Order of Business.

Thursday, 29 May 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 567 No. 7

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Order of Business today shall be No. 18 – Immigration Bill 2002 [Seanad] – Second Stage (Resumed); and No. 2 – Protection of the Environment Bill 2003 [Seanad] – Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that: the motion regarding the report of the Joint Committee on the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Charters Amendment) Bill 2002, shall be taken today at 2.15 p.m. and shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 18 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1 p.m.; the Dáil, on its rising today, shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 June 2003.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the motion regarding the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Charters Amendment) Bill 2002, agreed?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is not agreed.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am opposed to the Order of Business for two reasons. First, the Dáil should sit next week.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We are dealing with the first proposal.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There is no reason the Dáil should not sit next week. Second, we are dealing with a Government that has set out to strangle the Freedom of Information Act and yet is leaking sections of reports to the media. It is a disgrace that the people who elect Members of this House are not entitled to have these reports laid in the Oireachtas Library where the public representatives who have to answer questions day and night across the country, can read them. Journalists all over the country have freedom and access to sections of these reports enabling them to comment publicly on them on radio and television and in the print media. It is a disgrace that the Government allows this situation. I am opposed to the taking of the Order of Business for these two reasons. The Dáil should meet next week to discuss these matters because they are of public and urgent concern.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The proposal now before the House is the motion regarding the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Charters Amendment) Bill 2002.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I am bound to agree with Deputy Kenny. There is no reason or justification for the [1521]House rising until 10 June. When the Government was dismantling the Freedom of Information Act this side of the House argued that the purpose was to go back to old ways of doing things and Deputy Kenny has drawn attention to examples of it this week. It now appears that the House is not going to get the reports that have been selectively leaked to various journalists. Notwithstanding the fact that the House has been waiting for a long time to read the conclusions of the three reports concerned, selected journalists are able to study the proposals and comment on them and we are entirely reliant on their assessment. I am surprised that the Tánaiste is colluding in this fashion.

Dáil Éireann is now the last place that any Minister would choose to announce his or her plans on any measure affecting our society. Every day, Ministers actively collude in diminishing the stature of this House and in contriving through an army of publicly-paid PR people to make their announcements outside the Chamber. It is diminishing our democracy and diminishing the standing of this House.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  We are dealing with the motion regarding the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  It is a technical motion.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  We are opposing this motion because it is a health issue.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister for Health and Children wishes to make a statement.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  It gives us the opportunity to stress the failure of the Government to act as a Government in terms of dealing with a report, bringing it before this House and being accountable to Dáil Éireann. That is why we are opposing it. I ask you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, to take into account that this House will not be able to operate as a Dáil if the information has been already given out and dissected elsewhere. There are more leaks in this Government than in the water piping system in this city. It is important that the Government bears in mind that it cannot operate as a Government if it continues to leak information outside the Dáil because what credibility it has will be lost.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I wish to address the substantive issue of this motion, the proposal to take the report of the Joint Committee on the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Charters Amendment) Bill 2002, without debate. Deputy Sargent made the point that this is a health issue yet taking the time to examine this Bill, it can be seen that the Minister for Health and Children has seemingly no role or function in the terms of reference or accountability of the Royal College [1522]of Surgeons. It is only in the instance of by-laws that the Minister for Education and Science has any role or function. He is the only Minister cited with any scrutineering responsibility regarding the royal college.

This Bill has been sectioned off. The whole control of private Bills going through the Houses of the Oireachtas means that there is limited opportunity for real scrutiny of what is proposed. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is ostensibly a body dealing with the training of people in surgery and other related health care specialties. However, to all intents and purposes, it is a corporation which is very profitable, a significant property holder in the city and one that has charitable status and for whom no taxes are payable on its profits.

This Bill seeks to retain all the powers vested in the college by the various royal charters issued during the course of the 19th century. However, further powers and opportunities are being conferred on the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland through the course of this Bill. This Oireachtas will do a serious disservice to its responsibility for public scrutiny of legislation, and will fail to ensure full transparency in relation to what this Bill seeks to achieve, if Members do not deal with every detail of it in full and open forum. I am absolutely opposed to allowing this to proceed without debate. It should be discussed at every point before it is allowed to pass, for the very sound reasons I have outlined.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Is this a Second Stage speech?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  In conclusion, I appeal to the Tánaiste and to the Government to ensure that this Bill is properly scrutinised as if it is not, the Oireachtas will stand condemned, quite rightly in my view, for failing in its responsibilities. I oppose the motion to allow this matter to proceed without debate at this point—

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Open the door.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  —and, indeed, at any point in relation to this legislation.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  That was very succinct.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  It was a Second Stage speech.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle—

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Mar focal scoir—

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Le cúnamh Dé.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I hope that the Deputies listened to some of what I had to say.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Say it again.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I did not agree—

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  Arís.

