Order of Business.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 673 No. 2

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  5 o’clock

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is proposed to take No. 8, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 9, motion re Stardust fire tragedy; and No. 10, motion re by-election for Dublin South, to be taken at 7 p.m. or on the conclusion of No. 9, whichever is the later. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted on the adjournment of Private Members’ business which shall be No. 51, motion re energy prices, to be taken for 90 minutes at 7 p.m. or on the conclusion of No. 10, whichever is the later; No. 8 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 9 shall be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply — the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the speech of each other [208]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 speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; and the proceedings on No. 10 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 30 minutes tonight and the speeches shall be confined to the main spokespersons for the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party and to a Minister or Minister of State, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time and which shall not exceed ten minutes in each case.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are four proposals before the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I will not be calling a vote. I made my point at 2.40 p.m. My preference would have been a change of business to allow for further discussion of the announcements made by the Taoiseach but I do not wish to delay the time of the House by calling a vote so I agree with the proposal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8, without debate, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 10 agreed to? Agreed.

I call Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When is it expected the Government will announce its recapitalisation programme for the banks? Will the detail of the extent of liability to the State——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This is not Leaders’ Questions and I cannot allow that question, unfortunately.

Deputy Olwyn Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  It is a question on legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If it is a question on legislation, I ask Deputy Kenny to tell me what legislation is concerned.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There will have to be some legislation governing changes to the structure of the Irish banking system, as the Ceann Comhairle well knows.

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

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Legislation is promised and the Minister is currently working on that legislation. He hopes to bring it to the House as quickly as possible.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  That does not answer my question. It is not good enough for the Tánaiste to say, “as quickly as possible”. Is the Tánaiste aware that the international bond markets are looking at this country in the same way as they look at a bank and there is a serious lack of trust and confidence? The people now own Anglo Irish Bank and they need to know the extent of liability. As we speak the situation is that no Irish bank is viable without the support of Government. This is a matter of the utmost concern. Credit is not flowing to small business——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Tánaiste has answered the question.

[209]Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——and for that reason I want a more accurate answer as to when the Government expects to bring the legislation to the House to give effect to recapitalisation of some of the Irish banks.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I do not know if the Tánaiste can be of any more assistance to Deputy Kenny.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I will not mislead the House. I am not in a position to say for definite on what date this legislation will be brought before the House. The Minister is working on this matter. It will be brought before the House as quickly as possible but I am not in a position to give a definitive date as to when it will be before the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  She cannot do any better than that, Deputy Kenny.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  My understanding was that it was the Tánaiste’s original intention to bring in the recapitalisation programme in conjunction with the announcements made today. When the Tánaiste says that the Minister for Finance is working on the legislation, are we talking about this week or next week or the week after that? Will she give the House some indication of the timeframe?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I do not know how the Tánaiste can help with that.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It has not been brought to Government yet so I cannot give the Deputy a definite date. It is our expectation that it will be brought forward quickly.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It is very urgent.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I appreciate that.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am a little surprised at the Tánaiste’s answer to Deputy Kenny because the Government’s legislative programme lists the National Pensions Reserve Fund (amendment) Bill which is to give effect to the Government decision to recapitalise the banks through the National Pensions Reserve Fund and related matters concerning the National Pensions Reserve Fund. The Tánaiste has just said that the matter has not yet been brought to Government. Where is the National Pensions Reserve Fund Bill that is promised legislation and which is to allow for the use of the fund to recapitalise the banks and when will it be before the House? Will the recapitalisation of the banks require legislation other than the promised legislation in the list? I think everybody understood that the recapitalisation of the banks was something the Government was immediately engaged upon and that it was imminent and urgent business. A piece of legislation is promised to address it because we are told the funding is to come from the National Pensions Reserve Fund. Where is this Bill and when will the House see it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The legislation has been signed off by Government today. The specific details on the recapitalisation of the banks have not been completed and until such time as they have been finalised by the Minister and his Department, we will not be in a position to say what day it will come before the House. The over-arching piece of legislation was signed off this afternoon.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When will the National Pensions Reserve Fund Bill be published? Will that Bill be published and brought through the House before recapitalisation? I understand this is the Bill which allows the National Pensions Reserve Fund to be used for recapitalisation so it would appear logical that it would have to be enacted before recapitalisation.

