Seanad debates

Friday, 20 March 2020

An Bille Sláinte (Caomhnú agus Cosaint agus Bearta Éigeandála eile ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail), 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages


11:00 am

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)

As the Senator rightly says, the Dáil decided yesterday that there should be a sunset clause in the legislation and I was pleased to be in a position to agree with that. It was a significant debate because a variety of amendments were tabled, some of which sought for the emergency powers to continue for 12 months, some of which did not explicitly seek a sunset clause and others which sought for the emergency powers to be in place for a short period of time. In an effort to have as much consensus as we could, we landed on a period up until 9 November. That seems to be a midway point that many were in a position to agree with so there will be a sunset clause. There is a logic in this section in that if one is in my Department at 3 o'clock in the morning, as we were last Wednesday week, and decisions are being made that if we got to a point - we do not envisage getting to this point - where the Houses of the Oireachtas could not be convened due to the public health situation, and the powers this House is passing in this Bill present that as a possible scenario, and because the Constitution is proscriptive in terms of the Dáil having to meet within Dublin, there are limitations we needed to be conscious of. That was the original logic. I am advised that the regulations are under the primary legislation in the 1947 Act, so they would still have to be laid before the Houses under the primary Act, which gives the Houses of the Oireachtas the same opportunity to annul any regulations we lay. The regulations will be placed before the Houses under the existing primary legislation from 1947.


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