Order of Business.

Thursday, 25 November 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 593 No. 3

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is proposed to take No. 11b, motion re referral to joint committee of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996; No. 11d, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works; No. 12, motion re Book of Estimates 2005; No. 11c, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUFOR, back from committee. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of oral questions to the Minister for Education and Science; Nos. 11b and 11d shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 12 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the speech of the Minister for Finance and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (iii) Members may share time; and (iv) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; the proceedings on No. 11c shall be taken immediately on the conclusion of No. 12 and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 40 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i), subject to (ii), the speeches shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, 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; and (ii) Members may share time; oral questions shall be taken immediately on the conclusion of No. 11c for 75 minutes and, in the event of a Private Notice Question being allowed, it shall be taken after 45 minutes and the order shall not resume thereafter; and the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 3 p.m., there shall be no Order of Business, that is, within the meaning of Standing Order 26, the taking of any divisions shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 30 November 2004 and, accordingly, the following business shall be transacted: No. 3, Health Bill 2004 — Second Stage (resumed), which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  With regard to No. 3, will the reply of the Minister or Minister of State be ten minutes or 20 minutes?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Order of Business states it is ten minutes.

[732]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are six proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 11b and 11d, motions re referral to joint and select committees, without debate agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  With regard to No. 11d, is the Fianna Fáil manifesto, which is now a discredited document, included under the protection of literary and artistic works?

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  That is very good.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  They were the only ones to gain tax relief.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise at this stage.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  These two items are to be taken without debate. However, there is particular interest in them, especially No. 11d, and, given that the protection of literary and artistic works is referred to, many people would think this matter requires further debate. I ask that it be debated under this motion given that the Tara-Skryne valley has been an inspiration for many literary and artistic works. The Government does not seem to appreciate inspiration in the context of art and certainly not in the context of heritage. A debate on this matter is warranted.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  The Deputy is not concerned about the people.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 12, motion re the Book of Estimates, agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  While I will not object to it, the original proposal by the Government was for a one hour debate, which meant it expected the House to approve €715 million for every minute of the debate. It is an expression of just how little is contained in all this that the Government wants to conclude it today. Given that we cannot get answers to any questions on the Estimates, we might as well get on with it and wait for the budget to have a real debate on this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 12 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11c, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUFOR, agreed?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  While I welcome that this matter has come back onto the floor of the House, those of us in the Technical Group will only have three minutes to discuss this, which is not enough time to discuss such an important item. I would like to have a little more time. Can the Tánaiste agree to this?

[733]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It was agreed at the Whips meeting that this was the best that could be done given the circumstances.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  There is much business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with oral questions to the Minister for Education and Science agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for the sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am opposed to this. I have already made it clear that as a principle we do not want Bills guillotined through the House. However, the Health Bill 2004 deals with one of the most fundamental issues that affects the people and I do not agree it should be guillotined in this way. Every Member of the House from all parties and none should have the opportunity to have his or her say on Second Stage. I oppose the proposal to guillotine Second Stage tomorrow at 3 p.m. If the Dáil is to meet, there should be an Order of Business, which there will not be. The Government proposes to close down this debate which is of critical importance for hundreds of thousands of people. I am opposed to it on that basis.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  My party is similarly opposed to the manner of handling a Bill that we are informed is the most significant revamp of the health system in the history of the State. The Government took 18 months to consider it, published it for Members, who received it on Monday last, then went straight into debate on Tuesday. It seems good enough for the Opposition that they are expected to deal with the Bill within 24 hours when the Government took 18 months to address it. We had one hour of debate yesterday and approximately three hours the previous day, yet the Tánaiste proposes that it be guillotined tomorrow.

