Today in Leinster House: June 19, 2012

THE PARLIAMENTARY WEEK is largely crammed with committee meeting this week, and for a simple reason: a reform of the committee system kicks in today, with the government increasing the number of committees in order to improve the oversight of various ministerial briefs. The splitting of committees – from 7 into 9 – means a few are being reformed, and those reformed ones will need to appoint new chairmen.

Elsewhere, there’s other business like approving changes to EU treaties, curing cancer, and scrapping the household charge. So, a quiet day then(!).

11:00am – Seanad Public Consultation Committee Hearings – The day starts unusually early, as the Seanad’s all-encompassing committee on public consultations holds a discussion on how changes to a person’s lifestyle changes can reduce their risk of cancer.

11:30am – Foreign Affairs and Trade – A committee which has never really found a home on the weekly calendar, the Foreign Affairs committee kicks off early to host Marie-Lucie Morin, the director of the World Bank, who will discuss the bank’s work and its overseeing of Ireland’s affairs. Representatives from the Debt and Development Coalition will also talk about the impact of the World Bank’s work and that of the IMF. Room 3.

12:45pm – Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation – This week’s committee schedule is pretty packed, as a reform of the Oireachtas committee system kicks in. The Jobs committee is being spun off from the Education and Social Protection one, so here it’ll meet in Room 2 to nominate its new chairman. It’ll then meet in a second session at 1:30pm to begin a busy week of work – with Richard Bruton stopping by to discuss proposed amendments to the legislation restoring the JLC system.

2:00pm – Questions (Minister for Health) – James Reilly begins the Dáil’s week with parliamentary questions on matters including the costs of a Universal Health Insurance system, an inquiry into the abuse of Dr Michael Shine, the cost of rehiring retired staff, and reforms to A&E wards given the failure to meet speed targets.

2:00pm – Agriculture, Food and the Marine – Another of the new committees – this time the Agriculture one, which is being split from Communications, meets in Room 3 to pick its leader.

2:15pm – Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht – The new Environment committee, which is being split from Transport, meets in Room 4 to pick its own new chair.

3:15pm – Leaders’ Questions – Enda Kenny takes the marquee event of the day, facing questions from FF, SF and the technical group.

3:30pm – Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform – Back in Room 3, Michael Noonan will be dropping by to discuss the agenda for this Friday’s meeting of EU finance ministers, and for Thursday night’s meeting of the eurozone ministers. Spain’s woes and the Greek election result, no doubt, will be top of the agenda.

3:36pm – Questions (Taoiseach) – The more sedate questioning of the Taoiseach includes inquiries on his interactions with political parties in the North, his plans to visit the North later this month, and recent meetings with Nancy Pelosi.

4:36pm – Order of Business – TDs get 30 days to sign off on the day’s agenda.

4:45pm – Criminal Justice (Search Warrants) Bill 2012 [Seanad](second stage) – The Seanad resumes its formal business (there was no Order of Business listed on the schedule) by taking its first look at new legislation to plug a legislative hole following a Supreme Court decision. The Court ruled that previous law, which allowed Gardaí to issue warrants and then follow them up themselves, was unconstitutional and therefore Alan Shatter has concocted this remedy.

5:06pm – Topical Issues – Four of the day’s topical issues are discussed by backbenchers, opposition and ministers for 12 minutes apiece.

5:54pm – European Communities (Amendment) Bill 2012 (to conclude); Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage); Construction Contracts Bill 2010 (Seanad) [PMB] (second stage) – There’s three pieces of legislation down for discussion in the 90-or-so minutes of unallotted time, but realistically only one (or perhaps two) will be discussed.

The first is the final stages of Ireland’s approval of changes to EU treaties – allowing for the hypothetical foundation of a bailout fund, which the ESM legislation next week will exploit – the second is the legislation enforcing gender quotas, and the third is housekeeping legislation forcing builders to formally notify a supplier if they’re not being paid the full amount of what they are owed.

6:00pm – Matters on the Adjournment – The Seanad wraps up its day with three matters of topical importance…

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Local Government (Household Charge) (Repeal) Bill 2012 – The biggest item of the day, though one which will only come to a head tomorrow evening. Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley has legislation which, quite simply, would scrap the household charge. The highly-charged (sorry) debate will continue until 9pm and resume tomorrow night.

All of the day’s business can be viewed on our streams: