Order of Business.

Thursday, 1 February 2001

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 529 No. 3

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 49, Youth Work Bill, 2000 – Second Stage (Resumed); No. 1 – Containment of Nuclear Weapons Bill, 2000 [Seanad]– Second Stage; and No. 7 – Sea Pollution (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) (Civil Liability and Compensation) Bill, 2000 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are no proposals to put to the House. I will now take Leaders' questions but before doing so I find it necessary to remind the Leaders that on the Order of Business a relevant but brief question on a topical matter may be asked. There should be no statements on any matter that would give rise to a debate. It is not an occasion for a mini-debate on any issue with only a brief question and reply permitted.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  The rules keep changing, a Cheann Comhairle. I wish to ask the Tánaiste two brief questions. Will there be an opportunity for the Taoiseach to report to the House on his meeting with Prime Minister Blair yesterday on the outcome of their talks?

What is the Government's current policy on waste management given the Minister for the Environment and Local Government's announcement that he is giving powers to county managers to adopt and put in place waste management plans in countries where such plans have not been adopted? The announcement was made outside the House and there has been no further explanation. It is giving rise to a great deal of confusion among councillors and the public.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I hope during Question Time next week the Taoiseach will be able to respond in relation to Northern Ireland. It was a good meeting last night but some work still has to be done to have a comprehensive package that will allow the current difficulties in the peace process to be resolved. I hope the work today and for the remainder of this week will lead to a comprehen[1018] sive package on decommissioning, policing and demilitarisation.

The Minister for the Environment and Local Government has put proposals before the Cabinet. I am not at liberty to discuss them but as soon as the issue is decided I am sure the Minister will make an announcement. However, it is important that we have an appropriate waste strategy that can be implemented and acted upon at local level. It is essential for our environment, industry and the country that we have the necessary powers to implement a modern and appropriate waste strategy plan.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  What in the newspapers are we supposed to believe?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Minister wants four incinerators.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  Newspapers have already published the proposals. Was this a judicious leak so that the Minister would get credit or was it a way of warning councillors that they would lose powers? What is the truth in regard to waste management? It is one of the major issues facing local authorities, householders and industry.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  As the Deputy will be aware, it is a reserve function but the alternative is also under consideration. However, no decision has yet been made.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Tánaiste has as good as told us.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Is the Tánaiste aware that I wrote to the Taoiseach on 4 January drawing to his attention a conflict of interest involving the Minister for the Environment and Local Government in his role as joint treasurer of Fianna Fáil on the one hand and as Minister responsible for raising limits by 50% on the moneys that can be spent on elections, changing the rules that have served us well over the past five by-elections? Is she, as Tánaiste and leader of the Progressive Democrats, in favour of this conflict of interest? Has she raised the matter with the Taoiseach?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am aware the Deputy wrote to the Taoiseach because he has raised the issue on the Order of Business over the past two days and I have read about it in the press. I do not accept there is a conflict of interest in regard to this matter. The Minister for the Environment and Local Government has been open in relation to his proposals.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Is the Tánaiste serious? The Minister told nobody about them.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  They had to dribble out.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  A deal was done with Deputy Healy-Rae on council seats.

[1019]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  At the end of the day it is a matter for the Oireachtas to legislate in this area.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Quinn, very briefly. Let me remind you that we cannot have another debate on this issue.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Do I take it that the 50% increase in expenditure that will be authorised by the Fianna Fáil Party and the joint treasurer of the Fianna Fáil Party to enable them to buy the results of the next election is acceptable to the Progressive Democrats?

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  Who wants to be a millionaire?

Mr. O'Flynn: Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  Fine Gael will take the money as well.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  What about union support?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Tánaiste needs all the help she is getting from the Deputy.

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

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Is the Tánaiste, in her capacity as a member of Government and as leader of the Progressive Democrats, in favour of this continued conflict of interest between the Minister responsible for putting the legislation through the House and for arbitrarily and unilaterally altering these figures as far back as February 2000? Is that the Progressive Democrats' position?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That concludes the Leaders' questions.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Silence is wonderful.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Silence is golden.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Gormley on the Order of Business.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Fianna Fáil has beaten the Progressive Democrats into silence.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Where are the Tánaiste's principles?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Is the Tánaiste aware—

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Where are values in politics?

Mr. Wade: Information on Eddie Wade  Zoom on Eddie Wade  Deputy Shatter can answer that himself.

Mr. O'Flynn: Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  They are quiet lads this morning. The Leader's seat suits Deputy Owen.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Progressive Democrats used to mean something of value, but they are the rump of Fianna Fáil.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Gormley on the Order of Business.

