Belfast Telegraph

Varadkar admits Brexit legislation will cause Dail backlog

The Taoiseach has suggested that the Irish parliament might have to limit debate time.

Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)

The Taoiseach has said that the Irish parliament may have to limit debate on new legislation as Brexit  looks set to take up more Dail time.

The current Government has been dubbed by some critics as a “do-nothing Dail” due to lengthy debates and filibusters creating a backlog.

Mr Varadkar was asked how new Brexit legislation, which could see almost 50 bills debated, would further exacerbate the issue during a media briefing on Thursday.

“We’ve had a bit of a legislative logjam already this year, largely because of effective filibusters on a few bills,” he said.

“While people may feel very strongly about this legislation, by holding it up they actually hold up everything else too.”

Mr Varadkar went on to suggest the “big problem” could be remedied by bringing back allocation of time or “guillotine” motions.

“Under the last government I was a member of with Fine Gael and Labour we used the guillotine and used it copiously, and perhaps used it too much. And we rushed things through and they didn’t get proper consideration,” Mr Varadkar added.

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The Taoiseach admitted ‘guillotine’ motions had been used perhaps too much over debates in the last government (Michelle Devane/PA)

“I think we now have the other extreme where we never put a time limit on debates and that allows that legislation to be held up and other legislation not to get done. I think that’s something we’re going to have to give some consideration to in the new year and the new session.

“We don’t have a majority in either house so we can’t impose a guillotine anymore. But perhaps at the Business Committee or among the major parties or groups we could agree that an issue deserves 20 hours’ debate, but 20 should be enough.

“So perhaps we can do something to improve the pipeline and flow of legislation next year on that basis.”

On the Brexit legislation, the Taoiseach said the Government was “still working out how that will go”.

“Ideally we’d do it in one single omnibus bill, one Brexit bill.

“I’m told by the AG (Attorney General) that we mightn’t be able to do that but we’re going to try do it in maybe three or four or perhaps five.

“When you consider that a parliament passes about 40-50 pieces of primary legislation any one year, four or five would be maybe 10 or 12% of the load.

“We’d rather not have to use parliamentary time on it. It’s not going to stop everything but it will take up time.”

PA

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