Order of Business.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 608 No. 68

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is proposed to take No. a11, motion re report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges on definition of parliamentary activities; No. 16, statements on quarterly national household survey, second quarter 2005 and the annual population and migration estimates; No. 15, Land Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 17, Adoptive Leave Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Report and Final Stages (resumed); and No. 18, Social Welfare Consolidation Bill 2005 — Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. a11 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 16 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours and five minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the statements of a Minister or Minister of State 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 15 minutes in each case; (ii) the statements of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; (iii) Members may share time; and (iv) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members’ business shall be No. 43, motion re draft animal remedies regulations 2005 (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a11, motion re report of Committee on Procedure and Privileges agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 16, statements on quarterly national household survey second quarter 2005 and the annual population and migration estimates agreed? Agreed.

[29]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have three questions for the Taoiseach. Last year we were promised legislation for a health information and safety authority. This authority would give advice and set down guidelines in respect of protocols etc. Are we likely to see this legislation in view of the current confusion in the area?

With regard to the decentralisation programme, which is a voluntary scheme promoted by the previous Minister for Finance, today is the final day for signature for staff previously employed in the Department of Agriculture and Food in Davitt House, Castlebar, and staff must take it or leave it. They have been asked to sign up to go to Portlaoise or accept the PULSE system, which is shift work on a 24-hour, seven day week basis.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business. That question should go to the line Minister, the Minister for Finance.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I understood decentralisation was to be voluntary but the terms of reference for public service benefits have been changed as a consequence. Will the Taoiseach clarify this?

Third, in view of the publication of the IMC report today on the, hopefully, ending of all criminality by the IRA and its associates, are we likely to have the opportunity for statements or a debate on it in the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  On the first issue, the necessary legislation to provide for the establishment of the health information equality authority and the Irish social services inspectorate on a statutory basis will been included in the forthcoming health Bill, the heads of which are expected in approximately a month. The Bill has been given priority time for drafting. It will probably be taken in the House in 2006. On the second issue, I will ask somebody to check whether the change suggested by Deputy Kenny is being made as part of the decentralisation programme. On the third issue, I think we should wait until the IMC report has been published before we decide whether time is required for a debate on it.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Does the Taoiseach propose to introduce legislation relating to the state of the electoral register?

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hear, hear.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  He is probably aware that the Labour Party has published a Bill to deal with the matter. Does the Government intend to produce its own Bill or will it take on board the Labour Party’s Bill?

[30]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will raise the matter. Is the Deputy asking about the state of the electoral register?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I have asked about the inaccurate state of the register.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The register is incomplete.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is incomplete.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Graveyards will be electing people at the next general election.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  There are 500,000 people too many on it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is inaccurate.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is inaccurate.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  It is appalling.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  What is the Taoiseach saying?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What does the Taoiseach propose to do about it?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  What did the Taoiseach say?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I said it is inaccurate.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What will the Taoiseach do about it?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Does the Taoiseach find that acceptable?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not know whether legislation is required.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Perhaps the Taoiseach notices the poor state of the register when he is on his walkabouts.

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

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I would like to ask about another fraudulent document. I was not successful, obviously, when I requested the adjournment of the Dáil under Standing Order 31 to discuss the matter. Given that companies can fold and then re-open without paying their bills and brazen out legal cases so they can bankrupt subcontractors, it seems the prompt payments legislation needs to be amended.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot discuss the content of the legislation.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  No publication date has been indicated for the planned company law legislation, but is there any chance that it will be brought [31]forward in the near future? At least then we might be able to have a debate on the matter.

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

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I would also like to know whether the Government intends to amend the prompt payments legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is expected that the 1,000 heads of the company law (consolidation and reform) Bill will be completed later this year. It will take a considerable amount of time to draft a Bill that has 1,000 heads.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  In that case, the Government should amend the prompt payments legislation.

Ms Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Is the Taoiseach aware that one in 12 schools loses half of its students before they reach their leaving certificate examinations? If so, does the Government intend to introduce legislation to deal with the problem? When can we expect the third level support Bill, which will deal with the difficulties in that sector, to be brought before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not have a date for the third level support Bill.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  In view of the serious difficulties with the terms of reference of the inquiry into the Brian Rossiter case, to which Deputy Rabbitte referred earlier, and in view of the serious problems with the cost of legal representation——

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

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Government has promised to introduce in this term a Bill to consolidate the Tribunals of Inquiry Acts 1921 to 2004 and to regulate costs. Can the Taoiseach indicate when the tribunals of inquiry (consolidation) Bill will be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be published in this session. It should be before the House shortly.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Arising from the ongoing review of tax reliefs, is it intended to introduce legislation to limit the value of tax reliefs and the number of reliefs which can be availed of by any individual or company?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Any amendments in that regard will be made in the forthcoming finance Bill.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has announced that he intends [32]to introduce new legislation to require the regulation of auctioneers and estate agents. Will the Bill provide for ministerial responsibility in that regard, given that the Minister in question has not taken the best course of action in his purchase of land in north Dublin? When will the intellectual property Bill be introduced?

Ms Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  There is a need for that Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The intellectual property Bill will be introduced early next year. I am not sure if legislation is required in respect of auctioneers.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The heads of the Bill have been approved, but I do not know when the Bill will be published.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  The Taoiseach would not know anything about it because it is a Progressive Democrats Bill.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  It is too early to say.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Taoiseach is aware that an important round of World Trade Organisation negotiations is due to commence shortly. I understand that the position outlined by the EU Commissioner, Mr. Mandelson, was opposed yesterday by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Agriculture and Food. Will the Taoiseach give Deputies an opportunity to listen to details of Ireland’s position on the matter? Will Ireland’s position be embraced in a common EU position before the WTO negotiations take place in Hong Kong?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Important meetings about this issue are taking place. The Minister could brief the House on the matter in response to a question or on the Adjournment.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  How did the Minister get on yesterday?

