Order of Business.

Wednesday, 5 March 1997

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 475 No. 8

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Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is proposed to take No. 8a on a Supplementary Order Paper; motion re. ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 4 — Social Welfare Bill, 1997, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; No. 1 — Irish Takeover Panel Bill, 1996, Amendments from the Seanad; and No. 2 — Credit Union Bill, 1996, Second Stage (resumed).

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) The Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; (2) No. 8a on a Supplementary Order Paper shall be decided without debate; (3) The Second Stage of No. 4 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be adjourned at 6.45 p.m. tonight; and (4) Private Members' Business shall be No. 53 — motion No. 20 re Water Charges (resumed) and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. this evening.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There are four questions to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting this evening satisfactory? Agreed. Is the proposal that No. 8a be decided without debate satisfactory? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with item No. 4 satisfactory? Agreed. Is the proposal appertaining to Private Members' Business this evening satisfactory? Agreed.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Since the Minister for Finance is taking the Order of Business will he inform the House when he hopes to have the Finance Bill, 1997 passed by both Houses and signed by the President?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I could not possibly anticipate the co-operation of the Opposition in relation to a matter like that. Clearly it would be a matter for the Opposition Chief Whip with whom we shall be happy to discuss the matter in due course.

[1534]Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Would the Minister for Finance have a little dream about it?

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  As the Minister for Finance and I know, the Department of Finance usually preempts all these issues. No doubt the Minister has in his possession a note of when it is hoped to have the Finance Bill, 1997 passed and signed by the President. Perhaps he would give the House the benefit of that information.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Deputy will be happy to hear that the Department is under democratic control and subject to the wishes of this Assembly. As the House will be aware, the Finance Bill has to be passed and signed by the President no later than 90 days after the budget, which timetable will be met in the normal way.

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Would the Minister for Finance answer the question?

Ms Keogh: Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Will the Minister for Finance say whether the Government intends taking any action in relation to the students of the Advanced Technology College at present outside the gate of this House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, the Deputy cannot raise that matter now.

Ms Keogh: Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  It is a very important matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I feel sure the Deputy will find another way of dealing with that matter but it does not arise on the Order of Business.

Ms Keogh: Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Unfortunately it is now so urgent we must deal with it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  It does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  In relation to promised legislation mentioned in the programme for Government, will the Minister for Finance say when and if it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill in respect of the financial bonding of third level private colleges? Can he report to the House on the Tánaiste's statement of yesterday, indicating whether any progress has been made or whether the Government has met the students involved?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is seeking to circumvent the ruling of the Chair on this matter.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle, I am not seeking to challenge any ruling. I attempted to raise this issue by way of parliamentary question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I will allow the earlier part of the Deputy's question if the Minister wishes to intervene, no more.

[1535]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I was not here yesterday but I gather the matter was dealt with extensively then. The legislation to which the Deputy refers is contained in the programme for Government and is being considered at present.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Tánaiste indicated that he would seek to do something for the students and college concerned. I received a letter from you, Sir, this morning in relation to this specific matter. I had tabled a normal parliamentary question. You wrote to me saying that because the Minister says she has no responsibility in the matter——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Martin, you may not challenge my rulings in this matter.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  I am not challenging anything. As a Member of this House, how can I raise this issue when a parliamentary question I had tabled is ruled out of order and I am not allowed raise the matter on the Order of Business?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There are other ways of dealing with the matter.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  A Private Notice Question is ruled out of order and permission to raise it under Standing Order 31 is also ruled out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If he wishes, the Deputy can table a substantive motion. He must resume his seat.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Minister is saying she has no responsibility in the matter. It is a crazy position. Five hundred students are on the streets and we cannot raise the matter formally in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy must resume his seat forthwith.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Will the Minister for Finance inform the House whether the Government is willing to make time available to debate a report from the Select Committee on Finance and General Affairs on economic and monetary union? Its chairman, Deputy Jim Mitchell, is most anxious that we have a debate on the subject. It is most unfortunate that the whole issue should go by without debate. Will the Minister indicate whether Government time will be made available for such a discussion?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I must take issue with the Deputy's remark to the effect that the whole issue would go by without debate. The Deputy will be aware that there was a debate within the relevant committee — if my memory serves me correctly — in March 1996. It is timely that that debate be updated. There will be a meeting of the Whips this afternoon. I will request the Government Chief Whip to discuss the matter with the Whips of the Opposition parties in order to decide whether such debate should take place within the [1536] confines of the committee or, if the House so wishes, on the floor of the House.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  This is an important issue and what goes on in that committee might as well be happening in a shoebox most of the time.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  Speak for yourself, Deputy.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Will legislation arise following the report on group water schemes?

