Page 588 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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Clerk and the Deputy Clerk about the way that the document is now set out. It is simpler and easier to read, particularly for new members coming in. I have always said that in this place there is a lot of assumed knowledge when a new member comes in. They are supposed to pick this up and run with it. The chapters now are clearly defined—what they are about and what they are going to cover. That is a very positive move.

There have been changes to the resolutions of continuing effect. In effect, they now become standing orders. That makes total sense. They become embodied within the whole review of standing orders as we have it now. There is a new chapter on privilege and contempt. This brings all matters together in one section, which is another positive move. It is a really good step forward.

I took on board Mr Corbell’s points about the petitions that are handed in. It means that now—and it is right and proper—people who are handing in a petition do not just feel that it gets left in this place and nothing happens. I am not saying that that is the case and that that is what happens, but that is the perception and then that becomes reality. The ministers have to pick up on that as a very positive thing.

The stopping of the clock on points of order is another good step forward in regard to question time.

I am still looking through the amendments. Contrary to what the government says, we need to see now how the standing orders now amended will work in practice. I do not think that anything is ever set in concrete. The government leads the way in this, for goodness sake. Changing your mind or moving amendments 10 weeks ago or today—what difference does that make? That is a little petty—to be going off on that tangent. It shows that we are working continuously rather than being asleep on the job—that we are continuously looking to make sure that the orders of this place are workable and manageable.

My colleagues are going to speak further on amendments that they have moved. I notice that Mr Mulcahy, Mrs Dunne and Mr Smyth have moved amendments. They will each talk on theirs.

I thank the committee who have had input and who have put in many, many hours work on this. A lot has gone into it. As the manager of government business said, many, many years of work have gone into this. You cannot just say that we should not be able to table things at a later stage; that is a ridiculous thing to say. I welcome members working on this as a working document. It is not set in concrete.

Mr Corbell: Nice try there.

Mrs Dunne: Why don’t you tell us what you have done?

MRS BURKE: Yes, let us hear what you have done, Mr Corbell. I do not see anything about what you have done.

Mrs Dunne: Why don’t you tell us? Why don’t you be honest for a change?

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