Order of Business.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 654 No. 4

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 8, Chemicals Bill 2008 — financial resolution; and No. 14, statements on the OECD Report on Integrated Public Service Reform. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 8 shall be decided without debate; and that the following arrangements shall apply in respect of to No. 14 — the statements of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the statements of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; Members may share time; and 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. 32, motion re cancer services.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 14 agreed? Agreed.

[743]Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I raised a number of questions with the Taoiseach earlier today regarding freedom of information and the supply of files to tribunals. I wish to clarify the position for him in that regard. The Taoiseach’s predecessor answered a question——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot deal with that matter now. The Deputy should confine himself to the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am merely bringing some information to the attention of the Taoiseach. His predecessor stated on 16 October 2007: “To the best of my knowledge all the files and records relating to the Battle of the Boyne were handed over to the tribunal in 1998 or 1999.”

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot deal with that matter now.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  A request was, therefore, made and the files were submitted.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot deal with the matter now.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am merely clarifying the matter for the Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not in order.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I wish to give credit to the new Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Deputy Pat Carey, who has arranged to extend the time allocated — from 50 minutes to two hours — in respect of Thursday’s debate on the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. The Minister of State has got over the first hurdle and I thank him for arranging to extend the debate. Matters might not always be as easy for him.

Is it a matter of Government policy that Ministers of State are permitted to let fly in respect of the Garda Síochána and indicate that they have no confidence in the force in the context of its members doing their duty?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is aware that this matter is not in order.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy McGuinness, stated that the Garda is inefficient——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not in order.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——and unable to do its job in respect of tracing missing persons. Will the Taoiseach comment on this matter?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No. It is not in order to ask the Taoiseach to comment on matters of this nature.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When will the Bill relating to long-stay institutions be forthcoming? Is it still on track for production in the near future? If I recall correctly the comments of the previous Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the sale of alcohol Bill, which has been promised for some time, was to have been introduced by the end of March. When is the Bill likely to be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The sale of alcohol Bill is due later this year. The former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform indicated that he expected the intoxicating liquor Bill, which is a [744]shorter item of legislation, to appear before the end of the summer. The Bill relating to long-stay institutions is still expected to be published this session.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The shorter Bill to which the Taoiseach refers is that which the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan, stated would be introduced by the end of March. Is the Taoiseach stating that it will be introduced before the end of the summer?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform stated he was to receive a report from the relevant committee, which is chaired by Mr. Holmes, by the end of March. The report was duly received. The former Minister then indicated that rather than incorporating it into the longer Bill he would perhaps devise a shorter one.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When will that be forthcoming?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I understand it, that is the indication the former Minister provided. I do not know if his successor is of a similar view.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  That is fair enough.

  5 o’clock

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Order of Business announced by the Taoiseach represents the fourth draft of the business which was to be conducted today. Since Thursday last, we have been supplied with four different schedules of business for this week. It is extremely difficult to keep up with the Government, which appears to be changing its mind to such an extent regarding the business to be conducted in the House. This type of behaviour is unfair to Opposition spokespersons who are not quite as well resourced as Ministers.

A motion regarding the prison at Thornton Hall was due to be taken tomorrow. I understand it was withdrawn because it was realised, belatedly, that Opposition justice spokespersons and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform were to be engaged in other business at the relevant committee. When will the motion to which I refer be brought before the House?

The second schedule of business with which we were supplied indicated that the Second Stage debate on the Ethics in Public Office Bill was to resume. This legislation caused some difficulties to the Green Party previously as a result of the its containing provision to increase the thresholds for disclosure by Members of the Oireachtas for gifts they receive and the shares etc. they hold. Is the Government proceeding with the Ethics in Public Office Bill? If so, when will it come before the House?

When will the civil partnership Bill be introduced? The heads of the Bill were to have been received by the end of March. However, the Bill has not appeared. Will the Taoiseach indicate which Minister will be introducing the Bill when it is eventually brought forward?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The motion relating to Thornton Hall was withdrawn as a result of a request from Opposition spokespersons.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When will it be brought before the House?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It was the result of a cock-up in the Taoiseach’s office. The Whip’s office did not even know what was happening.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It was withdrawn on foot of a request from Opposition spokespersons.

[745]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When will it be dealt with?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  One would think that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform would have known that he was due to come before a committee.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, without interruption

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It was not just the Opposition spokespersons who requested that it be withdrawn.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It was withdrawn.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When will it be dealt with?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The motion will be on next week’s Order Paper.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Like Opposition spokespersons, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was scheduled to be involved in the committee’s work.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Ethics in Public Office Bill——

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Ethics is the Taoiseach’s favourite subject.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——in which Deputy Gilmore has a keen interest, will be dealt with in a couple of weeks.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  There is no hurry on that one.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no difficulty with the legislation. It is merely a matter of bringing it before the House.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The legislation has been before the House since 2006.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I just cannot keep up with Deputy Stagg’s fleeting mind.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  There is so much business he cannot fit it in.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  If the Deputy waits for a moment I will hear it and try to respond. Perhaps I am not designed to hear it.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The civil unions Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The civil unions Bill is later this year.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Which Minister has responsibility? Is it the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has responsibility.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  In light of the Taoiseach’s own decisions, much money has not been available to taxpayers because it is resting in contract with stamp duty forgone to the State. That money could well have been used for the provision for much social and affordable housing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On which legislation is the Deputy speaking?

