Order of Business.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 588 No. 5

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 18, State Airports Bill 2004 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 19, Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill 2003 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 20, International Development Association (Amendment) Bill 2003 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

[1231]It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; (2) Report and Final Stages of No. 18 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7.00 p.m. by one Question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, with regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Transport; (3) Report and Final Stages of No. 19 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. by one Question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, with regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; (4) Private Members’ business shall be 33, Sustainable Communities Bill 2004 — Second Stage and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 7 July.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are four proposals to put to the House.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18, conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the State Airports Bill 2004 agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  No, I object to this. As has been pointed out on many occasions, the Government has put the cart before the horse and we are being asked to consent to a Bill that will break up the State airports without business plans being produced and no solutions being offered as to what will happen if the business plans do not stand up. The debate will be guillotined at 7 p.m. and I object to that.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I object also to the Bill being railroaded through the House in this fashion. It is clear from the documents I have read on the current legal advice to the company that the waters are as muddy now as they were 12 months ago and the view of Government is no clearer as to what is driving this and why than it was then. No business plan has been made out and yet the Government will proceed to go ahead from the date of enactment and then ask the new companies to come forward with a business plan. I am aware this is causing as much concern on the benches behind the Taoiseach as it on these benches. Why are we proceeding?

One of my Labour Party colleagues in the Seanad has given me a transcript from today’s debate where the Leader of the House stated:

It is clear that there is no imperative for us to rush this Bill through the House. I must oppose the legislation. The company has indebtedness of [1232]€482 million which is not particularly unusual, given the scale of its operations. However, the fact that the Government seeks to dismantle it by taking a most unusual approach and, as Deputy Kenny states, putting the cart before the horse is a serious matter.

I appeal to the Taoiseach, even at this late stage, to reconsider. Whatever is going on at Dublin Airport? The break-up of Aer Rianta, the provision of a second terminal and the privatisation of Aer Lingus is all supposed to be one big coincidence. That is the suggestion. We need time to consider this serious step before it costs the taxpayer dearly, as for example the cocked-up privatisation of Telecom Éireann for which the taxpayer paid dearly, not to mention the number of people who lost money. Does anybody think we have cheaper tariffs, which was the promise? We are repeating the error here.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The State Airports Bill 2004 is being commented on widely and the more it is commented on, the more reckless it is being found to be and the more wasteful in terms of resources. In effect, it is creating a runaway aeroplane which perhaps the Minister for Finance will stop. It is an impossible scenario.

The Government needs to think long and hard and realise that it is on a dangerous course of action. To try to dispose of the Bill by guillotining the debate is the ultimate recklessness and will come back to haunt the Government. The Green Party believes that not only is more time necessary to debate the Bill, it should be thrown out. Private Members’ business begins at 7 p.m. and it would be an insult if the vote were to eat into that time. Will the Chair clarify that Private Members’ business will begin at 7 p.m.? We will oppose the guillotine as well as opposing the Bill.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Government is disgracefully proposing to guillotine the Report Stage debate of the State Airports Bill 2004, which in effect is a wreckers’ charter for Aer Rianta. This Bill has serious implications for thousands of jobs, for the livelihoods of workers and for many families. It is unacceptable that the Government is proposing to break up Aer Rianta and, after the fact, business plans will be produced to justify what it will have already done. This is an outrageous approach. It is unprecedented and is legislative madness. There is no other way to describe it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are not discussing the legislation.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We are being asked to pass the Report and Final Stages of the Bill in the next hour and a half. I noted the Chief Whip indicating disagreement with Deputy Sargent which clearly means there will be an intrusion into Private Members’ Business. This is unacceptable and I appeal to the Taoiseach to act responsibly on this serious matter that needs careful consideration, something it will not get on the basis of what is proposed. We not only oppose the guillotine but also the Bill.

[1233]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  As far as acting responsibly on this issue, the business plans must be prepared and presented before 30 April next, so that process ——

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  After the event.

[1234]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  ——continues after the passing of the Bill.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  That is after the event.

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

[1233]The Dáil divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 53.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Charlie McCreevy  Zoom on Charlie McCreevy  McCreevy, Charlie. Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James.
Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim.
Information on Tom Parlon  Zoom on Tom Parlon  Parlon, Tom. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.  


[1233]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony.
Information on Marian Harkin  Zoom on Marian Harkin  Harkin, Marian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  McHugh, Paddy. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[1233]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.

[1235]Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19, the conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill 2003 [Seanad] agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I object to this proposal on the same basis. This is another guillotine by the Government, and on that basis and in accordance with the practice in the House, I object to it.

