Order of Business.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 698 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. a14, motion re implementation of new powers of national parliaments under the Lisbon treaty; No. 41a, financial motions by the Minister for Finance [2009], motion 5, resumed, to adjourn after the leaders speeches and the order shall not resume thereafter; and No. a4, Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2009 — Order for Second Stage, Second and Subsequent Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 11 p.m.; and the sitting shall be suspended from 5.30 p.m. to 6.15 p.m. today; No. a14 shall be decided without debate and the following arrangements shall apply in regard to the resumed debate on No. 41a: the speech of the Taoiseach and of the leader of Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the Green Party and Sinn Féin, or a person nominated in his stead, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time, shall not exceed 40 minutes in each case and the speech of each other Member called upon, who may share their time, shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case; the following arrangements shall apply in regard to No. a4: the proceedings on Second Stage shall be taken today and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1 p.m. tomorrow and the proceedings on Committee and Remaining Stages shall be taken tomorrow and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6.30 p.m. on that day by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs; and the Dáil shall sit [2]tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 6.30 p.m. and the business to be transacted shall be announced on the Order of Business in accordance with Standing Order 26 on that day.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are five proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. agreed to?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Labour Party does not agree to any proposal on the Order of Business today because of the manner in which the Government is dealing with the budget debate and the arrangements for the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill.

We have just had probably the most severe budget in living memory. The least the people who are affected by that budget, those who are having their pay and various payments cut, including child benefit and family payments, are entitled to, is that the representatives they elect to Dáil Éireann are given an opportunity to express their opinion about the budget and to speak on it. The arrangements being proposed in the House effectively mean that the budget debate will end by lunch time today, less than 24 hours after the budget was announced. We have never had a situation before where the budget debate has been curtailed in that way.

Second, arrangements are being proposed for the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill that are for the political convenience and political cover of Government Deputies. Those arrangements to put through the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill by the weekend, which was only published a few hours ago, are to ensure that none of the Government Deputies wobble when they meet constituents who are affected by the provisions of the Bill.

Those arrangements have not happened by accident. I have been raising with the Taoiseach in the House since 1 October the date of the budget. It took me several weeks to get out of him that the Government was changing the normal date of the budget from the first week in December to the second week in December. I pointed out at the time that it would leave very little time for debate on the budget. I did not know then, nor did any of us, that the budget would be accompanied by two pieces of controversial legislation, a new social welfare Bill and a Bill to cut pay. It took me quite some time to get out of the Taoiseach also that a social welfare Bill would be published and when it would be published. What we have are arrangements that are designed to ensure that no supporter of the Government disappears from the voting lobby. They have been herded into the House this week and they will be got through the lobby before they get out on Friday evening.

Whatever excuse people have who are subject to a Whip, there are six Deputies who are not subject to a Whip, namely, Deputy Healy Rae, Deputy Lowry, Deputy Grealish, who declare themselves to be Independents, and Deputy McDaid, Deputy Devins and Deputy Scanlon, who tell us that they are no longer subject to the Whip. All of those Deputies are free to vote as they wish on those Bills but the arrangements that are being proposed in the House amount to a devious and undemocratic political device that is denying the right of Members of the House——

Deputy Seán Power: Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Deputy Gilmore is undermining his own argument.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Which part of democracy does Deputy Gilmore not understand?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  ——to express their opinions. It is grossly unfair to the people we represent.

I am also somewhat surprised that the way in which the democracy of this House is being abused has not been commented upon by others.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  The media has let you down again Eamon.

[3]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Proposal No. 1 on the extension of time for a Thursday sitting is to accommodate the introduction of the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill. It is unprecedented that the Bill is following not only the budget debate but is coming immediately after the leaders’ contributions and that the debate on the budget will be suspended to accommodate the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill today and tomorrow.

I agree with the previous speaker that this is all about ensuring Government Deputies, backbenchers in particular, do not find themselves under serious pressure over the weekend, take a fit of the jitters and become unable to sustain their support for the Social Welfare Bill measures in the subsequent week or post-Christmas. The Government is forcing ahead with the social welfare changes in legislation this week before even the substantive debate, outside the finance spokespersons and the party leaders, is under way on the measures announced in the House yesterday.

