1. Members of either House who were “for the time being delegates to the Assembly of the European Communities” were members of the first Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities which was established in July, 1973. During the currency of that Joint Committee a practice grew up of supplying the delegates to the European Assembly with any memoranda furnished to the Joint Committee by Government Departments or other bodies where these happened to be relevant to the agenda of the Committees of the European Assembly on which the delegates served. As the material was supplied to the delegates for their work in the Assembly’s Committees it often happened that it was made available to them before being circulated to the other members of the Joint Committee.
2. The Orders of the Dáil and Seanad which established the present Joint Committee in December, 1977 provide that it shall consist of “18 members of Dáil Éireann and 8 members of Seanad Éireann (none of whom shall be a delegate to the Assembly of the European Communities)”. These Orders also provide as follows in relation to meetings of the Joint Committee:—
“(3) That delegates to the Assembly of the European Communities be notified of meetings and be allowed to attend and take part in proceedings without having a right to vote.”
3. The exclusion of the delegates to the European Assembly from membership of the Joint Committee was in line with a recommendation contained in the fifty-fifth Report (Prl. 6169) of the first Joint Committee. However, when the present Joint Committee was being set up, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made it clear in the Dáil [O.R. Vol. 302, Col. 959] that the practice of supplying briefs to the delegates, in the form of memoranda received by the Joint Committee, would be continued notwithstanding the fact that they were to be no longer members of the Joint Committee.
4. In July, 1979, following on the European Assembly elections in June, the delegates to the European Assembly were replaced by directly elected representatives. The latter are, of course, not delegates of National Parliaments. Accordingly, the provisions relating to delegates to the European Assembly in the Orders of the Dáil and Seanad establishing the Joint Committee lapsed. The arrangement for supplying briefs to members of the European Assembly also came to an end.
5. The present Irish representatives in the European Assembly were invited to a meeting with the Joint Committee on 19th December, 1979 “to consider to what extent arrangements for mutual assistance could be evolved which would help the Committee to discharge its obligations to the Houses of the Oireachtas and the members of the European Parliament to carry out their parliamentary duties.”. In the event and because of their other commitments in Europe only three of the Irish representatives were able to attend the meeting. A full discussion of all aspects, however, took place.
6. The Joint Committee has neither the time nor the resources to examine all the matters which come within its terms of reference and accordingly the selection of material for examination is most important. It believes that the representatives in the European Assembly could assist it in this regard by suggesting, in light of their experience in Europe, matters to which it should give priority. It recommends that any Irish representative in the European Assembly who agrees to help it in this respect should be given copies of all memoranda received from Government Departments and other bodies whether or not these are relevant to the work of the Assembly Committee on which the representative serves.
7. The Orders of the Dáil and Seanad dealing with the present Joint Committee provide that “members of either House, not being members of the Joint Committee, be allowed to attend meetings and to take part in the proceedings without having a right to vote.”. In the Joint Committee’s view they should provide, in addition, that members of either House who are also representatives in the European Assembly should be notified of its meetings.
8. Accordingly, the Joint Committee recommends that paragraph (3) of the Orders of the Dáil and Seanad of 13th and 14th December, 1977, respectively be deleted and the following substituted:—
“(3) That representatives in the Assembly of the European Communities who are also members of either House be notified of meetings and be allowed to attend and take part in proceedings without having a right to vote.”
It also recommends that paragraph (1) of these Orders be amended by the deletion of “(none of whom shall be a delegate to the Assembly of the European Communities)”.
(Signed) ALEXIS FITZGERALD,
Chairman of the Joint Committee.
27th March, 1980.