[210]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Deputy is correct in that the Bill will have to be enacted first before recapitalisation occurs. However, the specific proposals must be signed off by the Cabinet before we can finalise matters in the House.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  The Taoiseach may have answered this question already but it is a legislative matter. I assume the new pension levy will require some form of legislation and I assume it will need to be brought to the House at some stage. I ask for more information on this matter. The Tánaiste may be aware that a large number of public servants, particularly younger new entrants to the public service, have large mortgages and already pay a pension levy. Will this new pension levy be in addition to that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This is the Order of Business, not Leaders’ Questions.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  I would hate to see the Government hitting younger people so hard.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Tánaiste to reply on the legislative aspect.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Legislation will need to be brought before the House and signed off before 1 March 2009 and it is being worked on.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I wish to ask the Tánaiste about a couple of issues. The Taoiseach in his statement describes the legislation on the pensions levy as being urgent. He suggested that one part of it will be for the general Civil Service and the other part for the local authorities. Does this mean that the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, will be bringing in one piece of legislation and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, and the Greens will be bringing in another? The Taoiseach’s statement contained a reference to a house tax which was mentioned in the budget.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  As I said, the Deputy can only ask a question on legislation.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will the levy be introduced by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley?

We have just received the Exchequer figures, as of 31 January, but no profiles of tax receipts and expenditure have been produced. Every other year the profiles have been given——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Burton, I cannot allow this.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——on 26 or 27 January in order that we can understand the figures. Today the Taoiseach said the drop of €900 million in tax revenue and an increase in expenditure of €600 million were in line with the profiles but we did not receive them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Burton will have to table a question on that matter. I call the Tánaiste on the legislative question.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That is a breach of precedent.

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I have the dates for several years on which we received the profiles.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will have to raise the matter in some other way.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  When will we receive the expenditure profiles?

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is in order. How are we supposed to do our business——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am sorry, Deputy, but I will decide what is in order.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——when the Government is keeping the information to itself?

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Can we receive the information?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  There will be one Bill to deal with the matter.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  What Department will introduce it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Department of Finance.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  What about the house tax?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy, come on. I call Deputy Ó Caoláin.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That matter will be dealt with in separate legislation, the local government Bill.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will it be introduced by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Yes.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  It is not a laughing matter. That is the problem with the Tánaiste. To her it is all just a big joke.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Deputy should grow up.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  No wonder she has not got a clue.

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  To cut to the chase, my curiosity has been aroused by the Taoiseach’s earlier address in the statements on the crisis in the economy in which he referred to legislation to deal with pension related measures. Will the Tánaiste indicate the numbers of Bills that will be generated by the measures announced this afternoon? Rather than dignifying the house measures, will she indicate——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is not possible on the Order of Business to say how many Bills will be needed.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——how much legislation will be required on the back of what the Taoiseach advised the Chamber?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is impossible to answer such a statistical question on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I believe the Tánaiste does know.

[212]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  One Bill will be brought forward by the Department of Finance. The quip from the Labour Party was inappropriate. There will be one Bill to give effect to the measures discussed in the House. On other matters, I am not in a position to say what legislative measures will be introduced.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must repeat the Order of Business is not Question Time. Details of the kind being sought could be not be expected of anybody. I call Deputy Durkan.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is either promised or threatened legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy, come on. What is the number of Bills? The Deputy is an experienced parliamentarian and knows what I am saying.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We are more interested in the threatened legislation and what is coming down the track.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I wish to raise two issues. For several months there have been numerous incidents involving explosive devices such as pipe bombs and hand grenades.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Preambles are not allowed on the Order of Business.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  There is promised legislation.

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  With various other indications of an increase in criminal violence, what is the Government’s intention to put the criminals involved behind bars? Under which legislation is it proposed to do this?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Trawling and fishing are not allowed on the Order of Business.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I have told the Deputy 1,000 times to ask about specific legislation.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am asking a question on legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Stardust debate is next for which we will only have one hour and three quarters.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Will it be done under the criminal justice (forensic sampling and evidence) Bill, the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, the criminal justice (money laundering) Bill, the criminal procedure Bill or, perhaps, the explosives Bill?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  All the Bills mentioned, apart from the explosives Bill, will be taken this session, as I told the Deputy last week. The explosives legislation will be taken later in the year.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  We had explosive legislation today.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I wish to raise another issue which I am sure is close to the Ceann Comhairle’s heart. In the past nine years various Ministers boasted abroad about Ireland being a high wage economy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Will the Deputy ask a question?

[213]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Several Ministers have said so. After today’s performance, can we presume there will be a revision and that perhaps the begging Bill will be introduced as a matter of urgency?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I do not know anything about the begging Bill. Does the Tánaiste?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is promised legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The vagrancy Bill will be introduced later this year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Otherwise known as the begging Bill.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That is an inappropriate term to use.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is very appropriate, as the Tánaiste knows well.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  With the Minister for Health and Children sitting beside the Tánaiste, will she inform the House when the health information Bill be published?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  As it is out for consultation, I am not in a position to say when it will be before the House.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  In the light of the Taoiseach’s announcement to reduce overseas development aid by €95 million, will there be an impact on the provision of the Irish diaspora endowment fund Bill to provide €10 million over five years for the various organisations involved? Does the Government still intend to meet our commitment to the millennium development goal of reaching the figure of 0.7% of gross domestic product by 2012

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That question would be more appropriate to the line Minister. When is the legislation due?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  In the middle of the year.


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