Tuesday, 1 May 2007
Statute Law Revision Bill 2007 [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil]: Report and Final Stages.
This is a Seanad Bill which has been amended by the Dáil. In accordance with Standing Order 103, it is deemed to have passed its First, Second and Third Stages in the Seanad and is placed on the Order Paper for Report Stage. On the question "That the Bill be received for final consideration", the Minister may explain the purpose of the amendments made by the Dáil. This is looked upon as the report of the Dáil amendments to the Seanad. For the convenience of Senators I have arranged for the printing and circulation of the amendments. The Minister will deal separately with the subject matter of each related group of amendments. I have also circulated the proposed grouping of amendments in the House. A Senator may contribute once on each grouping of amendments. I remind Senators that the only matter that may be discussed is the amendments made by the Dáil.
I request Members to note the following typographical errors in the amendment list. Amendment No. 44 in the first column '(7 Hen. 3)' should read '(7 Hen. 6)'. Amendment No. 57 — the lead-in 'In page 121, in the second column, line 48*' should read 'line 46*'. Amendment No. 93 — the lead-in 'In page 184, in the second column, line 51' should read "line 5". Amendment No. 128 — the lead-in 'In page 208, between lines 46* and 47*' should read 'between lines 48* and 49*'. Amendment No. 135 — the lead-in 'In page 212, between lines 21 and 22' should read 'between lines 19 and 20'." Is that agreed? Agreed.
Regarding the subject matter of the amendments, group 1 covers amendments relating to the Land Drainage Acts and amendments of section 7. We will deal with the subject matter of amendments Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, 30 and 31.
I thank Members for the detail already discussed in the debate on this Bill.
Amendments Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, 30 and 31 relate to section 7. Amendment No. 1 is a drafting amendment to improve the wording of section 7. Amendments Nos. 2 to 4, 30 and 31 are also drafting amendments that concern changes to the numbering of two Drainage and Improvement of Land Supplemental Acts of 1867 which are set out in the table in section 7. The purpose of these amendments is to take into account the fact that three separate Drainage Acts passed in 1867 currently have the same Short Title and the amendments are designed to ensure each will now be given a separate Short Title for the purposes of clarity by inserting "No. 2" and "No. 3" respectively into the second and third such Acts of 1867.
The amendments in group two all affect minor changes in the citation, subject matter or Short Title of certain Acts in the Schedules to the Bill. On changes to subject matter, these amendments ensure more appropriate subject matter entries and either align the subject matter with the Short Title, correct anomalies in the wording of the subject matter or otherwise improve the wording of those entries.
Amendments Nos. 44, 60 and 61 concern corrections to citations and amendments Nos. 132 and 133 correct the references to the Short Title of the Political Offices Pension Act 1869.
Amendments Nos. 6 to 10, 12 to 14, 17 to 18, 21, 22, 24 to 25, and 29 concern the insertion of Acts into Schedule 1, the list of Acts to be retained. These Acts were recorded previously as being already appealed, as one or more of the leading texts, such as the Northern Ireland Chronological Tables, HMSO Chronological Tables or Cullinane's "The Irish Statutes" indicated that this was the case. Following recent further analysis of the legislation, however, that purported to have repealed them, it has become apparent these Acts had not been fully repealed, in some instances because of a saver clause. With each of these Acts, the residue has or may have some continuing effect and, therefore, should be retained pending further substantive law reform in the relevant areas of law.
The amendments in group four delete Acts either from Schedule 1, the list of Acts to be retained, or from Schedule 2, the list of Acts to be repealed, on the basis that the Acts referred to are already fully repealed. Amendments Nos. 50, 106 to 108, inclusive, and 120 and the second part of amendment No. 131 delete Acts which, on further examination, are considered to be wholly repealed on the grounds that prior to independence they were repealed as to all British territory, which included Ireland at the time.
Amendment No. 34 and the first part of amendment No. 131 update the Bill to take into account the recent commencement of repeals set out in the Children Act 2001, culminating in Statutory Instrument No. 164 of 2007 on 1 March 2007. The upshot of those repeals is that the three Acts referred to are now fully repealed and can now be deleted from this Bill. The remaining amendments in this group delete Acts which, on further examination of the repealing provisions, are considered to be fully repealed.
The amendments in group five involve three main changes but all relate to the deletion of Acts from Schedule 2 and their insertion in Schedule 1. The Wedding Rings Act 1855, which amends the Gold and Silverwares Act 1854 was previously listed in Schedule 2, the list of Acts to be repealed, and during the public consultation that took place, prior to the publication of the Bill. Both of these Acts were listed as suitable for repeal. However, representations were received in relation to the Gold and Silverwares Act 1854, which resulted in its transfer to Schedule 1, the list of Acts being retained. Given that the Wedding Rings Act amends the 1854 Act, which is being preserved, it is believed that this Act should similarly be preserved. In the case of the Court of Probate (Ireland) Act 1861, further examination suggests that it might be relevant to the appointment of members of the Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests in Ireland. Accordingly, it is proposed to retain the Act for the time being, to delete it from Schedule 2 and insert it in Schedule 1.
