Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 17, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996, back from committee; and No. 26a, Budget Statement and financial motions by the Minister for Finance — 2004, which shall be taken on the conclusion of questions to members of the Government. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and the motion for the general financial resolution shall be moved not later than 12 midnight whereupon business shall be interrupted and the Dáil shall adjourn forthwith; No. 17 shall be taken immediately after the Order of Business and shall be decided without debate; following the Budget Statement of the Minister for Finance, the following arrangements shall apply to the proceedings on No. 26a: the statements of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed 45 minutes in each case, the statements of the main spokespersons for the Green Party, Sinn Féin and the Independent Members of the Technical Group shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and the statements shall be confined to the main spokespersons in each case; following the statements the sitting shall be suspended for 30 minutes; and all divisions demanded on No. 26a shall be taken manually.
Private Members’ business shall be No. 39, Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2004 — Second Stage, resumed, to be taken at 12 noon and to conclude after 90 minutes, if not previously concluded.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are four proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 17, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996, without debate, agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 26a, financial motions by the Minister for Finance, agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with all divisions demanded on No. 26a agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Kenny: I refer to two Bills, Nos. 49 and 50 on the Government’s legislative progamme. The first Bill is to update and codify charities legislation. The Taoiseach stated that he will attend the UN summit next September. Legislation is proposed which governs Ireland’s obligations under the nuclear test ban treaty. Given the proposals brought forward by the UN regarding its restructuring, which include a serious warning about proliferation of nuclear weapons among rogue countries and terrorists, when will the legislation in respect of our obligations be brought forward?
The Taoiseach: The charities regulation Bill is enormous. I had a briefing on it recently and there has been a four-month public consultation on the basis of a Government approved consultation paper. That was launched in February 2004. A total of 85 detailed submissions were received and an external report issued in September based on them. Legislation is in the pre-drafting stage and both the Attorney General and the Law Reform Commission are involved. The legislation is quite complex and because it covers the ancient ground of charitable bequests and standards, it involves quite tricky areas of old and new law. They are anxious to include charitable bequests in the legislation but it will take some time to sort out the legal issues. The Bill is a priority and it is hoped to make progress on it in 2005.
On the question on the test ban, the draft heads of the Bill are being prepared and the Bill is expected to come before the Government after the Christmas period. It is hoped that we will be able to move on it then.
Mr. Rabbitte: I wish to ask the Taoiseach about Nos. 37 and 38 on yesterday’s Order Paper concerning financial motions by the Minister for Finance for 2002 and 2003. When does the Taoiseach intend that we return to these motions? I thought the Government was trying to draw a veil over those two budgets and I am surprised it is now trying to undo the damage done by both. Is the former Deputy McCreevy coming back to handle them or will they be taken——
Mr. Rabbitte: I am curious to know what these motions are doing on the Order Paper. The Government has been trying to banish the memory of these two budgets. I do not understand why they are on the Order Paper, but I am sure the Taoiseach will explain the reason. When will the Bill promised me by the Taoiseach on the redrawing of constituencies come before the House?
The Taoiseach: On the first issue, the motions must be dispensed with formally. That is all that is necessary on them. I understand the Bill on the redrawing of the constituencies is ready and will be taken after Christmas.
Mr. Sargent: It is important that the Taoiseach would partake in the debate on the energy (miscellaneous provisions) Bill. The legislation is expected soon. Will the Taoiseach organise to be in the House for it so that he can hear more about natural resources available in the country?
The Taoiseach: The energy (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is due next year. I am trying to get Deputy Sargent’s support for wind energy throughout the country. If he lent his name with mine, perhaps we would be able to get on with all the objectors.
Mr. Stanton: On the Department of Transport’s website there is a proposal to set up an independent public transport procurement and regulatory body. Is legislation pending on this or will it be incorporated in some other legislation?
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Will the Taoiseach advise us of the specific date for publication of the adoption Bill which will also see the ratification of the Hague Convention? Will the heads of the Bill be published in advance?
The Taoiseach: The adoption Bill is due next year. The feedback from the consultation process, which is now completed, is being examined by the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan. The heads of the Bill are expected to be completed by Christmas.
Mr. Sherlock: Given that the Health Bill 2004 will be passed by the Dáil, will the Taoiseach inform the House when the names of the executive will be given to us? We read in the newspapers that some of them are being——
Mr. J. Higgins: With only two full weeks of business before Christmas, will the promised debate on the Goldman Sachs report on Aer Lingus and the Cabinet committee conclusions be debated before Christmas?
Mr. Costello: The recent task force report on alcohol highlighted the high exposure of alcohol products to young people at this time of the year. Considering we have only two weeks left before the Christmas recess, will the Taoiseach inform the House whether the alcohol products (control of advertising, sponsorship and marketing practices/sales promotions) Bill will be delivered as promised by Government before the end of this year?
An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat as an order of the House mandates us to move to Private Members’ Business at 12 o’clock and we have other business to dispose of beforehand.
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