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

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That issue is being dealt with in the House by way of Private Members' motion. I am not sure I follow the Deputy's question.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I understand the Minister is preparing a report for Cabinet. Arising from that report will there be legislation on group water schemes?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We will have to see the report first. It has not yet been presented.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  When will it be presented?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  As soon as it is ready. If there are proposals for legislation we will take the necessary time to enact them.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  Last week I asked the Taoiseach about two fundamental items of legislation promised in the Programme for Government and he admitted they will not be introduced in the lifetime of this Dáil. I refer the Minister for Finance to the programme for Government which promised to establish a parole board to ensure that prisoners will be discharged from prison in an orderly manner and not on an ad hoc basis. Is it the Government's intention to introduce the relevant legislation to provide for this board in the seven or eight weeks of parliamentary time left to this Government or will that commitment be jettisoned also?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  There is no rush.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I was not aware the Deputy would decide the date of the next election. The matter to which he refers is being considered and as soon as the draft legislation is ready it will be brought before the House.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  Will it be ready in the lifetime of this Government?

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin Ryan  Zoom on Eoin Ryan  Will the Minister who is a pragmatic and logical individual explain how the Government could send a senior Minister to the opening of the film festival last night and can have a Minister, Deputy Higgins, who promotes the film business——

[1537]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I thought the Deputy had something relevant to raise. Clearly this is not.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin Ryan  Zoom on Eoin Ryan  ——while 500 students, many of whom are studying the film business, are out on the streets? It is an outrage.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is deliberately flouting the rule of the Chair in this matter. Resume your seat Deputy Ryan.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin Ryan  Zoom on Eoin Ryan  Where is the idealism of the socialist?

A Deputy:  It is gone.

Mr. L. Fitzgerald: Information on Liam Fitzgerald  Zoom on Liam Fitzgerald  May I ask your advice, Sir? I tabled a question to the Taoiseach and every Government Minister yesterday and the Minister for Finance decided to reply on behalf of everybody and gave me a smart alec reply. How can I go about seeking my democratic rights as a publicly elected TD and insist on getting a reply to parliamentary questions?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  My office is at the Deputy's disposal in relation to that matter.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill  Zoom on Máirín Quill  What is the status of the long promised broadcasting Bill? Will it come before the House in this session or in the lifetime of this Government? Which Minister or Minister of State is making decisions in respect of the subject matter of the Green Paper on broadcasting? Is the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht concerned that a number of the students picketing outside are students of the Advanced Technology College?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The ruling of the Chair must be obeyed in these matters. Deputy Quill will desist. Resume your seat.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The matter of legislation and the heads of a broadcasting Bill will be before the Cabinet on Tuesday next when it will be disposed of. It is not possible to say when the Bill will be published.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill  Zoom on Máirín Quill  It is the longest long finger I can remember.

