Order of Business.

Wednesday, 31 May 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 520 No. 2

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 16a, Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill, 1999 – Instruction to Committee; No. 40, International Development Association (Amendment) Bill, 1999 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 41, Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill, 1999 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 42, Copyright and Related Rights Bill, 1999 [Seanad] – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; and No. 38, Intoxicating Liquor Bill, 2000 [Seanad] – Second Stage, resumed, to be taken not later than immediately following Private Members' business and to conclude at 11 p.m. if not previously concluded, and the order shall not resume thereafter.

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 11 p.m.; (2) in the event of the motion for the by-election for Tipperary South being moved, it shall be taken without debate; (3) No. 16a shall be decided without debate; and (4) the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 38, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. tonight. Private Members' business shall be No. 98, motion re Eircom shares, resumed, to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed?

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins   (Dublin West): On that issue, the proposals to guillotine the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are no proposals on that. The question before the House relates to the late sitting. Is that agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the by-election for Tipperary South, should it be moved, agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 16a agreed?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That is not agreed. No. 16a is a motion from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to broaden yet again the scope of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill, which has already been broadened substantially on Committee Stage. Committee Stage has concluded, yet a raft of new amendments not proper to that Bill are to be grafted onto it and the Minister seeks the approval of the House to do so. A number of outside groups have made submissions to the select committee, but their views will not be heard if this broadening of the Bill is allowed. The Minister proposes that the full House will deal with Committee Stage today so that there will be no submissions from external bodies. The [375] entire immigration legislation is a bad patchwork quilt, amended and stitched as we go along, and I am fundamentally opposed to the way this is being done.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins   (Dublin West): I support Deputy Howlin on this matter. It is utterly unacceptable that matters are being inserted into the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill willy-nilly to deal with immigration, asylum seekers and people who are not criminals, who are here genuinely, unlike traffickers. It is wholly unacceptable and the Dáil should not allow this to happen.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  (Mayo): Yesterday on the Order of Business we put down a clear marker on the way in which procedures in the House have been subverted. We have already had this in relation to the Refugee (Amendment) Bill and the Immigration Bill and now it is happening with the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill. On each occasion we debated what we understood to be the main substance of the Bill on Second Stage, but subsequent to that, on Committee Stage, sometimes near the conclusion of Committee Stage, the thrust of the Bill was changed, particularly in the case of the Immigration Bill, and now it is happening with the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill. Having reached Report Stage, a group of Committee Stage amendments is being parachuted in. That is unacceptable.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  Even the title is changed.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The amendments I referred to do not have anything to do with the original Bill.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins   (Mayo): The amendments alter the thrust of the Bill so the goalposts have been changed. The Bill should be returned to Second Stage and be properly dealt with. Proper procedures should be adopted and adhered to, as happens with normal legislation, particularly with a Bill such as this which deals with fundamental human rights.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call the Taoiseach.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Progressive Democrats are offering, a Cheann Chomhairle.

The Taoiseach: As I stated yesterday, these amendments were clearly signalled by the Minister several weeks ago. If the legislation is to be passed in this session, it is necessary to proceed it in this way. There is no guillotine on Report Stage and Members will have an opportunity to make their points. The amendments are necessary. This is an evolving situation and the Minister brought forward proposals which were [376] debated at length both inside and outside the House in recent years.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Not so.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  Recommit the Bill.

The Taoiseach: I did not interrupt the Deputy. He is trying to stop me speaking on this issue.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  A Cheann Comhairle, I can make a suggestion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot have a discussion on the issue. I must put the question. The Deputy should have offered previously.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I wish to make a constructive suggestion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Allow the Taoiseach to conclude.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is necessary to proceed as the Government has proposed. These amendments are both firm and fair and we wish to proceed with them.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  A Cheann Chomhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Briefly. We cannot have a debate on the issue now.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I will make a constructive suggestion in order to reach agreement on the matter. The Taoiseach said there is not a guillotine. However, there is a guillotine in the sense that Members can only speak once on Report Stage amendments and may not make further points on the amendment. Will the Taoiseach agree to Report Stage being conducted in Committee Stage format whereby Members can speak more than once? It is a compromise means of dealing with the issue and would facilitate more interchange.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I cannot agree with that proposal. The House has a select committee system to allow Members with an interest in legislation to voice their views. It is a fundamental assault on the rights of the House to introduce basic legislation on Report Stage. It is not germane to the original Bill and has been simply grafted on.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot continue to debate this. I must put the question.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I urge the Taoiseach not to do it this way.

