Friday, 11 December 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Tánaiste: It is proposed to take No. 42, statements on the carbon budget; and No. a4, Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2009 — Second Stage (Resumed) and Subsequent Stages. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on No. 42 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 65 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the statements shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time, and which shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; and (ii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed 5 minutes.
Deputy Enda Kenny: This proposal is not agreed to. The behaviour of the Government, in the context of the way it wants to do its business, is the most arrogant of any Administration I have ever seen. The Order of Business is absolutely contemptuous. It is proposed that we take statements on the carbon budget for 65 minutes and then guillotine the debate on the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill at 6.30 p.m. Only 16 Members of my party have had the opportunity to speak on the latter, and then for only five minutes each.
Deputy Denis Naughten: We all heard the claptrap uttered by Deputy Kennedy and his colleagues. Wait until the Members opposite return to their constituencies. They will not repeat to their constituents what they said here. They would be terrified to do so.
Deputy Enda Kenny: I listened to Deputy Kennedy’s contribution to the debate on the Bill. If he played corner back in the same way when he was involved in sport, he would be dropped from the team immediately.
Deputy Enda Kenny: I must inform the Tánaiste, who represents a constituency in the north west, that what she is attempting to do here is both contemptuous and disgraceful. The Government is acting in a way that is completely contradictory to the norm. Ned Kelly is famed in song and story for robbing the rich to help the poor. The Government has made many people very rich and has left them untouched while it tramples on the poorest of the poor in society.
Deputy Enda Kenny: The Tánaiste may believe that because the Government squared up to deal with a particular situation on Wednesday, it has now talked the talk and acted in a tough and decisive manner.
Deputy Enda Kenny: She may believe that by alienating the public service, the members of which are obliged to deliver a huge range of services on a daily basis, the Government is influencing those in the private sector who cannot obtain loans from any of the banks.
Deputy Enda Kenny: In the meantime, there are those in receipt of pensions in excess of €100,000 and gross incomes of well over that amount who have been left untouched. The Tánaiste, as deputy leader of the Government, seems to be of the view that it is fine to take €8.60 from people who care on a full-time basis for their loved ones — mothers, fathers and other family members — be they incontinent or suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and that everything will be fine and rosy in the garden.
Deputy Enda Kenny: Members of Fianna Fáil from areas throughout the country will have received representations from private sector interests which are indicating that they cannot obtain money from any of the banks to keep their employees in work or their businesses in operation.
Deputy Enda Kenny: At the same time, the Tánaiste appears to be of the opinion that it is possible to create a situation whereby this Fianna Fáil-led Government will obtain great support from the private sector because it took on the public sector and walked all over those in receipt of the lowest rates of social welfare payments.
Deputy Enda Kenny: That is not good politics. The Minister of State, Deputy Kelleher, challenged Fine Gael to put forward an alternative view prior to the budget. We duly produced a costed, detailed document which, if accepted, would have achieved €4 billion in cuts while protecting children, pensioners, those with disabilities, the blind and the carers.
Deputy Enda Kenny: Our proposals would also have protected the 55,000 public sector workers who earn less than €30,000. They would also have provided an €18 billion stimulus for job creation in an area — namely, key infrastructure — in respect of which Ireland has fallen so far behind other countries that it has lost a serious amount of ground in competitive terms.
Deputy Enda Kenny: If the Tánaiste thinks she can come in here and do whatever she wants, she has another thing coming. It is very easy for the former Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ahern, to talk tough from the comfort of a State car with an armed garda. He should remember that the bottom line is that the garda is there to protect State property, which is the car and not the Minister of State.
Deputy Enda Kenny: Politician to politician I say to the Tánaiste, there was a better way and a different way, where the public service could be brought with the Government in an understanding of effective reform. The Government has now given them an unmerciful belt in the solar plexus and has lost all authority to negotiate with them.