Mr. J. Walsh: Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Has the Government plans under the programme for Government to provide adequate ferry services to transport cattle from here to other EU countries? We have a major crisis. No transport is available, the Government is doing nothing about it and farmers are in disarray. What does the Government propose to do about it under the programme for Government?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  What about the butter vouchers? The Deputy had better find a few of those for——

[1538]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  No specific legislation is promised in this area.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  What is the present status of the proposed bail legislation and has the matter been progressed?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Deputy will be surprised but, perhaps, not delighted to hear the Bill is making excellent progress and has been discussed. It is intended to have it drafted as soon as possible.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  When can we expect to see the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is at an advanced stage of preparation and our intention is to have it published before Easter.

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  On promised legislation, what progress has been made with the licensed drugs Bill to deal with drug abuse in dance halls, pubs and at outdoor unlicensed dances and the likely time-scale for such legislation to be put in place?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is a Government priority and our intention is to have it published before Easter.

Mr. Davern: Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  The Minister will be aware of the greyhound Bill which has been promised. Is he aware the national headquarters of the greyhound industry in Clonmel does not have a dog track as of this week? What does the Government propose to do about this?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The greyhound Bill will be ready after Easter and the matter regarding Clonmel town will be discussed in the context of that Bill.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  When will the Government bring forward legislation, which has been promised on many occasions, to deal with the problem of long-standing tenants in domestic accommodation? The Minister is aware of people in his constituency who are awaiting some alleviation of the 20 year rule which allows them to be dumped out of their homes in the 19th year of their occupation, simply to avoid a rule of law.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That legislation will not be ready for some considerable time.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill  Zoom on Máirín Quill  Will it be in the Minister's time?

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Earlier the Minister for Finance said his Department was in democratic control — I am pleased he is carrying on the work of Deputy Bertie Ahern.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That is not what I said.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  As Minister for Finance will he ask each member of the Cabinet to contribute from their budgets towards helping the students in the Advanced Technology College?

[1539]Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Will the Minister for Finance indicate a time frame for the publication of the ministerial orders on upgrading regional technical colleges to institute of technology status, as indicated last week at Question Time? For example, Waterford would need a ministerial order. When the Tánaiste went to Cork for the Labour Party Conference it was promised to the students of Cork.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Athlone needs one also.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  We need to have a time frame because we had the unfortunate spectacle yesterday when students from Cork tied themselves to the gates of Leinster House.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Students from Kildare were there too.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Ministerial orders cannot be discussed now.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I am not in a position to give a detailed reply to the Deputy. I suggest he tables a question for written reply.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  I did that.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Will the Minister clarify the difference between the reply he gave to my question and that which he gave to the leader of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Bertie Ahern, about group water schemes in regard to possible or pending legislation?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The question put by Deputy Bertie Ahern, Leader of the Opposition, asked if legislation would follow the report which the Minister for the Environment was due to bring to the Cabinet. In reply I said that until such time as we saw that report I was not in a position to say whether there would be legislation.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  Is the Minister aware——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Sorry, we cannot debate the matter now nor is it Question Time.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  We are getting inaccurate information from the Minister.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  On a point of information, there are 500 students outside the gates of Leinster House. Will the Minister for Education meet a small deputation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There are other ways of dealing with the matter.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  It is a reasonable proposal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We will proceed to the business of the House.

[1540]Mr. Ellis: Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  The Ceann Comhairle said he would allow me to ask a question on the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I did, but there was disturbance in the House. I called on the Deputy repeatedly but he failed to respond.

Mr. Ellis: Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  I rose to respond but another Member was in possession. I put down two statistical questions last week to the Minister for Health with regard to delays in the provision of orthodontic and spectacle services by the health boards. The Minister replied that he did not have the information on hand but would produce it in due course. I put down a further question but the Ceann Comhairle's office ruled it out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This matter can be raised at another time.

Mr. Ellis: Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  The Ceann Comhairle is protecting the Minister because this information should be readily available.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If the Deputy communicates with my office the matter will be clarified. He should not imply anything.

Mr. Ellis: Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  I thank the Ceann Comhairle but the Minister should make the information available.


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