[746]Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  People were involved in the five projects now being terminated by one of the developers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  What is the legislation?

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  When will the Taoiseach and the Government bring forward the social housing miscellaneous provisions Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is due this session. The matter referred to by the Deputy was objectively assessed. That is on the website and I ask him to read the quite interesting report.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The Deputy should get the facts.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The action is designed to avoid the sort of inactivity that would have resulted had we gone ahead at this time.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Taoiseach is touchy.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Deputy Hogan should get the facts.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We are dealing with legislation.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  In light of the importance of public knowledge to increase understanding of the deadly hepatitis C strain, which may affect 20,000 people unknowingly, when can we expect the health information Bill to come before the House? We were promised legislation in the form of the noise Bill in the near future. When will it come before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The noise Bill will be later this year.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  We have had it already, with the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It may come sooner if Deputy Tom Hayes has his way. The health information Bill will be next year.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I have two issues. In light of the delay in the long-term nursing home Bill, will the Taoiseach take some steps to relieve the present chaos, where we are told that only the north east is not paying for——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot take that now. The Deputy can ask about the legislation, he knows that well.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  When is it likely the issue will be dealt with?

Mr. George Mitchell is to come to Belfast with regard to the Good Friday Agreement etc. We had a major announcement at the time of the St. Andrews Agreement that a four-lane road would go from Derry to Dublin. The Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is not going down that road now. There is no chance.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  We certainly will not.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What about the road to Limerick?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We are not going down it now anyway.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  There is a need for discussion on that area in this House.

[747]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On the legislation——

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  It needs assessment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If I acted like that with everybody we would be all over the place. I call the Taoiseach on the legislation Deputy Crawford raised.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have already notified the Leader of the Opposition that it will, more than likely, come later this session.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Legislation is promised to provide a legislative framework for the governance of information in the health sector. The health information Bill is promised for next year. In light of all concerns expressed in this Chamber this afternoon, when will the heads of the Bill be brought forward and will the Taoiseach make an intervention in the Department of Health and Children to ensure the backlog of legislation is addressed as a matter of absolute urgency?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In that regard, urgent legislation other than that Bill is coming from the Department of Health and Children for this session. The health information Bill is to provide a legislative framework for the governance of information in the health sector and there is a public consultation process involved in it. It is planned to commence in the coming months. Arising from that we will proceed with the preparation of the legislation.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  On the day the Taoiseach took office, he stated he would have discussions on the legislative programme and he seemed to indicate he was not satisfied with the pace of legislation coming forward. Has he had the discussions and is he planning to make any changes to the timetable of the legislative programme, given that in section C alone, there are 37 Bills out of approximately 60 where it is not possible to indicate a publication date?

When will the public health miscellaneous provisions Bill be published, as it deals with the use of sunbeds by children under 16 and their possible prohibition?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no date for the specific Bill inquired about by Deputy Stanton. On his general issue, the legislation committee is meeting this week and the Chief Whip will attend. He will report to me once he has had the meeting with relevant personnel.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  In view of the collapse of the five regeneration projects we have been speaking about, four of them in my constituency, under the first public private——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy has the matter down for the Adjournment debate. As it was chosen to be heard, we cannot discuss it now.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  This is a separate angle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It may be a separate angle but it is the same issue.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That is merely——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should ask about the legislation.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  It is a round angle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is other legislation, I must be fair to everybody.

[748]Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is a very brief introduction. The former Comptroller and Auditor General warned us last Sunday night on RTE about the area of public private partnerships and that the State should be careful with them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On the legislation, Deputy.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Does the Taoiseach intend to revisit the public private partnership legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is legislation promised?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No, there is none promised.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is the end of it, I believe.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In fairness to the retiring Comptroller and Auditor General, he also made the point they are appropriate in certain circumstances.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Words of wisdom.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss him now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I stated last week to the Deputy’s leader on the matter, they are not suitable in every case. They are suitable and appropriate in some cases. With the level of direct Exchequer provision being finite by definition, however great it is, the public private partnership provides another prospect of increasing the level of activity and work than would otherwise be the case if we constrained ourselves to direct Exchequer provision. That is also a fact.

I agree the right projects and circumstances should be found.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This is not in order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  To draw from that conclusion that we should not have them at all is to suggest we can get more activity——

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I did not suggest that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy suggested that I should review them on the basis that we saw a setback with these important projects yesterday.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  There are elements of legal responsibility and legislation in this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This is not in order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no legislation promised. If I can answer the question, promising legislation to get rid of them altogether would not be a good idea for the reasons I have outlined.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Legislation is not promised.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There are many examples where the idea has worked well, with Fatima being one.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  They are gilt-edged profits for developers.

