Order of Business.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 667 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 2, the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 — Second Stage (resumed). 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. and that the proceedings on the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 — Second Stage (resumed) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion [26]at 10 p.m. Private Members’ Business shall be No. 40, motion re cervical cancer (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m., if not previously concluded.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 2 agreed to?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  As has been made clear to the Chief Whip on numerous occasions, I do not favour the use of guillotines. It may well be the case that a Bill could be talked out in the time allocated but I object to the use of the guillotine. This is an important Bill and with unemployment increasing by 10,000 per month, it has serious implications. There is a raft of issues relevant to social and family affairs and the social welfare Bill, including reform of different sections and schemes, which Members wish to discuss. I object to the guillotining of the Bill at 10 p.m. and I will call for a vote if necessary.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Labour Party does not agree to the Government’s proposal to guillotine the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 at 10 p.m. The effect of this guillotine would leave only two speaking slots available for the Labour Party, which has some 20 Members, many of whom wish to contribute to the debate.

The Bill will make major changes to some social welfare provisions. Unemployed people will lose more than €2,500 due to the changes in the jobseeker’s benefit. Parents of children aged 18 years will lose almost €2,000 due to the changes in child benefit. Parents of children aged five years will lose approximately €800 due to the changes in the early child care supplement.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should stick to the merits and demerits of the legislation.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Tenants dependent on rent supplements will effectively receive no increase in their social welfare payment. Fewer unemployed people will qualify for jobseeker's benefit because of the new restrictions on entitlements.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is too much detail. The question is whether the Deputy objects to the Order of Business.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Fewer people with disabilities, injuries or illnesses will qualify for payments. For these reasons the Labour Party seeks a longer period in which to debate the Bill. It is clear the Government wishes to rush the Bill through and bury the changes at 10 p.m. It is not acceptable to the Labour Party and we oppose the proposal.

  12 o’clock

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I also object to the proposed guillotining of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008. It is especially objectionable that a guillotine would be applied to the Bill in a year in which there has been a sizeable increase in the number of people dependent on social welfare benefits. The figures up to August indicate some 30,000 workers from the construction industry have been placed in the unemployment queues. A guillotine is wholly inappropriate. Many colleagues in the House seek an opportunity to properly participate in a debate and a guillotine would prevent this. I urge the Taoiseach to remove the guillotine, or we will have no option but to challenge the proposition.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Order of Business was set this morning to enable a full day’s debate on the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008. There will be many opportunities on Committee Stage and Report Stage for further contributions.

[27]Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 2 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 69; Níl, 58.

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 Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris. 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 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 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 Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
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 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 Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. 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 Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
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 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 Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. 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 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 Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James.
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 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 Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J.
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 Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. 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 Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. 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 Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. 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 Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
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 Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
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  What is the current position on the Government’s proposal to hold a referendum on children’s rights? I know the committee involved is working on it at the moment. What is the projected timescale? Second, what is the current position regarding publication of the civil partnership Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The civil partnership Bill is scheduled for early next year. Regarding the children’s rights issue, the whole purpose of the committee is to try to develop a consensus to see if there is an agreed way forward. Various options are being examined and tested.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Does the Taoiseach have a conclusion date for the committee’s work? Is its remit likely to be extended?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is a matter for the committee. It is doing some good work and a lot of discussion has taken place. I will be guided by the committee.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When will the Government publish the legislation which will take the medical card off old age pensioners? After this week, there are 15 sittings days left in this session to complete the Social Welfare Bill, in addition to the Finance Bill and the nursing homes Bill. The Bill which will take the medical card from pensioners will require considerable debate in the House, so I would like to know when it will be published.

Second, arising from questions yesterday, it would appear that the only legislative initiative which the Government is now contemplating to deal with gangland crime, including murders, as we have seen happening in Limerick, is the Government’s response to the Garda Surveillance Bill, which was published by Deputy Rabbitte on behalf of the Labour Party. Is the Government accepting Deputy Rabbitte’s Bill and, if so, can we have it dealt with in the House? Or is it introducing its own version of that Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Government will introduce its own Bill. Whilst I respect the fact that Deputy Rabbitte has put forward a Bill for consideration, which can be taken in Private Members’ time if the Labour Party so wishes, we would not agree with aspects of it. I understand there is a provision for freedom of information in the Bill that Deputy Rabbitte has prepared, and there are other things with which I would not be in agreement. While I understand the motivation behind that idea, it would be fraught with operational difficulties.