Question put, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 16a be agreed to”.

[377]

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, David.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Briscoe, Ben.
Byrne, Hugh.
Callely, Ivor.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Jacob, Joe.
[378] Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
McGennis, Marian.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moffatt, Thomas.
Molloy, Robert.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Hanlon, Rory.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
O'Malley, Desmond.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Wright, G. V.

Allen, Bernard.
Barrett, Seán.
Belton, Louis.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Broughan, Thomas.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burke, Ulick.
Carey, Donal.
Clune, Deirdre.
Cosgrave, Michael.
Coveney, Simon.
Crawford, Seymour.
Creed, Michael.
Currie, Austin.
D'Arcy, Michael.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Deasy, Austin.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Enright, Thomas.
Farrelly, John.
Finucane, Michael.
Fitzgerald, Frances.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gilmore, Éamon.
Gormley, John.
Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael.
Hogan, Philip.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Shea, Brian.
Owen, Nora.
Perry, John.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Shortall, Róisín.
Spring, Dick.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Upton, Mary.
Yates, Ivan.

[379] Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 38 agreed to?

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Before agreeing to the proposal to deal with this Bill which seeks to facilitate the economic interests in the alcoholic drinks business, will the Taoiseach agree that we should conduct a parallel study on the premature deaths caused by alcohol through illness, the association between alcohol and the commission of many violent crimes and the association between alcohol and domestic and family break-up? Will he agree that, while we should proceed with this Bill, a parallel scientific study should be carried out on these issues which are of great social long-term importance? We talk about the damage done by other drugs—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  These issues should be dealt with during the debate on the Bill.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Will the Taoiseach agree that these issues, which are outside the scope of the Bill, should be dealt with in parallel as a social priority?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This is not a matter for discussion under the Bill. Does the Taoiseach wish to make a brief comment?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  These matters are relevant, even though they are not part of the Bill. An enormous amount of research has already been carried out by the health boards and the Department of Health and Children. The Minister for Health and Children, including the previous Minister for Health, cited many case studies on the effects of alcohol on people, including young people. The amount of hardship, violence, difficulties and the number of working hours lost are also issues. Surveys have been carried out by IBEC, chambers of commerce and others on the effects of alcohol.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  And reduced life expectancy.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is why many of the calls to have licensed premises open until as late as 4.00 a.m. in line with European models were resisted in the Bill. My view is that we are still giving more than we should, but there is a lobby—

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Deputy is only the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I resisted pressure at other times. It does not make much sense to me that people want to drink until 3.00 a.m. and 4.00 a.m. every morning.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I agree.

[380]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 38 agreed?

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): The Dáil was not given information on the possible ill effects of an extension of opening hours.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot have a debate. There is a simple question before the House. The issue can be debated later this evening.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): There is a proposal to guillotine debate on the Intoxicating Liquor Bill at 11.00 p.m. The Dáil should have information on the possible ill effects which will result from the extension of opening hours.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That can be taken up during the course of the debate. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 38 agreed? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Regarding the Nursing Bill, is the Taoiseach aware of the proposed one day strike by psychiatric nurses which will affect 1,000 psychiatric nurses and 600 patients in four hospitals next week? These patients are already the most adversely affected of all recipients of health services. The likelihood of a series of rolling strikes by psychiatric nurses is a matter of grave concern and I ask the Taoiseach to indicate the action being taken to deal with this very serious matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business, but I will allow the Taoiseach to make a brief comment.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I appreciate the very accurate ruling by the Chair, but this is a matter of concern to the public and certainly psychiatric patients will expect it to be raised.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are other ways of dealing with it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is due next year. Industrial relations machinery exists to deal with the issue raised by the Deputy. It seems the issue is about the implementation of last October's agreement.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Commitment.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That agreement is clear, and if, as alleged, there are delays in implementation in some areas, then it can be rectified. However, it will not be possible to go outside the agreement.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Commitments were given by the Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  They will be honoured.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Has the Taoiseach plans to meet the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland [381] today? Will he convey to him the sense of urgency all parties in the House have about the necessity of reconstituting and re-establishing all the institutions provided for under the Good Friday Agreement?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will meet him later this evening as will Opposition leaders. The Minister has a long agenda for his meeting with the Secretary of State. I will emphasise that we must move quickly, not only in relation to the institutions but also with the full implementation of the Patten Report in line with the understandings given to us all when the report was accepted last Christmas.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  On 5 April last the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development was requested to attend a meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister to attend that meeting to discuss a specific issue which is important to the committee?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. I call Deputy Sargent.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  It is important—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It may be important but it is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  —on the basis that the Taoiseach said he has great admiration for the committee system. The Taoiseach now must prove that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is out of order.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  As today is world “no tobacco” day, will the Taoiseach say if urgency is being given to the issue of allowing nicotine replacement therapy, perhaps under the Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Bill, for medical card holders?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The contents of legislation cannot be questioned or raised on the Order of Business.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I am asking about legislation on this important topic.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy may not raise the contents of the legislation.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  As this is world “no tobacco” day I ask the Taoiseach to say whether the legislation will assist people trying to give up the habit of nicotine addiction.

