Wednesday, 27 November 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 24, National Development Finance Agency Bill, 2002 – Second Stage (resumed); No. 25, Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 2002 – Second Stage (resumed); No. 26, Railway Safety Bill, 2001 – Second Stage (resumed) and No. 1, Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Bill, 2000 [Seanad] – Second Stage. Private Members' business shall be No. 36, motion re terms of reference for tribunal of inquiry into Garda activities in County Donegal, (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are many facilities and opportunities as the Deputy knows. He has been in the House long enough to know. If he studies Standing Orders he will find them – Question Time, Adjournment debates and so on. Standing Order 26 is quite specific. It has been quoted time and again in the House.
Mr. Deasy: We have all seen the crime figures and are horrified by them. As the Taoiseach mentioned earlier, the first time the Public Order Bill was in the House was on 20 June. That is more than five months ago. It was supposed to the panacea for street violence here. Can he explain to me and the House why it has taken five months for that Bill to come back to the House considering the horrific figures we are reading about?
Ms Lynch: Given that Blackpool is flooded for the second time in a week today – with up to four feet of water – and that businesses that re-opened for business yesterday are closed again today, with an estimated cost of €250,000 worth of damage, is the Taoiseach prepared to extend the terms of reference of the Supplementary Estimates which are going to committee today, to ensure that people are compensated for the flooding which has devastated homes in Cork coming up to Christmas? Is he prepared to extend the funding to that area?
The Taoiseach: I received a note from the Office of Public Works on that today but I understand that what the Deputy is requesting, the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon is doing. If I find the note I will give it to the Deputy, but I think I can confirm that the Minister of State is doing what the Deputy is asking for. He has to amend the Order in relation to the dates of flooding and their location.
Mr. Allen: I was going to ask the same question in relation to Cork. Will the Taoiseach make the same effort in Cork as he did in Dublin to compensate people for the appalling damage that has been done to their homes? Since the question has already been asked, I will not be repetitive and ask it again.
Ms O'Sullivan: Whenever other Deputies and I asked the Taoiseach about the education for persons with disabilities Bill, we were told it would be published this year. It featured prominently in the Government's legislative programme. Last Thursday morning, the Tánaiste first said it would be published this year and later – I checked the record – she said next year. Will the Taoiseach clarify the situation? Are people being lied to again in this regard?
The Taoiseach: It is still intended to publish the Bill by Christmas but a number of the disability organisations have recently made written submissions and sought meetings. The Minister wishes to ensure the Bill he brings forward has as much consensus as possible. He can either bring forward the Bill or complete the consultation process with the concerned groups. I feel sure the Deputy will agree it is better to resolve as many issues as possible with those groups. That is the only reason for delay and that consultation process is still ongoing.
Mr. Gilmore: Will the Taoiseach clarify the position regarding the housing (private rented sector) Bill? I understood from him last year that the heads of the Bill had been approved by the Government and that it had been sent to the Parliamentary Counsel. I am unclear as to the present position, arising from the Taoiseach's reply to Deputy Allen. Will he clarify if the heads have been approved, where the Bill is and when it will come to the House?
Ms O. Mitchell: One of the objectives of the previous Government was the establishment of an authority to deal with transport and land use in the greater Dublin area. Is legislation still planned in that regard? Given the traffic problems now being endured in Dublin, the matter is all the more important. Is this issue being driven by the Taoiseach's Department?
Ms McManus: The tobacco control Act provided for secondary legislation to restrict tobacco consumption in a wide range of areas. When will that secondary legislation appear and will it include a ban on Ministers giving out free cigars?
Mr. Crawford: When will the pharmacy Bill come forward? In light of major cutbacks by the Government in aid to the Third World, when will the charities Bill be discussed in the House to enable Members express their views on Third World aid?
The Taoiseach: The pharmacy Bill will update and rationalise the Pharmacy Acts, 1875 to 1977. Discussions are ongoing with regard to the heads of the Bill with those involved in the sector. It is hoped to introduce the Bill some time next year.
The Taoiseach: The Bill is to reform the law in relation to the administration of the regulatory authorities along the lines of the Costello report. A public consultation process is envisaged prior to preparation of the draft heads of the Bill. The target date for drafting the heads is June 2005.
Ms Shortall: Will the Taoiseach give further clarification on the greater Dublin land use and authority Bill? Last week, the Tánaiste said it was not due until the end of next year. It had been promised for this year. Have the heads of that Bill been agreed? In view of the growing traffic gridlock in the Dublin area, will the Taoiseach prioritise the Bill?
The Taoiseach: No, the heads of the Bill are expected next spring and, as I said, the legislation is due next year. I will pass on the comments of both Deputies who raised this matter. The time from producing the heads to completing the Bill will take most of a year.
Mr. Naughten: The Bill to which the Taoiseach referred will impact on deregulation and competition in relation to Dublin Bus. Will the Taoiseach expedite that legislation so we can discuss that issue? On another matter, in light of the fact that RTE is now getting rid of 75 jobs in television services, is the Taoiseach aware of the impact this will have on the regional studios in Athlone, Sligo and Limerick? Does he realise that will gag rural Deputies who will not have the opportunity of raising issues on the national airwaves? When will the radio communications Bill come before the House?
Mr. Durkan: When will the next education Bill come before the House whereby a plan could be put in place to address the issue of the large number of schools throughout the country identified by the INTO a year ago as being in need of urgent refurbishment?
Mr. Timmins: On the same issue and in relation to No. 12a on today's Order Paper, Supplementary Estimates for first level education, will the Taoiseach confirm that no schools building projects will go ahead in the foreseeable future? I received a reply to a Dáil question—
Mr. Coveney: Is the Taoiseach aware that we are now at the bottom of the European scale in relation to the provision of telecommunications infrastructure in this country? Will he indicate when the roads (control of roadworks) Bill, which aims to give strengthened powers to local authorities to lay cabling in the ground, will be brought before the House? The Order Paper does not indicate when the Bill will be introduced.
Mr. Stanton: In the light of the crime figures, will the Taoiseach indicate when the Drug Offenders Bill and the Intoxicating Liquor Bill will come before the House and is the Government considering legislation to amend pub opening hours at this time?
The Taoiseach: It is not possible to give a date for the Drug Offenders Bill. Work is at a preliminary stage on that legislation. The Intoxicating Liquors Bill is a response to recommendations of the Commission on Liquor Licensing. Discussions are still taking place within the review group and the Bill depends on the recommendations it brings forward. Those recommendations will be included in the Bill.
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