Order of Business.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 706 No. 3

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Defamation Act 2009 (Press Council) Order 2010, back from committee; No. 10, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; and No. 3, Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 9 and 10 shall be decided without debate. Private Members’ business shall be No. 72, motion re energy security.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There is one proposal to be put to the House today. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 9 and 10 agreed to?

  5 o’clock

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I object to the Order of Business. I do so because No. 3, which proposes to take the Central Bank Reform Bill, should be opposed on the basis that the Government does not wish to extend the inquiry beyond September 2008. I outlined during Taoiseach’s Questions what should be done if the Government is serious about sorting out this matter for once and for all to restore our financial and banking sectors. I refer to having absolutely above board the institutions that deal with finance and financial lending with new regulatory regimes, as well as new oversight and regulation that works. It is imperative that the inquiry is not a whitewash or a cover up and that it is open ended to deal with the ongoing exposure of the further litany of banking scandals referred to by the Minister for Finance in his speech in the House on 30 March. He stated that senior banking officials had engaged in reckless lending for which the taxpayer would need to pay for years to come and that the banks had played fast and loose with Irish economic interests. From this perspective, I am opposed to the Order of Business, as it features something we must do.

[423]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  On behalf of the Labour Party, I also want to oppose the Order of Business. These two motions are being taken together. As a general principle, that should not be done. I agree with Deputy Kenny that the core issue today is that the Government is relying on a make-believe investigation into what occurred in banking. Last session, it rejected proposals by the Labour Party that there should be a proper inquiry into what occurred, particularly the Government’s role and that of the Taoiseach during his period as Minister for Finance. His replies today in response to Deputy Kenny and me are inadequate. For those reasons, the Labour Party is opposing the proposals before the House on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Banking regulation legislation is vital and its absence has contributed in no small measure to the tragic situations we have witnessed. The ongoing effect will be that ordinary citizens and families will face serious consequences in the time ahead. It is imperative that there be real banking regulation in this jurisdiction.

The Sinn Féin Deputies, however, do not agree to the taking of this Bill in the absence of a draft code setting out the standards of fitness and probity that must apply. The Bill referred to by previous speakers as part of the Order Paper indicates that the code is a key requirement, yet there is no indication as to how the code will be drafted, whether Opposition voices will have any input and when such a draft will present. There is no provision for any of this. The code setting out the standards of fitness and probity is central. It is one of the cornerstones of any such legislation if the latter is to be effective.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There will be ample opportunity later to make these comments. On the proposal.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Exactly as previous speakers did, I am explaining the reasons we oppose the proposals on the Order of Business. This Bill, as presented, is not properly prepared, nor do we as Opposition voices have an understanding, let alone the opportunity to scrutineer, what it is the Government will be imposing.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 9 and 10 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 73; 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 Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
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 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 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 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 Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
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 Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James.
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 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 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 Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
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 Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. 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 Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. 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 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 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 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 John Curran and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

[425]Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I congratulate the Government Chief Whip on winning his first vote, admittedly by a short head. Some Members opposite may have been a little concerned regarding the closeness of the result.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  It is Punchestown festival week.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  On the legislative programme for 2010, it seems that despite the various facilities available to it the Government has not yet been able to adjust the names of the Departments to match what the Taoiseach indicated when he announced his Cabinet reshuffle. In that context, reference is still being made to the Department of Education and Science, which should be the Department of Education and Skills, and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which should be Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. The Department of Social and Family Affairs will become the Department of Social Protection. Is there is a reason for that?

Will the local government (Dublin mayor and regional authority) Bill be published, debated and finalised before the end of the summer session? Has the Government made a decision on whether the elections for a directly elected Lord Mayor of Dublin will take place this year? If so, has a date been finalised?

I refer to the children’s referendum, to which the Government and the all-party committee have committed. Has the Government signed off on a date on when the children’s referendum will be held?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We are talking about publishing the local government (Dublin mayor and regional authority) Bill during this session. We planned for that to take place during 2010. On the children’s referendum, that report is to hand and is being considered by Government but no decision has been made.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  If it is intended to hold the mayoral election in 2010 and if there is a possibility of holding the children’s referendum on the same day, is it the Taoiseach’s intention——

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No decision has been made.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Is it the Taoiseach’s intention to go further and hold a triple crown and include the by-elections?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No decision has been made.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Noting what the Taoiseach said that it is intended to hold the election for the Lord Mayor of Dublin some time in 2010 and given that the people of Dublin South would be going to the polls some time in 2010 anyway, does he agree the logical date to have the Dublin South by-election would be on the same day as the election for the Lord Mayor of Dublin? If he is going to have one by-election on that date, he might as well hold all three. What would be the logic of having the election for the Lord Mayor of Dublin one day and the by-elections on another day?

