Order of Business
On previous occasions I have referred to the democratic deficit, not only in Europe but also in Leinster House. I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on statutory instruments. I raised this matter at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Leader is aware of previous comments I made in respect of the former Joint Committee on European Scrutiny’s finding to the effect that 75% of laws made in Ireland in any given year come about as a result of Ministers signing statutory instruments into law. The difficulty is that statutory instruments are not laid before the Houses or referred to the relevant committees prior to their being signed. As a result, there is no scrutiny by legislators. These instruments are just signed by the relevant Ministers and they then take effect. There is no way the democratically elected Members of this House can argue against statutory instruments once they have been put into effect. There is a 21-day period in which to make objections but I am sure everyone present would agree that it is wholly inappropriate that we receive statutory instruments after the fact. The Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has given a commitment to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade that statutory instruments will be sent to Members after they are signed. I welcome the news that the Chairs of the various committees will come together, as a result of the concerns I have raised, to consider how the Members of this House will obtain access to statutory instruments prior to their being signed.