Wednesday, 3 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 3, the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 4, the Road Traffic Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members’ business shall be No. 32, motion re child care (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m.
Mr. Kenny: I have two questions. Last week I raised the issue uncovered by Deputy Perry of persons over 70 who had received medical cards being charged for long-stay places in public institutions. The Taoiseach said the Attorney General was providing advice to the Government. Has that advice now been given, and, in line with what the Taoiseach said, will there be legislation based on it not already included in the published list?
The Taoiseach: After Deputy Kenny raised the first issue last week, I spoke to the Attorney General and asked that whoever was dealing with the matter in his office try to quicken the process. He told me on Monday that he is examining the issue himself and will give final advice to the Government as quickly as possible. The heads of the harbour Bill have been prepared. It is to update the Acts of 1946 to 2000, but it will be published no earlier than next year, since the heads are not yet available.
Mr. Rabbitte: Almost 600 people lost their jobs through the closure of the Irish Press. Does the Government intend to have the company investigated given last night’s programme about the company’s highly irregular governance——
Mr. Sargent: The Bills listed in section C are Bills in respect of which heads have yet to be approved, such as the Dublin metro Bill. The Taoiseach told us that Bill would be published in 2005 but recently said that we need not wait on the metro at all, so the purpose of the Bill remains a mystery.
Mr. Sargent: Will the Taoiseach say when the Bill is to be published and what its meaning is? Is there a list of Bills which the Taoiseach does not intend to proceed with, such as the greater Dublin area land use and transport Bill, and the Transport Authority Bill, which I understand are now removed? It seems there are Bills with which the Government will not proceed and which are there only for show. Can we have that list?
The Taoiseach: The policy objectives of the Dublin greater area land use and transport Bill can be addressed within the existing and proposed structures such as regional land use strategies, consistent with the national spatial strategy, the Dublin Transportation Office strategic transport planning, the establishment of an independent national public transport procurement and regulatory body and the metro Bill, which is designed to streamline and accelerate procedures metro projects and reduce costs. The Minister for Transport will bring forward his proposals on that in due course.
Mr. Durkan: Will the Taoiseach say when we will have before us the Bill to convert the ESB into a plc and to update legislation in that area? When will the heads of the Bill be approved? Have they been considered? It is No. 16 on the list.
The Taoiseach: The heads of this Bill have been approved by Government. I do not yet know when the Bill will ready. It will deal with the remaining regulatory and restructuring issues regarding the electricity industry and with converting the ESB under the Companies Act, but it is not on the schedule over the next few months.
Mr. Gilmore: I asked the Taoiseach yesterday about organising a debate in the House on the report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution, which dealt with the cost of building land, an issue referred to the committee by the Taoiseach. He told me that he would raise the matter of a debate with the Whips. Has he done so?
Mr. Stagg: On a point of order, it seems that the Whips have some supernatural power and can determine what the Government will allow on the clár of the House. That is not so. Without instructions from the Taoiseach, the Government Whip cannot on his sole authority arrange a debate.
The Taoiseach: I will raise another point of order. Whenever I try to exert speed into the passage of business, Deputy Stagg says, probably correctly, that I am trying to railroad through certain things and that the Whips should agree on these things. He cannot have it both ways.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Given the limited time remaining between now and the end of the year, does the Taoiseach anticipate that the Health Bill will have completed its passage in order to give effect to the new structures promised from 1 January 2005?
Mr. Neville: I want to raise the issue of the Dormant Accounts Bill. We need a full discussion of dormant accounts because we have moved away from the original objective of the distribution of those accounts.
Ms Cooper-Flynn: In reply to a parliamentary question last week to the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children regarding access to medical services for low-income families, I was informed by the Tánaiste that she was committed to——
Ms Cooper-Flynn: This is the problem. I cannot find reference to the matter in the legislative programme, but it has been promised by the Tánaiste and I will ask the Taoiseach about it if the Ceann Comhairle will just bear with me for one minute.
Ms Cooper-Flynn: I could have finished 30 seconds ago if the Ceann Comhairle had allowed me to continue. The legislation is to update and codify the legal framework for eligibility and entitlement with regard to the health services. When can we see that legislation? I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his patience.
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