Deputy Enda Kenny: The Government will not be able to achieve public sector reform. It has done down the private sector and walked on those in receipt of social welfare. I propose rejecting this Order of Business to allow for the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill to be returned to the House next Tuesday so that every Member will be given the opportunity to express a view on it.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: I agree with Deputy Kenny that this is an arrogant Government. It is so arrogant that it wants to put this Bill through, round up all its people, round up its six strays and get them in here this evening to vote on a measure——
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Unlike Deputy Power I am a voluntary stray. Deputy Power has been compulsorily strayed. This Government is attempting to pass a social welfare Bill to take money from the blind and those providing care in the home for sick members of their family rather than having them in institutional care at greater cost to the State. The Bill also takes money from widows and from people paid less than €600 per week, while top bankers on €500,000 a year are not touched. The Government is doing this in a way that treats the Dáil with contempt. It also did so yesterday.
It is questionable whether the social welfare Bill is properly before the House. Yesterday, my colleague Deputy Shortall opposed the order proposed by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs. The Ceann Comhairle called a vote on it, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs overruled the Ceann Comhairle and no vote was taken on it. This raises the question of whether the social welfare Bill is properly before the House. Politically, the Government is attempting to get Deputies Healy-Rae, Lowry, Grealish, McDaid and the two strays from Sligo to vote to cut money from people who are blind, those providing care, the widowed and those in bad circumstances before Members get back to their constituents. This is a political order to get the social welfare Bill through before Deputies are exposed to constituents discussing it with them. The Labour Party will not agree to this order. This is the height of arrogance and it adds insult to the injury inflicted on these people last Wednesday.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will allow Deputy Healy-Rae to speak in a moment but first I wish to address something referred to by Deputy Gilmore. Regarding the commencement of the social welfare Bill yesterday, I have taken the unusual step of having the record of the House checked. It is crystal clear that the Minister moved the correct motion, namely, “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.” That is the end of the matter.
An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy Stagg. I have no difficulty in clarifying the position and I accept there was some mild confusion at the commencement of the debate. As a rule, the Chair does not do action replays and I am duty bound to expedite the business of the House in accordance with Standing Orders. I intend to faithfully uphold the rulings of my predecessors in that regard.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: I do not dispute the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle but what happened here yesterday was a Thierry Henry moment. The ball was handled and the rules being applied are the FIFA rules.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: The Sinn Féin Deputies object to taking the Order of Business as proposed by the Tánaiste. I wish to correct one point in respect of Deputy Gilmore’s portrayal of the now famous six, who he refers to as strays. If one takes a look at them, there is only one stray among the six and the other five are clearly prodigal sons. All too sadly, they will return to the fold as the need presents.
We have before us a Bill that the Government wants to force through, from Second Stage to Report and Final Stages, by 6.30 p.m. This is a serious Bill with widespread consequences for hundreds of thousands of the most marginalised people across the State. We are being asked to accept the limited opportunity presented to discuss it but also that Deputies must vote on the measures without proper perusal and debate. We have a responsibility to give every Bill a fair hearing and careful scrutiny. I wonder if the powers of the Ceann Comhairle allow him to intervene and make a judgment in the interests of the people and this assembly that what was forced through on the Order of Business yesterday in respect of the ordering of the conduct of debate on this Bill was in contravention of all norms that should apply in this House.
This is a serious Bill, with major consequences for many people. It is a travesty. This Government might as well rule by decree from Government Buildings, such is the contempt it shows this Chamber and the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Ministers for Finance and Social and Family Affairs who are directly responsible are not even in the Chamber as we consider how this Bill will proceed this morning. I and the Sinn Féin Members absolutely object, not only to the ordering but to the absolutely disgraceful intent of this legislation.
Deputy Enda Kenny: My point of order is in the interests of Deputy Healy-Rae. As the Ceann Comhairle knows from his study of history, this party always fought for the right to free speech. I would like to hear Deputy Healy-Rae.
Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae: I have a very simple message for Deputy Gilmore and Lady Shortall. If they were short of people like myself and Deputy Michael Lowry to make up the numbers in this House they would be damn glad to have us. The trouble is that they——
|Ahern, Bertie.||Ahern, Dermot.|
|Ahern, Michael.||Ahern, Noel.|
|Andrews, Barry.||Andrews, Chris.|
|Ardagh, Seán.||Aylward, Bobby.|
|Brady, Áine.||Brady, Cyprian.|
|Brady, Johnny.||Browne, John.|
|Byrne, Thomas.||Calleary, Dara.|
|Carey, Pat.||Collins, Niall.|
|Conlon, Margaret.||Connick, Seán.|
|Coughlan, Mary.||Cregan, John.|
|Cuffe, Ciarán.||Cullen, Martin.|
|Curran, John.||Dempsey, Noel.|
|Devins, Jimmy.||Dooley, Timmy.|
|Fahey, Frank.||Finneran, Michael.|
|Fitzpatrick, Michael.||Fleming, Seán.|
|Flynn, Beverley.||Gogarty, Paul.|
|Gormley, John.||Grealish, Noel.|
|Hanafin, Mary.||Harney, Mary.|
|Haughey, Seán.||Healy-Rae, Jackie.|
|Hoctor, Máire.||Kelleher, Billy.|
|Kelly, Peter.||Kenneally, Brendan.|
|Kennedy, Michael.||Killeen, Tony.|
|Kitt, Michael P.||Kitt, Tom.|
|Lenihan, Brian.||Lenihan, Conor.|
|McEllistrim, Thomas.||McGrath, Mattie.|
|McGrath, Michael.||McGuinness, John.|
|Mansergh, Martin.||Martin, Micheál.|
|Moloney, John.||Moynihan, Michael.|
|Mulcahy, Michael.||Nolan, M.J.|
|Ó Cuív, Éamon.||Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.|
|O’Brien, Darragh.||O’Connor, Charlie.|
|O’Dea, Willie.||O’Donoghue, John.|
|O’Flynn, Noel.||O’Hanlon, Rory.|
|O’Keeffe, Batt.||O’Keeffe, Edward.|
|O’Rourke, Mary.||O’Sullivan, Christy.|
|Power, Peter.||Power, Seán.|
|Roche, Dick.||Ryan, Eamon.|
|Sargent, Trevor.||Scanlon, Eamon.|
|Smith, Brendan.||Treacy, Noel.|
|Wallace, Mary.||White, Mary Alexandra.|
|Allen, Bernard.||Bannon, James.|
|Barrett, Seán.||Behan, Joe.|
|Breen, Pat.||Bruton, Richard.|
|Burke, Ulick.||Burton, Joan.|
|Byrne, Catherine.||Carey, Joe.|
|Clune, Deirdre.||Connaughton, Paul.|
|Coonan, Noel J.||Costello, Joe.|
|Coveney, Simon.||Crawford, Seymour.|
|Creed, Michael.||Creighton, Lucinda.|
|D’Arcy, Michael.||Deasy, John.|
|Deenihan, Jimmy.||Doyle, Andrew.|
|Durkan, Bernard J.||English, Damien.|
|Feighan, Frank.||Ferris, Martin.|
|Flanagan, Charles.||Flanagan, Terence.|
|Gilmore, Eamon.||Hayes, Brian.|
|Hayes, Tom.||Higgins, Michael D.|
|Hogan, Phil.||Kehoe, Paul.|
|Kenny, Enda.||Lynch, Ciarán.|
|Lynch, Kathleen.||McEntee, Shane.|
|McGinley, Dinny.||McHugh, Joe.|
|Mitchell, Olivia.||Morgan, Arthur.|
|Naughten, Denis.||Neville, Dan.|
|Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.||Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.|
|O’Donnell, Kieran.||O’Dowd, Fergus.|
|O’Keeffe, Jim.||O’Mahony, John.|
|O’Shea, Brian.||O’Sullivan, Jan.|
|O’Sullivan, Maureen.||Penrose, Willie.|
|Perry, John.||Quinn, Ruairí.|
|Rabbitte, Pat.||Reilly, James.|
|Ring, Michael.||Sheahan, Tom.|
|Sheehan, P.J.||Sherlock, Seán.|
|Shortall, Róisín.||Stagg, Emmet.|
|Stanton, David.||Timmins, Billy.|
|Tuffy, Joanna.||Upton, Mary.|
Deputy Emmet Stagg: On a point of order, we have just dealt with a time motion limiting speaking times to 15 minutes in each case. If it is a Minister, will the Ceann Comhairle, like yesterday, allow double that time for Ministers despite the order?
An Ceann Comhairle: We were over this territory yesterday. I explained in the Chamber that, because of persistent procedural querying in the Chamber, the Minister did not have the opportunity to deliver her Second Stage reading.