What are we looking at in regard to the social welfare Bill which is the critical mass of address today and tomorrow? Shamefully, we are looking at cuts in jobseeker’s allowance, farm assist, pre-retirement allowance, supplementary welfare allowance, widow’s and widower’s pensions, deserted wives allowance, benefit schemes in regard to disability pension and invalidity pension——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is dissipating the leaders contributions.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——and, most disgracefully and most inexcusably, cuts to carers benefit and carer’s allowance. These are among the range of cuts we are being asked to accommodate.

In a further proposition on the Order Paper, we are being asked to support the guillotining of Second Stage at 1 p.m. tomorrow and the Remaining Stages at 6.30 p.m. This is absolutely scandalous and it is not acceptable to this Deputy or to the other Sinn Féin Deputies and we will oppose each of these proposals.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The arrangements put in place are necessitated by the fact that two Bills must be enacted arising from the budget announcements by the Minister for Finance yesterday, including the social welfare Bill which, in the normal way, must be taken after every budget. Unfortunately in this instance, while we have been able to safeguard the real take home value of benefits, the financial situation is such that we must have a contribution from the social welfare budget next year, as we have to have from every other area of expenditure.

We have sought to do that in a way that is as fair as possible and by stabilising the deficit and safeguarding the value of payments on the basis that the decrease in the cost of living this year has been 6.5%. As I have said on several occasions, it is against a background of record increases and improvements in social welfare payments during budgetary cycles when there were resources beyond what are available currently.

We will still have spending of more than €21 billion on social welfare next year at a time when receipts this year will not exceed €30 billion to €32 billion. That is accepted and acknowledged by everybody as being unsustainable. In the interests of maintaining good support for people on fixed incomes and who require State support, it is incumbent on any responsible Government to take whatever steps are necessary to close the gap between what we are spending and what we are in receipt of from taxpayers in order that we can maintain a decent level of support into the longer term.

The budget debate will adjourn today after leaders have spoken and it will resume in the normal way when the Whips agree the Order of Business. It is normal to take the social welfare Bill over a two day period, as has been the case in the past. When I was asked a couple of weeks ago when it would be taken, I said it would be taken in a way that would ensure its [4]enactment would be timely to allow for whatever changes decided on by Government. That has now come to pass.

We must also pursue a Bill in regard to public sector pay levels and it will be taken next week while the social welfare Bill will be taken this week. I assure Deputies that the Government and those who support it are four-square behind the need to make the corrections we are making in the medium term and the long-term interests of this country and in the interests of those recipients who depend on us to provide them with decent support in the social welfare code.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. agreed to?

Deputies:  No.

Question put: “That the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 75.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on 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 Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on 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 Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, 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 Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. 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 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 M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
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 John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on 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.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on 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 John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
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 Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Zoom on George Lee  Lee, George.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on 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 Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom. Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal for dealing with No. a14, motion re implementation of new powers of national parliaments under the Lisbon treaty, without debate, agreed to?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There should be a debate about this as it is a very important element of the work to be done here. I know there was a report from the committees dealing with European affairs and European scrutiny and agreement on that but it is critical that the way this House deals effectively with the legislation coming in a river from Europe. For too long we have had so many examples of Ministers hiding behind directives blamed on Brussels when agreement was given by Ministers and officials from Ireland.

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  We want to put an end to that. As the Taoiseach is well aware, the Lisbon treaty gives adequate notice to national governments of intentions to introduce legislation either by directive or regulation. This should be debated in the House and I would like [6]to know the details of the extra resources that will be made available to the committees so the matters can be effectively scrutinised. We should not be in a position where a Minister can blame Brussels.

Having endorsed the Lisbon treaty, we can now be really effective in dealing with proposed legislation from Europe. This motion should not be passed without debate. It is fundamental and necessary that it should be debated.