  5 o’clock

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Given the number of amendments which are tabled, there is absolutely no need for a guillotine on the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill 2003. If we need to sit until 10.30 p.m., we should do so, but I believe we will finish the Bill before that time. I ask the Government to withdraw the guillotine because there is no need for it.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  When one considers what has been said and the number of amendments which have been tabled, it is obvious what we should do. The Government argues that it uses the guillotine only when necessary, but it has not made a case for it on this occasion. We oppose the proposal.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I concur with Deputy Stagg. When one examines what has to be addressed, it is clear that the guillotine is unnecessary in this case. It shows the habit-forming aspect of the Government. After it started to employ the guillotine, it applied it right across the board without an assessment of need, if need ever arose. There is certainly no need for a guillotine in this case and I urge the Taoiseach to withdraw it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If Deputy Stagg’s proposal that the guillotine be removed and we finish the Bill at 10.30 p.m. is agreed by everyone in the House——

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We will probably finish before then.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If that is his proposal, I agree. Does everyone in the House agree?

Deputies:  Agreed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Otherwise, we will bring it back in tomorrow morning.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Twenty-one of us out of 24 agree.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal relating to No. 19, conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill 2003, agreed?

Ms Hanafin: Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  It has been withdrawn.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The proposal on No. 19 has been withdrawn. There will be no guillotine.

[1236]Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Regarding No. 20, I ask for an assurance——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No. 19 has been withdrawn.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I am asking about the fourth proposal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the fourth proposal, which relates to Private Members’ business tomorrow, agreed?

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  It is likely that a vote will be called on the State Airports Bill 2004 at 7 p.m. I ask that we be accommodated by being given a guarantee that Private Members’ time will continue for an hour and a half after the vote. That has been the practice in respect of Private Members’ time on previous occasions. I do not want to lose time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We cannot do that because it is proposed already to sit until 10.30 p.m., and people have to sleep.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members’ business tomorrow agreed?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The Taoiseach’s sleep pattern——

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  It is an admirable sleep pattern.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  ——does not dictate the pattern of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Sorry, we have had a comment from your colleague.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  If the Taoiseach has to sleep, that is his own business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If the Green Party Members wish to vote on their own Private Members’ business, we will put the question. Is the question agreed?

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  It cannot be agreed if we are not getting one and a half hours.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with Private Members’ business tomorrow be agreed”, put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business.

Mr. Davern: Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  The Statue of Liberty is up behind him.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I wish to ask the Taoiseach two questions. Will he indicate when he expects to appoint Ireland’s next European Commissioner?

Legislation that was passed by the House recently means that members of the select committee dealing with the Judge Curtin case are [1237]entitled, by exclusion, to examine material of a pornographic nature on a PC. I have been advised by Deputy Jim O’Keeffe that the legislation may have consequences for an employer who suspects that an employee may have breached ethical standards or regulations by viewing pornographic material on a PC. It seems that such an employer would be unable to view the material to ascertain whether such a breach took place without being in breach of the legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest that the Deputy should submit a question to the responsible line Minister.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Will the Government and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform examine the excluding legislation that was recently passed from that perspective?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy has made his point.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Such an examination is necessary to ensure that those who use PCs to acquire pornographic material are subject to legal constraint.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest that the Deputy should submit a question to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  When?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I note Deputy Kenny’s comments. I will ensure that the matter is checked immediately.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I remind the Taoiseach that Deputy Kenny’s first question asked him when he intends to appoint a Commissioner. Does he intend to reshuffle the Cabinet before the House rises for the summer recess?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The answer to both questions is “No”.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The first question asked when a Commissioner will be appointed.

Mr. McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  You are safe, Joe.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  We are in the silly season.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Many of them will be on the detour again.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Deputy Davern will be a Minister soon.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I have raised on many occasions the issues of under age drinking and drinking in open spaces and ditches. It is obvious that the alcohol products Bill, which relates to the control of advertising, sponsorship, marketing practices and sales promotion will not come to the House [1238]before the autumn. Will the Taoiseach offer the Opposition parties a briefing on measures in this regard? This is a serious matter in many communities. Off-licences need to be accountable for the alcohol that is getting into the hands of under age drinkers. It is important that we consider it as a matter of urgency.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I understand that the heads of the Bill, which will be passed later this year, have been published to facilitate consultation and comment on it. I am sure a briefing can be arranged for Deputy Sargent or another member of his party.