[1020]Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Is the Tánaiste aware that on Tuesday's Order of Business the Taoiseach informed me that there were no legislative proposals to enforce incineration on communities? He made that quite clear. The Tánaiste has told us the complete opposite.

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

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Will the Waste Management (Amendment) Bill contain these proposals? When will it come before the House?

Mr. M. Brennan: Information on Matt Brennan  Zoom on Matt Brennan  Where does the Deputy want to put his waste?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I want to recycle it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  When will the Bill come? The question relates to the timing of the Bill.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  As I told Deputy Owen, the matter is before the Cabinet at the moment and I am not—

Mr. M. Brennan: Information on Matt Brennan  Zoom on Matt Brennan  Where does Deputy Gormley want to put the waste?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I want to recycle it.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  It is difficult to know where to put Fianna Fáil.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We are not going to enforce acceptance of incinerators on any community.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Taoiseach told us the exact opposite.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Deputy Gormley should be a bit more responsible and less emotional in these matters, and seek to inform people.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Minister wants incinerators in communities.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The matter is before the Cabinet and as soon as the Cabinet concludes its deliberations the proposals will be published. That Deputy Shatter is a lawyer does not mean there is a conflict of interest between being a lawyer and being a spokesperson on justice. He should be careful in what he is saying.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  There is a conflict of interest between conflicting political values. The Tánaiste is trying to hoodwink the electorate.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  As regards No. 5 on today's Order Paper, the Ombudsman's report on nursing home subventions that has been laid before the House, has the Government made a decision to produce amending legislation, or clarify existing legislation, as to whether medical card holders [1021] are entitled to have nursing home care provided by the State? This report contains a litany of scandalous treatment of people. What decisions has the Government made on foot of the report?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The report was published yesterday and is being considered by the Minister for Health and Children. If legislation is required it will be forthcoming.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The report has been with the Minister for quite some time, so I would have expected a more forthright answer concerning action on this issue. Is the Tánaiste aware that last night on RTE's “Prime Time” programme there was an exposé of serious problems in the health service, including the fact that people are literally dying as they await operations because they cannot afford private treatment? In recent days the Government received a policy document on how the Labour Party intends to deal with this matter. Can we now have a statement from the Government, that can be debated in the House, about how it intends to end the two-tier hospital system that is not delivering services to those most in need? It is continuing the suffering and pain of thousands of people who are waiting for necessary operations.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should confine herself to a question on promised legislation. Is there any promised legislation?

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Can we have a statement from the Government as to how it intends to deal with this vital issue that is destroying people's lives?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot discuss this matter. This is the Order of Business.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Will the Tánaiste address the issue because it is of such vital importance?

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  I wish to put on the record my appreciation of the statesman-like service that Deputy John Bruton, both as Taoiseach and as Leader of the Opposition, has given to this House.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  It has been a great privilege to work with him. There are not too many people of that stature in the House. The House should be very appreciative of the service he has given.

As regards the issue that has been raised by Deputy McManus, the Minister for Health and Children has indicated that he will bring forward a major document in response to the Fine Gael and Labour Parties' documents on health. I understand that it will be a White Paper. If I have interpreted the Minister for Health and Children correctly, will the Tánaiste say if it is intended to introduce a White Paper on health? If that is not the case, can we find time to debate the contents [1022] of the programme on RTE last night which was very upsetting and very accurate?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I join Deputy Gay Mitchell in paying tribute to Deputy John Bruton. I do not want to interfere in the affairs of another party, but Deputy Bruton is one of the original thinkers in this House of which he has been a Member since 1969. He has been Taoiseach, Minister for Finance twice, Minister for Industry and Commerce, Minister for Industry and Energy, and also held a number of junior ministerial posts. I think I can speak for everybody in the House when I say that we wish him well. He is an honest, decent person of the highest integrity.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  He is still alive.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I remember that on the day the Good Friday Agreement was successfully negotiated, I heard Deputy Bruton on the radio and he was wholesome in his praise of the Taoiseach. He certainly put the national interest first while, perhaps, other Opposition leaders might have chosen to find holes in the agreement. I wish him and his family well.