It is one of a number of measures with which the Government has demonstrated contempt for this House. Some Ministers, if the Constitution permitted, would be happy to retire to their offices and make law from there because they know best. They resent coming before the House. Inadequate provision has been provided time out of number by the Government. I greatly regret that the Tánaiste seeks to guillotine tomorrow’s debate.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Ar dtús báire, tá an Rialtas ag iarraidh dallamullóg a chur ar dhaoine de bharr nach mbeidh aon Riar na hOibre ann amárach. Tá cuma ar an scéal go bhfuil an Dáil ag feidhmiú ach, i ndáiríre, níl sé mar níl ann ach cúpla uair an chloig chun cúrsaí a phlé gan vóta agus gan Riar na hOibre. In effect, it is an excuse for a Dáil day because there is not the normal requirement for an Order of Business. To add insult to injury, the proposal is for the guillotining of the Health Bill which the Tánaiste described as his[734]toric and significant, something which is clearly felt by other Members because the second round of speakers has not yet finished and many more Members will offer to speak. If it is seriously thought of as being significant and historic, it should be given more time. The fact that it will result in less accountability than before is all the more reason that time should be provided to debate it to ensure it is not pushed through, accountability removed and a bad situation made worse. If the Bill is guillotined, there will be good grounds for that fear.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I join with my colleagues in the House in appealing to the Tánaiste to lift the guillotine on the Second Stage debate on the Health Bill. I have no objection to utilising tomorrow as an opportunity to discuss it further on Second Stage but we should allow the debate to be open-ended so that if further Members are offering, it can be resumed next week. That is not beyond the gift of the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children.

The Bill is important. As I have stated, it is the wrong remedy for the wrong problem at this time. Nevertheless, it is one the Tánaiste has presented to the House and we must deal with it. By guillotining it tomorrow, we are doing neither the Bill nor the wider health service any justice. I appeal to the Tánaiste to remove the guillotine and allow Members to continue to participate in the debate in the coming week. This is not beyond the ability of the Chief Whip and the Whips of the other parties to provide for properly. I hope the Tánaiste will respond positively.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Unfortunately, I am not in a position to give way on this because the Government is anxious to proceed with the reform of the health services.

A Deputy:  It is not reform.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  With respect, the Deputies might listen. Just the other evening I was told that the Bill did nothing at all, yet now I am told it is quite significant. The Deputies cannot have it every way. The Bill was being rubbished the other night by virtually all of the Opposition with one or two exceptions.

Mr. English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is the Opposition’s right to do so.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Opposition cannot say it is important and significant, yet also say it is rubbish. That does not add up.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  It was the Tánaiste who said that.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Nobody said the Bill was rubbish.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  We wanted to give the Tánaiste sufficient time to show that the Bill is significant.

[735]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow the Tánaiste to speak without interruption. There is no provision for any other speaker except one from each party in the House. The Tánaiste should continue without interruption.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  It is very calculated.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Deputy McManus did not have a single good thing to say about the Bill. In normal circumstances I wish we did not have to handle matters like this. I accept that. We gave a copy of the Bill to all the Opposition spokespersons although I accept that providing it a week in advance is not enough.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  That is not true. I have to put the record straight. The record is confused.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should resume her seat.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I have to listen to this yet again.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy must resume her seat. She must show the same courtesy to Members on the Government side of the House as is shown to those on her side. The Tánaiste should continue without interruption.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Ceann Comhairle is facilitating the Tánaiste.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Deputy McManus received a copy of the Bill approved by the Cabinet. She got the same as every member of the Cabinet.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  That is not true.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  That is true.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask Deputy McManus to resume her seat. If the Tánaiste addressed her remarks through the Chair, she might not invite interruption.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I can tell the Tánaiste what I got. I got a photocopy of the Bill which said at the bottom that I was not to take it as the final draft. That is what it said.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask Deputy McManus to resume her seat.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Let us keep the record straight.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Deputy McManus got what every member of the Cabinet got.

