Order of Business.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 600 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is proposal No. 1, dealing with No. 8, re Revised Estimate for public services 2005, agreed?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor 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 [49]decentralisation based on a flawed policy and lack of thought.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Specific questions should be addressed to the line Minister.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor 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?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This does not arise.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  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.

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. 9, motion re the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  When will the long-promised Employment Permits Bill come before the House? This is the eighth successive Dáil term for which it has been promised.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I am assured it will be in this session.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard 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: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  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: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor 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?

[50]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot discuss the Deputy’s betting habits.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  It is interesting. The Taoiseach needs to respond given that his party is engaged in charitable fundraising for itself.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is due next year but it is substantial and has many headings.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  It was due for this year.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  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. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  It has been waiting 15 years.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not know how long it has been waiting but it is not a simple Bill. It should be in the House next year.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour 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?

On 22 April the Minister for Agriculture and Food must reach agreement on the nitrates directive. Can the Taoiseach intervene? Otherwise poultry and pig farmers——

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

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Can we debate it in the House?

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

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  It will arise anyway.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The revised heads of the electricity Bill are being prepared and the legislation is listed for next year.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon 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: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  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.

[51]Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  We waited for the NESC report.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That was the answer we received last year. We must wait for another report.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I was trying to be helpful to the Deputy. I answered that question earlier this afternoon.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I would like to know the answer.

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

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It does arise.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy may ask a question about debates in this House. Unless a debate is promised——

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It was promised.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I have been asking about this debate for the past year. Last year the Taoiseach promised we would have the debate when the NESC report was published.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There is no point asking questions if they are not answered.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The question is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is appropriate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Questions appropriate to the Order of Business are on promised legislation or promised debates.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This debate has been promised and I want to know when it will take place.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  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.

  5 o’clock

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Taoiseach on the legislation.

[52]Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot debate the Second Stage of the Bill now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Bill are due to be completed in the next number of months. In the normal course of events, it will be next year before we see the Bill.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  In the answer the Taoiseach has given, it appears to be a shambles——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Ó Caoláin, obey the Chair, please.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John 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?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is being redrafted. I do not know if it will be ready for the autumn session or early next year.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Why?


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