Wednesday, 27 April 1994
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Tánaiste: It is proposed to take No. 3, Supplementary Estimates, Votes 34 and 35, 46 and 47. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: 1. No. 3 shall be moved together and decided by one vote without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; 2. The proceedings on the Committee and remaining Stages of No. 46 shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 6.45 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment. Private Members' Business shall be No. 50.
Mr. J. Bruton: On the day following the celebration of the 75th anniversary of this democratic assembly, I am sure all of us would wish to mark the transition to full democracy and the historic events which are occurring today in South Africa and wish that country, with whom Ireland  has had great contact over many years, every success and prosperity as a result of the introduction of full democracy. I am sure the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, in particular, would like to be associated with those remarks.
The Tánaiste: Deputy Bruton's comments are timely. As he is aware we established full diplomatic relations with South Africa during recent months. This is an historic day for South Africa, but there are still considerable difficulties and obstacles to overcome. I am sure the Government, Members of this House and the Irish people send their good wishes to the people of South Africa today and the hope that their democracy and new society can be established on a sound footing. On behalf of the Irish Government I convey our wishes to all leaders in South Africa in the hope that their democracy can be established and will thrive in the future.
Miss Harney: I agree with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Bruton and the Tánaiste. This is an historic day for South Africa. We can learn a lesson from this, their first free elections, in that they have provided for their emigrants to vote abroad. I hope we can put into practice what they have been able to do in their first free elections.
Mr. Rabbitte: I, too, want to be associated with those sentiments. This is a major new dawn for the people of South Africa. We can only hope that the inordinate problems that will confront that society after its transformation will be effectively and peacefully tackled.
Mr. Sargent: Ba mhaith liomsa chomh maith mo chuid beannachtaí a chur in iúl do mhuintir an Aifric Theas. I am sure there is a great deal of promised legislation to come in South Africa, but I would like to tie into the Bill before the House what is happening in that country in respect of votes for emigrants whether in local or general elections. We have an opportunity to do something about this  and emulate some of the more progressive legislation in South Africa in respect of votes for emigrants. Will the Tánaiste pass on those comments to the Minister for the Environment?
Mr. J. Bruton: I have before me a copy of the Programme for a Partnership Government which contains a commitment to develop a third banking force here involving the Trustee Savings Bank. As the Tánaiste was obviously involved in drawing up that document, where stands that commitment now as it appears the Minister for Finance proposes to sell off secretly the State's interest in the Trustee Savings Bank without an option, an open bid to one possible purchaser?
Mr. Spring: There is a commitment in the Programme for Government in respect of a third banking force and it is under active consideration by the Government. There are no proposals  before the Government from the National Australia Bank or the Trustee Savings Bank at this time.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Tánaiste has developed a good sense of humour: he refers to a third banking force being under active consideration when it is obviously going down the drain and the person who is pushing it down is sitting beside him.
Mr. Rabbitte: Not only have I a copy of the Programme for a Partnership Government but I have a copy of the amendments Deputy Taylor advanced when the Trustee Savings Bank Act, 1989 was debated and when he expressed——
Mr. Rabbitte: It relates to a matter I raised yesterday morning on the intention of National Australia Bank to gobble up the Trustee Savings Bank, and I wonder if the Labour Party is still opposed to that? If so, it is a uniquely Labour Party contibution to the Programme for a Partnership Government.
Mr. Molloy: Will the Tánaiste say why the Government is not prepared to give more time to debate the Local Government Bill? Following yesterday's debate we reached amendment No. 3 of the 129 amendments and one day remains to debate the rest of the amendments, the sections and the remaining Stages.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy, please resume your seat. We are about to resume Committee Stage of the Bill. I appreciate there is a time limit on it. A request for consultations with the Whips was made by Deputy Enda Kenny, maybe the matter to which the Deputy refers can be resolved, but I do not know. It is primarily for the Whips. The House has already decided the issue.
Mr. Spring: I understand the Minister for the Environment offered to take this Bill last week, to provide more time. Discussions took place between the Whips — I assume Deputy Molloy has been in consultation with his Whip — and, as suggested by Deputy Kenny also, we have said that if more time is required in respect of Report Stage that aspect can be discussed today.
Mr. J. Bruton: Is it the case that when privatisation takes place under a Fianna Fáil-Labour Government it is done on a sweetheart basis? Why is there not an open bid and a number of bidders allowed take part? Why is there only one possible purchaser?
Mr. J. Mitchell: The Government promised the Oireachtas committees the compellability and Privilege of Witnesses Bill would be introduced last session. It was promised it would be circulated during the Christmas recess and that we would have it this session. When will it be published and will it be enacted in this session?
Mr. Yates: In 1991, Woodchester, Ulster Bank, Irish Life and others were in a competitive auction. That does not apply in respect of this case and a full statement should be given by the Tánaiste as to whether amending legislation will be introduced.
Mr. J. Bruton: We want to get the proper price. We are wary of sweetheart deals and exclusive bids involving friends. We want no secret deals. Such deals involving a sale to one bidder are the Labour Party's method of privatisation. The Tánaiste would not sell his house to one bidder.
Mr. Durkan: The Tánaiste should, not rush at this stage. I seek the Chair's assistance. The point I wish to make is not a reflection on the Chair's judgment in respect of a parliamentary question — I accept his response. I tabled a parliamentary question requesting information as to whether programme managers, advisers and special assistants were likely to be candidates in the local elections. I received a communication from the Chair's office indicating this was a matter for the private individuals, but I respectively submit it is not.
Mr. Rabbitte: I ask the Chair's advice. I do not know if there is a precedent for the Taoiseach responding to an Adjournment Debate. I thank the Chair for a letter I received this morning informing me that my question to the Taoiseach on home tax has been disallowed. I wonder what would be the Chair's disposition if I tabled the question to the Taoiseach for an Adjournment Debate?
Mr. Allen: Does the Tánaiste propose to take steps to deal with the racist remarks made by Mr. Paul Johnson in the Daily Mail on Monday about Irish people flocking across the Irish Sea to exploit the British social welfare system?
Mrs. Doyle: In view of the momentous events taking place in South Africa, I have been asked by eight constituents in Wexford who are South Africans to thank the Minister for the Environment for his order of yesterday recognising South African driving licences in Ireland, a very small step to most of us but most important for the hundreds of South Africans living in Ireland. It is a very welcome step and I thank the Minister.
|Last Updated: 22/05/2011 02:11:23||Page of 72|