Order of Business.

Tuesday, 30 May 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 520 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 15 – motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimate [Vote 6]; No. 16 – motion re referral of Supplementary Estimate [Vote 6] to select committee; No. 38 – Intoxicating Liquor Bill, 2000 [Seanad] – Second Stage (resumed); No. 39 – Electronic Commerce Bill, 2000 [Seanad] – Second Stage (resumed). It is 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 11.00 p.m. and (2) No. 15 and, subject to the agreement of No. 15, No. 16, shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded on Nos. 15 and 16 shall be taken forthwith. Private Members' business shall be No. 98 – motion re Eircom Shares.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Are the arrangements for dealing with Supplementary Estimate [Vote 6] agreed?

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I have no problem with the late sitting. However, what is the urgency about an Intoxicating Liquor Bill? Given that the Government spends a great deal of time talking about how much it opposes intoxicants of other kinds, why is such great priority being given to facilitating the consumption of this form of intoxicant?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is the only hope we have.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We have an enormous amount of legislation to pass in the next few weeks. I think we will be sitting late every week, not just for this Bill. However, the Deputy will recall that Members behind and beside him have been pressing me for weeks to have this Bill passed before the summer, for some reason.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Hear, hear.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  There is sort of a zero tolerance of maximum tolerance.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  The Government does not have to go to closing time.

[40]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Are the arrangements for dealing with Supplementary Estimate [Vote 6] agreed? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  In regard to promised legislation, has the Taoiseach read the report that suggests Ireland is the fourth worst country in the European Union in terms of complying with EU directives? Does he have legislation in the pipeline to deal with some of those issues, before Ireland is fined in court for its failure to pass the relevant legislation to comply with EU directives, particularly in regard to such matters as value added tax imposed on roads and bridges, tolling and the discriminatory taxation on external and internal flights?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There is no particular legislation in this regard. Every year we introduce an enormous amount of legislation. Perhaps we have been a little slow in implementing some of the directives over the years. However, we are also very compliant when we do it.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  In relation to legislation before the House, Report Stage of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill is scheduled for tomorrow. A raft of new amendments as published today to amend in draconian ways, the Immigration Act we enacted last year, which was a vehicle to amend the Aliens Act. This is the second time the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill has been used to graft on extraneous legislation. That is a bad way to deal with this issue. The Taoiseach gave assurances on Committee Stage it would not happen again but it is happening again. Will the Taoiseach recommit this Bill to Committee Stage to have a full debate on these matters?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The amendments fulfil the announcements made some weeks ago by the Minister. I do not think there is anything in them outside those announcements. He wants to enact them as soon as possible so that they become effective and operable.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We do not legislate by announcement.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on it.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We do not legislate by announcement. The House has a right to have a look at the detail of amendments. Among the amendments circulated today is a proposal that a person who is about to leave the State on foot of a deportation order be arrested so that we can deport him or her properly, rather than leave the State in an orderly way. We need to debate these matters.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  When the Bill comes before the House there will be an opportunity for debate. I call Deputy Rabbitte.

[41]Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  This whole area is regarded as a shambles by a member of the Government.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Howlin will have an opportunity tomorrow when the Bill is before the House.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  The Minister will talk to the newspapers but he will not talk to the House.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It is a shambles.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  In regard to the Intoxicating Liquor Bill, does the Government know that since the previous Government left office the price of drink has gone through the roof? Publicans are trampling on the rights of the drinking classes.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Shatter.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  Members of the Government drink champagne – Champagne Charlie.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Can I ask a question on promised legislation?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Rabbitte, on promised legislation.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I hope the Taoiseach will respond on the question of the price of drink.

In regard to promised legislation, when will the Trade Union Recognition Bill be introduced to the House? A major dispute is starting in a company called Aldi, which this Bill would have avoided. In regard to the question raised by Deputy John Bruton on EU instruments, when will the EU directive on part-time workers be implemented?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Trade Union Recognition Bill is before the Seanad. The Government recently cleared the heads of the Bill on the EU directive.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  It is already six months late.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  In regard to the third matter, I made very extensive comments about drink prices last week, which were well published in the newspapers.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Minister announced yesterday for the second time that he is banning advertising of cigarettes in newspapers and tobacco sponsorship. In the context of promised legislation dealing with tobacco issues, will legislation to effect this ban be brought before the House prior to 1 July, when it is to take place? Alternatively, does the Government intend to lay regulations before the House pursuant to existing legislation to give effect to this ban?

[42]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill was published recently and I think a tobacco Bill will come before the House at some stage.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, to which the Taoiseach referred, has nothing to do with advertising or sponsorship. I am asking if the Government intends to lay any legal instrument, be it a new Act or a regulation made under existing legislation, before the House to ensure this ban is effective, cannot be challenged and comes into place as and from 1 July, as has been twice announced by the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That might be better asked by way of a parliamentary question. I call Deputy Noonan.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  It is promised legislation – either the Taoiseach knows or he does not.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) (Amendment) Bill, 1999, is in select committee.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Noonan.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  That happens to be my Private Member's Bill and it does not deal with this issue. Does the Taoiseach know what, if any, legislation is going to be enacted? If he does not know – tomorrow is world “no tobacco day”– perhaps he will find out for tomorrow morning's Order of Business.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  It is all a bottle of smoke.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  As the Deputy probably knows, it does not need legislation as it is done by regulations.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Are new regulations being laid before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is a matter for the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not appropriate to go into the details of what might or might not be in a Bill. Deputy Noonan has been called a number of times.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Government does not know how it will implement this. It is going to get into great difficulty.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  In regard to legislation, have the Tánaiste and the Minister for Finance, who seem to agree on so many things, agreed yet on the legislation for the financial services industry? If so, when will the legislation be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The discussions are ongoing.