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

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The passing of the Lisbon treaty referendum and the implementation of the new treaty provisions on 1 December has fundamentally transformed the relationship of this Parliament with the other 26 parliaments in the EU, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. It is a dramatic and fundamental constitutional change. I understand the reason this long and extensive motion, which I ask colleagues to read, is a temporary measure to get us to a position where we can deal with the issues referred to by the leader of the Fine Gael Party. I urge the Ceann Comhairle to take a direct and specific interest in this matter.

  11 o’clock

If the independence of this Parliament is to be recognised, as distinct from being an extension of the Executive, we must recognise this is not only a matter for another committee, as this will affect every Bill enacted by the House. Significantly, it will mean, for example, that the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will be asked prior to attending a meeting of the Social Affairs Council what position she will take on behalf of the Irish Parliament on draft legislation. We have never had such a dialogue or relationship. We always have been presented with a fait accompli where legislation has been passed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament and we have to get on with it and put it into domestic legislation. It will, rightly, fundamentally change the relationship of this Parliament not only with the institutions of the Union but with all other national parliaments because if one third of national parliaments decide that draft legislation interferes with subsidiarity, they can put up the red card and refer it back.

I acknowledge and welcome what has been done on this matter by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs but I ask the Ceann Comhairle, as the Speaker of the House, to undertake that there will be a comprehensive and detailed debate, as these provisions will change the working life of every Deputy and Senator. On the basis of an undertaking from the Ceann Comhairle, the Labour Party will agree to take the motion without debate in order that we can have a comprehensive debate in the future.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I assure the Deputy these issues are being looked at.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Television is being looked at but not much has been achieved.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  It is under constant review.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Ó Caoláin, without interruption.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  While believing it is important the House is afforded an opportunity to address the measures relating to the new powers of national parliaments under the Lisbon Treaty and the need to ensure there is a full understanding of what is involved, which is neither exaggerated or made less of, and that the full information is open and not only understood in this House but beyond, we, in Sinn Féin, also support that either the Government commits now not to proceed on the motion without debate or, as the former speaker indicated, [7]that an undertaking is given that we will have an opportunity to address this measure in substantive form in this House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  With the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty on 1 December last, both Houses of the Oireachtas must be in a position to exercise their new responsibilities under the treaty, as outlined in the European Union Act 2009. While the Act sets out the role of the Houses, it is a matter for them to agree internal arrangements and rules for the exercise of that new role. To this end, the Joint Oireachtas Committees on European Scrutiny and European Affairs agreed on 8 December a joint report recommending these interim arrangements to enable the Houses to exercise these new powers without delay.

This is a technical motion, which provides for the implementation of the recommendations of the joint report until the adjournment of the Dáil for the summer recess next year. In the interim, the two committees will jointly conduct a detailed consultation process with a view to preparing a comprehensive report on the permanent structures and arrangements that should be put in place by the Houses of the Oireachtas. That then will inform the Committee on Procedures and Privileges in proposing the necessary changes to Standing Orders. A mirror motion is required in the Seanad.

With regard to Deputy Quinn’s comments, it would be timely if, in the new year, we took an opportunity to have a debate in the House on these matters generally. Having been a member of the Joint Committee on European Affairs in the past, I take the point, particularly in the context of the changes in the Lisbon treaty and the role for national parliaments, that the Oireachtas must update itself regarding new arrangements, which will give a proper and appropriate role to our Parliament in considering legislation, and the powers national parliaments have under the treaty on whether legislative proposals can proceed at European Parliament level, which depend on the expressed wishes of national parliaments. All sides of the House have always subscribed to the principle of subsidiarity and we need to give effect to it in a practical way. With the agreement of the House, based on the joint committee report, we should take the motion without debate, as agreed, on the basis that we should, as part of the consultation process that will begin, have a plenary debate in the new year on where we go from here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is proposal No. 3 agreed? Agreed . Is proposal No. 4 agreed?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is not agreed. Deputy Gilmore and others made the point about the Social Welfare Bill 2009, either before or after the budget debate concluded yesterday, that this is a Bill of real significance in which gross unfairness could have been avoided. In this Bill, the Government proposes to take €8.60 a week off a full-time carer looking after an Alzheimer’s patent while allowing people to walk away with significant golden handshakes, which leave them with pensions of more than €100,000 without any cut. These are examples of gross unfairness. I do not accept that what the Taoiseach said about two-day debates in respect of social welfare should apply in this case.