Mr. Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  The Taoiseach has said on a number of occasions that he will introduce the health and social care professionals Bill. In June and December 2003 and February 2004, he said that the Bill would be brought forward in the next session. When does the Taoiseach envisage that it will be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Bill have been approved for some time. It would have been considered by the House in the normal course of events, but we have had to consider a great deal of other legislation. It is listed for the autumn session.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  We are facing industrial action in the ESB when the Dáil rises. Does the Taoiseach believe that a factor in the uncertainty that workers——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I am asking about legislation, that is exactly the point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Deputy to come to the legislation.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The uncertainty faced by the workforce of the ESB relates to the failure of the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, to bring forward major legislative matters, especially the electricity Bill, which has been promised on many occasions, and the energy Bill. Will the Taoiseach give us a timeframe for the Bills? Will the electricity Bill be brought to the House at some stage?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill in question relates to the remaining regulatory and restructuring issues facing the electricity industry. The ESB will become a PLC under the Companies Acts and the existing electricity legislation will be consolidated. The heads of the Bill were approved some time ago and the legislation has been drafted. It is expected that the legislation will be ready near the end of the year and will be considered early next year.

[1239]Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  During statements on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in the House last week, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform stated that the Government is considering the Oireachtas sub-committee’s report, which was published last March.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Yes. Will the Taoiseach tell the House if the Government has concluded its deliberations? Will the Government bring a motion or legislation to the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There was an agreement some years ago to commence an inquiry, chaired by the late Mr. Justice Hamilton. Work has been ongoing for a number of years in that regard. It was agreed that the reports were to be sent to the relevant Oireachtas committee after they were completed. They would then be dealt with by the House before being considered by the Government. That is exactly what is happening. Given that the report was discussed in the House just last week, it is obvious that the Government has not concluded its deliberations.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Walsh, has admitted that he failed to get agreement at EU level on the issue of live animal transport. When will the animal health Bill be brought to the House? Will we be given another means of discussing the future of agriculture?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is due in the middle of next year.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  It will be too late then.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Tánaiste recently indicated to me that she has taken on board some of the proposals I made about the work permits Bill. Has the Bill been considered by the Cabinet? Have the heads of the Bill been approved?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It has not been considered by the Cabinet yet. It will be brought forward in the autumn.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  If the Government accedes to the request of the chief executive of Aer Lingus to lead the privatisation of the company, will new legislation be required?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is legislation promised?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  May I finish my question please? Will he give us an opportunity this week before the Dáil adjourns for the summer recess to discuss this issue?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business, Deputy.

[1240]Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  It is breathtaking that those entrusted with our national airline should be plotting its privatisation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy, there are other ways of raising that matter.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  ——a process that would enormously enrich them, and the national Parliament does not even get an opportunity to discuss it. That is incredible.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Standing Order 26 is specific. There is a lot of legislation before the House, Deputy. You will have to find another way of raising the matter.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  He does not know. He is asking the question.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  A Cheann Comhairle, I asked a legitimate question.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Is legislation necessary?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  The Stalinist bureaucrats in Russia acted like this in the 1990s.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy must ask a question on promised legislation.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  They pillaged the public sector to enrich themselves.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy McManus.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Will you allow me to put the question to the Taoiseach that is in order, a Cheann Comhairle?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Standing Order 26 is specific.

Mr. Davern: Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  A Cheann Comhairle, can I take Deputy Higgins’s comment as a denunciation of his former colleagues?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business. Does Deputy Higgins have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Will the Taoiseach indicate, following the discussion at today’s Cabinet meeting on the request by the chief executive of Aer Lingus to privatise the company, if that requires new legislation and, if so, when does he propose to bring it before the Dáil?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Aer Lingus Act was enacted some time ago but the proposal presented to the Government last week will now be taken as part of the examination already under way of the future of Aer Lingus. In the short term there will be no processing of what was put forward last week, as I said in reply to Deputy Rabbitte earlier. If, in the overall restructuring of [1241]Aer Lingus, we come to the decision, that probably would require legislation if it is not covered under the recent Act.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Is it the case that nothing will happen before the autumn?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is the case.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  First, since the health and social care professionals Bill is delayed again, does the Taoiseach intend to publish the heads of the Bill? Second, on the promised major health reform legislation, the precursor for that legislation will be the publication of the second Hanly report, which is promised for this July. Will the second Hanly report be published this month?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Deputy McManus can take up the second question with the Minister, Deputy Martin. I am not aware of a second report.

On the first question, the heads of the health and social care professionals Bill have been approved by Government. I do not know if they have been circulated but I will ask the Minister for Health and Children because they were approved some time ago.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  In light of the comments of the Leader of the Seanad this morning that the Seanad schedule is full, will the Taoiseach indicate the Government’s proposals on the timescale for the passage of the State Airports Bill?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy, this House has just decided that the Bill will pass here at 7 o’clock this evening.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  I am asking about the proposal for the passage of the Bill in the Seanad.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This House has no responsibility for the Seanad. They are separate, independent Houses.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  When will that Bill be enacted?

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  When will it be enacted?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  As soon as it is passed by both Houses, and I hope that is soon.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  When does the Taoiseach expect it to be taken?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Very shortly, this week or next.


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