[1523]Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Why does the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform not focus on himself and his influence on these matters at Cabinet level? He would not be able to laugh it all off then.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  He could do with a bit of guidance.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  I think it is the word “royal”.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  That was a Report Stage speech.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am pleased to note Deputy Ó Caoláin's interest in the Royal College of Surgeons. The procedure for dealing with a Bill of this kind has been followed in this case. It has been referred back to the House by a committee that was established for the sole purpose of examining this Private Bill. The procedure we are using is that which was followed in all such cases previously. I believe there was no disagreement in relation to the process being used in the case of this Bill.

On leaked reports, the reports will obviously be published when the Government finalises its discussions on the matter. The action that will be [1524]taken by the Government on foot of the reports is what is important. The Hanly report is not to hand. I understand that what has been leaked is an early draft of the report.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  That is a comfort.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Can we see that draft?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Government has certainly not yet received a final report from the Hanly group.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  The draft is only a fig leaf.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Government has given a commitment that there will be a thorough debate in this House on the reform programme.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Twenty pages were sent to The Clare Champion last night.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, very briefly—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I am putting the question.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 1 be agreed to.”

Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, Barry.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Callanan, Joe.
Cassidy, Donie.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cregan, John.
Curran, John.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dempsey, Tony.
Devins, Jimmy.
Ellis, John.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Fleming, Seán.
Fox, Mildred.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Glennon, Jim.
Grealish, Noel.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Hoctor, Máire.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kelly, Peter.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
McDowell, Michael.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Mulcahy, Michael.
Nolan, M.J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donovan, Denis.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Malley, Fiona.
O'Malley, Tim.
Parlon, Tom.
Power, Peter.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Michael.
Wallace, Dan.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.

Allen, Bernard.
Boyle, Dan.
Breen, Pat.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Bruton, Richard.
Burton, Joan.
Connaughton, Paul. Connolly, Paudge.[1525]

Costello, Joe.
Crawford, Seymour.
Crowe, Seán.
Deasy, John.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Durkan, Bernard J.
Enright, Olwyn.
Ferris, Martin.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Hayes, Tom.
Healy, Seamus.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael D.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kehoe, Paul.
Kenny, Enda.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McCormack, Padraic.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Finian.
[1526]McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Morgan, Arthur.
Murphy, Gerard.
Neville, Dan.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Penrose, Willie.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Eamon.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Sherlock, Joe.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Upton, Mary.
Wall, Jack.

Question declared carried.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The second proposal is for dealing with No. 18, conclusion of Second Stage of the Immigration Bill 2002. Is that agreed to? Deputy Kenny.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The House should sit next week. There are urgent matters that need to be debated here.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  That will be the next question.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am opposed to taking the Order of Business.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Is the Deputy opposing this question?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Which one is that?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Question No. 2, on the Immigration Bill.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Yes. I am not opposed to the debate finishing at one o'clock, although our spokesman and Deputies will make the position clear—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  But not to the proposal.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  —that we are opposed to the Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I want to be quite clear. Is Deputy Kenny opposing the conclusion of Second Stage?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  No, I am not opposed to the conclusion at one o'clock.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  You are not opposing it. Deputy Sargent.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Ending of the Second Stage of the Immigration Bill comes at a most inopportune time given the report from Amnesty International on the mistreatment of foreign nationals here. It is important to bear in mind the Irish Refugee Council's concerns and those of the Human Rights Commission. It is inappropriate and it does a gross disservice to human rights, particularly in the light of these reports, to end the Second Stage now, and we oppose the proposal in that respect.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I, also, wish to oppose the guillotining of the Second Stage of the Immigration Bill. I do so because Deputies should avail of the opportunity to participate on a Bill that seeks to turn airports, ports and—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We cannot discuss the contents of the Bill.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  —carriers into immigration officials in the service of the State's intent vis-à-vis refugees and asylum seekers seeking to come to this country. There have been damning revelations about current practice in the whole area of addressing refugees and asylum seekers. There is an almost automatic turnabout now with exit on the next flight being part of the practice being highlighted in recent days by Amnesty International and some of the other authoritative bodies looking at this issue. It is important that Deputies avail of the opportunity to debate this important Bill. The guillotining of it at 1 p.m. will not facilitate the widest possible debate and that is what we should have on this important legislation, which should be rejected by the House.