I believe the Bill can be debated today but it should not be concluded tomorrow. We should debate it again on Tuesday or Wednesday when people have had time to consider the implications and the circumstances that will arise inevitably for household budgets in thousands of cases as a result of the Government yesterday putting through a budget to cut elements of social welfare. Fine Gael produced an alternative to the Government’s €4 billion programme, [8]which would have protected the vulnerable, carers, the disabled, the blind, pensioners and children while still achieving €4 billion in cuts.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is a Social Welfare Bill of gross, unwarranted and palpable unfairness and it should not be bulldozed through this evening and tomorrow and, for that reason, I reject what the Taoiseach proposes to do.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Last week the Opposition Whips were told the Social Welfare Bill would be taken on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. During the week we began to hear, not from the Chief Whip but from Government backbenchers, that a different arrangement was planned, whereby the Bill would go through this week. That was to protect them from constituency fire over the weekend.

There is an alternative. As the Taoiseach said, two Bills must be enacted before the Christmas recess to give effect to the provisions of the budget — the Social Welfare Bill and the Bill on public sector pay.

Both Bills have been published. I suggest we take Second Stage of both Bills this week and Committee and Remaining Stages of both Bills next week. That way both Bills will be enacted prior to the Christmas recess but at least we will have an opportunity to have a proper Committee Stage debate. The irony is that under the rules of the House, the deadline for submitting amendments to the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2009 passed at 11 a.m. yesterday. The deadline passed before the Bill was published and the budget was announced. We can get over this if the Government is being genuine and this is not just about protecting people from fire over the weekend. We will agree arrangements to have Second Stage of both Bills this week with Committee and Remaining Stages of both Bills next week which would still get them through prior to Christmas. It is a more reasonable way of dealing with them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have discretion in the matter of the amendments; it is not a huge obstacle.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Bill described as the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2009 could be known as many things, quite obviously one of them is as an emigration Bill for those aged up to 24 who find themselves unemployed because that is exactly what it is. It is a recipe for emigration and encouragement for young people to leave these shores. It is not, as the Minister claimed yesterday, about keeping them close to the work ethic. Quite clearly, it is about dissuading them from remaining on these shores. It contains many other elements, as I indicated earlier. Quite disgracefully, in the list of cuts entailed in the Bill is a further cut of €36 per month from people providing essential care in the homes of countless thousands of Irish citizens. That is a shameful action on the part of the Government. The Bill is being rushed through today and tomorrow to facilitate the conscience and nerve of the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. That is what it is all about.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Dead right.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  As I indicated earlier, if this is not done and dusted they will return here with a fit of the jitters.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Rubbish.

[9]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  They will lose their nerve and they will not be able to vote it through. That is what this is all about and make no mistake about it. We will not support it on the Order Paper and we will vehemently oppose its forced passage through the House. There is a real alternative and that alternative was spelled out to the Government several weeks ago in a carefully thought-through document properly costed by the Department of Finance and in consultation with the Commission on Taxation. It was a real set of proposals contained in the document The Road To Recovery prepared by Sinn Féin. The Government should have taken note of it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In the past, we have taken the Stages of social welfare Bills on consecutive days. The Government wants to proceed and the country expects us to get on with implementing the decisions we have taken. We have the full support of the House this week, next week and every other week because it is what we have to do to ensure that we get the country back to recovery quickly.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. a4 agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 82; Níl, 71.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on 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 Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on 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 Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, 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 Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. 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 Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. 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 M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward. Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary.
Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon. Information on 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. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.