An Ceann Comhairle: For the proper functioning of the House, the Ministers and the other Members must be allowed to have their say in the House. If we have persistent procedural querying on a number of issues——
Deputy Enda Kenny: Have arrangements yet been made for discussion on the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill which is to be debated next week? Is this to be guillotined through as well or has the Chief Whip made arrangements for full and comprehensive discussion of the Bill next week?
Deputy Enda Kenny: I will ask the question again. What are the arrangements for the discussion on the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill, in which there is much interest? Is this to be guillotined through next Tuesday or Wednesday, or have arrangements been made in that regard?
What is the current situation arising from the GRA’s decision to ballot its members for industrial action? Nobody wants to see a situation like this. Is the Minister in discussion with the Garda Commissioner and does he intend to meet the GRA? Strict guidelines pertain here. Nobody wants a situation where this is followed through.
The Tánaiste: On the ordering of next week’s business, it is proposed that discussions will take place on the legislation on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. On the other matter, although it is outside the remit of the Order of Business, I welcome what has been said by the Members of the Opposition in this regard.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: I am not sure the Tánaiste satisfactorily answered the question she was asked, which concerned the arrangements for the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill next week. It is this Bill that will cut the pay of workers earning less than €600 a week by 5%. According to the schedule that has been circulated for next week, the Government intends to pull the same stunt on that Bill that it is pulling on the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill this week, starting Second Stage on Tuesday and running it for as long as possible, keeping Committee Stage as short as possible and having all the votes on Wednesday.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: That procedure is designed to minimise the opportunities for amendments to be proposed to the legislation and to minimise the number of times Government TDs will have to vote on the specific provisions of the Bill. It is clearly concluded on the Government side that it is politically easier to sell a general vote on the Bill with a wrapped up motion that the Bill pass with all amendments acceptable to the Minister than to have Government Deputies voting specifically on each section. Otherwise they would have to vote this week, for example, on the section dealing specifically with the cuts applying to carers and the blind and next week the cuts to the low paid.
These arrangements are designed to provide as much cover as possible to a cowardly Government that wants to rush this through with a guillotine instead of standing over the votes they are casting to make cuts to those who cannot afford them.
The Tánaiste: We are talking about the Order of Business for next week. Tuesday and Wednesday are the days being considered for the legislation and if the Whips want to sit later on those nights that could be arranged during the normal discussions they have to prepare business.
Deputy Joan Burton: This is a complicated Bill and many who work in the public service are concerned about its vague nature when it comes to pension arrangements. Will the Minister for Finance offer a briefing to Opposition Deputies and has he received the advice of the Attorney General? Reducing the salary and conditions of public servants is a complex issue in the context of Irish law.
Deputy Joan Burton: We have no information about the impact of the legal structure under which this is proposed. There is no information and very little time. Will the officials of the Minister’s Department provide a briefing to Opposition spokespersons on the genuine complexities of this Bill?
People all over Ireland are worried sick this weekend about their jobs, their pay, their conditions and the pensions. Fianna Fáil does not agree but that is a fact. There is nothing wrong in having this explained to Opposition spokespeople so that in the limited time available for this Bill we can engage in genuine discussion. That is a democratic proposal and if the Minister has any interest in building consensus he will concur with this reasonable request from the Opposition.
Deputy Bernard Allen: In view of the enormous damage done to businesses and households in Cork city and county, does the Government intend to set up a public inquiry into the issues and events before and during the flooding of the city? A public inquiry is needed to get at the truth and I support the call by my constituency colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Kelleher.
Deputy Seymour Crawford: In light of the new health policy announced by Deputy Healy-Rae whereby the Government is now building small hospitals, when will the Minister introduce the health information Bill so we can find out the truth about what is happening in the health service? Those of us having our services removed feel very aggrieved that Deputy Healy-Rae has such power.
Deputy Joe Behan: I have contacted the Ceann Comhairle’s office on three occasions in the past four weeks asking for time to speak on very important issues — the pre-budget document issued by the Department of Finance, the Adoption Bill and this morning I contacted the Ceann Comhairle’s office asking for time to speak on the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill. On each occasion the Ceann Comhairle has not been in a position to facilitate me.