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

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Was progress made?

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  I congratulate my former colleagues in the psychiatric sector on being declared yesterday the overall winners of a national innovation award. My question relates to psychology. When will the Health and Social Care Professionals Bill 2004 be enacted?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is awaiting Report Stage in this House.

Mr. O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  When will legislation promised by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to establish a special div[33]ision of the High Court to fast-track dealings on planning problems be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We hope to introduce the infrastructure Bill in the next session.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Has the Government considered updating the Merchant Shipping Acts to provide for new regulations in respect of flags of convenience? I received a letter yesterday that had been posted on 22 September. I wonder if that is a record. Has the Taoiseach noticed his post has been arriving late?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call the Taoiseach on the shipping legislation.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  What does he intend to do about it?

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I remind the Taoiseach that the letter was posted on 22 September of this year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call the Taoiseach on the first matter.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  We should post our Christmas cards now.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  We lost out on a few all-Ireland tickets because of it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The provisions which it is intended to include in the maritime safety Bill require detailed legal examination. It will take some time to finalise the Bill, which will not be progressing as originally proposed.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Does the Government intend to introduce amending legislation in respect of the Environmental Protection Agency? Such legislation is necessary, given that dioxin levels in Cork Harbour have more than doubled in the last year, that the agency cannot assess water quality in Ennis and that the agency, in issuing waste licences, is a judge in its own court.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  To which legislation does the Deputy refer?

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I am asking whether the Government intends to amend the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is legislation promised?

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The dioxin levels have decreased by 20%.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Not in Cork.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Deputy Boyle’s remarks are incorrect. The dioxin levels have decreased.

[34]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Durkan.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  They have decreased by 20% in Cork Harbour.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  They have doubled in Cork Harbour.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said it himself.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Deputy should get perspective.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  The Minister is having trouble with figures.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  No. The Deputy cannot distort the EPA figures.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  The dioxin levels have doubled.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Deputy did not even vote for sewage treatment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Durkan has been waiting patiently.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  According to a recent OECD report, Ireland is in the unenviable position of 19th out of 22 countries in terms of broadband access. The situation is getting worse by the day. Deputy Broughan has already commented on the problems in the postal services.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On promised legislation——

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I will come to the legislation in just a second.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I want the Deputy to come to the legislation now.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It will be emergency legislation.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  It will be fast-track legislation.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It took nine days for a small package to travel from St. Helens in England to Maynooth, County Kildare.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We have to move on.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The service is slower than it was in the days of the horse and coach. Will the Taoiseach identify the Bill that will be introduced as a matter of urgency to galvanise the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources into action?

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

[35]Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I would like the electricity Bill to be introduced to electrify the Minister, who has not been electrified so far.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call the Taoiseach on the electricity Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be introduced next year.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Mañana.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  That is confidence.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I asked yesterday morning whether the Government will make time available to clarify the Minister for Health and Children’s contradictory answers on the cuts in the home help service. I think the Taoiseach said——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is time promised?

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I am asking for Government time to be made available.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest that the Deputy should submit a question on the matter.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I do not know who I can ask. Perhaps I should ask the Chief Whip. Can the Taoiseach make time available?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not know how one can argue there have been cutbacks if the amount of money being spent on something has increased from €12 million to €120 million.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Minister told me there have been cuts of 40% in the home help service for the elderly in Kildare.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It would be difficult to have a debate on cutbacks which do not exist.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  The Taoiseach should explain the reductions.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  He will blame the minimum wage.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  The Taoiseach has buried the metro Bill and practically trampled the earth down on it, but can we expect it to rise again in the near future?

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is on an upward trajectory.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be considered by the Minister.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Given that a great deal of money must be raised for the disabled through charity work, when will the charity Bill be in place? With regard to charges currently being imposed, when will there be an opportunity to [36]discuss the local government rates Bill in the House?

  12 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The charities regulation Bill, which will regulate charities and ensure accountability to protect against abuse of charitable status and fraud, is substantial. It will involve statute law revision and restatement in addition to legislative reform provisions. Work is proceeding as speedily as possible with this and priority has been given to the Bill. However, it is a large Bill which reaches back over a long period. I do not have a date for it. The local government rates Bill will be taken next year.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  It is approximately two and a half years since the pharmacy review group presented its report to Government yet we have seen no sign of legislation in regard to pharmacies. Two Bills are promised. When will they be published? Will they be published together or separately?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I am not sure if they will be published together but both Bills are listed for next year. I understand both are being drafted but it would be unlikely that two sizeable Bills would come together.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We move to No. a11.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I wish to ask a question.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  For the Taoiseach to say the Bills are listed for next year does not tell us much. Does he mean early next year or late next year? Will it be three or four years before we get the legislation flowing from this report?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Both Bills are listed for 2006. I have not got a more precise date.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  We will never get that far.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call No. a11, motion re report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges on definition of parliamentary activities. I call the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, to move.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  On a point of order, I indicated earlier. I want to ask a simple question on legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Sorry, I noticed the Deputy’s colleagues indicating but did not notice the Deputy.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  What is the point of coming into the House if you do not deal with us when we indicate?

[37]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We must move on. The Deputy will be first tomorrow. We have moved on to No. a11.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  My question concerns simple legislation, the third level students support Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be taken next year.


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