Order of Business (Resumed).

Wednesday, 26 February 1992

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 416 No. 3

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Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Yesterday evening the Minister for Finance indicated that the Government would be coming forward with a series of proposals in relation to the operation of the House, including the proposed forum or committee on jobs. May I ask the Taoiseach if it is his intention to have informal discussions either with the party leaders or with the Whips in advance of those proposals or must we [527] await a final announcement without any prior consultation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That matter is still before the House.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The debate is still before the House but the proposals were offered in response to a previous question. Perhaps the Taoiseach would like to avail of the opportunity to respond?

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  As the Minister for Finance made clear yesterday evening, we are listening to the debate with interest, we will take into account the points being made and we will then proceed to decide on what we believe are the appropriate structures to involve all the various sectors in the discussions.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Do I take it that the decision will be made by the Government without consultation with the Opposition parties?

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  We already have the proposals and the views of the Opposition parties. We had them even before the debate and we listened to the debate to see if there were any new ideas forthcoming.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  If the Government want an all-party approach to a problem of this kind they should have prior consultation with the Opposition.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Certainly.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Simply announcing that the Government will listen to a debate and then announce their conclusions without consultation is not acceptable.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This matter should not give rise to argument or tend towards debate now. The matter is before the House.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  In relation to promised legislation and legislation before the House, may I ask the Taoiseach whether [528] the colleges Bill will be proceeded with as published and, if so, the timeframe for its expected reintroduction into the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  The colleges Bill will proceed as promised.

Mr. S. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  May I ask the Taoiseach when the allocation of national lottery funds in respect of amenity or recreation funds will be advised to local authorities? Will he confirm that they will have absolute discretion in how this money is spent?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That matter should be dealt with by way of question.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  Has the Taoiseach had the opportunity to clarify the position with regard to the promised legislation arising out of the two year old report from the Martin Commission dealing with miscarriages of justice? Can the Taoiseach indicate whether that legislation is now before the Government and would he be prepared to comment on the suggestion that progress is being arrested because of opposition from senior members of the Judiciary? The former Minister promised that this would be acted upon as a matter of urgency.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Has this legislation been promised in the House?

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  It has been promised.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  We were told that it would be acted upon as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  Legislation has not been promised in the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  To which legislation is the Deputy referring, because he did not spell it out for me?

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  I am referring to the legislation which we were promised would arise from the report of the Martin [529] Commission dealing with miscarriages of justice.

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  It is under active consideration in the Department of Justice and will be brought forward at the earliest possible date.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Spring has been offering for some time.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  In relation to promised legislation, may I ask the Taoiseach if the Government parties have resolved their differences in regard to the Shannon Estuarial Authority Bill which was promised in the Programme for Government?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Remember that?

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  In the present programme?

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Deasy was offering.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  No answer?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Some open Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Order, please.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  Ask your former Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  Former?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Former Government.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  May I ask the Taoiseach if there is any provision whereby the Attorney General can appear before the House to make a statement or to answer questions on matters of great national concern such as the recent case regarding the 14-year old girl?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, Deputy Deasy, but there are other ways of raising such a matter.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I am trying to have the [530] position with regard to the Attorney General clarified.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am also concerned about the sub judice aspect of the matter to which the Deputy is referring.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I merely wish to ask if there is a provision whereby the Attorney General can attend the Dáil.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It does not arise now. Deputy Gay Mitchell was offering.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  If not, have the Government any proposals to change the law so that he can appear?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy has many ways of raising that matter.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  In relation to the legislation which has been promised relating to the register of Members' interests, which I understand is to be enacted before September, may I ask the Taoiseach when that Bill will be published and if it is intended to have consultations with other sides of the House before the Bill is published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  The matter is under consideration at present by the Minister for Finance.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Will there be consultations?

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  May I ask the Taoiseach whether the Government have any plans to break up the ESB——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This is not in order and the Deputy should know that.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  It has been indicated that legislation would be required, as indicated by a Minister in a major public speech recently.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Michael Higgins.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  A Cheann Comhairle——

[531]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, Deputy, but clearly that matter does not relate to the Order of Business.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  It is perfectly in order and it would require legislation as indicated by a Minister in a major public speech.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  I would like to know if this is Government policy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  What?