[736]Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I was told not to take it as the final document.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask Deputy McManus to resume her seat.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Let us keep the record straight. I will show the Tánaiste the document I received.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If the Deputy wishes the Chair to take appropriate action, that is her choice.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  The Tánaiste took two years to adopt these measures.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Deputy McManus got a copy of the Bill that was approved by the Cabinet.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  No.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I gave it to the Deputy. I know what she got.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Tánaiste to refrain from cross-chat across the floor of the House.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Tánaiste should address her remarks through the Chair.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Why not expel everyone?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am being provoked. I apologise. Deputy Twomey acknowledged that he got a copy of the Bill. In normal circumstances we would not have such a rush. We want to ensure that the Health Service Executive can function on a statutory basis from 1 January 2005. Next week we will have a long Committee Stage which will not be guillotined. Then, with the goodwill of all, it is to be hoped that we will consider Report and Final Stages.

  11 o’clock

I said in the House yesterday that I will publish the heads of the information and quality assurance Bill, which we have removed from the HSE legislation, and give the Opposition plenty of time to make submissions and put forward views. I would not normally handle matters the way they are being handled but we are running against time. I ask the House to appreciate that. Everything in the Bill, with one exception regarding the Accounting Officer, was outlined by the Government over the past 18 months.

Question put: “That the arrangements for the sitting and business of the Dáil for Friday, 26 November 2004 be agreed.”

[735][737]The Dáil divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 47.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
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 Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
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 John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
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 Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie. 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 Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. 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 M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghail, 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 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 Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
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 Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe. Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


[737]Níl
Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
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 Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. 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 John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. 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 Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. 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 Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Mitchell, Gay. 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 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 Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairi. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. 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 Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[737]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Broughan.

[737]Question declared carried.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Will there be a response to the shambles of decentralisation being inflicted on us? Last year the former Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy, sent every Deputy from the Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats party——

[738]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not appropriate to the Order of Business. It is a matter for the line Minister.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——floating around the country with the news that the local and European Parliament elections would be won on the decentralisation issue.

[739]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When will the Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill be brought before the House? It deals with the regulation of the Civil Service but has implications for thousands of communities around the country that have been left bereft of public servants. I do not know where the “welcome to Parlon country” signs have gone. I have not seen any in recent months. I have no doubt the man who is now in charge of the Department of Finance is smiling to himself about the shambles that has been inflicted on the people.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Second Stage of that legislation has been passed and it is awaiting Committee Stage.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Tánaiste put on the record yesterday that the Labour Party promised to give 0.05% of GNP per annum to overseas development aid but gave 0.01%. The Labour Party doubled the contribution to overseas development aid from 0.16% to 0.31% in the period to which the Tánaiste referred. Will the Tánaiste take the opportunity to state that the Government will use the budget to restore the target——

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

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  ——to which it made a solemn commitment at the United Nations——

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

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  ——so the poor and suffering in Africa will not be the victims of the Government’s departure from target?

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

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  There is still no sign of the Work Permits Bill, which has been on every list since spring 2003. When will it be published?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand the birth of the Work Permits Bill is imminent and it will be published shortly.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I am interested to hear the answer to Deputy Rabbitte’s first question regarding ODA.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That issue does not arise on the Order of Business. The Chair has already ruled on this matter.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Hopefully it will arise next Wednesday and we will get a definitive answer.

[740]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Does Deputy Sargent have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Yes. Will there be an opportunity for a debate, either on the basis of promised legislation from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform or otherwise, on the situation whereby 106 women have been murdered in Ireland since 1996? Some 69 of those have been killed in their homes, including Ms Rachel O’Reilly in my constituency.

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

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  There is such a long list of proposed legislation from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in this area that one wonders how much of it will see the light of day. The coroners Bill, crimes Bill, criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill and so on represent an opportunity to address the reality of crime. The fear generated through the lack of——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Hayes. Deputy Sargent cannot abuse the Order of Business by making a speech.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Tánaiste should answer the question.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I have asked for a debate and about promised legislation. I understand that both those questions are in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Sargent cannot make a speech.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I will be satisfied to get a reply from the Tánaiste.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  A number of Deputies wish to speak and I will be unable to facilitate them if Deputy Sargent makes a speech.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I ask for a reply.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  All those Bills will be published as soon as possible.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Will the Tánaiste agree to allocate a small amount of time for a debate on decentralisation, particularly in light of yesterday’s report and the non-inclusion of towns such as Tipperary about which a commitment was given prior to the last general election and every election over the last number of years?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No debate is promised on this issue.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Could we have some way of communicating information on the scheme?