I wish to ask the Tánaiste and the Whips of all parties if there is any possibility that those who are not aligned to any party could occasionally express their views and the opinions of those they represent when it comes to issues of national importance. It is not too much to ask. We have a constitutional right to be heard in this Chamber. I do not make a fuss about this every time. I have been courteous to the Ceann Comhairle and I will continue to be.
Deputy O’Sullivan, Deputy Finian McGrath and I have a right to speak on these issues and I am now asking for the opportunity to speak on the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill before Second Stage finishes and to speak on the legislation that will be dealt with next week.
Deputy Emmet Stagg: I would be happy to accommodate Deputy Behan or any other independent Member who does not get speaking time. When the Government guillotines a Bill, however, it is difficult. Only three members of the Labour Party got in on the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill, and that was done by sharing time. There was no time to give to people, that is the difficulty we have.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: What progress has been made with the preparation of the landlord and tenant Bill? Publication is expected but we were previously told work was ongoing. What progress has been made?
The Multi-Unit Developments Bill 2009 appears to have been parked. It was the subject of discussions between two or three Departments and the Attorney General. To what extent have the discussions taken place and where does the Bill stand?
Deputy Michael D. Higgins: What is the present position regarding the Competition Authority (amendment) Bill which is one of the Bills that has been promised and in particular the amendment of section 4? Related to this in another sense in terms of ordering business, I ask for a timescale for the legislation promised in the social partnership agreement, for example, the trade union recognition Bill. I am asking about the timescale for the legislation that was agreed with the social partners. It is a list of Bills. It is a part of the agreement. I am asking specifically because we will find ourselves either in the courts or whatever, as different bodies negotiate with Government regarding the amendment to section 4 of the Competition Authority legislation. I have asked for this on numerous occasions but at this stage we should be in a position to know precise information on that legislation and when it will come before the House. We need to know the status of the other Bills. Are they now dead or does the Government perhaps intend as a gesture to bring forward all this legislation? This is very basic legislation, some of it arising in the context of the Lisbon treaty. When will we have this legislation?
The Tánaiste: It is my intention to bring the competition authority legislation to the House for consideration at the beginning of next year. It is my intention and that of the Minister of State to proceed with the agreed Bills arising from Towards 2016. I know the Deputy has a particular interest in one or two items on that agenda and it is my intention to proceed with them next year.
Deputy James Reilly: Can the House be assured that the advice of the Attorney General has been obtained with regard to the legality of section 11 of the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2009, and with respect to section 29 of the contract held by participating dentists and the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, which requires that three months’ written notice of termination be issued? We do not want to find ourselves in the same situation with the dentists as we did with the Minister for Health and Children paying out legal fees of nearly €70 million in compensation to pharmacists.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, who is visiting the House today, has promised he would introduce legislation to put a cap on the amount of waste which could be incinerated in an incinerator. As a result he believes he will be able to stop the planned incinerator in Ringsend. Is the environment (miscellaneous provisions) Bill which is listed for publication the Bill in which the cap on the amount of waste to be incinerated will be included? When will that Bill be published and will the incinerator be built before it is published?
Deputy Andrew Doyle: As the House is graced with the presence of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, may I ask if he plans to introduce legislation to allow for a shared equity purchase scheme for homeowners, either new or existing, notwithstanding the fact that the Government rejected a Fine Gael proposal in the NAMA Bill for a home protection bond which would have allowed this flexibility?
As the only Labour Party speaker with any time remaining which is three minutes, I would gladly give two minutes to Deputy Joe Behan. He is one of the very few really Independent voices in the House that cannot be bought by the price of a hospital which has already been announced by the Minister for Health and Children.
The Tánaiste may be able to assist me. I have been trying to find the anti-poverty strategy in this budget. Since I came into this House all budgets have been poverty-proofed. Last year’s Budget Statement contained an annexe B which showed the effect of the budget on the poor and on poverty. I cannot find this information anywhere in the documentation. The Minister for Finance stated that he would be helpful to the Opposition so maybe he could assist me and tell where it is or do the poor just not matter any more to this Government?