[10]Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. 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 John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. 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 Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. 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 Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D.
Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Zoom on George Lee  Lee, George. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
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 Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom. Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal for the Dáil sitting tomorrow agreed to? Agreed.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  At the end of his contribution on the budget and subsequently, the Minister for Finance confirmed that, in effect, he is planning to nationalise the banking system at some point in the new year. Will the Taoiseach indicate when the relevant legislation in this regard will be introduced and will he outline the format it will take? It appears we are going to commit a further €12 billion to the banking system, including €6 billion to a completely defunct Anglo Irish Bank. This means that the suffering people will be obliged to undergo in the coming years will be largely due to a broken banking system and a rescue mechanism which was not properly thought out by the two Brians, namely, the Taoiseach and his Minister for Finance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Burton is anticipating the further debate on the budget.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  When is the legislation necessary to nationalise the banks likely to come before the Dáil? Will time be made available for a debate on the position of the banks? [11] The banks are not going to lend to the economy. In the absence of lending, there will not be any reflation rather there will be extremely deep deflation and a depression.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is trespassing into the debate on the budget, which is inappropriate at this point.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I welcome the frankness of the Minister for Finance. However, I want to know when the legislation on the nationalisation of the banking system — which Fianna Fáil acknowledges is now required — will be brought before the Dáil.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is legislation promised in this area?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister for Finance acknowledged that he will be obliged to take measures in respect of the nationalisation of the banks but that these were not contained in his Budget Statement. Will the Taoiseach indicate if the legislation in this regard will be introduced immediately after Christmas or will it be forthcoming at a later date? My question is perfectly legitimate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The obvious question relates to whether we are talking about legislation in this instance.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister referred to the matter yesterday in his Budget Statement.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  To clarify, the Minister for Finance was asked a question last night in respect of the position on future recapitalisations. As in the past, the Government will be obliged to consider any proposal that emerges in due course. We have already made it clear that in the context of any future recapitalisation——

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  That is why the budget is a farce. The Minister for Finance did not provide any figures.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Does the Deputy want to hear my answer?

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  We want the facts.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Perhaps the Deputy and the Minister should have a chat about the matter.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Taoiseach can make his statement about——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Taoiseach, without interruption.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  What happened yesterday was farcical.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am amazed by the Deputy’s incapacity to listen to the answer to the question posed by his colleague. As I was saying, future recapitalisations will be considered as required. The Minister has already outlined the policy of the Government in respect of these matters, namely, that an ordinary shareholding will be taken by it in the event of any future recapitalisations.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That is not a satisfactory answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will be able to make that point later.

[12]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The €12 billion that will be necessary to recapitalise the banks puts the budget figures——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Burton is being extremely unfair to other Deputies.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Widows are going to lose €8.30 per week for the sake of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Rubbish.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  We deserve to be provided with figures in respect of that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  This is the Order of Business, not the debate on the budget.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The budget is listed on the Order Paper.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The debate on it will continue shortly with the contributions of the various party leaders.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Part of the budget, namely, the money required to recapitalise the banks, is missing. We need those figures. The arithmetic of this matter relates to the €8.30 per week that will be docked from widows as opposed to the €12 million that is to be invested in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There will be ample opportunity to articulate those points later.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  We deserve an answer in respect of this matter.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  I wish to ask two questions, the first of which relates to reports in today’s newspapers to the effect that the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has been informed there could be up to 1,000 compulsory redundancies in Aer Lingus. Will the Taoiseach instruct the directors appointed by the Government to the board of Aer Lingus to ensure that the national interest will be protected at all times? If these compulsory redundancies proceed, they will devastate the company and the services operating from Dublin, Cork and other airports.

In the context of the criminal justice (public order)(amendment) Bill, a constituent of mine, the Ceann Comhairle and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was recently imprisoned for not possessing a dog licence. That is an appallingly Dickensian punishment to visit on a person.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am allowing the Deputy a great deal of latitude. However, the matter to which he refers would be better raised on the Adjournment.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  Yes, but I am raising it now. The Fines Bill should be fast-tracked and passed as quickly as possible so that people who do not possess dog licences or TV licences will not be imprisoned.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is there promised legislation?

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  The Fines Bill is currently on Committee Stage.

Deputy Deirdre Clune: Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  The issue relating to 1,065 job losses at Aer Lingus is extremely serious.

[13]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  That matter would be better raised on the Adjournment or as a parliamentary question.