[1527]Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  We are opposed to this legislation.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The proposal is the conclusion at 1 p.m., not the Bill itself.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That comes second, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. The debate should be open-ended. Serious issues came into the public domain yesterday from the Amnesty report and these should be debated. It is an issue that has major concerns for asylum seekers fleeing persecution. It has been stated by a number of organisations that it is contrary to the universal declaration of human rights under the Geneva Convention of 1951. I do not think it is proper to have a guillotine on this issue at 1 o'clock. It would be much better to leave the debate open-ended so that anybody who wishes to speak on it should be allowed to do so.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The way we are going we will [1528]still be talking about the Order of Business at 1 o'clock.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Why not?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  This legislation is both important and urgent and that is why the Government is proposing that we should adjourn the Second Stage debate at 1 p.m.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  There should be no adjournment.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We have already had seven hours of discussion on Second Stage.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  On a point of order, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the Tánaiste—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I am putting the question.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 18 be agreed to.”

Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, Barry.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Callanan, Joe.
Cassidy, Donie.
Collins, Michael.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cregan, John.
Curran, John.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dempsey, Tony.
Devins, Jimmy.
Ellis, John.
Fox, Mildred.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Glennon, Jim.
Grealish, Noel.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Hoctor, Máire.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kelly, Peter.
Kirk, Seamus.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
McDowell, Michael.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Mulcahy, Michael.
Nolan, M. J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donovan, Denis.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Malley, Tim.
Parlon, Tom.
Power, Peter.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Michael.
Wallace, Dan.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.

Allen, Bernard.
Boyle, Dan.
Breen, Pat.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Burton, Joan.
Costello, Joe.
Crawford, Seymour.
Crowe, Seán.
Deasy, John.
Durkan, Bernard J.
English, Damien.
Enright, Olwyn.
Ferris, Martin.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Healy, Seamus.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael D.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kehoe, Paul.
Kenny, Enda.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McCormack, Padraic.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Finian.
McManus, Liz. Mitchell, Gay.[1529]

Morgan, Arthur.
Murphy, Gerard.
Neville, Dan.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Ring, Michael.
[1530]Ryan, Eamon.
Ryan, Seán.
Sherlock, Joe.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Upton, Mary.
Wall, Jack.

Question declared carried.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Is the third and final proposal for dealing with the Adjournment of the Dáil agreed to?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am objecting to the fact that Dáil Éireann will not sit next week. A raft of legislation is being prepared. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is producing his proposals, yet we have not seen the legislation. The Tánaiste has published the heads of a Bill but it may be 12 months before it comes before the House.

I am concerned about the fact that these health reports are in the possession of the Government and have been leaked to selected sections of the media, yet elected representatives, including the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, have not had an opportunity to visit the Oireachtas Library – if he ever goes there anymore – to read these reports and answer questions, in so far as he can. For that reason, I am objecting to No. 3. The Dáil should sit next week and the Tánaiste should consider the matter seriously.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  There is no justification for the Dáil not sitting next Wednesday and Thursday. Three weeks ago, the House divided on that issue when considering a motion of mine. While I do not particularly want to see that matter being rehashed, Deputy Kenny's point is a fundamentally important one. I am advised that the Brennan report, for example, is between covers and dated January this year. Since it has been made available selectively to certain journalists, I do not understand why it cannot be placed in the Oireachtas Library and made available to every Member of the House. I ask the Tánaiste to respond to that. There is no justification for the House rising until 10 June – I made that point three weeks ago when the House divided on it.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Apart from the fact that, overall, the House has sat for only a short number of days since the general election, it is important that we should not have a break next week because of issues that have arisen. I am thinking in particular of the Council of Agriculture Ministers which will meet when the House resumes. Food prices were raised under Standing Order 31 this morning and that issue has to be resolved before the World Trade Organisation negotiations in Cancún in September. This is vital not just for food prices and food quality but also for the livelihoods of many farming families and rural communities. It is nothing short of irresponsible for the House to go on holidays next week and, thus, not debate the CAP reforms in advance of the Agriculture Council. The Government should arrange a sitting next week so that we can debate important issues. While, obviously, we cannot debate them all, this is one that will not wait. It will be too late to do so when we come back on 10 June.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call the Tánaiste.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Under Standing Orders I can only take one speaker from each group on this proposal. I call the Tánaiste.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  A number of Dáil committees will be meeting next week. As the House will be aware, we have been meeting on a number of Fridays recently and that will continue over the next couple of weeks.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  The Taoiseach was not here.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  If we conducted our business more efficiently we might have more time to discuss important issues. We waste a lot of time.

