Order of Business.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 669 No. 2

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 7, motion re referral to joint committee on proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Regional Fisheries Boards (Postponement of Elections) Order 2008; No. 2, Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2008 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 20, Nursing Homes Support Scheme Bill 2008 — Second Stage (Resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 7 shall be decided without debate. Private Members’ business shall be No. 51, motion re agriculture.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 7 without debate agreed to?

Deputy Liz McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  No. It is important that it be debated. The fact that the motion proposes to postpone elections is an indication that the Minister, Deputy Ryan, seems to be turning [205]into a serial postponer. The elections have been postponed each year since 2005 when they were supposed to have been held. We are being asked now to postpone them until 2009.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  There is something fishy here. It might be cod.

Deputy Liz McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  This statutory instrument has the Minister’s official seal on it. The postponement order was presented to the House approximately one year ago. In reintroducing it today, “2007” has probably been Tipp-Exed and replaced by “2008”; and we are expected to rubber stamp it. This is so unacceptable that, when the Fianna Fáil Minister made the same order in 2006, the current Minister described it as “a shocking indictment of the Government’s inability to prioritise the environment”.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  He did not mean it.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  He was not in government then.

Deputy Liz McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  He then called the postponement a cowardly act. This serious accusation was made following a postponement of two years, but we are again being asked to prevent elections being called for a fourth year. It is not just cowardice; it is incompetence. The promised reform package has not been introduced, nor have the heads of a Bill or other legislation. The Minister is responsible for the fisheries boards and the management of same and has overseen a decentralisation process that has been most incompetent. In fact, that decentralisation did not happen but the process cost a huge amount. The money relating to decentralisation was taken from a fisheries budget that was quite small from the outset.

I request a full debate on this matter so that the House does not merely rubber stamp this incompetence. There is a great deal of discussion from those on the Government side about reducing waste. However, when options are provided and opportunities are presented, we are again asked to defer matters and to play the patsies. That is unacceptable. On behalf of the Labour Party, I request that we engage in a debate on this matter so that we can deal with it once and for all.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  This is a matter for the relevant committee in the first instance. If, upon its return, there is a need or a request for a short debate, we could try to accommodate it.

Deputy Liz McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I cannot accept that.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 7 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tà, 71; 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 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 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 Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
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 Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
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 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 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 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 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 Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
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 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 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 Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. 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 Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
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.  


Níl
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 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 Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. 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 Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. 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 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 Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. 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 Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
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 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 Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. 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 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I did not catch the end of what the Taoiseach said in response to the last question in regard to the Finance Bill. What is the projected deficit and projected level of borrowing for next year?

[207]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into that now.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have asked the question anyway.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I know.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Taoiseach might be good enough to answer the question. There are only nine sitting days left before Christmas. Perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate when the legislation dealing with the medical card issue will come before the House. The Taoiseach will be aware it has been promised on a number of occasions.

Does the Government intend to introduce regulations in the area of stem cell research, a completely unregulated area in this country? The Taoiseach will next week attend a European Council meeting in Brussels at which he will have to outline what he refers to as “elements of a solution” to Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon treaty. The Taoiseach will be aware that the meeting is no ordinary meeting. I believe the House should discuss this matter——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Kenny cannot discuss that matter now, as he well knows.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——before the Taoiseach goes to Brussels.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hear, hear.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There should be a real debate on this issue in the House, which could assist the Taoiseach prior to his departure for Brussels. I expect the Government Whip——

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Deputy Kenny gave his press release last week.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——might at least inform the other Whips if there is a possibility such debate could take place next Tuesday. I believe it is important we debate this issue of national interest. Ireland is now suffering from an element of anti-Europeanism in certain quarters, which is not good for the future of the economy.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hear, hear.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I believe we should have a debate on this issue in the House before the Taoiseach goes to Brussels to outline the position in this regard.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hear, hear.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  We should have a debate before the Taoiseach goes to Brussels.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I understand it, the issue of stem cell research was discussed recently in the Seanad during Private Members’ time. No legislation in this area is promised on the Government side.

On the legislation dealing with medical cards, the Bill concerned was brought before Government this morning and approved and can be dealt with subject to agreement by the Whips. On Deputy Kenny’s call for a debate on the Lisbon treaty issue, I understand that the excellent report published last week by the Sub-Committee on Ireland’s Future in the European Union in regard to the issues that have arisen out of the referendum could form the basis of a debate in the House next week.

  [208]5 o’clock

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Last night, a shocking “Prime Time Investigates” programme showed a huge level of exploitation of workers in this country. One of the most worrying aspects of this was that of road haulage drivers driving without brakes, which apart from being an exploitation of workers, also exposes other road users to considerable risk. Legislation in respect of tightening up the rights of employees and to deal with problems of exploitation in the workplace has been promised for some time. When will the Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008, published in March, nine months ago, and not yet dealt with, be debated in the House? When will the Employment Agencies Regulation Bill 2007, which has been listed for publication, be published?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call Deputy Morgan on the same issue.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I agree with Deputy Gilmore that the revelations made last night on the “Prime Time Investigates” programme were shocking. The problem spans many sectors. Part of the difficulty is that employers apply for and hold work permits. If employees applied for and held work permits, this would allow them much more latitude and would ensure this scandal is less likely to occur.