[749]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Commission on Taxation, which the Taoiseach launched when Minister for Finance, was to produce a report by the autumn on proposals for carbon taxation, as per the Programme for Government and the agreement with the Green Party. Have the terms of reference been varied, or is the report on carbon taxation being dropped or delayed until next year? Will the Taoiseach communicate with us the implications of that for the commission’s work?

The commission is made up mostly of vested interests from accounting and tax advisers. The Green Party is having a hard week. The ethics legislation and Thornton Hall are difficulties. I remember——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is the report promised, Deputy?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——the Minister of State, Deputy Sargent, promising that with the Greens in Government, Thornton Hall prison would never happen. He said that on public platforms.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is not in order.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Now it appears the Commission on Taxation has gone west. Have the carbon tax proposals——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is a report promised? The Deputy is not in order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As the Deputy is aware, the Commission on Taxation terms of reference deal with the publication of a report by autumn 2009. It is left open to the commission to decide, at its own discretion, whether it will come forward with an interim report. Those are the terms of reference and that is the Programme for Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call Deputy Durkan.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The commission was to come forward with a report on carbon taxation before the next budget.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is not in order. I did not call her, I called Deputy Durkan.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It was not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy has been answered. The matter was only marginally in order, incidentally.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That was not the case.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I wish to raise two issues. The first is the current whereabouts of the pharmacy Bill and whether any developments have taken place which might lend it a new impetus or urgency with a view to bringing it to the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no date.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What does the Taoiseach mean?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It was mentioned last week that there was no date for it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Taoiseach did so and he told me it was not dependent on the negotiations between pharmacists and the HSE.

[750]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot have commentary on that.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Taoiseach’s predecessor told me the opposite. He told me it was dependent on the discussions. I would like clarification on that.

On another issue, I have looked around for some suitable legislation and the Taoiseach should promise some as a matter of urgency. Diesel prices seem to be escalating on a daily basis.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Go away out of that. I call Deputy Varadkar.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is a serious issue.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  It is a serious matter.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Ministers do not have to buy it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Could the relevant Minister not look at the issue to see where——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  You are completely out of order.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  ——the public is being ripped off?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If everybody did that, we would be here all night. This farce is ridiculous.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  The Ministers do not buy diesel.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call Deputy Varadkar.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  I always seem to follow Deputy Durkan, for some reason. I would like to raise again the issue of the 15 Bills before the House which intend to establish new State agencies, or extend the powers of existing State agencies. I am particularly concerned about the different messages we are getting from the Government on this matter. When I raised this issue with the Taoiseach recently, he told me he did not think it was a question of having fewer agencies. However, the Minister for Finance told us many things in an interview with my local newspaper the other day, one of which was——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should not mind the agencies. He should ask about the legislation.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  I am sticking to the agency legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We can have a discussion about that some other time.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  The Minister for Finance said in the interview that he is concerned about the proliferation of State agencies and——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not relevant now.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  ——that there are too many agencies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  What legislation are you talking about?

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Who does speak for the Government on this matter?

[751]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is out of order.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Is it the Taoiseach or is it the Minister for Finance?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy’s remarks are irrelevant. I call Deputy Broughan.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Is a road traffic Bill necessary to amend the drink driving limits? Will such a Bill be introduced in advance of next year’s local elections? Does the Government intend to retain the current limit for the next year, at least? I would also like to speak about public private partnerships and affordability. There are approximately 10,000 families and individuals on Dublin’s affordable housing list.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That matter is being discussed on the Adjournment tonight.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  There are thousands of empty apartments and houses in this city.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not in order.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  It is not in order for the waiting lists to increase.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  It is time for the Government to take an initiative in this area.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is a disgrace.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I will outline the position in respect of the legislation. The Road Safety Authority has given its view on the limits issue. It is silent on the issue of what the penalties should be, which also needs to be considered. We need to get a comprehensive view of all of that before we make any decisions on how to proceed. Such decisions should not be based on Deputy Broughan’s rather cynical view of the matter. We need to make sure it is done properly.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I am reflecting what the Taoiseach’s own people are saying.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No. The Deputy should not give me that nonsense about the other people who are talking to him. He has suggested that we are not serious about this issue. This Administration has introduced more reforms, as part of an effort to make our roads safe, than any of its predecessors. We do not share the rather cynical approach that is taken by Deputy Broughan.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That is really unfair.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is pure cynicism.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Taoiseach told me a week or so ago that three Bills are promised to deal with management companies. The previous Taoiseach told me the same thing six months or so ago. They pointed out that a high level group and a ministerial group have been established to examine this matter. Have the examinations produced any results? Perhaps they have — a piece of paper is being passed to the Taoiseach. Has progress been made? When can we expect to see the three Bills which are needed to control management companies?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have asked that a meeting be arranged between the relevant Ministers and Opposition spokespersons to see if this matter can be advanced.


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