Order of Business.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 680 No. 2

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2009; and No. 12, Financial Motions by the Minister for Finance, 2008, motion 11 (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the proceedings on No. 9 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after one hour 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 ten minutes in each [187]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 (2) the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 22 April 2009. Private Members’ business shall be No. 54, motion re cystic fibrosis, to be taken after the Order of Business and to conclude after three hours, 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 for dealing with No. 9, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2009, agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal that the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 22 April 2009, agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  When will the Bill establishing the proposed national asset management agency be published? How far in advance of the Second Stage debate on that legislation will it be made available to Members of this House? Within what timeframe does the Government envisage the legislation will be enacted? In the interim, will the Government publish a briefing paper for the benefit of Deputies, detailing the mechanism it intends to use to determine the values of the asset-backed loans that will be the subject of this Bill? We need to ensure the taxpayer will be protected. We need to factor into those values the risk that is to be borne by the taxpayer.

Will the Bill, or other legislation, be enacted to ensure the agency is accountable to a committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas? Will there be a degree of transparency in its workings so that Members of the House and the public alike might be made aware of the value of the loan book they have acquired when it is taken from the banks? We must know what steps will be taken to recover borrowings from debtors and realise assets and to ensure that the agency is immune from any influence that any person might attempt to impose on it in order to do favours for the friends of Fianna Fáil and to release them from borrowings that should never have been made available to them in the first place.

Deputy Martin Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  That is a bloody disgrace.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  The Deputy should apologise.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Government is responsible for the mess we are in and should take that responsibility. It is time it apologised for what it has inflicted on the country, before the House goes into recess.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Hold on please, Deputy Shatter. We were going wonderfully well there for a while, too well. I want you to confine yourself, as you were doing, to the Standing Orders——

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  It is that crowd over there.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Shatter should ignore all else.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  How can one ignore them?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  It is impossible to ignore them.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  With regard to the Bill——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Shatter can ask about the Bill but may not discuss its contents.

[188]Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I do not wish to discuss the contents but with regard to the Bill, and to having Members of the House fully informed on issues of importance in its regard, will the Minister make available to Members on this side of the House any legal advice available to the Government concerning the approximate €30 billion borrowings in respect of assets outside the State? Will we be informed about any difficulty this agency might encounter in taking ownership or possession of the assets that are secured against these borrowings and realising those assets? That is a particularly important issue.

With regard to bailing out the banks, which is what this legislation is intended to do, does the Government intend, either within it, or in a separate Bill, to introduce legislation to compel the banks to facilitate the many thousands of people who acquired property in this State at the height of the property boom between 2004 and 2007? They are now imprisoned on fixed interest mortgages and the banks will not allow them switch to variable rates without paying exorbitant penalties.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  These are the people who have suffered a quadruple whammy. They are suffering negative equity and are paying more interest than anybody else——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot have speeches on this now.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——on their borrowings.

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  They now find themselves——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot have speeches now. On the legislation.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——with banks that will not release them from these arrangements and they are the people——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On the legislation.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Many thousands of couples are particularly hit by the budget measures——-

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On the legislation. Deputy Shatter, you have had a good innings now.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——this Government brought to this House——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On the legislation.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——last Tuesday.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Concerning the legislation, the approach adopted by the Government is in the best interests of the Irish economy and the financial system in the long run. Contrary to what Deputy Shatter said, it is not a bail out of the banks.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Of the builders.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  This is the third bail out.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That is exemplified by the fact that the stock market’s reaction this morning is such that shares in the banks have fallen.

[189]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That is because of the activities of the past few days.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The legislation will be drawn up in the coming weeks. We will provide as much time as is humanly possible in order that people may participate in the debate. Our expectation is that it will be passed by the end of the summer session.

