Government Chief Whip, Minister Hildegard Naughton TD has published the Autumn Legislative Programme 2023, which identifies 51 priority pieces of draft legislation (Bills). As has become customary in recent legislative programmes, these 51 priority bills are divided into two categories: 27 for priority publication and 24 for priority drafting.
We consider Bills affecting key areas below:
Public and Regulatory Bodies
Following on from the Spring and Summer programmes, there continues to be several Bills which affect the administration of public and regulatory bodies.
The eagerly awaited Digital Services Bill has now passed pre-legislative scrutiny. This Bill will establish a new Media Commission, which will take on the role of ‘digital services coordinator’ responsible for regulating online intermediaries.
In addition, pre-legislative scrutiny of the Civil Service Regulation and Public Service Management (Amendment) Bill is complete and further work is still ongoing. The main purpose is to amend the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956–2005 and the Public Service Management Act 1997. This amendment will ensure that disciplinary action up to and including dismissal in the Civil Service can be assigned below the level of the head of the organisation.
The Charities (Amendment) Bill now has the heads of Bill in preparation. This Bill will introduce changes to the Charities Act 2009 by imposing further responsibilities on trustees. The purpose of these changes is to ensure greater transparency, clarity and fairness, and to enhance public confidence in the sector.
The Health (Amendment No. 2) Bill has completed pre-legislative scrutiny. This Bill aims to strengthen regulatory measures to enhance governance and oversight of nursing homes and other designated centres.
The Mental Health Bill seeks to update and replace the Mental Health Act 2001 to give effect to recommendations of an Expert Group Review on mental health legislation.
Pre-legislative scrutiny concluded in July 2021 for the Health Bill. The Health Bill aims to amend the Health Act 2004 to impose new requirements on the Board and CEO regarding systems, procedures and practices to exercise the highest standards of prudent and effective financial and budgetary management.
Heads of Bill have been approved and pre-legislative scrutiny has been concluded on the Health Information Bill. This Bill seeks to provide a robust legislative framework for the processing of health information to support a modern integrated health service.
The Health (Amendment) (Licensing of Professional Home Support Providers) Bill aims to provide a regulatory framework for the licensing of home support providers to ensure that all service users are provided with high-quality care.
A General Scheme has been published and Pre-Legislative Scrutiny was completed in June 2023 for the Child Care (Amendment) Bill. This will revise the Child Care Act 1991 to reflect best practice developments in the area of child welfare and protection services.
Heads of Bill are in preparation for two proposed Bills to amend the Constitution in response to recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly on Gender Equality.
Local Government, Housing and Heritage
The Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil and European Parliament Constituencies) Bill has been introduced to provide for the revision of Dáil and European Parliament constituencies, which will provide important changes to the electoral system in Ireland.
A draft Bill has been approved and pre-legislative scrutiny has been completed for the Planning and Development Bill. This Bill aims to review and replace the Planning and Development Act 2000 with a consolidated Bill improving the clarity and structure of the current code.
In addition, the Land Value Sharing Bill is designed to permit the State to secure a proportion of the uplift in land values resulting from zoning and designation to facilitate provision of infrastructure.
The Residential Tenancies (Right to Purchase) Bill aims to allow tenants in rental properties a first right of refusal to purchase a property when it is put forward for sale, has had its heads of bill prepared.
The Defamation (Amendment) Bill which is intended to bring about wide sweeping reforms to the law has completed pre-legislative hearings and the drafting of the Bill is still underway. The aim of the Bill is to update aspects of defamation law, following a statutory review of the Defamation Act 2009.
Pre-Legislative Scrutiny is complete of the Garda Síochána (Powers) Bill, with the report published in June 2022. This Bill will codify the police powers of search, arrest and detention and procedural rights of suspects through rationalising and modernizing those powers to take into account developments in modern technology.
The Autumn Legislative Programme 2023 reflects a continuation by the Government of priority legislation that was earmarked in both the Spring and Summer Legislative Programmes. What bills will be enacted this autumn only time will show, but our team will be eagerly waiting to see what potential legislative changes arise this autumn.
For more information on the Autumn Legislative Programme, contact a member of our Public, Regulatory & Investigations team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.