[741]Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  We will send the Deputy a copy of the report.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I wish to make a point of order. I have had a communication from the Ceann Comhairle’s office ruling out two questions of mine. I question this ruling. One relates to the policy of the Environmental Protection Agency, not its practice. The Ceann Comhairle’s office has suggested that this issue is a matter for the EPA. The second question relates to the compliance of local authorities with European directives regarding water quality. The Ceann Comhairle’s office ruled that this question was a matter for the local authorities.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If the Deputy wishes to call to my office, I will be glad to discuss his concerns. Those concerns are not appropriate for discussion on the Order of Business.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I am not pursuing the matter now and I have no problem in meeting the Ceann Comhairle. However, I would like him to refer the issue of the possible total unaccountability of local authorities regarding EU directives to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. In its founding legislation, the EPA states that policy matters are the responsibility of the Minister in accountability to the Dáil. It is pointless to continue today——

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

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  ——but I would like this matter to be tabled for decision.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  My question is in the same vein as that of Deputy Hayes, with regard to the amended decentralisation programme announced yesterday. There is a complete exclusion of the Ulster counties of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This issue does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy should submit a question to the Minister for Finance.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Tánaiste at least indicate whether provision will be made for a debate on this issue in the light of the worrying signals——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair has already ruled on this question.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I have asked on many occasions when the pharmacy Bill will be brought before the House. The figures regarding the drugs subsidy scheme were released last week. If the current situation continues, we will not want a pharmacy in this country because the real winners are the doctors and the Government——

[742]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Ring should allow the Tánaiste to answer his question on the legislation.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The amount of money given back to them is scandalous.

The Tánasite: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Deputy Kenny asked me about this legislation yesterday and I told him that the memorandum will be brought to Government shortly, either before Christmas or shortly after.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The quicker it is done the better.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Tánaiste has had to answer to both County Mayo voices.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Considering that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform almost initiated a constitutional crisis by publicly criticising a judge, when will the judicial misconduct legislation be in place? This legislation is essential to avoid the necessity of setting up another Oireachtas committee.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand the legislation will be introduced next year.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Can the Tánaiste confirm that she has received the Attorney General’s advice in respect of the over 70s who were given medical cards? Has the Government considered such advice and what is its position in this matter?

The Tánaiste is aware of the case of a number of women in the North Eastern Health Board area who have suffered a serious injustice. I understand from my meeting with some of them that the files relating to their cases seem to have been destroyed——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The issue does not arise on the Order of Business. I will allow the Deputy’s first question.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  My question is——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy’s second question does not arise.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  May I be permitted to ask the question? When does the Tánaiste expect the interdepartmental report to be finalised? Does she envisage that a redress board for that finite number of persons might be introduced?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Kenny should submit a question to the line Minister on this matter.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Legislation may be required on this matter and the Tánaiste will be interested that the truth is dealt with in this case.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I appreciate that but I cannot allow discussion of this issue on the Order of Business.

[743]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  My question is in order.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We are interested in this issue and everybody is concerned about what has happened. I cannot say at this stage, however, that any legislation is contemplated.