When will the Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008 come before this House and will it deal with the critical matter of workers holding work permits?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the employment legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The legislation referred to by Deputies Gilmore and Morgan——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must ask for silence in the House while the Taoiseach is replying.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The consultation process with the social partners is ongoing and it is unlikely the legislation will come before the House until early next year. While I did not see the programme concerned, its contents were reported to me. Any exploitation taking place in this area must be very much condemned and needs to be dealt with. It should perhaps bring some urgency to the consultations currently taking place.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Will that consultation extend to include Members of this House as well?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Given the serious problems in the pensions sector, when can we expect publication of the family law Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The family law Bill is due to be published next year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Whether it will resolve the pensions problem is another matter.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  As the Ceann Comhairle will know, since my election to this House I have taken an interest in the large number of State agencies operating in this country and, in particular, the actions of some of them. It was announced in the budget that approximately 40 agencies would be merged, requiring some 20 items of legislation. I have been in touch with all the Departments about this and of those 20 mergers, Bills are only anticipated in respect of five of them. I do not want to go through all of them, but I would be interested to know if it is the intention of the Taoiseach and the Government to bring before the House, in this session or next year, the necessary legislation to bring about all the amalgamations and abolitions outlined in the Budget Statement? In respect of the 20 proposed mergers, there are only five Bills to amend legislation. Legislation exists to allow for one other merger by way of ministerial [209]order, but there is no legislation to allow for the other proposed 14 mergers. I would interested to know if there is a commitment from Government to publish 14 Bills in respect of those mergers and, if so, when that will be done?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Different issues apply in regard to all these matters. The fact that there are a number of agencies to be rationalised and merged does not equate to the number of Bills that would be required to effect that. The state of readiness of the legislation, where it is applicable in various Departments, would vary from place to place. The important point is that a decision has been taken to proceed along the lines announced in the budget in respect of the agencies mentioned. It is for Ministers now to proceed with that with all due haste in consultation with the management and unions of those agencies.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Taoiseach may be aware that a major planning application for a €2 billion development has been submitted to deal with a large section of O’Connell Street and the surrounding streets. Two national monuments, namely, the GPO and 14-17 Moore Street, are in the heart of this proposed development. In the context of legislation that has been proposed to consolidate and modernise the existing national monument legislation, when will the national monument Bill come before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Unfortunately, there is no date for it at the moment.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  There is a certain urgency about it.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister for Social and Family Affairs said yesterday that people in private pension schemes, if they collapsed would always have the State pension to fall back on. She spread considerable alarm and fear——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Many people in State——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot make a speech on this matter.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Is there a Government proposal to introduce legislation to make this possible because many people who have private pension funds do not have an entitlement in that respect? The Minister also indicated that people in private pensions funds are to be allowed to postpone purchasing an annuity.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Every Deputy in the House wishes to raise matters that are outside the scope of the Order of Business. Is there legislation promised in that area, Taoiseach?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Is there legislation or regulation promised in either of these respects, or was the Minister just having a Marie Antoinette moment of “let them eat cake——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should not mind Marie Antoinette now, that was a different age.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——as there is always the public pension fund to fall back on.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Legislation is promised in this area. Everyone will be aware that a very public consultation has taken place on the Green Paper on Pensions and discussions will continue between the Ministers concerned.

[210]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister frightened tens of thousands of people yesterday in her television or radio performance.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I received telephone calls to my constituency office all day about it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not accept that at all.

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  People were terrified by what they heard.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  We did not hear an interview like it from a Minister since that given by——

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Joe Jacob.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  ——the former Minister of State, Joe Jacob, who was very much loved on all sides of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot start reviewing television programmes now, as the Deputy well knows.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Maybe the Chair has a point.

I wrote to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform a few months ago urging him to bring the defamation Bill to Committee. Will the Taoiseach cause this Bill to be progressed, as the work of the press ombudsman may be at risk if it is not enacted? I do not know why it has slipped down the list of priorities since the Deputy Brian Lenihan left that Department.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the Bill is waiting to go to Committee. I cannot give the Deputy an answer to that question. I will inquire and establish what is the position.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I have a brief question for the Ceann Comhairle concerning a raft of questions he ruled out of order today and despite his well-known Kerry wisdom, I believe he got it wrong. They related to bus and DART fares and to who is the regulator in that respect. As the Ceann Comhairle might be aware, the Minister is still the regulator of fares applying to public transport. I cannot understand the reason he did not allow those questions to go forward. They related in particular to the swingeing increases in commuter fares planned for early 2009.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I communicated with the Deputy on that matter and will communicate with him further in greater detail.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Yesterday, the Licensed Vintners Association announced a proposal to freeze the cost of drink, which will be welcomed in certain quarters as we approach Christmas. Can the Taoiseach confirm that the sale of alcohol Bill will not be published or taken this session, contrary to what was promised on numerous occasions throughout the year, particularly during the debate on the interim measure, the Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill earlier this year?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is likely, given that the legislation is about to be given priority for the remainder of session, that it will not be taken this session.

[211]Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I have just come from a meeting of the Joint Committee on Health and Children at which a situation pertaining to 400 children in institutions with disabilities was raised.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot discuss that matter now.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I am asking this question under No. 56 on the legislative programme. Given that this situation pertains, and given that HIQA has told us that it is putting in place new standards, but that they have to go to Government and be approved by it and that there are cost implications, will the Taoiseach advise if legislation is required to do this, if a supplementary budget will be required to do it and, if not, will the Government expedite this matter and provide for children with disabilities, who are three to seven times more likely to be abused than their counterparts?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot make a speech on that matter. He will have to raise it at that committee. Is legislation promised in this area, Taoiseach?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The health information Bill is the legislation that refers to that issue. A consultation process has just been completed and is currently being analysed.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  So no legislation is required.


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