My colleague, Deputy Gormley, raised the important issue of GM contamination. Will the [382] EPA amending legislation, or some regulation prior to its publication, be introduced to ensure that contamination is located and removed so the country's reputation in terms of agriculture is not further tarnished?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The first question should be addressed to the Minister for Health and Children, who has already made his position clear.

Regarding the second issue, I understand trials were undertaken on two sites farmed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and one site farmed by Teagasc. The total area planted was one-tenth of an acre, the size of a garden. The area planted in the UK was 32,000 acres. Only seed certified and entered into the national catalogue or the EU common catalogue of agriculture plant varieties may be imported for commercial use. Following the conclusion of the trial the variety in question was not entered into the national catalogue and further applications were not received for evaluation of the seed variety.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Has the Taoiseach learned nothing from the BSE crisis?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should resume his seat. I call Deputy Owen.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  We need more research into this matter.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  On the corporate law enforcement agency or operator – the Wyatt Earp of company law – when will that legislation be introduced?

Is the Taoiseach, a former Minister for Labour, aware that almost two months after the introduction of the minimum wage there are serious complaints that it is not being enforced? Will legislation be introduced to ensure proper enforcement is brought to bear on all companies?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The company law enforcement legislation will be before the House this session. As I stated yesterday, the inspectorate is now dealing with queries and complaints about implementation of the minimum wage.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  The inspectorate is not adequate to ensure enforcement.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I wish to ask the Taoiseach about the statement made last night concerning the former Irish Sweepstakes workers. I presume—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Does this concern promised legislation?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Yes. A simple Bill will be neces[383] sary. Having regard to the advanced years of most of these workers and the fact that some are in ill health, will the Taoiseach give an undertaking that the legislation will be enacted prior to the summer recess?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I understand legislation is required, but I am not sure about the extent of it. The Government would certainly like to introduce legislation quickly and with the co-operation of the Opposition, we should be able to get it through in the next month.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  That co-operation will be forthcoming. My understanding is that it is a very simple issue in comparison to the Irish Shipping situation, for example. It is important that legislation is enacted before the summer recess and I am quite sure I speak for Deputy Owen in terms of the co-operation of the Opposition.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  We offered our co-operation during Question Time.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  (Mayo): Some time ago the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform set up a review group to examine the outdated Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956, with a view to recommending amending legislation. Has the report been concluded and when can we anticipate the introduction of legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The report will shortly be with the Government and we will then have to prepare legislation. The EU Commission requirements in this area are also being examined, so I hope legislation will be introduced in the autumn.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Will the Taoiseach help the House and the many people who have litigation pending and who are dependent on us completing consideration of the statute of limitations legislation which is currently in the Seanad and which will return to this House with amendments? I am told the Bill could be disposed of in perhaps little more than half an hour. If it is not passed cases will begin to pile up at the end of the year and beyond. I am aware that the Taoiseach answered this question yesterday but perhaps he has had an opportunity to reflect on the matter. The Labour Party will co-operate fully with the Government Chief Whip in dealing with what are effectively non-contentious matters.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I did not have to reflect on the matter because the answer is the same. The Bill will be taken this session and I thank the Deputy for his offer of co-operation in dealing with it quickly.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  When will the text of the standards in public office Bill be published?

[384]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be published before the end of the session.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  In light of the fact that every 18 hours a person is killed on our roads and we are approaching the June bank holiday weekend during which perhaps 12 or 14 people will be killed—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  A question, please.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  —will the Taoiseach fast-track the road traffic Bill to ensure a penalty points system is introduced as soon as possible and not delayed for a further 12 months?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Work is continuing on the Bill. While I hope it will be completed quickly, there is an enormous amount of legislation to be processed. I hope the public will abide by the existing legislation.


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