some senior civil servants are reluctant to propose legislation because they can't get their way 100%

Mushroom

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Although not a SF supporter , for me one of the joys of them forming a government would be the seismic horror of our senior public service having to deal with ministers who don't know the rules of the game ..........
But this already happens every four or five years!

Yobbo Minister number one - who we have just about house trained - exits stage left as yobbo (or yobbette) Minister number 2 enters from stage right! And the re-education process starts all over again. Most intelligent Ministers very soon learn that, if they refuse to become team players and try to dickwhip their senior officials around, they may well end up in a heap of deep deep manure. (And not every Minister will be lucky enough to be provided with the parachute that Enda provided for Phil Hogan.)

So there wouldn't really be too much of a problem adjusting to handling a Scum Fein Minister, any more than there was adapting to the Green cretins when they strutted in, planning to save the planet - as long as the said individual was tolerably intelligent (although to be honest about it, stupid Ministers can be useful too!) - and that they were part of a stable government.

Think about it - from the CS perspective, Gurry Adams and Mary Lou aren't all that different from Wilie O'Dee and Mary Coughlan - or Shame Ross and Heather Hump!

The main stresses on senior civil servants don't come from pandering to what passes for differing political ideologies in Ireland, rather they comes from trying to provide professional support to a government and a Minister who doesn't know from day to day what the fukc is coming down the tracks! Can you imagine what it must be like being Sec-Gen to the Dept of Justice for example - no wonder the position remained vacant for over two years!

If the people of Ireland decide, in their folly, to elect a Scum Fein government to power, then you can rest assured that they will receive exactly the same level of professional service and support as every previous government has received.
 


lostexpectation

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Civil Servants still don't 'propose' legislation.

If a minister wants to achieve a policy, civil servants give him or her their options for securing that policy. If the minister wants to pursue an option that requires legislation, then they instruct civil servants to go through the legislative process.

Usually, ministers and civil servants alike will prefer non legislative routes. Even when there is a parliamentary majority for the Government, legislation takes time and effort, and in the past, there's been a premium on Parliamentary time available for legislation, so Departments have to bid to take through legislation.

But if the only way to achieve a policy is through legislation, it's not for civil servants to 'propose' it. It's for ministers to determine their policy preferences.

Laying what is, ultimately, a ministerial decision at the door of civil servants makes no sense.

are you saying senior civil servants have no influence? that they cannot be reluctant to propose legislation as they route to go? are you saying theres been alot of new major legislation proposed?
 
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livingstone

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are you saying senior civil servants have no influence? that they cannot be reluctant to propose legisaltion as they route to go?
Their reluctance of otherwise is irrelevant.

If ministers want to go down the legislative route, and secure the necessary collective agreement to do so, then that is what will happen.

If ministers choose not to go down that route, then it won't. Now, of course civil service advice to ministers would reflect the heightened risks since the last election. Ministerial advice will routinely include advice on the parliamentary implications of specific policy options - of course that advice is going to be different for a minority government than one with a large majority. The CS' job is to put the information to ministers and ask them to make a decision.

I can certainly understand why a minister would choose not to legislate if they can avoid it at all. In the best of scenarios, legislation is time consuming and fraught. In current circumstances, they run the risk of legislation failing or being amended in unpredictable ways which could impose burdens on their departments, or create poorly drafted, difficult to implement or enforce legislation on the books. But that is a ministerial decision.
 

lostexpectation

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Their reluctance of otherwise is irrelevant.

If ministers want to go down the legislative route, and secure the necessary collective agreement to do so, then that is what will happen.

If ministers choose not to go down that route, then it won't. Now, of course civil service advice to ministers would reflect the heightened risks since the last election. Ministerial advice will routinely include advice on the parliamentary implications of specific policy options - of course that advice is going to be different for a minority government than one with a large majority. The CS' job is to put the information to ministers and ask them to make a decision.

I can certainly understand why a minister would choose not to legislate if they can avoid it at all. In the best of scenarios, legislation is time consuming and fraught. In current circumstances, they run the risk of legislation failing or being amended in unpredictable ways which could impose burdens on their departments, or create poorly drafted, difficult to implement or enforce legislation on the books. But that is a ministerial decision.
to reply to your previous 2 posts, there must be an long list of major issues that needs legislation to be addressed, the suggestion is that that there is but the civil servants are reluctant to propose (to the minister) starting the process that would bring them to the Dail because they are no longer virtually guaranteed they would get their way.

I wasn't laying the decision on civil servants, Im just saying that if theres a stallling of the processes of government across a number of departments it should be at the top of news bulletins.
 

livingstone

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to reply to your previous 2 posts, there must be an long list of major issues that needs legislation to be addressed, the suggestion is that that there is but the civil servants are reluctant to propose (to the minister) starting the process that would bring them to the Dail because they are no longer virtually guaranteed they would get their way.

I wasn't laying the decision on civil servants, Im just saying that if theres a stallling of the processes of government across a number of departments it should be at the top of news bulletins.
But ministers don't need civil servants to propose legislation to proceed with it.