A Deputy:  If the Government operated more efficiently we would have more money to spend on public services.

(Interruptions).Question: “That the proposal for dealing with the adjournment of the Dáil today be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy McGinley on the Order of Business.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  I would like to ask the Tánaiste a question in the hope that she may be a bit more forthcoming in her replies than the Taoiseach. In view of the fact that most Departments are broke unless they get a few bob from the Tánaiste, such as happened last Sunday as regards the Department of Education and Science, and that tomorrow is the last day for tendering for the two [1531]Government jets, is it the Government's intention to introduce a supplementary budget to meet the €60 million of €70 million it is reported the jets will cost?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  There is no promised legislation in that regard. I call Deputy Rabbitte.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Whether the House is sitting or not, does anyone in a senior position in Government intend to intervene in the public health doctors dispute? It is disgraceful that these full-time public servants who are dedicated to public health, are in dispute for the past seven weeks, and there is no indication that anyone in Government pays the slightest attention to the matter. Can the Tánaiste, who has an industrial relations role—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Does the Deputy have a question on promised legislation?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  —not cause some meaningful mediation to take place in this important issue?

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  The Dáil rises today and there are many farmers in my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan, together with others, who cannot get REPS payments or farm building grants because some individuals are not being allowed to take up their jobs.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Does the Deputy have a question on promised legislation?

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  When will there be an opportunity to discuss agriculture as a whole in this House because there are land Bills and so on? Will the Tánaiste give a commitment that agriculture will be discussed in this House at length, in a proper way, as it is our most important industry? We all recognised this fact during the foot and mouth disease crisis. Can we not recognise that a couple with seven children, living on the edge of the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell Canal—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We cannot discuss that issue. It is a matter for the Whips.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  —cannot get their money? They are paying their children's allowance to keep the bank at bay. Is that how the country should be run in this day and age? When will the land Bill be introduced?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy McManus.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I hope this time the Tánaiste will answer the question. I want to ask her about the legislation promised by the Minister for Health and Children to reduce and curb the advertising of alcohol. Many promises have been made by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law [1532]Reform. When will the Minister for Health and Children's proposals for changes in the legislation be debated and how quickly will they present themselves?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The land Bill will be introduced next year. The public health tobacco (amendment) Bill is being drafted and it will be available later this year. In regard to some of the industrial relations issues raised by Deputy Rabbitte and others, there is an industrial relations Bill to enhance the code but I am not sure it will deal with the problem raised by the Deputy. I encourage the parties concerned to use the machinery of the State – the LRC or the Labour Court – so this matter can be brought to a speedy end.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Gogarty.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Tánaiste is losing touch and she is losing it again this morning. I asked about alcohol advertising. A major change has been proposed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Minister for Health and Children. When will legislation dealing with the curbs on the advertising of alcohol be introduced in this House?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The only specific legislation promised in this regard concerns tobacco. There is no specific legislation. I understand the Minister for Health and Children intends to bring proposals before the Cabinet in regard to that matter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Deputy Gogarty.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform indicated on radio this morning that there is a whole raft of promised legislation. We have been promised legislation from the Minister for Health and Children, which has been promoted in the newspapers and all over the media, to show just how effective the Government is. We now find that the reality is that the Government cannot even tell us when the legislation will be introduced in this House. Either we are talking about spin in the media or we are talking about real Government, which requires real effort and substantial work being done to ensure that legislation is brought to this House, instead of Ministers wandering around the country, making promises and this House being closed down, as it will next week, because the Government has not got its act together and has not got legislation to present to the House to be scrutinised. That is what we are paid to do, but the Government is unable to deliver.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Tánaiste on the legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand the Minister for Health and Children has made a statement to the [1533]effect that he intends to bring proposals in this area to the Government. There is no specific legislation promised, nor do I have any timetable for any such legislation.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Specific legislation was promised.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On a point of order, this has gone on every morning for a number of weeks. There is a problem where there are repeated promises of legislation outside the House, and repeated statements, which can only culminate in legislation. When the question is asked in the House as to whether legislation is promised the answer is “no”. One of two things must happen. The Tánaiste should be made aware of the full extent of the Minister's promises on radio this morning, in which case we would be able to get answers to the questions Members are asking, otherwise this charade cannot go on.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, yesterday morning the Ceann Comhairle ruled in the House that the statement of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform outside the House constituted promised legislation. Arising from that the Taoiseach dealt with it and said it would be dealt with further when he got more information. What is being sought now is the further information by my colleague, Deputy McManus.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  It is in order to ask a question on promised legislation outside the House as well as inside the House.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Correct.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Why is the Tánaiste denying that?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The previous day the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform published his outline proposals regarding public order matters. I am now being asked about proposed legislation to ban advertising by drinks companies in the context of sporting and other events. There is no specific legislation. I understand the Minister for Health and Children has said he intends to bring forward proposals to Government and at that point it will make a decision on what legislation is necessary.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We must move on. I call Deputy Gogarty.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I wish to pursue the matter for clarification. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Taoiseach told the House that it is expected to complete this raft of legislation before the next session which is just five weeks away. We were asking that the Opposition would have sight of the legislation two weeks before it reached the House.