Since we are on the subject of the election of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, I note that is an addition to the list of Bills we are to get from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. There are now three Bills on that list for this session. I notice two Bills on the list for the last session have disappeared. One is the environment (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, which the Minister promised would extend the scope of the landfill levy to include incineration. The Minister was relying on this Bill to do something about the incinerator in Ringsend. [426] I am not quite clear what he was planning to do about the incinerator in Ringsend but he said he would do something about it——

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Incinerate it.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  ——and it was based on this Bill.

The problem is that this Bill has disappeared from the legislative programme. Does that mean the Minister is not going to do whatever he intended to do about the incinerator in Ringsend because the Bill is gone? Will the Taoiseach tell us what has happened to the Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is on the B list. The Minister has examined a number of approaches to the application of waste facility levies and now considers it appropriate to consult key stakeholders having regard to changed circumstances in the waste management market and in the broader economy.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The old stakeholders again.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Publication of the Bill will probably be next session and redrafting will likely be required on foot of the consultation. Work is ongoing on that. I have made no decisions in regard to the other matters.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  In regard to promised legislation from the Department of Health and Children, I note once again the current status of the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill is “not possible to indicate”, as has been the case for so long. I note very worryingly that the spring programme stated publication of the promised mental health (amendment) Bill was expected to be 2010, but we have now been told publication is expected in 2011. The Minister of State, Deputy John Moloney, who is responsible for mental health, is in the House.

The spring programme indicated that publication of the public health (alcohol labelling provisions) Bill and the reference pricing for drugs Bill was expected in 2010 but the current programme states that it is not possible to indicate a publication date. Time after time, as spokesperson for health and children, I, along with other Opposition voices covering this particular portfolio, have highlighted to the Taoiseach the failure of the Department of Health and Children and the Minister to ensure long promised and much needed legislation would be fast tracked. Fast tracking does not come into consideration in regard to this Minister and this Department’s work rate in terms of legislation, and I have not mentioned the nurses and midwives Bill.

A very serious situation applies in this Department which merits the Taoiseach’s scrutiny as well as that of other Opposition voices. Prior to the Easter recess, I wrote to the Minister for Health and Children asking specific questions in regard to her then recent meeting with Justice for Magdalenes representatives.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have to find some other way to pursue this matter.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I have a reply stating that because of industrial action——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It is not on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——-she is unable to answer my parliamentary question. The Minister attended that meeting and I am not aware that she is in the middle of a work to rule or industrial action. It is well within her gift to respond to the question and she should not [427]hide behind the cloak of the civil servants’ protest currently in train in her Department and in other Departments. This is an absolute nonsense where Members of this House are not getting responses to legitimate parliamentary questions. Rather than pleading with me——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are other ways to raise the matter.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——the Ceann Comhairle might very well do a better job pleading with Cabinet members to respond to Opposition voices——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  My duty is to ensure we have order on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——as is their duty and responsibility.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I refer to one of the matters raised by Deputy Ó Caoláin, the nurses and midwives Bill. He is absolutely right about the spillage in time in regard to practically every Bill on the list from the Minister for Health and Children. The nurses and midwives Bill was on the A list in the last session, which meant it should have been popped into my letter box before I returned to the House, but it did not. It is on the A list again. Will the nurses and midwives Bill be published this session and not in the summer holidays?

Another Bill on that list, which Deputy Ó Caoláin did not mention, relates to sunbeds. During the slack period last summer, the Minister made great play about how she would ban or control sunbeds but we have not heard a murmur from her.

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

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  That is on the never-never land list of Bills which will be published sometime or somewhere.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We will make inquiries for the Deputy.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Yesterday, the Irish Cancer Society expressed concern about sunbeds. Is the Minister ever going to do a little bit of work here?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the nurses and midwives Bill is due to be published next week. The Whip has been rigorous in ensuring we get the Bills on A list. A complaint of Deputies is when Bills are put on the A list but they are not published. It is better to have as good and as accurate a list as possible which is realistic and based on current drafting issues. The Office of the Attorney General and other legal draftspeople have been very busy.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Will sunbeds make it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  They are being warmed up at the moment.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  They must be set at high burn at this stage.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  To make a serious point, I understand consultations have been completed at this stage. I know this matter was raised by the Irish Cancer Society and I do not wish to belittle it in any way.

On the other matters raised by Deputy Ó Caoláin, if it is not possible to give a publication date at this stage, it is best to say so but that it is not to suggest that work is not ongoing on the matter. The legislation to which the Deputy referred, the nurses and midwives Bill, should be published next week.