If they want it, and agree it collectively, it will happen. If there's no legislation it's because ministers haven't asked for it.
 

lostexpectation

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But ministers don't need civil servants to propose legislation to proceed with it.

If they want it, and agree it collectively, it will happen. If there's no legislation it's because ministers haven't asked for it.
I didnt' say "ministers need civil servants to propose legislation to proceed with it." Some things can't be done by other routes bar primary legislation, the civil servants are reported to reluctant to propose to the minister the primary legislation route, the minister take this advice in mind, leading to a stall in major legislation across a number of departments and if so it should be at the top of news bulletins
 
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Mushroom

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there must be an long list of major issues that needs legislation to be addressed, the suggestion is that that there is but the civil servants are reluctant to propose (to the minister) starting the process that would bring them to the Dail because they are no longer virtually guaranteed they would get their way.

I wasn't laying the decision on civil servants, Im just saying that if theres a stallling of the processes of government across a number of departments it should be at the top of news bulletins.
Two things:

Firstly, most of the suppressed initiatives probably aren't big ticket items - so they probably aren't particularly newsworthy.

Secondly,major legislative issues are the ones that tend to get tackled first - although this can process be distorted by because of media or opposition pressure. Of course, the more that the legislative process is run by the media or the opposition the more time that senior civil servants are required to devote to firefighting and the less the opportunity is to refine and develop their private proposals.

I reckon that almost every senior civil servant worth his/her salary probably has a couple of "hobby horse" legislative proposals in their bottom drawer. Many of these are likely to be relatively trivial in the overall scale of things, but if implemented, they can sometimes make a significant improvement to some small aspect of public life - but only if they can get through the Oireachtas without being "contaminated" by parochial or local interests. And, given the current chaos in Dail Eireann, a prudent civil servant - and by their nature and training, senior civil servants are very prudent! - is unlikely to gamble on bringing forward any such initiative.

I can't think of an example that is generic enough to put up here, but I am familiar with some real examples of CS "hobby horse" proposals - some of which were long running - that, following implementation, made significant improvements to some aspects of Irish life. But to succeed, two things are needed: a strong, supportive Minister and a government with a decent Dáil majority!

Currently, neither exists.
 

lostexpectation

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Two things:



I reckon that almost every senior civil servant worth his/her salary probably has a couple of "hobby horse" legislative proposals in their bottom drawer. Many of these are likely to be relatively trivial in the overall scale of things, but if implemented, they can sometimes make a significant improvement to some small aspect of public life - but only if they can get through the Oireachtas without being "contaminated" by parochial or local interests. And, given the current chaos in Dail Eireann, a prudent civil servant - and by their nature and training, senior civil servants are very prudent! - is unlikely to gamble on bringing forward any such initiative.

I can't think of an example that is generic enough to put up here, but I am familiar with some real examples of CS "hobby horse" proposals - some of which were long running - that, following implementation, made significant improvements to some aspects of Irish life. But to succeed, two things are needed: a strong, supportive Minister and a government with a decent Dáil majority!

Currently, neither exists.
i think you are misunderstanding me aswell im not talking about civil servants hobby horses, Im talking about major legislation.

Firstly, most of the suppressed initiatives probably aren't big ticket items - so they probably aren't particularly newsworthy.

Secondly,major legislative issues are the ones that tend to get tackled first
what new major legislative issues are being tackled currently in each department?
 
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Mushroom

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I think you are misunderstanding me aswell im not talking about civil servants hobby horses, Im talking about major legislation.

In that case, may I gently suggest that you may have misunderstood what Pat Leahy's throwaway sentence was actually referring to.


what new major legislative issues are being tackled currently in each department?
That's not my job - I suggest that you visit each Departments website and look at recent press releases.
 

lostexpectation

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In that case, may I gently suggest that you may have misunderstood what Pat Leahy's throwaway sentence was actually referring to.

its was not a throw way sentence, here is the paragraph of the OP quote.

The power of the Opposition has largely been used to slow the work of Government. Privately, many senior civil servants believe that the experiment of a minority government has been an abject failure; some even say that they are reluctant to propose legislation because they are afraid that the Dáil will amend it beyond recognition.
it was part of a series of articles the Irish Times did on minority government, that was the topic, not 'civil servants hobby horses'.

That's not my job - I suggest that you visit each Departments website and look at recent press releases.
I will do that but even if they say legislation is being worked on, its hard to know whether it is or not. Departments are black boxes.
 
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Mushroom

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its was not a throw way sentence, here is the paragraph of the OP quote.

it was part of a series of articles the Irish Times did on minority government, that was the topic, not 'civil servants hobby horses'.
Semantical oneupmanship or not, my point remains that the legislation that Leahy claimed some senior civil servants were reluctant to suggest to their Minister was almost certainly their own suggestions/initiatives.

What you describe as "major legislation" would be contained in the programme for government and thus would not be discretionary.
 

lostexpectation

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Semantical oneupmanship or not, my point remains that the legislation that Leahy claimed some senior civil servants were reluctant to suggest to their Minister was almost certainly their own suggestions/initiatives.