[1534]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Tánaiste has put her statement on the record.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Could I point out to the Tánaiste that this matter was promised in the Oireachtas committee on health and children when there were clear indications at a very early stage that the Minister would bring forward legislation to ban alcohol. It is now ratcheted up considerably as a presentation has been made in the media by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Minister for Health and Children on the Government tackling alcohol abuse. Either this proposal is real or it is not. Given what the Tánaiste is now indicating in terms of the role of the Minister for Health and Children, the proposal is not real. We cannot take the matter seriously as legislation because there is nothing before Government. That is misleading, spinning at a time when we have a real problem of alcohol abuse, and—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy can only pursue the matter by way of a question.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  —people genuinely believe the Government intends to do something about it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We cannot have a debate about that now.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  As the Deputy is well aware, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform published his proposals only a few days ago.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I am not talking about that but about—

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Deputy is trying to say the Government is not taking the issue seriously. The Minister for Health—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We cannot have a debate on the matter now. It will have to be pursued in another way.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Minister for Health and Children has indicated his intentions in this regard. I have no specific proposals, nor have any been discussed by the Government.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Gogarty.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  On a point of order, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform published his proposals, but he did not publish the heads of the Bill or the legislation. The Minister went on the radio today to say he will get his legislative proposals through if he gets co-operation of the Opposition. He has produced no legislative proposals and is now saying to the public that—

[1535]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  That is not a point of order.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  —his legislative proposals are being blocked by the Opposition when they have not appeared yet. That is the most misleading statement possible. The man is going on chat shows—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Has the Deputy a question?

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  —and producing acres of print about proposals, the same which we have heard ad nauseam from him.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  We cannot have a debate on the matter now.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  He has not produced the heads of the Bill or the legislation.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Gogarty, who has a question on the Order of Business.

Mr. Gogarty: Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Are you sure, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy has the floor, but I will give it to someone else if he does not wish to avail of it.

Mr. Gogarty: Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  I refer to more promised legislation and some of the media spin that seems to be going on. There was an article in a newspaper last week which I assume refers to the education for persons with disabilities Bill. However, it had turned into the educational disadvantage Bill. Perhaps the Tánaiste might tell us which Bill will come before the House in the next few weeks? Will it be a watered-down Bill including access to education for all as well as for those suffering from disabilities, or is the latter group to have its own Bill? That issue must be clarified.

Regarding forthcoming legislation, last year, just before the Bill was taken from the roster, there were major complaints in the Seanad that it had been rushed through at breakneck speed. Will we be given the Bill in good time in the Seanad and the Dáil so that we can analyse it and have some intelligent discourse rather than have to criticise the Government for not having brought it quickly enough? We would rather criticise the Government for the inadequacies of the Bill. However, the Government has had a year to put it together, so we hope that it will not be so inadequate. Perhaps the Tánaiste might tell us if it will come soon and whether we will have enough time?