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  I am referring to legislation to break up the ESB and separate its generating and distribution functions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Higgins.

Miss Flaherty: Information on Mary Flaherty  Zoom on Mary Flaherty  Would the Taoiseach clarify this matter?

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  May I ask the Taoiseach what the present position of the Government is in relation to the current status of the Nicky Kelly case?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Again, Deputy Higgins, I have to say that you must raise that matter in another way.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  I wonder, a Cheann Comhairle, for the information of the House if you would make a statement on how you propose to treat the former Workers' Party. Do you propose to treat them as the Commonwealth of Independent Deputies?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That matter, Deputy, is before the Committee on Procedure and Privileges this day. Deputy Garland.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  There is not much wealth.

Mr. Garland: Information on Roger T. Garland  Zoom on Roger T. Garland  On a point of order. I would like to ask when provision is going to be made to allow me, as leader of the [532] Green Party in the House, to sit on the Front Bench down there?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair has enough anomalies to deal with.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  May I ask the Taoiseach whether the Government intend to introduce legislation to change the Voluntary Health Insurance Act? Government sources seem to be indicating that competition will be permitted in the area of health insurance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I should like to facilitate the Deputy, but clearly this does not relate to the Order of Business.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Legislation dealing with health insurance has been promised and I am trying to ascertain whether——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Has legislation been promised in this area?

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  No.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Legislation has been promised. A health reform Bill is coming through.

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  A good try.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  May I proceed——

Deputy J. Bruton rose.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I was going to proceed to the business ordered.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  In regard to the matter raised by Deputy Deasy concerning the Attorney General, may I ask the Taoiseach when it is proposed to take the Estimate for the Office of the Attorney General which is the responsibility of the Minister for Finance? Would the Taoiseach agree that provision should be made to take this Estimate at an early stage and have it debated in this House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  The Whips could discuss that matter.

[533]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Hogan has been offering for some time.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  In view of the fact that this House established an inquiry to investigate the affairs of Greencore, may I ask the Taoiseach if provision will be made for a debate in this House on the final report which is due to be published next week?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Again, this matter is not strictly related to the Order of Business. I would advise the Deputy to put down a question on the matter.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  In view of the fact that this House established an inquiry——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, Deputy, Deputy Michael Higgins.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  May I ask if amending legislation is anticipated in relation to the Companies Acts in view of the decision yesterday in the courts?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Has legislation been promised in this area?

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Yes.

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  It is not promised legislation but undoubtedly the matters which arise will be considered by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister for Industry and Commerce has indicated, in relation to high insurance costs, that it is likely that legislation will be brought before the House shortly. May I ask the Taoiseach if he would outline the schedule for the introduction of that legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Has it been promised?

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  No.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Seemingly, no.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Did that come from the [534] same fax machine that Deputy Michael McDowell used?

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  He is not Deputy Michael McDowell; he is a former Member.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Sheehan. I am going on to the business ordered after Deputy Sheehan.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  He is a former chairman of Fine Gael in Dublin South-East.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  He did not go quite as far in our party as he did in others.

Mr. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  I would like to ask the Taoiseach when he intends to introduce legislation to extend the powers of the Castletownbere harbour master to cover Bere Haven Sound as promised by the former Taoiseach?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The time has come to proceed to the business ordered.

Mr. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  I would like to ask the Taoiseach when he intends to introduce that legislation. Can he answer the question?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I feel sure that Deputy Sheehan will find another way of raising that matter.

Mr. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  The former Taoiseach promised this legislation and it has not been introduced.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Very briefly, before the Taoiseach leaves the House for the Cabinet meeting, may I ask him if the up-to-date and authentic version of the Green Paper on Education will be discussed by the Cabinet in view of the fact that it is vital, as a preliminary measure, to legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Albert Reynolds  Zoom on Albert Reynolds  It is before the Cabinet and we will complete our deliberations on it very shortly.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We now come to [535] deal with Report Stage of the Merchant Shipping Bill, 1991.


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