What you describe as "major legislation" would be contained in the programme for government and thus would not be discretionary.
Im not being semantic I just think you are on your own hobby horse about hobby horse legislation. I think there is less major legislation listed in the legislative programme then previous Dails and its being go slowed rather then civil servants definitively choosing not to progress it.
 

Mushroom

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I think there is less major legislation listed in the legislative programme then previous Dails and its being go slowed rather then civil servants definitively choosing not to progress it.
Fair enough.

The Department where I worked would have mainly produced secondary legislation (Ministerial Orders or SIs.) during my time there - although we did have to draft two pieces of primary legislation.

The main delay that we encountered was with the then Parliamentary Draftsman's Office (part of the AG's office) and that was because that Office is the necessary bottleneck through which all Bills must pass; and if there are staff shortages (as was the case at that time, thanks to one of the regular staff embargoes!) or if too much new legislation is being sent to the Office from various Departments, then delays are inevitable. The drafting of legislation is highly complex work that simply cannot be hurried up or given to inexperienced staff to process.

So maybe that's a problem at the moment - I don't know.
 

lostexpectation

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Fair enough.

The Department where I worked would have mainly produced secondary legislation (Ministerial Orders or SIs.) during my time there - although we did have to draft two pieces of primary legislation.

The main delay that we encountered was with the then Parliamentary Draftsman's Office (part of the AG's office) and that was because that Office is the necessary bottleneck through which all Bills must pass; and if there are staff shortages (as was the case at that time, thanks to one of the regular staff embargoes!) or if too much new legislation is being sent to the Office from various Departments, then delays are inevitable. The drafting of legislation is highly complex work that simply cannot be hurried up or given to inexperienced staff to process.

So maybe that's a problem at the moment - I don't know.
so not to do with minority government?

most recent PQ on OPC staff is from 2015
https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2015-02-03a.120&s="Office+of+the+Parliamentary+Counsel"+staff#g122.r

pq from 2014 with staff vacancies over recent years https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2014-09-30a.156&s="Office+of+the+Parliamentary+Counsel"+speaker:156#g159.r


pq from 2012 with staff numbers over recent years
https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2012-10-09a.199&s="Office+of+the+Parliamentary+Counsel"+speaker:156#g201.r

and debate from late 2011 https://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2011-10-18.196.0&s="Office+of+the+Parliamentary+Counsel"+speaker:156#g198.3
 
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asset test

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Now those in the know can let me know....

But surely policy drives legislation and therefore the mission for new or amending legislation should come from the Minister's Office? I do realise that Sir Humphrey will suggest things, but I would have thought the Minister had the final say.

So where is the bottleneck in reality? Minister hesitation or Sir Humphrey blockage?
 

lostexpectation

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Now those in the know can let me know....

But surely policy drives legislation and therefore the mission for new or amending legislation should come from the Minister's Office? I do realise that Sir Humphrey will suggest things, but I would have thought the Minister had the final say.

So where is the bottleneck in reality? Minister hesitation or Sir Humphrey blockage?
could it not be Minister hesitation and Sir Humphrey hesitation?
 

asset test

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could it not be Minister hesitation and Sir Humphrey hesitation?
The perfect bottleneck!

I always thought that Government policy drove the legislation. And then Sir Humphrey (Sec Gen) says yes, but no, but what the fk Minister, it can't be done and so on.. But I must go back to school on that one obviously.
 

lostexpectation

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The perfect bottleneck!

I always thought that Government policy drove the legislation. And then Sir Humphrey (Sec Gen) says yes, but no, but what the fk Minister, it can't be done and so on.. But I must go back to school on that one obviously.
there are major pieces of legislative reform that are required over many governments.
 

lostexpectation

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this reported issue raised in the Dail by Michael Martin
We are reading reports that some public servants are of the view that they are not pushing forward Bills because the Dáil might get at them. This is a parliamentary democracy. I respectfully suggest that people in the public service or elsewhere have to accept the reality of the Dáil as it is.
https://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2017-05-09a.47#g67
 

lostexpectation

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Dáil Ceann Comhairle talks keeping order as TDs adapt to
“I think the politicians and parties have significantly adapted to the changed circumstances, maybe the political system has adapted more readily and more effectively than the permanent Government has reacted and I would have a certain sense that within the permanent Government there hasn’t been the same degree of progress towards the realisation of where we are at and the changed circumstances.“Certain senior figures in the public service have yet to adapt their own systems to respond to the changed political environment. We get criticism that the current Government is not bringing forward enough legislation.

In the reality of the current political situation, the Government has to be prudent about what it brings forward because it has to win support for it.“Some of those behind Government are even far more cautious than the politicians would be when they’re prepared to try.”It is curious the one person who oversees the running of the parliament believes that it is in fact senior department officials or even the Government itselt who have yet to come around to new politics. So departments or these senior figures are to blame for foot-dragging in the Dáil, I inquire?“Exactly,” says Mr Ó Fearghaíl, adding: “The process of change involves everyone, the politicians are in the foreground, but the people in the background have to change as well.
Ceann Comhairle saying civil servants dragging their feet on legislation.
 
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