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The Government had that Bill in its legislative programme for the past three sessions, but, when it announced it for this session, it said that it intended to bring it right through the two Houses in this session. When we come [1536]back after next week's break, we will have only four weeks left. Can the Tánaiste tell us if the Bill will be published immediately? Otherwise, as Deputy Gogarty has said, it will not be possible to address the issue properly in the time left before the summer. People have been waiting a long time for legislation in the area of disabilities. On the Disabilities Bill, we have been told—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  On the same subject, I call Deputy Finian McGrath.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Regarding the proposed education for persons with disabilities Bill, is the Tánaiste aware of the massive anger among parents and service-providers and the huge crisis concerning people with intellectual disabilities, particularly at Navan Road and St. Michael's House, but also all over the country? Can the Tánaiste tell us when the education for persons with disabilities Bill is to be published?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The education for persons with disabilities Bill will be published before the end of the session.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  What is the correct title?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is the education for persons with disabilities Bill. The Deputy is somewhat confused. The issue of disadvantage concerns resources, as the Minister for Education and Science has said. The education for persons with disabilities Bill will be published before the summer, and the other will take some time and be published later in the year.

Mr. Gogarty: Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Next session.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  When will the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Contracts) Bill be introduced, and will it will contain provisions to alleviate the awful situation of the workers in Cork ADM, several hundred of whom have been locked out by their employer and are not receiving social welfare payments? Will the Tánaiste introduce measures in this Bill to protect workers who—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  It is not in order to discuss what the Bill will contain.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  —were locked out by their employers? Kathleen Lynch has already raised the matter this morning. There is complete silence on the issue. People are being pauperised and victimised by the actions of a major employer, and the Tánaiste and the Department of Social and Family Affairs are leaving them on the scrap heap.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Howlin on the same issue.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On a different Bill, most people aware of industrial relations recognise the ADM [1537]issue as being of importance, not only for the workers directly involved, but for the whole industrial relations framework because of the shabby treatment of the workers concerned. In the context of the Tánaiste's promise to reform industrial relations with the industrial relations (amendment) Bill 2003, will she undertake, in advance of that legislation, to take a personal initiative on the ADM dispute to resolve matters that go to the heart of partnership and the working of trades unions as an effective voice for workers?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Because it is the Order of Business, questions must be confined to the timing of the legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Bill 2003, about which Deputy Allen asked me, has already been published and is currently before the Seanad. The Minister responsible for social welfare, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, has arranged a hearing regarding the ADM workers, scheduled for 4 June. As Deputies will be aware, their application for social welfare payments was turned down by the appeals officers, and the Minister has arranged for an early tribunal hearing of their case. I have been directly involved in the issue. As Deputy Howlin is aware, it is a very complex matter, with a different emphasis and approach being taken by the different unions involved. The company is currently examining its operations globally, and I understand that there will be a new proposal coming forward at some point, but that will not be soon.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Will the Tánaiste call all parties to her Department with a view to eliminating the impasse? People are suffering—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy can pursue the matter in other ways, but not on the Order of Business.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  The Tánaiste is here now, and I am asking her if she can—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business, Deputy.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is not possible.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Given the appalling backlog and deficient facilities in the family law courts and in courts services generally and the obvious neglect of the past five or six years, can the Tánaiste tell us whether steps might not be taken to expedite the progress of the Courts and Civil Liability Bill?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform will publish the heads of that Bill before the summer recess.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Will the Minister be able to talk about that on the radio tomorrow morning?

[1538]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  If something goes through an Oireachtas committee, one gets better legislation as a result. It is a good way to do business.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Business is done on chat shows.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I wish to ask about legislation, but, as we are dealing with the ordering of business, perhaps the Tánaiste might tell us whether she or the Ceann Comhairle has a role in monitoring the national broadcaster's nightly report on Dáil proceedings.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Absolutely no role. There is a committee of the House, the broadcasting committee.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I was not referring to the inexplicable failure to show the discomfort of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste when they were asked why they had supported a war on foot of a lie but to the following: the editors of “Oireachtas Report” last night must have had goggles and earmuffs on to have been able successfully to filter out every single one of the many contributions of every member of the Technical Group. There was no balance whatsoever, and other members on the Opposition side have similar–

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy should take that matter up with the broadcasting committee, on which the Technical Group has a representative.