Deputy Deirdre Clune: Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  I submitted a request to raise it on the Adjournment and I hope the Ceann Comhairle will grant that request. This is an extremely serious issue. Some 1,065 cabin crew, ground staff and pilots who work for Aer Lingus stand to lose their jobs.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There is no promised legislation in this area.

Deputy Deirdre Clune: Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  These job losses will have an impact on connectivity. Will the Taoiseach indicate what the Minister for Transport has done in the context of instructing the Government-appointed members of the board of Aer Lingus to ensure that vital connection services from this island nation will not be affected?

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  On the same issue——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy should raise the matter on the Adjournment or submit a parliamentary question. There are so many ways in which this matter might be dealt with.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Will the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment ensure that the National Implementation Body will begin negotiations with the Irish Airline Pilots Association, IALPA, SIPTU, IMPACT and the other trade unions in order to ensure that this disaster is avoided? Some 4,000 jobs are at stake. The Taoiseach would want to begin being concerned about jobs. The budget did not contain anything in respect of job creation.

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

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  What was perpetrated yesterday was a complete fraud. The Minister for Finance did not supply figures with the budget.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The House will be sitting tomorrow and next week and the Deputy can raise this matter on the Adjournment or as a parliamentary question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As this is an important issue, I wish to comment. We noted the statements by the CEO of Aer Lingus last week in respect of the company’s transformation plan. As the Deputies will be aware, the National Implementation Body has invited the management and unions at the company to avail of the services of the Labour Relations Commission with a view to agreeing the cost savings necessary to secure the viability of the airline. The Minister for Transport dealt with this matter on Question Time yesterday. The Government commends the efforts made by the parties to these discussions and regrets that, to date, overall agreement has appeared elusive.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment received a letter from the company on 7 December, outlining its proposal for collective redundancies involving up to 1,065 staff to take place between January 2010 and March 2011. This is a normal notification procedure which, under legislation, the company is required to undergo. The position could, of course, change in the event that agreement on the cost-cutting plan is reached in the interim.

Where possible, the Government would encourage the parties to redouble their efforts, with the aim of achieving the necessary cost savings, while also minimising the magnitude of job losses at the company. From all the information available, the Government is satisfied that a major restructuring of the group’s cost base is essential if Aer Lingus is to survive. The cost [14]base of Aer Lingus is seriously out of line with that of its competitors. Airlines throughout the world are either rationalising or going out of business as a result of the global economic downturn. The Government wishes to see a strong and viable Aer Lingus in the future. The cornerstones of Government aviation policy are competitiveness and connectivity. A viable Aer Lingus is key to ensuring the achievement of these objectives. The State’s labour relations institutions are available to assist.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Bill to provide for the amendment of the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 is on the Order Paper and is promised for 2010. Can the Taoiseach indicate if this likely to appear early in the next session or towards the end of the year?

With regard to the points raised by Deputies Kenny and Quinn about European legislation and how this will affect the operation of the House, another item of legislation promised is one to make amendments to existing fisheries Acts, to include the use of fisheries protection tools in an environmental context. I am not sure what that means. Suffice it to say, most Ministers have been most helpful when appearing before the Joint Committee on European Affairs. In particular I pay compliments to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his predecessor. However, there is one exception. A particular Minister avoided appearing before the committee on a sensitive issue that had an effect on policy. It must be clearly indicated——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are trying to establish when these items of legislation will be brought before the House.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  We can have all the aspirations we like and make all the rules we want but unless they are adhered to by those whose responsibility it is to accede to the wishes of the European institutions and the national institutions, we are wasting our time.

The promised legislation to which I refer is the sea fisheries and maritime jurisdiction (amendment) Bill. I mention this because I am concerned about it. It affects the entire Common Fisheries Policy and we know how this has affected the country in the past.

The other promised legislation is the electricity (transfer of transmission assets) Bill, concerning the transfer of system assets from the ESB to EirGrid. What has happened at Cabinet level in respect of this Bill? I understand it has been discussed and overtures have been made to both parties likely to be affected. Can the Taoiseach indicate the position of this matter?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The amendment to the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act will be taken in the first half of next year. We do not yet have a date for the sea fisheries and maritime jurisdiction (amendment) Bill. The electricity (transfer of transmission assets) Bill will be taken next year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What has taken place so far?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am here to report on progress of the Bill. I cannot discuss what goes on at Cabinet meetings.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Is there progress to report?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Bill is expected next year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Not exactly an electrifying experience.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Is the Deputy shocked?

