Committee; and

(c) report to the Dáil with recommendations, including a request that the report be debated by the Dáil.

(3) The Committee shall notify the petitioner of any action taken under paragraph (2).

165E. (1) The Committee may close a petition at any time.

(2) Where the Committee closes a petition it shall notify the petitioner that the petition is closed and of the reasons for closing it.',

and

(b) by the insertion in Standing Order 82 of the following subparagraph after paragraph (2)(c):

'(ad) that it shall not consider any matter which is being considered, or of which notice has been given of a proposal to consider, by the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions in the exercise of its functions under Standing Order 165A.'."

Question put and agreed to.