Does the Deputy have a question on the Order of Business?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Yes I do, but they have to remember that the Technical Group is a block of 23 Deputies and it must get fair play.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  There are 87 over here.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Where is Deputy Lowry?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  He is attacking the workers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I understand the group is represented on the broadcasting committee.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Can the Tánaiste confirm that she will not be acceding to the OECD's demands that householders should have water charges imposed on top of all the other charges this Government has imposed?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy should put down a parliamentary question on that.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Second, when will we see the residential tenancy Bill? The long-suffering tenants grievously exploited by a cohort of private landlords have been waiting for this for six years. We were promised it would be in front of the Dáil [1539]long ago and we wanted it passed in this session of the Dáil.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That is a good point.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is nodding his head in agreement. I should get a camcorder here to record that fact so that we can hold him to account on it.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The Deputy could ask his friends in the broadcasting unit to put a camera on him.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  It would make more sense than standing outside a pub and recording those tottering out with a camcorder.

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Deputy Gilmore would like that.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  The Minister's proposal will have every person coming out of a pub as an amateur actor. We will see what comes of that.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister for Finance paid for it.

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  You can see it on TV tonight.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  On the very serious point of the grievous exploitation of tenants in private residential accommodation—

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Maybe Advance Pitstop would provide the camcorder.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  —when will the Bill come before the House? Will it be debated and passed before this session ends?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Regarding the national broadcaster, if the Technical Group was excluded, I am sure it was for technical and not political reasons. The Bill is urgent and important and that is why it was approved by the Government this week. It will be published either later this week or early next week.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Will it be debated in this session?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It will be debated as quickly as possible I am sure.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Gormley.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I am very much in order.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  That is one hour and ten seconds wasted.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  This is worse than a debate on Second Stage.

[1540]Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  The Tánaiste seems to be getting into some of the Taoiseach's bad habits in mumbling into her scarf when she should be giving precise answers. Will it be debated in this session and concluded in this session?

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  The Deputy should try asking a longwinded question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am very disappointed with these sexist comments. Deputy Rabbitte referred to me going to my handbag the other day and now Deputy Higgins is talking about my scarf. I would expect modern men to use different language.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I did.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Does the Tánaiste expect us to use handbags?

Mr. P. Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Men wear scarves too, does the Tánaiste wish us to model them now?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Not in the Chamber. I am quite certain the Bill will be discussed as quickly as possible and that will be a matter for the Whips.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I want to return to the issue of promises made outside this House. Is the Tánaiste aware that during the general election, several Deputies, including the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, promised to stop incinerators if elected to Government. This has been reneged upon. Can I ask quite specifically—

Mr. P. Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  That was not the only thing he promised

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It will be down in Ringsend.

Mr. McCreevy: Information on Charlie McCreevy  Zoom on Charlie McCreevy  Ask him.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The programme for Government contains a promise that this Government would introduce pay per weight. When can we expect to see that legislation being introduced?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Paperweights?

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  That is a very interesting question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand that is a matter for local authorities.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  It is for the managers.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  This is crazy. This is in the programme for Government. The Government promised that it was going to do something about this and domestic legislation is required in order that the local authorities will implement these provisions. Now the Government is saying that [1541]this does not matter. It seems that promises made outside the House do not matter—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Deputy Gormley can pursue the matter elsewhere.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The programme for Government does not matter. Nothing matters.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Pat Breen.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Government can spoof on if it wants to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Deputy Pat Breen.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Can I ask the Tánaiste about this promise which is in the programme for Government?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  That is a foreign document.

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  It is a promise. That is the work of local authorities.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Is it the policy?

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  That is the work of local authorities.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  We did not say it was a good policy.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Does the Deputy want us to introduce legislation?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Yes.

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  That is why we need an incinerator in the programme for Government.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  When will the Government introduce the legislation?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Does the Deputy want that right now?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Yes.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Does the Deputy want local authorities to do this?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I want legislation on pay per weight.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy can pursue the matter by way of a parliamentary question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I will speak to the Minister for the Environment and Local Government and ask him to get back to the Deputy on this.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Is the Government going to introduce legislation on this or not?

[1542]Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  It is covered in legislation. I thought the Deputy would know that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Pat Breen.

Mr. P. Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  I am delighted to see the Ministers for Defence and Finance here this morning. Is the Tánaiste aware that under the leaked Hanly report, Ennis and Nenagh general hospitals are to be downgraded? Is the €15 million earmarked for Ennis General Hospital going to—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

Mr. P. Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  It is in the health complaints Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  It is not in order to discuss the content of the Bill.

