Order of Business.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 666 No. 3

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 2, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m. Private Members’ business shall be No. 40, motion re cervical cancer vaccination programme.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There is one proposition to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed to?

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  No. The Labour Party is opposed to the Second Reading of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 on two counts. First, the time allowed for the debate is completely inadequate, with a guillotine tomorrow evening. Second, and more importantly, in view of the severity of the cuts contained in the Bill and the extent to which these cuts target the unemployed, children, the poor and people with disabilities, the Labour Party is opposed to the Second Reading of the Bill.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  At the Whips’ meeting, the Fine Gael Whip proposed that the Bill should not be guillotined.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Labour Party made the same proposal.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  However, a guillotine is proposed for 10 p.m. tomorrow. We can either have a vote now or tomorrow. I am opposed to the taking of this Bill by way of guillotine. It contains many changes to the social welfare regime on which all Members will wish to contribute. I am opposed to the Second Reading on the basis of the proposed guillotine.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I join with colleagues in opposing the proposition to guillotine the Second Stage debate. While it is not referred to in today’s Order Paper, it has been signalled that we will face a guillotine. Members will not have the opportunity fully to participate in the address of this legislation. Therefore, there is no option for the Opposition but to oppose the proposal.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with the late sitting be agreed to.”

[536]The Dáil divided: Tá, 70; Níl, 59.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.



Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I refer to the Taoiseach’s comment on legislation dealing with covert surveillance. The Taoiseach told the House the heads of the covert surveillance Bill will be discussed by the Cabinet next week. Will the Taoiseach indicate when the Bill will be published? I realise it must be circulated first to various Departments. Does the Taoiseach envisage it will return in the spring for publication?

In the Taoiseach’s absence last week the House agreed to hold a 90-minute debate on the cervical cancer vaccination programme. As a result of the situation arising from the murder of Mr. Shane Geoghegan, will the Taoiseach set aside 90 minutes for a debate tomorrow to allow the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to update the House on the Government’s position, especially on the provision of assistance to the Garda? Perhaps a series of questions would be in order given the seriousness of the tragic situation that obtains.

  5 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I stated during Leaders’ Questions, the Cabinet expects the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to bring the proposed covert surveillance Bill to the Cabinet next week. Thereafter, detailed drafting must take place and I cannot indicate to Deputy Kenny at this stage what the timeline will be. Given the previous discussion, we will accord priority to it and ask the Attorney General to work through the issues with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform as quickly as possible. To be fair to the Department, it has historically been very good at bringing forward legislative proposals in a timely fashion, despite the complexity of some of the issues with which it must deal. This is a complex issue and there are public policy matters involved.

I have no problem with holding a debate this week arising from the murder of Mr. Geoghegan and on crime generally. However, I am conscious that a funeral will take place tomorrow. Perhaps the Whips could meet on Thursday to discuss the possibilities. There was an indication that a discussion on the reports of the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill 2001 would be held and perhaps this could be deferred.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It would be helpful if 90 minutes were set aside for this purpose. Deputy John Perry brought to my attention the importance of several of these reports and a debate lasting 90 minutes is not long enough to discuss the Lisbon treaty and related matters. I thank the Taoiseach for his reply and I would be pleased if statements, including questions and answers, could take place during that 90-minute allocation on Thursday.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Some weeks ago I asked the Taoiseach about the promise made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to introduce legislation to limit spending for candidates in local elections. I suggested there was an opportunity to use the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2008, which is before the House, to introduce that provision. The Taoiseach subsequently wrote to me indicating that the Government’s preferred route for introducing a cap on spending limits in local elections was the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2008. The Bill is on Committee Stage and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has circulated ministerial amendments, but there is no amendment dealing [538]with spending limits. What are the Government’s intentions to place a cap on spending limits for local elections and when will the necessary legislative proposals be brought forward?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Government is deliberating on the detail and the best way to proceed. While it may have been the original intention to incorporate the provision as an amendment to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2008, it will not now be incorporated. The matter is subject to continued deliberation. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will introduce further proposals based on these discussions. The Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2008 is not the means through which it will be done.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  That is difficult to understand. This is not a complicated legislative matter and there are precedents related to general and European elections. I do not know the nature of the ongoing discussion, unless the Taoiseach wishes to share it with the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We cannot go into that matter on the Order of Business.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The local elections will take place next June and people need to know in advance of the elections if there will be spending limits and what they will be.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is in order to ask about legislation.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is about the timing and the presentation of the legislation. The elections are coming, when will we see it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not mean to be facetious, but we will introduce the legislation before the local elections if we are to have it.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I thank the Taoiseach, but will we have it before people place their post box orders?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am trying to be helpful. We did not introduce such legislation previously for local elections because they are a different type of election. Under the current arrangement for European and general elections, there are spending limits and repayment arrangements. It is not as simple as some people suggest. We do not want a situation to develop where there is an unfair burden on local election candidates. There is a need to work out the detail and examine how it could be done in a way that does not cause as big a problem as the one it seeks to solve.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I join the leaders of the Fine Gael and Labour parties in expressing my outrage and condemnation at the outrageous and tragic murder of Mr. Shane Geoghegan in Limerick in the early hours of Sunday morning. I join in the extension of sympathy to his family and friends. We are in need of sound legislation compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights to enable the Garda and the Director of Public Prosecutions to build solid cases against gangland criminals. Is there any legislation under consideration other than the already flagged covert surveillance Bill to address the scourge that these gangland criminals have visited on many of our major cities and larger population areas?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is there particular legislation about which the Deputy wishes to ask?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I refer to an unrelated but equally important matter. On the programme for Government, the alleged basis on which the Government operates, given that [539]the three component parts thereof are no longer in situ, with the signal demise of the Progressive Democrats who helped to negotiate it, that none of the three leaders who negotiated the programme — Deputies Bertie Ahern, Mary Harney and Trevor Sargent — is any longer a party leader and that we have a very new and very different situation economically, socially and politically throughout the jurisdiction in these straitened economic circumstances, does the Taoiseach accept that the programme for Government is no longer applicable? What is required is a realistic addressing of the need for a new programme for Government. Will the Taoiseach recognise the need to negotiate a new programme? Will he accept the advice of all parties in the development of such a programme, which would be appropriate to the present situation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  When drafting legislation we must take cognisance of the constitutional and international obligations and imperatives that apply. The need to give sufficient consideration to such matters is imperative, so that subsequent legislation is not struck down in the courts, where it is not effective because of court challenge or by way of legal argument. The accommodation of these public policy considerations mean that such legislation can take some time to draft.

The programme for Government outlines our priorities quite clearly, and how we must work within responsible public finance provisions in order to achieve those. All commitments in any programme for——

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Was other legislation being considered? I understand that time is required in its preparation, but I have asked a simple question. Is legislation other than the covert surveillance Bill, already addressed here today, being considered by the Government in the context of these serious matters?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Deputy can only ask about specific legislation. If he wants to ask a general question, he should table a parliamentary question. I call Deputy Bannon.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Approximately 40 jobs have been lost in Longford-Westmeath——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Deputy come to a relevant question on the Order of Business?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Yes, it will be very relevant. These jobs have been lost since Fianna Fáil and Deputy Peter Kelly closed Connolly Barracks.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Has the Government any legislation planned that can counteract the adverse effects of high business costs, as well as the cost of petrol and diesel? These costs are driving people out of business right across the country, especially in the midlands.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is any legislation promised in that area?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That was dealt with in the financial resolutions to the budget.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is a matter for the budget debate.


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