[428]Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Given the recent announcement by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of a list of heritage sites proposed for world heritage status, the failure to publish a national monuments Bill is a major stumbling block to the preservation of our heritage. The Bill has again been put at the hind tit of the legislative programme. When can we expect this long overdue legislation?

The Minister is running around the country closing down bogs and banning hunting——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It is not necessary for the Deputy to elaborate. We will find out the position regarding the promised legislation.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  ——all of which is degrading the rural environment. When will he do something constructive for the country?

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Perhaps Deputy Bannon will draw up a list of national monuments.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Bill in question is very detailed and comprehensive. Work on the legislation is ongoing and heads have been drafted. Detailed discussions are required between the Office of the Attorney General and Department. The Bill, about which the Deputy speaks on a weekly basis, is very large. Perhaps I will dampen the Deputy’s enthusiasm a little by stating it will not come before the House too soon.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hope springs eternal.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  The Minister, Deputy Gormley, would be better off hunting Bannon than banning hunting.

Deputy Mary Upton: Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  I and every other Member of the House received an e-mail this morning concerning dead horses which have been decomposing in a field in Lucan for six weeks. This is becoming a health and safety issue.

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

Deputy Mary Upton: Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Given that the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill has been published, perhaps some concern will be shown for domestic animals. A Bill is promised on animal health and welfare.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not have a date for that Bill.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The question is whether any agency of the State takes responsibility for this issue. I raised the matter with the county manager in south Dublin some time ago. Horses are regularly being subjected to cruelty and there are, as Deputy Upton stated, two horse corpses in a field adjacent to Fonthill railway station. Somebody should intervene because everybody is dodging the issue. I do not want to make a political point.

The Taoiseach indicated to me about three weeks ago that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is bringing proposals to Cabinet for a referendum to excise the reference to blasphemy in the Constitution. I asked the Minister about this during the subsequent Question Time and while I will not say he sought to resile from that position, he certainly left the impression that rather than being a commitment to having a referendum to excise the reference to blasphemy, his statement fell more into the category of the late Seamus Brennan’s dictum [429]that whatever one does, one should put out something on a Sunday. Does the Government propose to hold such a referendum and, if so, when will it take place?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Government has not made a decision to hold such a referendum. The issue is one of a series of issues that would require a referendum were they to be proceeded with. The issue of holding a referendum on children is also being considered.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Ministers should not toss out commitments to hold referenda if they are merely thinking aloud. Many people who are interested in this issue understood from the Minister’s statement that there would be a referendum, given his view that this was a constitutional imperative and he had to enshrine it in the new Defamation Act. I do not know what to take from the Taoiseach’s response as to whether there will or will not be a referendum on blasphemy.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Based on what the Minister has said, a referendum rather than legislation would be required to deal with the matter. A decision on the timing and detail of how or when that would be done has not been taken by the Government.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  On promised legislation, I remind the Taoiseach that in recent weeks, notably since the House rose for the Easter recess, a number of disturbing attacks have been made on so-called head shops throughout the State. I have a record of eight such attacks involving petrol bombs, arson and explosive devices. The Minister for Health and Children has given some commitments on dealing with the issue, the Minister of State, Deputy Curran, has expressed responsibility and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform recently entered the fray by promising legislation. What is the Government response to the matter of head shops, with particular reference to attacks on such premises involving criminal gangsters and dissident republicans? The Government appears to be standing by and allowing these incidents to take place all too frequently.

According to the legislative programme, the Minister for Health and Children is unable to indicate the possible date on which the legislation to license these facilities is expected. What is the story? What Departments are involved in this matter and what action, by way of legislation, will the Government take on this issue?

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny today at which the Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform indicated that legislation was being prepared on head shops. When I returned to my office, however, I noted that the legislative programme does not refer to any legislation related to head shops.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask the Deputy not to elaborate on the issue as he has put the core of a question.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  The Secretary General asked us to watch this space, as it were, but gave no indication about the timing of legislation or whether measures on head shops would be included in other legislation proposed in the legislative programme. Will stand-alone legislation be introduced to address all aspects of head shops or will measures be attached to the chemicals (amendment) Bill, Mental Capacity Bill or public health Bills?

The Children’s Act 1991 banned the sale of glues and other products to children aged under 18 years. A one line amendment to that legislation would ensure that products currently being sold in head shops were banned for sale to those aged under 18 years. This, at least, should be done urgently.