On Deputy Kenny’s first question, the advice suggests that legislation is necessary.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Does the Government intend to bring forward a legislative amendment to protect those pensioners in Limerick who are faced with crushing bin tax demands following the Attorney General’s advice——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should confine his questions to the promised legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We already have legislation relevant to this issue.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I do not think the Tánaiste even heard my question as she was chatting to the Minister for Finance. I am sure he is an interesting person with whom to chat.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Is the Deputy asking whether legislation will be introduced to facilitate the granting of privatised arrangements or waivers?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  What will the Government do?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  No legislation is promised in this area.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I have a second question on legislation. The Taoiseach has said repeatedly in this House that the obscene profiteering from land speculation can be dealt with by legislation alone. On a morning when a site bought for €40 million a few years ago is now being sold for €85 million——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy can address a question on promised legislation but he cannot make a speech. Other Deputies wish to speak.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I took this as a promise of legislation from the Taoiseach, especially now that he is a raving socialist. When will legislation to control the price of building land come before the Dáil?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  No legislation is promised in this area.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  That is good.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  The Government will allow this obscene profiteering to continue unhindered. It is a shameful crew.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Given that electricity prices in Ireland are some 25% higher than the European average, is it possible to energise the relevant [744]Minister into bringing the electricity Bill before the House with a view to having a major debate on this issue, including the negative impact energy prices are having on the industrial and domestic sector?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy has chosen a very long way to ask his question.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The long way around is often the safest way home.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Deputy Durkan has expended a lot of energy in asking his question.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  My question is relevant.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Deputy Durkan is constructing a verbal pylon.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What did that cheeky cherub say?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Deputy Durkan is only warming up.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The very energetic Minister will bring that legislation forward as soon as possible.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I have two questions for the Tánaiste. The first relates to the timing of the Maritime Safety Bill 2004. Can we expect any funding from the Minister for Finance for an emergency towing vessel?

In view of her former portfolio, the Tánaiste is probably concerned about our seaborne trade in view of the recent decision of SIPTU workers to strike——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should address his second question.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Is it possible to allow some time next week for the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to examine the issue of yellow pack workers at Irish Ferries and the consequences for trade?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy’s second question does not arise.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Maritime Safety Bill 2004 is on Committee Stage.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  What is causing the delay in the publication of the national strategic infrastructural Bill? Is there a rift in Government——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Deputy to stick to the matter of the promised legislation.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  ——about this legislation because my constituency colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, said he will oppose incineration being included in that legislation?

[745]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I do not have a date for that legislation. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government intends to bring forward proposals to Government.

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

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Is there some problem or major disagreement about it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Gormley, allow Deputy Mitchell to contribute.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  As the Chair will be aware, there is a prima facie case that official Oireachtas post sent by me was interfered with at the point of delivery on more than one occasion in a part of my constituency. Following on the surveillance of Members of this House, will the Tánaiste bring forward the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill this side of Christmas to ensure that interference with the privileges of Members of this House can be debated here and that I can receive an explanation of what happened to my official post when it left this House?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The heads of that Bill are expected shortly and the Bill will be published next year.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Some 50 pages of Report Stage amendments to the Railway Safety Bill published a few weeks ago were subsequently withdrawn. Is the Bill withdrawn and will a new Bill be published to accommodate the EU directive or, if not, when will these amendments be rescheduled for discussion?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  As the Deputy knows the Bill is ordered for Committee, but I am not aware it is proposed to withdraw it. I will have to talk to the line Minister about his intentions on that.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  In a week that the Government made several U-turns and reneged on commitments in respect of many issues such as ODA-——

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

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Ballinasloe.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  ——and Ballinasloe, the Tánaiste’s birthplace — she has let us down again — why has the aid promised to Irish immigrants fallen so far short of that recommended by the special task force?

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

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  It certainly does.

[746]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy can table a question on the matter to the line Minister. I call Deputy Stanton.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  The Tánaiste should be able to answer that question this morning. Why did that happen?

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

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  The former Minister for Finance was deeply involved in this. Why did this happen?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Deputy to give way to his colleague, Deputy Stanton.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Instead of getting €8 million, they should be getting——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Deputy to give way to his colleague, Deputy Stanton, or we will move on directly to next business. I call Deputy Stanton.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Many people were wondering what the Deputy was doing when his party was in Government. The Deputy was not worrying about them.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Many people are wondering why the Minister let them down.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Ministers, I have called Deputy Stanton.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Ministers, I ask you to allow Deputy Stanton to speak without interruption.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Yesterday the Tánaiste seemed to blame people with disabilities for the reduction in ODA in terms of providing for the needs of people with disabilities here. Will she retract that statement because it is most unfair to them?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business. Has the Deputy a question on legislation?

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  What is the position on the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Bill?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We will move on to No. 11b.


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