Tuesday, 19 October 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 13, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Draft Order entitled Adoptive Leave Act 1995 (Extension of Periods of Leave) Order 2004 (back from committee); No. 14, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 (Additional Institutions) Order 2004 (back from committee); No. 15, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2004 (back from committee); No. 16, Water Services Bill 2003 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed).
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 13 and 14 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 15 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 45 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) subject to (ii), the speeches shall be confined to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism and to the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, and which shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; (ii) Members may share time; (iii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members’ business shall be No. 33, motion re Special Needs.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 13 and 14, motions re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Draft Order entitled Adoptive Leave Act 1995 and the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 15, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2004, agreed?
Mr. Sargent: In the context of the wider implications and the needs of this country in terms of accident and emergency shortfalls and the suffering in our hospitals, it is important that the probity of allocating so much money to what effectively is an industry and also an entertainment be dealt with not only by a committee with a narrow remit but in the Dáil by way of debate. For that reason I seek a debate in this House.
Mr. Kenny: There is some confusion abroad about the consequences of the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, concerning the possibility of Fianna Fáil negotiating with Sinn Féin to participate in Government.
Mr. Kenny: Given the concerns expressed by a great number of people, will the Taoiseach arrange a debate on Northern Ireland? All parties support the Good Friday Agreement but the deliberate statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs has obviously added confusion.
Deputy Neville has consistently highlighted the disastrous funding of the psychiatric services and the high rate of suicides. Will time be made available for a debate on the implementation of the report of the national task force on suicide?
Mr. Rabbitte: I hoped the Taoiseach would have replied to Deputy Kenny because it is important that he takes the first opportunity since his return from his overseas visit to clear up the confusion in the public domain behind the motivation and purpose of the recent statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern.
Mr. Sargent: I was simply hoping that the Taoiseach might take the opportunity to address the issue when replying. The charities regulation Bill has been promised since before I became a Member of the House. The Costello report goes back to 1990 and even the time of the hospital sweepstakes. Those hospitals that must raise extra funds to meet Exchequer shortfalls want to know when the Bill will be in place.
The Taoiseach: An external report on this issue was completed in September. This will now inform the preparation of draft legislation. Matters can proceed now on foot of the availability of this report.
Ms O. Mitchell: Report Stage of the Railway Safety Bill is scheduled for tomorrow, one and a half years after Committee Stage was taken. Yesterday, Deputies received 50 pages of technical amendments from the Minister for Transport. Will the Taoiseach arrange for the Bill to be returned to Committee Stage as it is a now effectively a new Bill? It is unacceptable that the Minister should bring——
Mr. Howlin: The Tánaiste promised legislation some considerable time ago to change the work permit system by giving non-national workers a green card that would accrue to them rather than their employers. Will this promise be fulfilled in the work permits Bill, which is on the list of promised legislation, or in a separate Bill?
Aengus Ó Snodaigh: In view of the Government’s reiteration of its commitment to increase overseas development assistance spending by 0.7% of gross domestic product will legislation be introduced to ring-fence this money which will befit the capacity of the fourth wealthiest state in the world? Will secondary legislation or a ministerial order be required to facilitate the immediate regularisation of residency rights of non-national parents of some 11,000 children citizens?
Mr. Gilmore: At the beginning of 2003, the Taoiseach referred the proposal to control the price of building land to the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. It is six months since the committee reported. On Thursday last, I asked the Tánaiste if the Government has any plans to introduce legislation on foot of the report. Will there be a debate on the report?
Mr. Stanton: In light of the stress parents find themselves under at present, when will the parental leave (amendment) Bill be published? When will the family law Bill, promised for some time, be introduced? When will the Bill to consolidate the Social Welfare Acts be introduced?
The Taoiseach: The heads of the parental leave (amendment) Bill have been approved and it will be published in the new year. The heads of the family law Bill, to provide for pension adjustments in the context of separation agreements and other reforms, are expected before Christmas and it will be drafted then. I am informed that it is a very detailed Bill. The social welfare (consolidation) Bill will be introduced after the Social Welfare Bill 2005.
Mr. Costello: Arising from the recent statements by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, on cracking down on fireworks by giving extra powers to the Garda and increasing penalties for fireworks, will legislation be introduced before Hallowe’en?
Mr. Costello: The Minister has issued statements to the media that he will clamp down on fireworks by toughening existing legislation so that elderly people will feel more secure during Hallowe’en. Will an amendment to the Explosives Act be introduced?
Mr. O’Dowd: I understood there was a commitment from Government to have a debate on the national spatial strategy when it was published, but that was almost two years ago. Can we have that debate as soon as possible, please?
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