Thursday, 15 December 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Tánaiste: It is proposed to take No. 11, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2011 (back from committee); No. 7, Appropriation Bill 2011 — Order for Second Stage, Second and Subsequent Stages; No. 2, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Amendment) Bill 2011 — amendment from the Seanad; No. 3, Nurses and Midwives Bill 2010 — amendments from the Seanad; No. 6, Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2011 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 8, Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 11 shall be decided without debate; No. 7 shall be taken today and the Second and Subsequent Stages shall be decided without debate by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform; for the purposes of Standing Order 117A, the first Friday of the month for January 2012 shall be Friday, 13 January; the time and date by which notice of a Bill in connection with that sitting shall be received by the Clerk shall be 11 a.m. on Friday, 6 January 2012, and related Standing Orders shall apply accordingly; and the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and adjourn not later than 1.30 p.m. and at 10.30 a.m. on that day there shall be an Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 26, subject to the proceedings comprehended by paragraphs 2 and 3 of that Standing Order not exceeding 20 minutes.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11 without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 7 without debate agreed to?
An Ceann Comhairle: Is the proposal for the sitting and business of the Dáil on Friday, 13 January 2012 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for the sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow agreed to? Agreed.
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: At the mid-term, the Tánaiste told me that all 30 of the Bills on the A list would be published by 10 January 2012. A few weeks ago, the figure had dropped to 27. Will he indicate how many of the Bills on the list have been published and how many are expected to be published by 10 January?
The Tánaiste: Fourteen of the Bills have been published, namely, the Irish Film Board (Amendment) Bill; the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill; the Water Services (Amendment) Bill; the European Financial Stability and Euro Area Loan Facility (Amendment) Bill; the Health (Provision of General Practitioners Services) Bill; the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill; the Competition (Amendment) Bill; the Public Services Pensions (Single Scheme) and Remuneration Bill; the Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill; the Local Government (Household Charge) Bill; the Bretton Woods Agreement (Amendment) Bill; the Social Welfare Bill; the Appropriation Bill; and the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill. One Bill, the temporary agency workers Bill, has been approved at Cabinet and awaits publication. A further three Bills which were not on the A list of the autumn legislation programme have been published. These are the Access to Central Treasury Funds (Commission for Energy Regulation) Bill; the Road Transport Bill; and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Amendment) Bill. I can go through the remaining Bills on the A list if the Deputy wishes.
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: It appears from the Tánaiste’s reply that approximately one half of the Bills on the list will have been published by 10 January 2011. Fourteen Bills have been published and a further Bill approved at Cabinet will have been published by 10 January while 15 Bills on the list will not have been published. This is a poor record and it is a poor reflection on Dáil reform that the Government is managing to do only half of its list.
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: The Tánaiste told me at mid-term that the entire list would be published. He later told me three Bills on the list would not be published. It now transpires that as many as 12 Bills will not be published by January. He does not seem to know what is going on in the Government.
Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: I heard the Ceann Comhairle. The Tánaiste was present for the debate we had with the Taoiseach on the outcome of the European summit. Things have moved on and the Minister for Finance has made an inaccurate and scaremongering comment that a potential referendum would be a straight call as to whether the State is in or out of the euro. Will the Tánaiste indicate when he envisages the debate on this issue will resume in the House? At what stage will the Minister, Deputy Noonan, come into this Chamber to explain that commentary? It seems to suggest he has advance knowledge of the content of the referendum question. I am glad he has conceded there will be a referendum. I am concerned he has struck a scaremongering note as the Government’s initial pitch in a potential campaign. I have to say such a note has been struck consistently. In fairness, it has been struck by Fianna Fáil, as well as by the Labour Party and Fine Gael, when it comes to European matters.
The Tánaiste: I will bring a Bill to amend our existing European Communities legislation before the House early in the new year. It will address two matters. First, it will tidy up the issue of the number of Members of the European Parliament, in the aftermath of the Lisbon treaty. Second, it will enable further legislation to be introduced by the Minister for Finance with regard to the European Stability Mechanism. The Minister will introduce a separate Bill in relation to the mechanism. As I have said previously, work is under way to draft an international agreement on foot of the outcome of last week’s summit. When that work has been completed, the Government will have to consider how the agreement will be dealt with. It will be impossible to address that until the work on the completion of the international agreement comes to a conclusion.
Deputy Mattie McGrath: Indeed. It is Christmas time, as the Ceann Comhairle has said twice. Under existing legislation, are the facilities of this House being made available to non-Members? I think they are. They have been. I am very surprised by it. Can the Tánaiste clarify the matter? I know Deputy Hayes——
Deputy James Bannon: Given the increasing inability of many people to pay fines and meet their ever-increasing commitments, and in light of the overcrowding in our prisons, can the Tánaiste tell the House why the criminal justice (Fines Act 2010) (Amendment) Bill is being unduly delayed?
Deputy Niall Collins: It has been reported this morning that the Cabinet has decided to separate Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority group of airports. Can the Tánaiste confirm if that is the case? If so, will legislation be required?
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: During the Budget Statement, the Minister for Finance announced that the legislation that had been promised to deal with upward-only rent reviews — it is in the legislative programme — will not now be proceeded with. Will the Government publish the legal advice on which last week’s decision was based? Does the Government intend to proceed in any way with changes that would give retailers and businesses some kind of relief from upward-only rent reviews, which are causing major distress for companies, in particular?
The Tánaiste: The legislation that was promised by the Minister for Justice and Equality is not being proceeded with on the basis of advice from the Office of the Attorney General. As the Deputy is aware, the Minister for Finance has announced some measures to address the difficulties that are being faced by people who cannot negotiate their rents downwards. He has given NAMA a direction requiring it to negotiate downwards the rents of properties which are under its remit.
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: There are differing opinions on whether the advice was correct. It would be helpful if the House could examine it and see whether it could be proceeded with it in a different format from that envisaged by the Government.
The Tánaiste: It is not the practice to publish such advice. The Office of the Attorney General advises the Government on its legislative intentions. It is not the practice to publish its advice on legislation.
Deputy Willie O’Dea: I appreciate the Tánaiste’s comment that it is not the practice to publish the advice of the Attorney General. However, will he publish the advice that was given to the Labour Party before this year’s general election? That could be done.
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