Tithe an Oireachtais
HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS
An Comhchoiste um Chomhshaol agus Rialtas Áitiúil
Joint Committee on Environment & Local Government
Tuarascáil don bhliain dar chríoch 31 Nollaig 1999
Report for the Year Ending 31st December 1999
Report of the Joint Committee on the Environment & Local Government
For the Year Ending 31st December 1999
Table of Contents
Joint Committee on the Environment & Local Government
•The Select and Joint Committees on Environment and Local Government were established by order of the Dáil on 13 November 1997, and of the Senate on 19 November 1997.
■The members of the Joint Committee are as follows:
Note: Deputy Eamon Gilmore was appointed in place of Deputy Brendan Howlin on 24th February, 1999.
■The Joint Committee held 10 meetings. These included; one meeting held jointly with the Joint Committee on Finance & the Public Service on 21st April 1999 at which views were exchanged with the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Development from the Hungarian Parliament; one meeting held jointly with the Joint Committee on Family, Community & Social Affairs which addressed the issue of affordable accommodation. An additional informal meeting of the Joint Committee with the Hungarian Deputy Speaker, Dr. Katalin Szili MP, took place in Leinster House on Friday 3rd December 1999.
■The Dáil Select Committee held 4 meetings.
■There were 6 meetings of the Sub-Committee on Sustainable Development.
■There were 3 meetings of the Sub-Committee on Local Government Reform which duly completed its Report.
Presentations to the Joint Committee
•The following groups/agencies made presentations to the Joint Committee.
•The Joint Committee was represented at the following conferences pursuant to its Orders of Reference :~
Bills and Estimates
•The Dáil Select Committee considered the following Bills and Estimates.
Orders of Reference
The Orders establishing the Select and Joint Committees specified for it the following Orders of Reference.
(1) (a)That a Select Committee, which shall be called the Select Committee on Environment and Local Government, consisting of 14 members of Dáil Éireann (of whom 4 shall constitute a quorum), be appointed to consider such—
(i)Bills the statute law in respect of which is dealt with by the Department of the Environment and Local Government, and
(ii)Estimates for Public Services within the aegis of that Department,
as shall be referred to it by Dáil Éireann from time to time.
(b)For the purpose of its consideration of Bills under paragraph (1)(a)(i), the Select Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 78A(1), (2) and (3).
(c)For the avoidance of doubt, by virtue of his or her ex officio membership of the Select Committee in accordance with Standing Order 84(1), the Minister for the Environment and Local Government (or a Minister or Minister of State nominated in his or her stead) shall be entitled to vote.
(2) (a)The Select Committee shall be joined with a Select Committee to be appointed by Seanad Éireann to form the Joint Committee on Environment and Local Government to consider—
(i)such public affairs administered by the Department of the Environment and Local Government as it may select, including bodies under the aegis of that Department in respect of Government policy,
(ii)such matters of policy for which the Minister in charge of that Department is officially responsible as it may select,
(iii)the strategy statement laid before each House of the Oireachtas by the Minister in charge of that Department pursuant to section 5(2) of the Public Service Management Act, 1997, and shall be authorised for the purposes of section 10 of that Act, and
(iv)such other matters as may be jointly referred to it from time to time by both Houses of the Oireachtas,
and shall report thereon to both Houses of the Oireachtas.
(b)The quorum of the Joint Committee shall be 5, of whom at least 1 shall be a member of Dáil Éireann and 1 a member of Seanad Éireann.
(c)The Joint Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 78A(1) to (9) inclusive.
(3)The Chairman of the Joint Committee, who shall be a member of Dáil Éireann, shall also be Chairman of the Select Committee.
■The Joint Committee considers its Orders of Reference to be appropriate and adequate and continues to monitor its role and procedures.
1999 Work Programme Review
•The Select and Joint Committees adopted a work programme for 1999 as attached at Appendix II
Progress of Work Programme
The Sub-Committee on Local Government Reform completed its report which was considered by the Joint Committee on 10th February and 10th March, 1999, respectively. The report, as amended, was thus agreed and laid before the Houses. This issue, as cited under item 14 of the 1999 Work Programme, can therefore be deemed to have been dealt with including in relevant discussions with the Minister for the Environment & Local Government, Mr. Noel Dempsey T.D., and other interested parties. However, the Joint Committee continues to take a close working interest in the issue of Local Government Reform and the ongoing policy/ legislative developments in this area.
The Sub-Committee on Sustainable Development is continuing its work and is due to report to the Joint Committee by 31st March 2000. At present it is hearing further submissions by Government Departments. This exercise is aimed at evaluating the implementation of the Government's 1997 policy document, "Sustainable Development - A Strategy for Ireland" including through the Green Network of Departments which was established under that Strategy. Under item 14 of the 1999 Work Programme, the Sustainable Development issue can therefore be described as work in progress.
Items 8 & 9, which relate to voter turnout and amendments to electoral law have been considered in the Joint Committee's discussion of electoral registers and continue to be an important part of its work, including as they relate to broader local government reform.
Item 13 (Road Infrastructure) has been covered in the Joint Committee's discussions with relevant officials of the Department of the Environment & Local Government and of the National Roads Authority and is an ongoing area of interest including in the light of the National Development Plan.
Other items of the 1999 Work Programme, some of which have been addressed by presentations during the year under review, will carry forward to the Joint Committee's Work Programme for 2000, along with such other issues as may arise from time to time within the relevant terms of reference.
In the course of its work in 1999, the Joint Committee determined that it would take particular working interest in the Planning and Development Bill, 1999 and in ongoing efforts to resolve the housing crisis - these two important issues are being brought forward to the Joint Committee's Work Programme for the year 2000.
Jackie Healy-Rae, T.D.,
1st March 2000.
Appendix I - Minutes of the Joint Committee.
Appendix II - Work Programme for 1999.
Minutes of Public Proceedings of the Joint Committee on Environment & Local Government
Joint Committee on Environment & Local Government
Work Programme 1999.