Concerning the estimated costs and evaluations, this will be a function of the national asset management agency, NAMA, not of the House. Moreover, as Deputy Shatter will be acutely aware, as an eminent legal practitioner, the legal advice available to the Government is privileged to the Government.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I will speak briefly, if I may, on that point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Very briefly.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  In advance of the publication of the legislation, will the Minister make available to this House information about the mechanisms that will be deployed to ensure taxpayers in this country are not ripped off by the arrangements implemented with the banks? In circumstances in which the banks are resistant to implementing these arrangements, what mechanisms will the Government use to implement what is intended, other than nationalising the banks or taking a controlling interest in them?

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  These are serious issues. I have been in this House——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I know very well they are serious issues.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The Deputy is totally out of order.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  As a Member of this House since the early 1980s, I have watched on two occasions how Fianna Fáil-led Governments have destroyed the economy of this country.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is being provocative.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  We are entitled to answers to these questions.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is being provocative.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  This House is——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Tánaiste, on the question of whether there will be a White Paper——

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I have had enough of this Government and its toxic——

(Interruptions).

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  On the issue of the practicalities——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  We are still paying for the Insurance Corporation of Ireland.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  In order to avoid further provocation, will the Tánaiste indicate whether there will be a White Paper?

[190]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  No White Paper is promised——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  No provocation should be allowed.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Minister for Finance will, as always, take the opportunity to brief the Opposition spokespersons on this matter and I am sure clarity can be given to them concerning the legislation that will come before the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Provocation is not allowed on the Order of Business as the Deputy is well aware.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I have queries concerning the timetable for the Finance Bill and the proposal to have legislation to establish a banking commission. This was proposed in the first place by the Labour Party and we are glad Fianna Fáil took it up. I am not clear what the timetable is for the NAMA legislation. Many people are calling the NAMA proposal, the “banana” proposal.

A Deputy:  The “llama” proposal.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It seems to involve such a grave hit to the taxpayer. Stockbrokers around Dublin currently use a very quaint phrase, which, as a woman Deputy, I find appealing. When there is a write-down by a developer or a bank on a loan they describe this as taking a haircut. The Tánaiste and I know all about the cost of this because it is a really important issue for many women.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  For men, too.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  We have a bit as well.

Deputy Seán Power: Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Do not keep us in suspense, Joan.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Can the Tánaiste tell us which kind of haircut the taxpayer will be asked to take? We want to know. Is it a recession haircut that will leave us scalped——

(Interruptions).

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——or will it be a light trim for developers? Already, one of the brokering firms——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Burton, you will have to discuss that with your hairdresser. I am not allowing it now.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——is talking of 17.5%. I ask the Tánaiste——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am not allowing it.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I wish to support what Deputy Shatter said. With regard to the interview this morning with Dr. Bacon——

A Deputy:  Do not mind Dr. Bacon.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Which interview was that? Please ask questions that are in order, Deputy Burton.

[191]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The point is that Dr. Bacon——

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  This morning Dr. Bacon gave an interview on RTE radio. He said he was ruling out certain matters and ruling in certain others. He seemed to be somewhat ideologically blinkered.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Burton, you must ask a question if it is in order.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Is the Government now putting all its eggs in the Bacon basket? That is another issue. Is Dr. Bacon calling the shots? We had breakfast roll man at the last election. Now we have a Bacon roll served up to the electorate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is enough for one morning. If the Deputy wants——

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Might we have some information from the Tánaiste?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I do not know.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  With no Greens on the side.

A Deputy:  Deputy Burton should be up there.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Finance Bill will be introduced on 7 May. The banking commission legislation will come after Easter. The Attorney General is working to finalise that matter. The timetable for the NAMA legislation will be ongoing. The Attorney General and the Department of Finance and the relevant advisory people are putting this together at present. As I indicated in my previous response, we hope to bring this as quickly as possible before the House. Time will be made available for its consideration in the House with the expectation that the legislation will be passed by the end of the summer season.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I have a follow-up question. We were given several pages of information about NAMA in respect of the supplementary budget. I do not know the provenance of that information because the National Treasury Management Agency does not appear to know about it. Annex H, which deals with institutions covered — this is a really important question for taxpayers — refers to those who are regarded by the Government as appropriate for inclusion. It does not confine it to the covered institutions. I understand why that may be. Many developers have complex financing deals involving seven or eight banks, including overseas banks——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is a matter for the Finance Bill.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——and banks not covered. The Tánaiste needs to enlighten us.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No, she does not.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Within NAMA will we be covering bank loans for developments co-funded in this country?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will need to take that up when the legislation is being discussed because I cannot discuss it now, as she well knows.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will that not require——

