Tuesday, 12 April 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 8, the Revised Estimate for Public Service, Vote 17 back from committee; No. 9, motion re the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II; No. 16, the Disability Bill 2004 — Second Stage (resumed); and No.17, the Land Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that No. 8 shall be decided without debate and any division demanded thereon should be taken forthwith; No. 9 shall be taken today and proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to conclusion after one hour and the following arrangements shall apply: opening speeches by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party, the Green Party, Sinn Féin and the Independents, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed five minutes in each case. The speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed five minutes in each case and Members may share time. Private Members’ business shall be No. 45, motion re cancer screening programmes.
Mr. Sargent: This relates to the decentralisation programme. It is not acceptable to us if this is going to become a pattern of runaway costs for decentralisation based on a flawed policy and lack of thought.
Mr. Sargent: I am opposed to it becoming a habit and pattern that we have Revised Estimates to give more money to the decentralisation programme. We were originally told it would cost a certain amount but it now looks like being a runaway cost. Will the Taoiseach tell us whether this will be a pattern or is it a one-off occurrence?
The Taoiseach: The Office of the Commission of Public Service Appointments was set up with effect from 19 October last year following the enactment of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004. Having passed the Bill and set up the commission we needed €215,000 to pay the people employed there.
Mr. Bruton: In regard to the Coroners Bill, an extraordinary situation arose recently in which a coroner who sought to have a witness attend could impose a penalty of only €6 for non-attendance. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was very quick to move and say he would amend this Bill yet it appears to languish on the Government’s third list of priorities. What is the Government’s intention in regard to this Bill? Has it been listed in the order of priority of the Government and will we see that soon?
The Taoiseach: We need to provide a formula for the Coroners Bill which is over 40 years old. The heads of the Bill are expected in the coming weeks but the Bill will probably not be enacted until next year.
Mr. Sargent: It is interesting to look at the list of promised legislation just published, particularly the date given for the charities regulation Bill. Is this Bill likely to be published in the term of this Government or of any Fianna Fáil-led Government? I have laid a bet to the effect that it will not be published under Fianna Fáil. Is my money safe?
The Taoiseach: It will involve revision of statute law and restatement in addition to the legislative reform provisions. Work is proceeding as speedily as possible. The Department is giving it priority but it is a large and complex Bill covering a great deal of old legislation. Hopefully it will be ready at the end of this year and will be taken in the House next year.
Mr. Crawford: With regard to the electricity Bill there is a major problem in that people are waiting 12 months for power to be provided in their homes. Will there be a debate in the House to establish whether that can be rectified?
Mr. Gilmore: This morning I met a family which is paying 60% of its net monthly income on rent. When will we have a debate on the outstanding reports on housing, the report of the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution dealing with building land, the NESC, ESRI, Goodbody reports and the review on housing policy published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government?
The Taoiseach: I answered Deputy Rabbitte on this question at Question Time today. I said the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will bring forward a comprehensive report on these matters. It would probably be better to wait for that report.
The Taoiseach: I tried to answer the Deputy but he interrupted me five seconds into my reply. I will repeat it. The Deputy is correct, three reports have been published to which the Government’s response is due shortly. I have no difficulty in holding a debate before then but it would be more useful to wait until we have the reports which are due in a few weeks. We can have the debate before the release of the report but it would be more meaningful to wait for the report.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: In the first legislative programme of this Dáil in 2002, it was committed that the nurses and midwives Bill would be published in 2003. In the last legislative programme, publication was expected this year. However, in the legislative programme circularised this morning, we note that it is not possible to indicate when the Bill will be published. The nurses and midwives Bill is very important legislation.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: There is a crisis in nursing provision in this State. There appears to be more than just a crisis in nursing; there is a crisis in Government in terms of addressing the legislative programme in regard to nurses and midwives.
Mr. Gormley: On promised legislation, will the Taoiseach tell the House why there is a delay until 2006 in introducing the strategic national infrastructure Bill? Has it anything to do with the dispute on incineration? Will the infrastructure include sewage treatment plants that do not work and stink people out of it?
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