The Poisons and Pharmacy Act 1908 is listed for repeal in the Pharmacy Act 2007, the relevant repealing provisions of which have not yet been commenced. In order to facilitate its repeal and replacement in that legislation, it is proposed to retain the 1908 Act in this Bill by removing it from Schedule 2 and inserting it in Schedule 1. The effect will be that the 1908 Act will not be repealed when this Bill is enacted but instead will be repealed when the relevant provisions of the Pharmacy Act 2007 are commenced.
The amendments in group 6 insert a number of Acts into Schedule 2. Each of the Acts referred to by these amendments were recorded previously in one or more of the leading texts such as the Northern Ireland Chronological Tables, the HMSO Chronological Tables or The Irish Statutes as either already repealed or not applicable to Ireland. However, following recent further analysis of the Acts, that purported to have repealed the legislation referenced by these amendments, it has become apparent that these Acts apply to Ireland and have not been fully repealed. Some part of each of these Acts, however minor or inoperative, remain in force. In each case, however, the residue is suitable for appeal as it is obsolete.
I particularly want to say something about the repeal of Poynings Act 1495, which is proposed by amendment No. 62. Poynings Act provided that all pre-1495 English statute law applied in general to Ireland. We are taking the opportunity in this Statute Law Revision Bill to finally repeal Poynings Act. The repeal of Poynings Act will not mean the automatic repeal of any Act applied by that law that is part of the Irish Statute Book at present. This is made clear in the savings clause of section 9(3) of the current Bill.
I support these amendments. We are certainly not going to do anything from preventing the Bill from going through and we fully support the amendments. The Bill has been given a very interesting hearing in both Houses of the Oireachtas. We have been circulated with a list of the Acts mentioned in both Houses of the Oireachtas at all Stages. The first one on the list is the Fairs Act 1204. I note that fairs in Donnybrook, Drogheda, Waterford and Limerick are referred to. In Waterford they were held on the historic hill of Ballybrickin, where I am from. I recall the fair days when I was going to school, which was not too long ago, and I fully support the amendments.
It was about 40 years ago. When I tell my 19 year old son about pigs being outside the door, with calves down another street, he asks whether I am 90. That is beside the point, however. We fully support the amendments as put forward by the Minister of State. I welcome him to the House and wish him well in the coming weeks.
I thank SenatorsCummins and Moylan for being here today, as well as the Leas-Chathaoirleach. We are grateful for the support we received from this House during the many long debates on this legislation.
Senator Cummins referred to the Fairs Act. I, too, have fond memories of the fairs in places such as Mountbellew in east Galway. He is right in saying those events now seem long distant when we talk about them to the younger generation. It indicates how far we have come as a society. It has been an interesting exercise bringing this legislation through the House. We have finally got rid of Poynings' Law which we remember from our schooldays.
I thank Members involved in this debate for their detailed and insightful contributions. Debates of this nature are a timely reminder of the ongoing need to update our legislation. The Bill aims to consolidate, reform, simplify and modernise our laws, making them user-friendly. It is all part of a broader regulatory approach pursued by the Taoiseach in a determined way since the publication of the White Paper, Regulating Better, in January 2004.
The Bill is the greatest single statute law revision measure undertaken in the State. On enactment, it will repeal 3,226 statutes, far more than any other previous statute law revision measure. That figure is more than the entire number of general public Acts that have been enacted since Independence in 1922. Of the 1,364 Acts in Schedule 1 that will be retained by the Bill, it is the Government's intention to repeal them and where necessary re-enact them in more modern form. Some 10% of these Acts will be repealed on enactment of the land and conveyancing law reform Bill.
I acknowledge the work of the team of officials and legal researchers in the Office of the Attorney General which engaged in detailed and considerable research to identify those statutes for retention and those for repeal. That research involved the identification and assessment of over 60,000 Acts. It was a complex task to identify those Acts that still apply to Ireland and to ascertain whether they are suitable for repeal.
I commend the Minister of State in introducing this necessary Bill which updates our Statute Book in a significant way. I also commend his officials and researchers on the large work they had to undertake before introducing this legislation.
I compliment the Minister of State and his staff for their work on the Bill. He took on many amendments during its passage to improve the legislation. It is important to remove irrelevant legislation from the Statute Book. In the early 1800s, for example, the closest building to the gable-end of a farmhouse was the pig-pen. Markets were often located in town centres in the 1800s but many of the successful ones are now located outside towns.
Great credit is due to the team of researchers for their work in updating our Statute Book. It is one part of further updates that will be made to the Statute Book. I wish the Minister of State well in the next several weeks and hope he will be back in the same seat.
A Bill of such historical import has not been introduced to the House before. It revises Statutes from the 12th century. I join with the speakers in complimenting the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, on steering the legislation successfully through the House. I wish him well in the weeks ahead.