[192]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss the contents of the legislation now.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will that not require separate legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is separate legislation required for anything else?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  We know all about the solicitors like Mr. Lynn and their faulty titles.

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  What about banks involved in complex deals with a consortium of banks?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is the end of that now, Deputy Burton.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will that be addressed in the legislation?

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will that require separate legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is separate legislation promised in the area mentioned by Deputy Burton?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Instead of speculating it is appropriate that time is given to the Attorney General, the NTMA, the advisers to the Government, the Department of Finance and the Government to make a final determination on this matter.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am not allowing that anymore.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The contents of that decision will be discussed in due course.

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That is a deeply unsatisfactory reply. This could cost the taxpayers €30 billion.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  A Cheann Comhairle, if you cannot put down the Deputy, I am not going to put her down.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Burton should resume her seat now. That is the end of it.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  This will be the biggest cost to taxpayers ever.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  She will need to raise it during the course of the debate.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  A Cheann Comhairle, I need your assistance and guidance. I had tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about the non-renewal of REPS planners’ contracts. I got a nice letter from you this morning stating that it was not a matter for the Minister but a matter for Teagasc. I rang Teagasc and was told that it got its instructions from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food not to renew the contracts in June. What do I do now, a Cheann Comhairle? You will not answer me. The Minister will not answer me. Teagasc will not answer me. It is letting go 100 REPS planners who are making a profit of €3 million a year for Teagasc and doing very useful work. Now [193]these young agricultural graduates will be put on the dole and nobody will answer my question on their behalf. What do I do?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I will ask the Deputy to call to my office so that I can advise on the letter I wrote. I cannot do any more than that.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  When the Ceann Comhairle could not answer in a letter how will he answer verbally? Who does he think I am?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy might like to get the answer verbally.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Sure, that is ridiculous.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot deal with that now.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  The Ceann Comhairle will have to answer me in the office if I go up to him.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is not in order to raise a matter regarding the disallowance of questions on the Order of Business.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  This is becoming a joke now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will need to resume his seat. I cannot do anything about it.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  The Ceann Comhairle did not put down Deputy Burton as quickly as he is putting me down.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Yes, I did. Deputy Durkan is next.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Perhaps the Minister might tell the Tánaiste how he is going to answer the question. Are we getting to the stage where a legitimate question to the Minister is not being answered? I am getting fancy letters from you, a Cheann Comhairle, that are not worth the paper they are written on.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not in order. I cannot do anything about that now.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  I know we are good friends and I never interrupt you, a Cheann Comhairle, or anything like that, but that is ridiculous.

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

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  You did not answer me, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I did. I told the Deputy that all I can do is ask him to come to my office so that we can have another discussion on it. I cannot do anything more than I have done already.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Will you call to my office, a Cheann Comhairle?

(Interruptions).

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

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  I will meet you in the bar at 11 o’clock.

[194]Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  I was going to say they could meet in the bar, but Deputy McCormack does not drink and the Ceann Comhairle is not allowed into the bar. Would the Ceann Comhairle consider an Adjournment Debate on that issue——

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  I have tabled it for discussion on the Adjournment.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  ——because the issue of Teagasc letting REPS planners go concerns many rural Deputies? I have also written to the Minister who wrote back stating he is happy to receive my letter, but I have not received a proper reply from him. Would the Ceann Comhairle consider allowing it to be discussed in the Adjournment Debate later on?

