The Summer 2023 Legislative Programme sets out 39 pieces of priority legislation. These fall into two categories:
- 19 Bills for priority publication, and
- 20 Bills for priority drafting
This is a new approach by Government to its legislative programme, which first featured in the Spring Legislative Programme 2023.
Chief Whip, Hildegarde Naughton in announcing the Summer Legislative Programme stated that the aim of Government “is to continue to provide stability in a time of continued uncertainty” and to “build upon support provided for families, businesses and pensioners whilst also ensuring the continued delivery of the Programme for Government”.
Several of the priority Bills listed in the Summer Programme featured in the Spring 2023 Legislative Programme, and we now track the latest updates in this respect.
The full Summer 2023 programme is available to read here.
Bills for Priority Publication
Public and Regulatory Bodies
Several of the programme’s priority bills affect the formation and administration of public bodies and featured in the Spring Programme. The Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill proposes to allow serious disciplinary action, including dismissal, to be carried out within public bodies below the level of an organisation’s head. The text of this Bill is ready to be finalised.
The Digital Services Bill, designed to implement the EU’s Digital Services Act, aims to establish a new Media Commission which will take on the role of ‘digital services coordinator’ responsible for regulating online intermediaries. The general scheme of the Bill was published on 20 March 2023. See our recent article here on the Digital Services Act.
Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Charities (Amendment) Bill is now complete. This Bill will make changes to the the Charities Act 2009 in terms of accounting, audit, and reporting requirements, as well as changes to the responsibilities of trustees and the operation of the Register of Charities. See our recent article here on the proposed legislation.
In other news, the Local Government (Directly Elected Mayor with Executive Functions in Limerick City & County) Bill provides for a directly elected mayor in Limerick and the holding of elections for that post. Pre-legislative scrutiny is now complete.
The Health (Termination of Pregnancy Services) (Safe Access Zones) Bill again features as a priority. The Bill aims to ban certain protests and demonstrations within 100 metres of a site which can provide termination services. It is still at the pre-legislative scrutiny stage where the views of relevant stakeholders are discussed. The Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill also featured in the Spring Programme. It aims to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes and other products to minors. The pre-legislative examination of the Bill has been completed and the text of the Bill can now be finalised.
Property and Housing
The Planning and Development Bill, which was announced in the Spring Legislative Programme for priority drafting, with the aim of the Bill being to introduce sweeping changes to the planning process has now undergone pre-legislative scrutiny. For more information on please see our recent article here.
The Land Value Sharing and Urban Development Zones Bill, which featured in the previous legislative programme as a priority and which proposes the designation of urban development zones where local authorities would retain a portion of a site’s increased value resulting from a change in zoning for residential use, has recently undergone revision to the general scheme of the Bill. For more information on please see our recent article here.
The Registration of Short-Term Tourist Letting Bill 2022, which was listed for priority publication in the Spring Legislative Programme, has dropped off the Summer 2023 Programme. This is likely because the European Commission has extended the standstill period for enactment until December 2023.
Of note is the proposed Bill to amend the Constitution (XXth Amendment of the Constitution (Gender Equality) Bill(s) 2023) concerning gender equality in response to recommendations made by the Citizen’s Assembly.
Bills for Priority Drafting
Property and Housing
The Residential Tenancies (Right to Purchase) Bill 2023 is a new addition. The Heads are being prepared and once enacted it will give tenants a right of first refusal to purchase a property if a landlord puts the property up for sale.
The Heads and General Scheme of the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2023 were approved on 18 April 2023. The Bill is designed to address legislative gaps identified in the Child Care Acts 1991 – 2022. The Mental Health Bill is retained for priority drafting. It will make radical changes to our mental health legislation in light of the 165 recommendations contained in the report of the Expert Group Review.
The general scheme of the Health Information Bill was prepared during the Spring 2023 Legislative Programme and was approved by Government on 18 April 2023. This Bill aims to provide a modern legislative framework for the processing and handling of health information and data.
The Health (Adult Safeguarding) Bill, which is in the legislative pipeline, will underpin a planned national health sector policy on safeguarding vulnerable or at-risk adults in the context of their interactions with the health sector.
The Defamation (Amendment) Bill, which is intended to bring about wide sweeping reforms to the law, will be the subject of much debate this year. The General Scheme of the Bill was published on 28 March 2023, following government approval for priority drafting of the Bill. The Bill is currently before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is expected that the Bill will be brought before the Dáil before year end for debate. For more information on please see our recent article here.
The Summer 2023 Legislative Programme reflects the Government’s stated priorities with some potentially significant additions. It remains to be seen which of these proposals will materialise this term.
For more information on the Government’s Legislation 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.