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Deputy O’Sullivan is absolutely right. There has always been a poverty-proofing of the budget. This used to be done by the Combat Poverty Agency which the Government abolished last year and we were told it would be done instead by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Has this document been laid before the House? It is a document related to the budget. Deputy O’Sullivan is correct that it is a statutory obligation——
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: I can tell the Ceann Comhairle it has not been circulated. The social welfare Bill is being guillotined this evening but the document on the impact of the budgetary measures on poor people seems to me to be a document which the House needs to have before the debate on the social welfare Bill concludes. As the Ceann Comhairle has acknowledged, it has not been circulated. Where is it; when will we have it? Has it been laid before the House or will it be laid before the House? Is it the case, as Deputy O’Sullivan has rightly identified, that the Government has not given a second thought to poor people in this country when preparing this budget?
Deputy Michael D. Higgins: On a point of order, circulation of a document is a matter for the Ceann Comhairle; either it is to be placed in the Oireachtas Library or it is not. If the Ceann Comhairle wants to depart from that practice I suggest he would be creating a very strange precedent. It has always been the case that where documents are not delivered along with the major legislation, they are made available in the Oireachtas Library, even supporting documents. If it is the Government’s intention to depart from that norm, let us hear it from them.
Deputy Michael D. Higgins: No, that is not my intention. Frankly and between ourselves, I know the distinction between reading a document and speaking in the House. I have no difficulty in either direction. If it is to be in the Oireachtas Library, is it circulated? Will it be circulated? Is it being dropped? We just need an answer.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: This is very simple. There has been a requirement and it is the custom year in, year out, that when the Government draws up the budget there is examination of the impact of the budgetary measures on poor people. This examination used to be done by the Combat Poverty Agency, which no longer exists, and is now supposed to be done by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. As Deputy O’Sullivan pointed out, in previous years the document was always circulated with the budgetary information. The budgetary documents provided an assessment which indicated that various measures had been examined and set out their impact on the poor. This document has not been circulated and what the Labour Party wants to establish before we proceed with the rest of the debate on the social welfare Bill is where is the document. Alternatively, is it the case that the Government has introduced a budget which impacts on poor people without even assessing this impact? Is that the position? Where is the document? We want it.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: If these were measures that were impacting on well-heeled people with many connections or on banks or professionals with professional bodies and so forth, the matter would not be passed over in this manner. These measures are impacting on people who are poor and an assessment was supposed to have been done on the impact of the budget on the poor. I have some straightforward questions. Has the assessment been done and is there a document? If so, where is the document and will it be laid before the House today? The debate on the social welfare Bill finishes today.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: The Government has insisted on guillotining the debate on the social welfare Bill, which must conclude this evening. That is the Government’s choice, not the choice of the Labour Party. There is a requirement to have the impact of the budgetary measures on poor people laid before the House. Where is the document? Did the Government do an assessment of the impact of the budget on poor people and, if so, when will it be laid before the House?
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Before Deputies contribute to the debate, we want to know where is the document. Did the Government do an assessment? It is becoming patently clear that the silent Ministers on the front bench, including the Minister for Finance who introduced the budget — the silver spoon wing of the Government — did not examine its impact on poor people.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: I have two questions which are in order. Is there a document showing the assessment of the impact of the budget on poor people? If so, will it be laid before the House? I invite the Tánaiste to reply.
The Tánaiste: By failing to get through the Order of Business, we have lost 45 minutes of the time provided to debate the Bill. I will ask the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to revert to the Deputy on the matter when I have an opportunity to leave the House.
Deputy James Bannon: As the national monuments Bill seems to be a dead duck or wilting frog, when will the national cultural institutions Bill be published? The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appears to be unaware that heritage is part of his portfolio. He would sooner be out in the countryside tagging frogs than introducing legislation.
Deputy Joan Burton: Proposed legislation, the local government (Dublin mayor) Bill, is to provide for an election in Dublin next year. The election of a Dublin mayor will cost a great deal of money at a time when the country does not have any. Payments to widows are being cut yet the Green Party proposes a vanity project that will cost money.
Deputy Joan Burton: The Green Party will get its answer should the election proceed. Widows should not be having their pension cut to pay for a vanity project which the country cannot afford. Will the Bill and the election of a Dublin mayor proceed and, if so, what is the timeframe?
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