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  I thank the Whip for his assistance.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The House seems to be in skittish mood this morning. I am not so sure I know why. Perhaps it is nervousness because Government Members do not know what will happen next. I ask about the much promised and oft raised in the House legislation relating to estate management companies. Has any progress taken place since it was raised by Labour Party, Fine Gael and other Members of the House in recent weeks?

The Tánaiste’s Department has proposed legislation to consolidate and update collective investment schemes. It would be very appropriate to rush that legislation into the House. How urgent is the legislation and when does the Tánaiste expect to bring it into the House, in order to give an indication to the public as to the seriousness of the Government’s intention in this area?

Sadly and tragically, as has often happened in the past, criminality seems to grow. The matter has been raised on all sides of the House in recent years without any response from Government. Tragically, in recent days a young garda died as a result of activity that was obviously of an illegal or criminal nature. There is a plethora of legislation that has been promised for some considerable time. Threats have been made as to when this legislation is likely to be introduced. As a former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, a Cheann Comhairle, you know that public confidence in the system is waning at an alarming rate. I ask once again when it is intended to introduce into the House one single piece of legislation. It would be possible to put all this promised legislation together in a consolidated Bill to allow us to put the criminals behind bars. Everybody in the country knows about it and wants something to be done. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has been sitting on his hands since he came into office.

Deputy Noel J. Coonan: Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Zero tolerance.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  He is doing nothing about it.

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Would he, for God’s sake, get up off his behind and do something about it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The multi-unit legislation will be introduced next session. The second piece of legislation will be next year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Everything is next year.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I ask the Tánaiste about the statutory instrument that the Minister for Health and Children introduced last week to ban “happy” pills. How will that be enforced? [195] What was formerly a legal substance will now become an illegal substance. Will the Garda raid shops scattered around the country seizing a substance which two weeks ago was a legal substance on sale and may now still be on the shelves as an illegal substance? How will this been enforced? Has the Minister for Health and Children circulated to shops around the country details of the new statutory instrument, which she has placed in the Oireachtas Library?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The statutory instrument has been signed and that would be a matter for the Irish Medicines Board and the Garda.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am talking about legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  There is no legislation.

  11 o’clock

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  A statutory instrument is secondary legislation. It is obviously legislation. What was formerly legal is now illegal. This statutory instrument has determined that. The Minister for Health and Children has now created an illegal substance of what was formerly a legal substance. The premises that have been selling that substance are now in possession of an illegal substance. The Garda is entitled to come into those shops, confiscate the substance and prosecute the owners of the shops. Following the signing of the statutory instrument, what steps are being taken to ensure that innocent people do not find themselves being prosecuted under the new law?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Discussion of the implementation of the legislation is not in order now.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is an issue, but discussing the enforceability of it is not in order now. Is legislation promised in that area?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The legislation has been signed. The enforcement of it will be done under the auspices of the Irish Medicines Board. The disposal of the “happy” pills will be done in the context of the regulations set down by the IMB.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  We may all need some “happy” pills to keep going.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is a very dangerous substance and it is on that basis the Minister has signed the statutory instrument. There has been considerable publicity surrounding this with a view to its disposal under the IMB regulations.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Does the Government intend to scrap the electronic voting machines which are a symbol of the waste of Government——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That question is a hardy annual and it is not going to be asked now.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I can raise this under promised legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot. He should ask something that is in order.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  In a reply to a question tabled by Deputy Mary Alexandra White, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, said it would cost a further €25 million to recalibrate these machines if they are ever going to be used.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must resume his seat. He can raise that issue in another way.