The Minister for Health and Children has proposals to radically reform the health service. An internal audit of the health service is currently under way. As Deputies know, spending in this area has almost doubled over the past three years, so it is not just an issue of resources.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  That is right.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We need a fairly radical reform of the health service.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  As both the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform are present, can either of them say when we will see the Immigration Bill? Will measures be included in that Bill to allow for the exclusion of non-nationals from entry to the State? That was the information given to me by way of a reply yesterday. More than 100 people were excluded from embarking—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  What is or is not in the bill is not a matter for a question on the Order of Business.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Are the actions of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in excluding people from the right to embark on vessels, or disembark from vessels, in accordance with international law and our United Nations treaties?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The legislation is promised for late in 2001. The heads of the bill are expected shortly.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Is legislation to be introduced in the House to give lawful authority to the Minister for Health and Children to sponsor the Irish Masters snooker tournament in the sum of £600,000, [1023] as is reported in today's papers? Can the Tánaiste justify the Department of Health and Children spending £600,000 on this when people on hospital waiting lists are dying, and we have the sort of exposure on “Prime Time” last night of the difficulties in the health service?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The matter was raised yesterday, Deputy. We cannot have repetition.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  It may have been raised but was it dealt with?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Éamon Gilmore.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  It is a disgrace.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Shatter is being totally disorderly. The matter was raised yesterday and the Taoiseach responded.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Just before the Christmas recess the House decided to refer to the Select Committee on the Environment and Local Government the Labour Party's Private Members' Bill entitled the Electoral Amendment (Donations to Parties and Candidates) Bill, 2000.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot discuss the Bill now.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  No, I understand that. I am just following the procedure. It was referred to the Select Committee on the Environment and Local Government, and I have two questions relating to it. First, why was the Bill omitted from the list of legislation released by the Government on 25 January? Second, in respect of my efforts to have a meeting of the Select Committee convened to consider Committee Stage of that Bill, I ask the Tánaiste about a letter that the Minister for the Environment and Local Government sent to the chairperson of the Select Committee, in which he effectively states—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This matter cannot be discussed on the Order of Business, unless it concerns promised legislation.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is about the Committee Stage of a Bill.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is about a Minister overruling an order of the House.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The House referred the Bill to the committee. The Minister for the Environment and Local Government is now effectively refusing to attend the committee to deal with the committee's stated view.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is a matter for the committee.

[1024]Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  In his letter, the Minister is insisting that his own Electoral Bill has to be—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is being disorderly.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is a serious matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is a matter for the committee.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The will of the House to have a Bill dealt with by a committee is being frustrated.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is not a matter for the Order of Business. Deputy Gilmore should resume his seat. I call Deputy Jim Higgins.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On a point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  What is the point of order?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is to seek your guidance, a Cheann Comhairle. Is it in order for a Minister of the Government to seek to undermine an order unanimously made by this Assembly?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a point of order. Does Deputy Jim Higgins have a question?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Can I ask you to consider that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We must return to the Order of Business. I call Deputy Jim Higgins. Deputy Howlin must pursue the matter in another way. He cannot pursue it on the Order of Business. Deputies must have some regard for the Chair. When the Chair is on its feet I would ask Deputies to allow the Order of Business to proceed in an orderly way. I have called Deputy Jim Higgins.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  If Deputy Higgins will allow me to say so, you are the protector of this House, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is not up to Deputy Higgins to allow you to speak, it is the Chair who presides. I will allow the Deputy a brief question and then he should resume his seat.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  As the Ceann Comhairle, you are the protector and defender of the interests of every Member of this House. This House passed Second Stage of a Bill which was then referred to a committee. In what part of Standing Orders, over which you preside and interpret on our behalf, is there the right of a Minister to deny and censor a committee to which this House has referred a Bill from hearing that Bill? Perhaps you might help us—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a matter for the Order of Business.

[1025]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Sir, will you reflect upon this and perhaps on the next Order of Business indicate to us what—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I will communicate with the Deputy but it is not a matter for the Order of Business.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  —gave this majority the dictatorial powers to suppress debate in this House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Jim Higgins.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Will you reflect upon it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Yes, I will communicate with the Deputy but it is not a matter for the Order of Business.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  (Mayo): The Aer Lingus Bill, 2000, was passed by the Seanad almost eight months ago and since then it has been grounded. As the Tánaiste is aware, 20,000 passengers will be grounded because of a strike by all Aer Lingus cabin crew? Has the Bill, the purpose of which is to privatise Aer Lingus, been abandoned? Is there any proposal to bring the Bill before the House in the foreseeable future?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand the Bill is awaiting scheduling in the Dáil but the industrial relations problems have nothing to do with legislation. They are clearly separate matters that can, hopefully, be resolved in a different forum.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Does the Tánaiste approve of the continuing delay in producing the legislation to ratify the treaty to establish the international criminal court? Is she aware that it has been put back for a further six months and does she approve of that? Does she not accept that we should be giving a lead, particularly now in view of our membership of the UN Security Council, in having this treaty ratified so that we can be one of the group in the world which will allow it to be set up? Will the Tánaiste give a commitment to ensure that this proposed delay in the Government's legislative programme will not be adhered to and that we will have this Bill in the coming weeks if possible?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The intention is to have a referendum on that matter in May of this year, so obviously the legislation will be published, debated and passed in advance of that.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Is the Minister not aware that, although it is the intention to have a referendum in May, under the Government's legislative programme, publication of the Bill is not expected until the middle of the year? How then can we have a referendum in May?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The intention is to have a referendum in May on that and other matters.