[43]Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  One should be careful of those ongoing discussions.

(Interruptions).

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  She is hoping it will be in July.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  In regard to the business of the House, does the Government intend to introduce a sessional order to make it clear that Members suspended under the Ethics in Public Office Act are debarred from attendance at committee meetings, to avoid doubt in this matter?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That matter does not arise and would be better dealt with by way of a parliamentary question. I call Deputy O'Shea.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is a matter of procedure and it is—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I think it would be better dealt with by way of a parliamentary question.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is important there is no ambiguity about the decisions of the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I agree with the Deputy on that. However, it would be better to raise it by way of a parliamentary question.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  Arising from today's statement by the EU Commission that it intends speeding up the completion of the open market for postal services, does the Minister for Public Enterprise intend to make a statement to the Dáil explaining the implications of this for An Post?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is a matter for the Whips.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  At a time when one cannot drive on any back road without seeing signs that say “No dump here” or “No super dump here”, has the Government any proposals for legislation to regulate packaging and increase waste minimisation, if that is not a contradiction? What happened to the Minister's announcement about a tax on plastic bags as an effort to reduce some of the plastic proliferating around the countryside?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Some of those issues are covered by Environmental Protection Agency (Amendment) Bill. Others are matters for parliamentary questions.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Waste Management Act.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That has already passed.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  What is the Taoiseach doing about it?

Mr. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  (Mayo): This is the second time the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill has been [44] mutilated since Second Stage. It happened first on Committee Stage in relation to judicial review proceedings and now in relation to deportation, as Deputy Howlin said. This is undermining due process in the House. It is completely subverting parliamentary—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This is not appropriate on the Order of Business.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  (Mayo): We should not have a repeat of this. It has happened time and time again. It happened last year with the Immigration Bill and is happening now with this Bill. It is not good enough.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  On promised legislation, Deputy O'Sullivan inquired last week about the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill. There has been an undue delay in bringing that back with amendments from the Seanad. Can the Taoiseach tell us when this Bill will be finalised? The Children Bill was three years in gestation and it is now some time since it passed Second Stage. When is Committee Stage of this important Bill likely to be taken?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Children Bill is in select committee and it is a matter for the committee to finalise its work. I hope the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill will be cleared before the end of the session.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  Is the Taoiseach satisfied the National Minimum Wage Act is being implemented? My information is—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. Does the Deputy have a second question appropriate to the Order of Business or legislation?

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  With respect, I am coming to that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We will have the second question.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  I asked the Taoiseach last week about work permits. Has the Government done anything about this?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Regarding the first matter, the legislation is enacted and there are inspectors to deal with complaints that arise. The Deputy should refer any complaints to the section of the Department dealing with the matter.

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  It takes two months.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  In view of the fact that foreign affairs Question Time is some time off and that approximately 2,000 persons of Irish origin are living in Zimbabwe, with perhaps 30 of them [45] white farmers, does the Taoiseach agree that it is important that time is found for statements on this issue? At the very least the Zimbabwean ambassador should be called in. It is a matter that should be dealt with in the House sooner rather than later.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That matter should be raised with the Whips.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  The Taoiseach should respond to this matter. I am asking that time be made available for a short debate on the matter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The matter should be discussed with the Whips.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Will we have a further social welfare Bill to compensate the poor of the country for the 5% inflation rate—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  —which is wiping out the increases in the last Bill?

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): Profiteering continues apace in the housing market, causing acute suffering. The Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government suggested at the weekend that the Government must ensure that more land is made available for development and that new methods are used to acquire that land. He was referring to land banks being sat upon, presumably to manipulate the market.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  A question appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): Is the Minister of State speaking for the Government and is he talking about legislation that is to come forward? Will the Government finally grasp this problem and bring forward legislation to outlaw speculation in building land by controlling the price and taking the land into public ownership for further development? Is definitive legislation coming as a result of what the Minister of State said?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not appropriate to ask about legislation that might come, only promised legislation.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): It seemed to have been promised.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  A number of these issues are covered in the Planning and Development Bill, which will assist the situation, but the Minister of State has other proposals which are being discussed.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  In 1997 the Taoiseach was asked about the greyhound Bill and he said there were [46] legal difficulties concerning it. I understand those difficulties related to all-Ireland jurisdiction regarding the industry. Given the reconstitution of the Northern Ireland Executive, is the way now clear to proceed with that Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will have to look at that matter. It has gone off the list of legislation for some time.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It is time to put it back in the traps.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  In the meantime the greyhound industry is thriving and doing better than ever.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Perhaps the Taoiseach should muzzle someone sitting next to him.


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