[430]Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Taoiseach will recall that a few years ago Members gathered one morning to pass legislation to protect State property and did so in about one hour. I was the Labour Party spokesperson on the relevant issue at the time. Will the Taoiseach not do likewise with regard to head shops given the fear and danger they present in our communities and in light of the issues raised by the two previous speakers? Surely it would be possible to so, especially given the high standards we apply to all food products——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy may not make a Second Stage speech on the Order of Business.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  We also have a food safety agency and so forth. Why does the Taoiseach not act?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  On the question of banning certain products or substances, under the Misuse of Drugs Act it is proposed to introduce controls on a broad range of substances, which would make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions. The draft regulations have been notified to the European Commission under the relevant technical standards directives. This is a requirement as controls under the Misuse of Drugs Act involve a restriction on trade.

In preparing the required regulations the Department of Health and Children consulted the relevant authorities to ensure that any legitimate uses of the substances involved are not impinged upon. Four years ago, the Minister for Health and Children banned magic mushrooms and their possession and sale are now illegal. Similar action was taken on 31 March last year to control and criminalise the possession and sale of BZP.

Banning substances is an important and necessary step and one of a range of interventions needed to tackle the issue. We are also working on a cross-departmental group with the Attorney General to ascertain how best to draw up legislation that would be watertight and not subject to constitutional challenge. We are also working in a cross-departmental group with the Attorney General to see how best to draw up watertight legislation that is not subject to constitutional challenge.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I am glad that the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills is in the House, because I would like to draw her attention to the fact that there are two groups of schools operating illegally and in probable breach of the Constitution. I am referring to the community and VEC sponsored schools. There is no legal patronage for them and they are now in probably in breach of the Constitution in respect of faith formation inside the school hours and the segregation of five and six year old children on the basis of their declared religion. When does the Government propose to bring forward the education (patronage)
Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is on the list for this session.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What is the current position on the landlord and tenant Bill? This Bill was supposed to reform and consolidate the law on landlords and tenants. Has the Bill been drafted, or has progress at least taken place in drafting it? What is the current position on the national vetting bureau Bill? Many people consider this Bill is urgently needed. Has the drafting been completed or has it even begun? When will it go before the Cabinet?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The second Bill is being drafted as a priority under the aegis of the Minister of State, Deputy Andrews. The landlord and tenant Bill will not be drafted until next year.

[431]Deputy Liz McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I want to ask the Taoiseach about the climate change Bill. A proposed Bill was presented by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Heritage and Local Government last year, and it included an explanatory memorandum for legislation. The Minister, Deputy Gormley, produced a framework document soon after that which set out his intentions on a climate change Bill. The indications then were that the Bill would be debated by June 2010. I am surprised to find that in the legislative programme, we do not have any indication on when that Bill might be ready. I presume that it will not now be ready in 2010 or even in 2011. Would it be helpful if the committee produced the Bill for the Government? We are well able to do so as we have done it already in respect of the Foreshore Act. Green Party voters will be very disappointed at the fact that there is no indication for a climate change Bill. Would the Taoiseach welcome such a Bill if it was produced by the Joint Committee on Environment, Heritage and Local Government? Would he take it seriously and implement the targets that we must meet due to our international commitments?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Government approved a framework for a climate change Bill which sets out its key priorities but work is still ongoing. A parliamentary question for the Minister on the attitude of the Department to the suggestion made is the best way to deal with this.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is probably over six years since I raised in this House the issue of management companies and the difficult situation in which residents find themselves. A group of people in houses in my constituency subject to a management company saw their water and electricity supply cut off over Easter because the developer — a friend of the Taoiseach’s own party — is sunning himself in Spain and has left no money in the management company. People had no water for their children. They had no——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, we have spent a lot of time on the Order of Business and you are out of order.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I want to ask about two Bills that have been sunning themselves in the Seanad, like the developer in Marbella, namely, the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009 and the Multi-Unit Development Bill 2009. When is it proposed to take these Bills so that my constituents will not have their water and electricity supply cut off?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The detail is not necessary at this point. Have we promised legislation in this area?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  When will this be completed? I have raised this issue with the former Taoiseach, with successive Ministers who were in charge of this area, both in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. My constituents are still waiting and many of them are now paying €2,500 per year in management charges. Can the Taoiseach tell me when we will have a resolution?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The elaboration is not necessary at this point.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The first Bill is on Committee Stage in the Seanad and the second Bill is on Report Stage in the Seanad.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Tá go maith. We will now move——

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Can I ask the Taoiseach——

[432]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  You have been advised what is the position on the legislation. It is in the Seanad and is a matter for the other House.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  When will it finish in the Seanad?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is a matter for the Seanad.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Children have been left without running water in their houses in 2010. It is a disgrace by Fianna Fáil. The developers are laughing at us.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are moving on.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  They are sunning themselves in Marbella.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Was the Deputy in Marbella herself?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  They have given the rest of us the two fingers. Maybe the bankers should join them.


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