Mr. P. Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  It is a serious problem and the people of Clare are very angry this morning to see that their hospital is going to be downgraded and I am sure that the people of Nenagh are disappointed as well. The Minister of Defence knows them and he knows what happens in the playing fields when Clare meet Tipperary. He knows the wrath of which Clare people are capable.

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  I have the utmost confidence in them. They do not need a report to go into the field. . .

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Joan Burton.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Is the Tánaiste aware that at the moment the €100 million development in Blanchardstown hospital is locked? I see the Minister for Finance happily here this morning; we were told at a meeting last night that it will cost €4 million to mothball the new hospital building and €8 million to open it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy must ask a question on legislation.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I want to know for the sake of the patients who are on trolleys and for the people who are occupying 30 hospital beds who cannot get respite beds—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy must ask a question on proposed legislation.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  —when the health complaints Bill will be introduced? How come the Minister for Finance could get the new Naas hospital buildings opened but Blanchardstown is lying locked in the dark?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy can pursue that—

[1543]Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is a total waste of money and resources.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy must ask a question on legislation.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Where is the health complaints Bill?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Tánaiste can answer on the promised legislation.

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Deputy Stagg was happy with what happened in Naas.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The heads of the Bill will be available later this year and the legislation will come later.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  On the same legislation, I had reason to visit University Hospital Cork yesterday which is the regional hospital for the Cork area. I had to weave my way through corridors full of patients and I heard after leaving the hospital that the A&E department closed because there were over 30—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Does the Deputy have a question on promised legislation?

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I refer to the health complaints Bill. Where were the people who could not gain access to that hospital yesterday to go?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  The question was answered already.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  That question is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Where do they go?

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  How can a person who is on a trolley have his or her complaints heard?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy can raise the matter in another way. I call Deputy Tom Hayes.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  On the ongoing dispute at the Department of Agriculture and Food, will the Tánaiste have a word with the Minister to intervene?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  To what legislation is the Deputy referring?

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  The veterinary medicines Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Tánaiste on the Bill.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  This is causing severe hardship around the country and I also ask the Minister [1544]of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, to do something because the reality is—

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  He should know.

Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  There must be some reason why the Opposition is filibustering on the immigration Bill.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  People are experiencing terrible hardship as a result of that dispute.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputy should stay on the question of promised legislation.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  It is totally unfair that the Minister for Agriculture and Food stands idly by and allows this dispute—

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  That matter is before the courts and on the last occasion when I intervened in a matter before the courts, Members are aware of what were the consequences.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Connolly.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, neither I nor Deputy Lynch received a reply to our questions.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  The Deputies did.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I said that the heads would appear this year and the Bill next year.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  We are awaiting three reports on the health services, each with a different author and likely to come up with different recommendations. Does the Tánaiste agree that these three reports will be a recipe for confusion and disaster?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  What is the question on promised legislation?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Will somebody collate these reports and come up with one definitive report on the health services?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  What is the promised legislation?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  These reports are little more than a ruse—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  A statement is not in order; the Deputy must ask a question on promised legislation.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  We need an incinerator to burn all these reports.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  —to downgrade local hospital services and reduce services. This notion and concept of regional centres of excellence—

[1545]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Bernard Allen.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  The Taoiseach was asked under the health complaints Bill whether the reports will be collated.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Bernard Allen.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Clearly, no one wants to discuss the immigration Bill.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  On a serious issue, in view of the report published today by the British Medical Journal regarding health risks posed to people living near incinerators, will the Government halt its proposals to build incinerators as an answer to Ireland's waste management problem?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That matter is not in order on the Order of Business.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Would the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform like to give an opinion on it?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  He would give an interview on it.

I thank the Tánaiste for her earlier reply. She is the head of Government in this House and is the senior Minister responsible for industrial relations. Will she take the initiative in bringing the parties together on the public health doctors' dispute?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Government will be more than happy to take the initiative provided under the Industrial Relations Act if the parties would agree to come forward and go to the Labour Court or whatever other suitable body. I have encouraged members of the Public Health Doctors Association whom I met to participate in and to be co-operative with the industrial relations machinery of the State. The only way this dispute can be resolved is if the parties agree to sit down with the LRC – they have already been before it – or with the Labour Court.


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