Seanad Éireann - Volume 140 - 29 April, 1994

Local Government Bill, 1994: Motion for Earlier Signature.

Mr. D. Kiely: I move:

That, pursuant to subsection 2º of section 2 of Article 25 of the Constitution, Seanad Éireann concurs with the Government in a request to the President to sign the Local Government Bill, 1994, on a date which is earlier than the fifth day after the date on which the Bill shall have been presented to her.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith): On behalf of the Minister of State and myself I thank the front bench spokespersons and the Members who attended this debate for their valuable contributions. The Local Government Bill is a large Bill and, obviously, there is room for differences of opinion. However, I hope we have passed legislation which will enhance local government law and bring it into the modern [515] age. For the first time this century boundaries of town councils have been extended, populations of over 3,000 can decide to have a new local authority and a Minister will no longer have the power to defer local elections. A number of sections in this legislation will be welcomed by councillors, administrators and technical officers throughout the country. I hope it will work well.

I am grateful to the Senators for their support and their contributions. Although we differed on some matters, that is a welcome part of the political process. If all Members agreed on everything, the Seanad would be a very dull place. I thank the Cathaoirleach for his support and the staff of the Seanad who worked hard on amendments and so forth.

Mr. McDonagh: I thank the two Ministers for their courtesy and co-operation over the last two days. I also pay tribute to the staff who worked so hard and so well behind the scenes. This was a world premiére for me because it was the first time I was faced with a Bill as my party's spokesperson on the environment.

An Cathaoirleach: You did very well.

Mr. McDonagh: It was a rather daunting experience but I enjoyed it and I look forward to taking part in many more of these discussions. I hope what has been decided will improve the local government system. We are not happy with all the provisions in the Bill but we accept the democratic decision. We will monitor those sections about which we have reservations. I thank you, a Chathaoirligh, and the two Ministers.

Ms Honan: I congratulate the Minister on having the Bill passed so speedily. I also thank the staff because difficulties were posed when the Bill came to us so quickly from the other House. I accept the commitments given by the Minister about certain provisions. We put down amendments because we were not happy with some proposals but I am sure he will [516] fulfil his commitments. I also urge him to continue the reform of local government, particularly its finances.

Mr. D. Kiely: I thank the Minister and Minister of State for their detailed explanations. There was some concern about the Bill but it has now been fully clarified. I congratulate the Ministers and thank the staff of the Seanad.

Mr. Calnan: I thank the Minister and I hope the Bill will help local authorities.

Question put and agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: When is it proposed to sit again?

Mr. Mullooly: At 2.30 p.m. next Wednesday.