[15]Deputy Pat Carey: Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Deputy Durkan is a bright spark.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It depends how many volts he can take.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I tabled a number of questions to the Department of Health and Children about the over-70s medical card. The office will not answer the telephone, elderly people are worried, the office dealing with the medical card was decentralised to Dublin and nobody can get an answer. Elderly people cannot get their medical cards renewed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Ring knows the Order of Business arrangements. Is the question directly related to promised legislation?

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

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I have tabled parliamentary questions. I do not want to get into a row because it is not good for my health. Will the Minister for Health and Children talk to the HSE and get them to deal with the over-70s medical card and answer their telephones?

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  Will I get a reply to my questions? The Minister for Health and Children tells me she has no responsibility for the questions. I know Professor Brendan Drumm is the real Minister for Health and Children but Deputy Harney is not prepared to do the job and people over 70 are waiting for their medical cards. They are worried, sick and frightened. Elderly people are coming into my clinic because they cannot get their medical cards renewed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are so many other ways Deputy Ring can raise this matter.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  There is no other way. Every Member has the same experience.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  It is an attack on the elderly.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  It is not just the over-70s.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is disgraceful.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  We all have that experience and we would like to see something done about it.

My question concerns EU legislation. Two directives must be transposed into domestic legislation. One is the floods directive, which requires the Government and all other member states to conduct a flood risk assessment. The second is the services directive, which relates to major issues that have implications for workers and working conditions in this country. The Government proposes to transpose both by statutory instrument. These are issues with major implications for the country. We referred earlier to a motion to conduct interim matters regarding the Lisbon treaty. Unless we can deal with these matters in the proper fashion, whereby they come to the floor of the House, we are reneging on the new powers provided by the Lisbon treaty. Can these important issues be dealt with in the coming year by being brought to the floor of this House and debated properly as a normal item of legislation rather than the line Minister signing this into law without any debate or any democratic right of this House? This makes a mockery of what the Lisbon treaty stands for.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Has primary or secondary legislation been promised in this area?

[16]Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Yes.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The whole purpose of the committee system is to enable Deputies, though membership of the committees, to focus in greater detail than would be possible in plenary session of the Dáil on issues that arise.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  There will be no plenary session.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Directives require national implementation and it is a matter for each Government to decide in what way and how it will implement these directives.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Is not, it is a matter for the Parliament.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Deputy Costello is wasting time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am not allowed to answer. There is no point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We will move on.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Taoiseach has misrepresented the situation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am not allowed to answer. Every time I stand up I am interrupted. It is a racket. I am not doing it anymore.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Since 1 December, it is a matter for national Parliaments, not for the national Government, in respect of European Union directives. Proposals have been made on this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We must find an other way to get more information on this.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is the first post-budget strike. The Taoiseach is refusing to answer questions.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It will be more than one day.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  We can arrange that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We can come back to this issue at a later stage.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I would like an answer to my question. Instead of allowing the Minister to put the directive in the library, through statutory instrument, I specifically asked the Taoiseach to allow for both directives to be brought to the floor of this House in the New Year. There are very important implications for our domestic legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I suggest tabling a parliamentary question.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  He will not get an answer.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  This is a question about legislation. This is European legislation that we must transpose into domestic legislation. This should not be done by the Minister. The Minister should not be entitled to do this under the Lisbon treaty. It should be done by the full Parliament, not by a statutory instrument being placed in the Oireachtas Library without debate or discussion. I seek a commitment from the Taoiseach that he will respect democracy in these matters.

[17]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We had a discussion earlier on the Order of Business about the need for a debate in this House in the new year examining the procedures that arise from the joint report. We have just unanimously approved the technical motion for this a few minutes ago. That is where we can have the debate.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  These are too important.


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