Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Tánaiste: 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 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.
Deputy 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: 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.
Deputy 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——
Deputy 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.
The Tánaiste: 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.
Deputy 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?
Deputy 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: 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: 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.
The Tánaiste: 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: 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?
Deputy 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.
Deputy 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.
Deputy 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——
The Tánaiste: 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.
Deputy Bernard J. 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?
Deputy Bernard J. 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?
Deputy Bernard J. 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.
Deputy Bernard J. 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?
Deputy 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
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