[196]Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Parents this week have lost €1,000 for every child under five years of age. Why in the name of God are we continuing to store machines that cost €60 million and will cost another €25 million if they are ever going to be used?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy can raise that in another way. He knows well he is completely out of order. I do not want to have to ask him to leave but I will in a minute.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  The dogs in the street know that these machines will not be used in the local elections in a couple of weeks’ time or in the European elections.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot ask any more about that.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Will the Government scrap those machines and give us their value?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  He can bring that up some other way.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hear, hear. They have a very calorific value.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Contractors around the country have taken a major hit and are being driven out of business. Three have folded up in my constituency in the past week. In times of crisis there is an obligation on us to protect our own, particularly contractors.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should ask a question that is in order.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  When can we expect the publication of the urgently needed consumer and competition Bill and will it include protection for contractors, or will other legislation be published to do so? They employ many people around the country and what is happening to them is very unfair.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That Bill is intended to deal with the amalgamation of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority and to take into consideration the review of the Competition Act. I and my officials in the Department are working to get that ready for the next session if at all possible.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The earlier questions about the national asset management agency, NAMA, and the legislation to facilitate it did not address whether the heads of the Bill have been agreed. One has to presume they are as the body was launched yesterday having been announced in the Supplementary Budget Statement the day before. If so, will the heads of the Bill be circulated to Members? This was a long-stated aspiration of the former Taoiseach but there has been very little evidence of co-operation in that regard. Will the Tánaiste organise to circulate the heads of the Bill immediately on their agreement? Have they been agreed and if so can they be circulated today?

The supplementary budget also indicated a new scheme for early child care support in respect of the year before a child starts primary education. Will there be legislation to facilitate the introduction of this new scheme which will come into effect in January 2010, eight months from now? Has work commenced on the preparation of the scheme which follows the abolition of the existing scheme for child care supports? Will the Tánaiste update us on the position of that legislation?

I tabled a question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment seeking the identity and remit of the aviation expert she appointed to assess the situation at S. R. Technics. In her response she refused to identify that expert.

[197]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will have to raise that in another way at another time. He was going well.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Tánaiste explain why she refused to impart that information and can she indicate how many of the jobs there will be saved as a result of any effort on her part or by the Government?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot go into that issue now. Other Deputies have tried to raise that and every one of them has been ruled out of order but has been facilitated on the Adjournment.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Minister for Finance outlined a policy decision in respect of the NAMA in his Supplementary Budget Statement. The heads of the Bill are being worked on and that legislation will progress over the coming weeks.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Government publish them? Will it share the heads of the Bill?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I do not anticipate any legislation for the early childhood supplement but I will respond directly to the Deputy.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  What about S.R. Technics?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy knows all about the S. R. Technics issue.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I do not know. That is why I asked the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy knows the rules.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I know the questions but we are not getting the answers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am talking about the rules.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Tánaiste has refused to impart the information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am telling the Deputy he knows the rules.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am telling the Ceann Comhairle that I do not know.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The meanest cut in the supplementary budget is the suspension of the community scheme for older people which allowed community groups to put alarms into elderly people’s houses to protect them. It is incredible that something like that would be suspended.

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

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Does it need legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is an ongoing debate on the supplementary budget.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Does it need legislation? It comes from a Department.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is legislation required?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  There is no legislation.

[198]Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Is the Government going to do this? I find that incredible.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy can raise that in the supplementary budget debate.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  It was introduced by the last good Government we had under the rainbow coalition.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Everything is cut unfortunately.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Is the Industrial Relations (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Bill the same as No. 2, the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill, or is it the one that was laid before the House only two weeks ago?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  No.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Are there any plans to introduce it because many people in the catering and hotel industry are having a serious problem paying under the National Employment Rights Authority, NERA, agreement systems and the joint labour committee rules? There are two different regimes in place, for Dublin and outside which is crippling the restaurant and hotel industry.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Why does the Government not try to save the Teagasc people as well?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  There are two Bills, the Compliance Bill, which is before the House, and the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill which is to amend the effects of the JLCs and the registered employment agreements. The Attorney General has raised some issues about these and we are working through them following which I hope to have it before the House as quickly as possible.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  While the Minister and the officials in the Department of Finance will be busy over Easter drafting legislation that will force the taxpayer to buy tracts of desert in Dubai, pubs in Britain and vacant building sites in Chicago, will the Tánaiste explain how the paralysis in the drafting of legislation has permeated all aspects of Government policy recently? I refer in particular to the legislative programme published on 26 January that lists six Bills to be published by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in this session. Will the Tánaiste confirm when during this session the following Bills were published: No. 9 the civil partnership Bill; No. 10 the covert surveillance Bill; No. 11 the criminal justice (forensic sampling and evidence) Bill; No. 12 the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill; No. 13 the criminal justice (money laundering) Bill, to transpose the third money laundering directive into national law — this is the last country in the EU to effect this transposition; No. 14 the criminal procedure Bill and No. 15 the property services (regulatory) Bill? Will the Tánaiste confirm on this, the last day of yet another session, that the Government is paralysed not only in respect of the economy and financial matters but in the justice area where nothing is happening?

