Order of Business

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 750 No. 2

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The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  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: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  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?

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  No, it is not agreed. We do not want to use up all of our time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I will put the question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  If Deputy Ó Cuív tells me what his problem is with the proposal, I may be able to address it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  He is just opposing it.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  I will tell the Tánaiste what my problem is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I was in the middle of putting the question.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  By taking the Appropriation Bill today, we will increase the VAT rate.

Question put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  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: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on 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?

[299]The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  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: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on 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.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  There will be a total of 18 or 19 Bills published by 10 January. I am prepared to go through each Bill individually.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Does the Tánaiste believe it is acceptable that——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  We are not having a debate on the issue.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  ——more than one third of the list of Bills the Government intended to publish in this reformed Dáil will not be published? Is that a good performance?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This Government has published more legislation in this session than the Deputy’s Government often managed to get published in an entire year.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  That is not the point. The Government provided a list, which we accepted in good faith.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I ask Deputy Ó Cuív to resume his seat, please. It is Christmas time and he should show some goodwill and respect the Chair.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Did the Deputy hear me?

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  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.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I can discuss any of the Bills if the Deputy wishes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The next time Deputy Ó Cuív continuously ignores the Chair I will not warn him. He will go outside the door.

[300]Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  It is Christmas, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Mind your own business, Deputy McGrath. I ask Deputies to please have some respect for the Chair — not for me personally but for the position. I call Deputy McDonald.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on 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.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  The Deputy is not too shy herself.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I call Deputy Mattie McGrath. I remind him to confine his question to promised legislation.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on 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——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  What legislation is the Deputy talking about?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  I am talking about the existing legislation of the House. Are facilities being made available to non-Members?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The Standing Orders of the House constitute the legislation under which we operate.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The Deputy is breaching them.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Under Standing Orders——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Would you mind resuming your seat?

[301]Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  No, a Cheann Comhairle. Are they being made available to non-Members of the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  What? The Standing Orders——

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  I refer to the facilities of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I will certainly get——

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  What facilities?

Deputy John Lyons: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Is Deputy McGrath referring to the toilets?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  This matter is not in order on the Order of Business.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Deputy McGrath has asked a genuine question that deserves an answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  It may be genuine, but it is not in order on the Order of Business. It can be dealt with through the Whips.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  He is worried about the use of tinsel.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That is what we have Whips for.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on 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 Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  I would say the Minister for Justice and Equality is at fault.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Bill is on the C list. I do not have a date for its publication.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on 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?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Will legislation be required?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am not aware of any legislation. No proposals for legislation on the matter have been brought to the Government.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  Is the report accurate?

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Can the Tánaiste confirm that a decision has been taken?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  We cannot debate the issue.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  The Tánaiste might offer to answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  A parliamentary question will sort the matter out.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is a matter for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to respond directly on the matter.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  It is a “Yes” or “No” matter.

[302]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That is what we have parliamentary questions for.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  Does the Tánaiste know the answer?

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O 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: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  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: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Will the Government publish the Attorney General’s advice?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That is a matter for the Government.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O 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: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I call Deputy O’Dea, who is looking very anxious.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  As a follow-on to Deputy Ó Snodaigh’s question——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  No, there can be no follow-ons.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  It relates to promised legislation. It is on the same topic.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That is okay.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That is not in order on the Order of Business.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  The Tánaiste was making announcements all over the country.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  It would be very revealing.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  The Tánaiste wants to be truthful.


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