[1026]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  In advance of publication of the Bill.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I would like to ask about legislation which has been on the list of promised legislation for about two and a half years, that is, the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and International Co-operation in respect of inter-country adoption Bill. This has been on the list for two and a half years and it has been highlighted again and again, most recently in the context of two children who were bought on the Internet by two different couples on two different continents. It has been promised for late 2001 and it ratifies an international convention to protect children. Does the Government have a greater sense of urgency about this issue now and can the Bill be brought forward before the promised date?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  As the Deputy said, the legislation is promised for later this year. The heads of the Bill are not expected until the summer, the middle of the year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Fitzgerald.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  It has been on the list of promised legislation since I came into this House. It is a very urgent matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy has made her point.

Ms Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Will the Government take an opportunity in the Social Welfare Bill to redress the inequalities of the budget, particularly in so far as they affect carers and those on social welfare?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  As the Chair has pointed out on numerous occasions—

Ms Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  This is promised legislation, the Social Welfare Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot have questions on the contents of a Bill but only on the timing of a Bill.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Bill was approved by the Cabinet last Tuesday, will be published shortly and debated in this session.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): Will the Government urgently bring forward legislation to address the grotesque incompetence of the Government where one Minister, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, travels the globe to get immigrant workers to come here and agents of another Minister, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, imprisons, shackles and attempts to deport them?

[1027]

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is proceeding with a statement. This is the Order of Business.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): In order that there is no repetition—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should find other occasions to make statements.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): —of the shameful episode of the Moldovan 19, which shamed this Government, will the Tánaiste bring forward the work permit Bill and the immigration resident Bill as a matter of urgency? That is a very legitimate request because the country was outraged by the treatment of immigrant workers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is proceeding with statements which are not in order on the Order of Business.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  I asked the Taoiseach that question yesterday and he gave a very weak answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The matter was raised on the Adjournment and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform made a ten minute statement. We are on the Order of Business. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform came into the House and gave a ten minute reply to queries on this matter, and it cannot be raised again. Deputy Higgins should resume his seat as he has made his point which was not orderly.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): I would like to introduce a new element. If those two Bills were brought forward as a matter of urgency, it would address this question for all time.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Unfortunately, I am not certain that legislation would have prevented what happened. I hope the new arrangements that are now in place between the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the immigration authorities will lead to a more satisfactory situation in the future. We hope to bring the work permit legislation forward later this year.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Tánaiste has on a number of occasions expressed her alarm at the findings of various major investigations she has under way. Given that knowledge, does she think it is proper for her party to support a 50% increase in electoral spending?

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

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  May I ask about the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, a Cheann Comhairle?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Yes, a question on the Bill.

[1028]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Will the Tánaiste persist with those provisions in the Electoral (Amendment) Bill?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is a question on the provisions of the Bill, and that is not in order on the Order of Business. When the Bill comes before the House, the Deputy will have ample opportunity to discuss the provisions, but he cannot do so on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Sargent.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Will you permit the Tánaiste to speak?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  She cannot answer a disorderly question.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I am beginning to identify with the Hindu pilgrim at the Ganges who has had his hand up for the past 22 years. In fairness to my colleague, Deputy Gormley, I would like to ask whether a date will be given for the publication of the Waste Management (Amendment) Bill given that the US, Canada, New Zealand and the other EU members are turning their backs on incineration and are not building new incinerators? When will we have that Bill and will it be up to date with modern research?

On promised legislation from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, I see that only one short Bill will be taken before Easter. I would like to ask about the introduction of the Organic Targets Bill, already published by the Green Party. Given the advice from the head of Teagasc that farmers should consider growing organic products and that the House of Commons will introduce such a Bill next week, will the Tánaiste say whether the Government will take the initiative and produce a Bill of that sort because the Green Party does not have Private Members' time?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The waste management Bill is expected towards the middle of this year. I do not believe legislation is promised in relation to the other matter, but I am sure Deputy Sargent will be able to get agreement from his colleagues in opposition to move that Bill.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  When the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs last attended the meeting of the United Nations, the Secretary General of the UN requested all delegations to ratify outstanding conventions. I understand 25 have not been ratified by Ireland. Which ones will be ratified in the lifetime of this Government? Does the Tánaiste agree that it would be easier to have a separate legislative drafting mechanism so that conventions would not be outstanding? It is a disgrace that we may have signed but not ratified conventions.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I do not have the information the Deputy seeks to hand. Perhaps I can communicate with him. There is merit in what he suggested [1029] so that we can expedite the ratification process for these international agreements to which we sign up.


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