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

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Why is nothing happening?

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Government is slow.

[199]Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On the same issue, the Government promised to publish 18 Bills in this session but it has published only one on that list.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is sitting idly by. It is a disgrace.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  There are seven listed under the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform only one of which has been published. The other Departments have done nothing during this session. They seem to be moribund because there is no legislative activity. This is supposed to be a legislative assembly but of 18 Bills promised only one has been published.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  There has been a lot of time wasted at this hour of the morning.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Nothing came from the Minister for Transport. All he gave us was the Vote on the legislation.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister should not even go there.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  None of the Ministers is working.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  In normal circumstances the House would be in a position to deal with more legislation that would be on particular lists but on this occasion and in the previous session we have had to deal with a considerable number of emergency Bills which were complex and took considerable time.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Whose fault was that?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We had the publication of the Anglo Irish Corporation Act, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill and the Residential Tenancies Bill. Those were emergency pieces of legislation which were facilitated in this House. There were several debates on hugely important issues. We have a second Finance Bill to discuss, whereas in normal circumstances we would have only one.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A third one.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  A considerable number of pieces of legislation on the specific issues raised are almost completed. At the last Cabinet meeting we signed off on the covert surveillance Bill. This session does not complete its work today but will continue until 22 April and further publications of legislation will take place.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I suppose we will have a rush of legislation before the summer recess and it will be guillotined.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It will be guillotined without debate. It is a disgrace.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  The dearth of legislation started just after the 2007 general election. In 2007 the number of Bills passed was the lowest since 1922. This is nothing new. One Bill mentioned was the property services regulatory authority Bill. That agency has been open since November 2007 and is twiddling its thumbs. It will cost €300,000 to run this year but has no legal powers to do the work it is supposed to do. The issue of exorbitant management fees and bad maintenance services by management companies is serious, and that Bill would give that agency powers to deal with those issues. The Government has been promising that legislation “next session” for the past few sessions. What is the delay?

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

[200]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That legislation has been almost brought to finality and will be published next session.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Everything is being brought to finality.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Regarding the pending budget legislation, will any stressed loans to former directors or employees of Anglo Irish Bank be included in the assets to be taken over by NAMA?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not in order. Deputy Reilly has not a hope.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Have we a guarantee that this legislation will not cover those loans?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into the content of the legislation. Deputy Reilly knows that.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It is a reasonable question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is a very good question, but must be put within Standing Orders.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  When does the Government propose to ratify the two United Nations conventions it has promised to ratify? They are the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. The Government is required to make a legislative response to the findings by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva regarding a number of matters. Is it the Government’s intention to publish or circulate its response or to indicate what legislation it has in mind to address the issues raised by the Commission?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I will have to revert to the Deputy.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I have two questions, the first on the Planning and Development Bill. The Tánaiste has responsibility for employment in this country. A young lady visited my clinic on Monday. She has applied to the planning authority for a development in one unit and she got a levy of €253,000.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Ring must raise that in another way.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Will the Tánaiste deal with that in the legislation I mentioned? Do we not want people to create employment in this country? This came from the Green Party. Its Minister instructed the local authorities to do this.

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

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  My second question I will direct to the Tánaiste, and she might ask the Minister for Health and Children, as she cannot speak for herself because she has responsibility for nothing; it is all with the HSE. Why can my constituents, and people throughout the country, no longer get a medical card form from a doctor? Why must they write to the HSE for such forms?

