Thursday, 7 November 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The Order of Business shall be as follows: No. 17b, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income and Capital Gains) (Republic of Slovenia) Order, 2002 and Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income and Capital Gains) (Republic of Croatia) Order, 2002; No. 17c, motion re appointment of Members to committees; No. 5, Unclaimed Life Assurance Policies Bill, 2002 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; No. 4, Private Security Services Bill, 2001 – Second Stage (resumed); and No. 6, Licensing of Indoor Events Bill, 2001 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 17b and 17c shall be decided without debate.
Mr. Kenny: I fail to understand how a motion proposed under Standing Order 31, which deals with the possibility of war, is not permitted. How does the Government intend to bring before the House the basis upon which Ireland will vote at the UN Security Council meeting tomorrow on a resolution already agreed between the United States and Britain which may well result in a war in Iraq? As war is a matter for the Dáil—
Mr. Rabbitte: The former Minister for Public Enterprise, Senator Mary O'Rourke, announced the abolition of CIE and the creation of three operating companies. It was announced again at the mini-CTC inquiry. The current Minister has announced it twice within the past week. One cannot get across this city because of traffic congestion, yet the Minister continues to issue press releases.
Mr. Rabbitte: I do, Sir, on promised legislation. The Transport (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill  provides for an increase in the borrowing limits for CIE in 2004. If the Minister is to abolish CIE next week why does he need to increase the borrowing limits in two years' time? He will presumably sneak in fare increases at a time when we need to be encouraging people to use public transport more, rather than increasing fares.
Mr. Sargent: Topically, the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill will be seen in the light of the proposed attack on Iraq. Will the Government take into account the financing of terrorism through international arms sales totalling $18.6 billion, much of which is coming from US companies?
Mr. R. Bruton: I note that the special report by the Ombudsman on redress for taxpayers appears on today's Order Paper. When does the Government intend to announce the actions it will take to ensure that taxpayers receive proper redress, as the Ombudsman has requested? Is it not the case that the Minister for Finance has known about this dispute for a considerable time and has had plenty of opportunity to formulate a well thought-out position?
Mr. Crawford: When will the Local Government Bill come before the House to allow us to discuss the 20% social housing element and the two-year limit on planning permission? Those matters need to be changed as a matter of urgency.
Ms McManus: It has been promised on RTE and in the newspapers that we will have secondary legislation to restrict smoking in restaurants and pubs. The only place we have not heard any detail about it is here in our national Parliament. When will this secondary legislation be introduced and will the Minister guarantee that there will be a debate on it? This legislation will have a major impact, so it is important to have a full debate. The Minister should not think he can slip the legislation through the House without a proper debate just because he has gone public on the issue elsewhere.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh: In the light of serious shortcomings that have been identified by the Equality Authority in current employment legislation regarding protection against the exploitation of immigrant workers, is it proposed to amend the Employment Equality Act to extend protection to those workers?
Mr. Ring: The Taoiseach appears to be on a FÁS scheme, working one day on and one day off in this House. Will legislation be introduced to allow postmen to open people's private mail in their own houses?
Mr. Gilmore: The Housing (Private Rented Sector) Bill is promised for early 2003. I understand that the Bill was given to the parliamentary counsel at the beginning of this year. What is delaying its publication?
Mr. Walsh: The heads of the Bill were approved earlier this year and the parliamentary  counsel is still working on it. It is comprehensive legislation and it will be introduced early in the next session.
Mr. Gogarty: That is right. I cannot do that so, specifically, I would like to ask if the Minister can provide a detailed timeframe as to when the Bill will come before the House? Will it be in late November, early December or after Christmas?
Ms O'Sullivan: Yes. There is a Bill on the list of promised legislation called the Register of Persons who are Considered Unsafe to Work with Children Bill and the list states the publication of the Bill is expected in 2003 – it is within the ambit of the Department of Education and Science. Would it be possible to bring that legislation forward in view of the obvious concern on the issue?
Mr. Healy: In view of the wholesale abuse of work permits by meat factories and recruitment  companies and the direct sacking of Irish workers who are replaced by foreign workers, will the Government bring forward the Employment Permits Bill urgently before the House?
Mr. Rabbitte: Tens of thousands of consumers and parents have lost their money in a project called Winter Wonderland. Will the contemplated companies legislation provide any redress to them? I am sure the Minister will agree that in the wake of the budget we will all need access to a wonderland for a while.
Mr. Timmins: When can we expect to see the Veterinary Medicines Bill? Before the summer recess I asked on the Order of Business if we could have from the Government a list of legislation that was passed but not implemented, and there is a great deal of it. When the Minister is on his feet, he might tell me when, if ever, the National Beef Assurance Scheme Bill, which was passed in 1999, will be implemented?
Mr. Walsh: The heads of the Veterinary Medicines Bill have been approved. The Bill is being drafted and we intend to introduce it next term. The National Beef Assurance Act is being currently processed and in the process of implementation.
Mr. Boyle: On today's Order Paper, there is the formal tabling of the Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment which the House agreed the other day. Is it the Government's intention that this will be the only such Supplementary Estimate? Does the Government have plans to meet the expected redundancy costs of the workers in the IFI plants in Marino Point and in Arklow? Does it have plans to cover the additional shortfall costs in terms of environmental costs where there is not even a standard fire crew available at Marino Point as of now?
Dr. Upton: In the light of the Tánaiste's statement on “Morning Ireland” this morning that we should endeavour to encourage top-class scientists to return to Ireland, when can we expect the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Bill to set up Science Foundation Ireland as a separate legal entity?
Mr. Coveney: When will the Residential Institutions Redress Board begin its hearings? It was promised, under the Residential Institutions Redress Bill, that hearings would begin in December. There are literally people dying while waiting for this redress board to start.
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