The covert surveillance Bill has been in preparation in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for some time. It has yet to be completed, considered by the Government and brought before this House. It was important yesterday, however, to bring to the attention of the House that the legislation is in preparation. Much important legislation has been passed, including the Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007, which has proven to be good and effective. We will keep all these matters under review and will be guided by the Garda Commissioner [29]were he to advise us of the necessity for changes to other aspects of the law. That is not the case at the moment, however, although we do keep these matters under review.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  What about the medical cards?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That matter has not yet come before the Government, but it will before Christmas.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  In light of the desperate pressure on the Garda Síochána at present with the situation in Limerick, Dublin and elsewhere, will the Taoiseach bring forward the attachment of fines Bill? It was discussed in this House many years ago and its introduction was promised. As yet, however, that has not happened. Gardaí are spending time collecting fines.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Never mind that. We cannot go into that now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand that Bill is awaiting Second Stage.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  I wish to ask the Taoiseach about two pieces of legislation, one of which, the Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008, has been ordered for Second Stage. When will we see that legislation? There seems to be a difficulty in getting legislation to debate. The Coroners Bill 2007 is currently before the Seanad on Committee Stage. It has been there for nearly 12 months, so is there any light at the end of the tunnel concerning that legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The first Bill to which Deputy Naughten referred has been published and is awaiting an order for Second Stage. The second Bill is, as the Deputy said, before the Seanad. It cannot be taken here until it returns from the Seanad.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  When can we expect the publication of the public transport regulation Bill, which is urgently needed in light of the Government’s failure to reduce CO2 emissions? It is also required to deal with the lack of transport in isolated rural areas, which badly needs to be addressed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We are still awaiting the heads of that Bill but it will not be here before next year.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Following this morning’s interaction with the Taoiseach, our party leader, Deputy Kenny, was told he was wrong.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We are not going to rehearse that and we will not have Act II either.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I have no intention of doing so.

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

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  When will the health information Bill be published? Will the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, be given powers, with teeth, to enforce that legislation? Or is it the case — because it says in a written reply that it is not possible to indicate at this stage — that the Taoiseach, who chose this morning to ignore HIQA’s recommendation and figures, will not proceed with the legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The consultation process on that legislation is ongoing.

Deputy Bernard Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Everything is ongoing.

[30]Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance will be aware that some property management companies have collapsed. People who live in such accommodation cannot find anybody to whom they can make the required payments. There is a lean on their title which they cannot clear and therefore they cannot sell their homes when necessary. The situation is a mess. I understand that the legislative committee met recently and the Taoiseach promised he would examine the matter urgently. I understand the complexity of the issue, as the Taoiseach has regularly told us. The Taoiseach also said he would consider whether to introduce one Bill or three Bills. Perhaps he could let us know if the legislative committee has provided some information on that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The indications are that it should be one Bill.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  When might it be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As soon as the heads have been drafted.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Before Christmas?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not think it will be before Christmas.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is a long time ago since we were told it would be before Christmas.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  When will the industrial relations amendment Bill be published? I understand the reason behind that Bill is a commitment to the unions which are concerned that the JLC and REA system may not be constitutional. The Bill is therefore designed to underpin the legality of those systems. There is also an equal concern by employers, particularly hotels and others in the catering industry, who are closing on Sundays because of their requirement to pay double the minimum wage, in respect of which they claim an inability to pay under those terms.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot make a Second Stage speech. We cannot have a discussion about it now, as he well knows.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  When will the Bill be published and will there be provisions in it to address that item, as well?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That question is legitimate.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I can only deal with the question of when the Bill might be published. The details will have to be dealt with by the line Minister concerned. It is hoped that it will be published in this session.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  When can we expect to see the Finance Bill? Is the Taoiseach reconsidering the section of that Bill which refers to an air travel tax, given the horrendous impact this will have on airports in the west, including Shannon and Galway——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That can be discussed on Second Stage, Committee Stage and Report Stage.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  ——and in particular on the finances of Aer Lingus, which are currently being discussed?

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

[31]Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Ceann Comhairle ruled out a question I tabled today concerning the views of the Minister for Transport.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am only operating on the basis of Standing Orders.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Was the Minister for Transport even consulted?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call the Taoiseach on the legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That legislation will be before Cabinet next week.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  When is it proposed to introduce legislation for a €200 levy on second homes? Is it intended that this will be a replacement tax for the ever-dwindling local government fund of €25 million?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should put a question to the relevant Minister. When is the legislation due, Taoiseach?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That legislation is being prepared but I cannot give an exact indication.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I can be of some assistance to the Government in this respect. I have received a response from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, that this tax or levy will be introduced in January 2009.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have no reason to believe it will not.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  Sorry?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have no reason to believe it will not. I will say it one more time for Deputy McHugh. I have no reason to believe it will not.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  Will it be introduced before Christmas?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are two certainties in life, death and taxation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not know about that. January comes after Christmas.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I know that but will the legislation? The Minister stated in his reply to the parliamentary question that this levy will be lifted at the beginning of January. Legislation is required before the levy is lifted so when before Christmas will this legislation be introduced?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach has already answered that question. I call Deputy Stanton.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  He did not really answer it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  He made a stab at it anyway.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  We could do it without the legislation.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  The Dáil suspended on two occasions last week because of a lack of Government business and I note a few Bills which could be produced quickly. For example, the public health miscellaneous provisions Bill has been promised for a long time, which is to provide for the prohibition of the use of sunbeds by children under the age of 18 years. It would not take long to deal with this Bill in the House and I ask the reason for the delay.

[32]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand it should be next year——

Deputy Bernard Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  A ray of hope.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I presume the nursing homes Bill has a greater priority.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  There will be no sunbeds next year.

Deputy John Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  On a few occasions I have asked when legislation will be introduced to prevent the further liberalisation of hand gun regulations, but I have never been given a date or time period. What vehicle will be used and when will it be introduced in the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I will check whether the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill contains any reference to that matter as I do not know the precise situation. I will communicate with the Deputy.


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