Deputy Mary Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I hear Deputy Ring is still handing them out.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We must move on. There are several ways to raise that, but this is not one of them.

[201]Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Is that why we are paying €500,000 to Professor Brendan Drumm? No wonder this country is the way it is. The Minister for Health and Children takes responsibility for nothing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  People may vent whatever feelings they have during the debate on the budget.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I would like to get answers to those two important questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot get answers to those questions on the Order of Business.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Deputy Ring has a very good girl in his office who looks after all his constituents very well.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  She knows how to download a form.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  In the context of legislation published after Easter, I am conscious on a human level that this will be a difficult Easter for many Ministers of State who are looking forward to losing their jobs. While the Government should never have appointed 20, and we do not need them, on a human level I wish them well.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Shatter may offer them an Easter bunny, but he cannot raise it now.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  It is my recollection that we got to the grossly unnecessary figure of 20 Ministers of State as a consequence of legislation enacted in this House to facilitate the Government to appoint that number of Ministers of State.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The first step was from 15 to 17.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Does the Government intend to bring forward legislation as an urgent matter after the Easter break to reduce by statute the number of Ministers of State that can be appointed to the 15 announced? How rapidly will we see that legislation? If no such legislation is intended, is this merely a temporary little arrangement to seek public applause and is there a secret intention to re-appoint the lonely five some time in 2010?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Shatter will have to bring that up somewhere else.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Deputy Shatter should leave it at 20 so that if Fine Gael ever get in he may have some chance.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Will a Bill come before the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Of course not. No such legislation is promised. The answer is “No”.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Government will retain the position where it is open to it to appoint 20 Ministers of State. This is a public relations exercise. If the Government were serious it would introduce the legislation.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Deputy Shatter could be talking himself out of a job.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  Fine Gael increased the number of Ministers of State when it was in Government.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Greens have spoken.

[202]Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  The Deputy should know his history.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Green shoots. We have been trying to find the Green Party’s fingerprints on the budget and we have discovered them. It fully supports everything Fianna Fáil does.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  They wear gardening gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Shatter should come in and speak on the budget later today, if he has not already done so.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  If there is a genetic difference nobody can find it.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Another Bill on which the Government has been working for approximately 12 years is the bus licensing Bill. Will we have an opportunity before the session ends today to discuss the incredible Dempsey bus cutbacks which were listed this morning?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Broughan may put down that matter for an Adjournment debate.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  We have lost approximately 60 routes and 1,000 journeys; it is another disaster from Deputy Dempsey. People will be walking to work next week and it is not a laughing matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is not a laughing matter, neither is it a matter for the Order of Business.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Will we put wheels on the voting machines and cycle to work on them?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Remember the €155 million spent on PPARS? The Minister, Deputy Dempsey said it did not matter.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  I did not.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Given the ending of the capital allowance relief on health facilities announced in Tuesday’s budget and the abandonment of the main plank of health policy regarding co-location, why is the Minister for Health and Children still in Cabinet?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Good luck, thank you, I must move on.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is a very good question. All over the country people are asking that question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I wish the Ceann Comhairle, the staff and Members of the House a very happy Easter.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  On behalf of Fine Gael, I join with the Tánaiste in wishing Members of the House and the Ceann Comhairle a peaceful Easter and I tell Members on the other side of the House to expect a very turbulent period when we return.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  I, too, wish you, a Cheann Comhairle, a very happy Easter.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  All the Government’s Easter eggs are duck eggs.

[203]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  On behalf of the Labour Party, I wish the Ceann Comhairle, staff and Members a very happy Easter. Easter is a time of reflection and thought for most people and I hope people will get a chance to get a break with their families because it has been a very tough session. I thank the staff who serve the House for all the work they have done, particularly during all the late sessions.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  There will be no coloured Easter eggs.

Deputy Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I will give the Deputy an Easter egg.


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