Thursday, 23 June 2005
Order of Business.
It is proposed to take No. 14a, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for an EU Council framework decision to strengthen the criminal law framework for the enforcement of the law against ship-source pollution; No. 14b, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of decisions of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the European return fund and European refugee fund, and a Council decision establishing the European fund for the integration of third country nationals; and No. 26, Garda Síochána Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage.
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. today and business shall be interrupted not later than 8 p.m.; that Nos. 14a and 14b shall be decided without debate; that the proceedings on the resumed Report Stage and Final Stage of No. 26 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 8 p.m. 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 Justice, Equality and Law Reform; and that the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 2 p.m.
I wish to outline the proposals for tomorrow's sitting. There shall be no Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 26 and, accordingly, the following business shall be transacted in the following order: No. 27, Investment Funds, Companies and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2005 [Seanad] — Report and Final Stages, which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 12 noon on that day 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 Enterprise, Trade and Employment; and No. 1, Air Navigation and Transport (Indemnities) Bill 2005 [Seanad] — Second and Subsequent Stages.
I wish to outline the proposals for dealing with No. 1 tomorrow. The proceedings on Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. on that day. The opening speech of the Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; Members may share time; and the Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. The proceedings on Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 2 p.m. on that day 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 Transport.
The Government has not provided for a sos despite its proposal for a late sitting. The House takes a sos on Wednesdays when it sits for the number of hours proposed for today. Party spokespersons on justice, who will spend most of the day dealing with the Garda Síochána Bill 2004, will also have to be present in the House for Question Time with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform this afternoon, and we are expected to sit in the Chamber without a break until 8 o'clock.
It seems we have a rearrangement of the deck-chairs, with the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources taking the Order of Business.
This is appalling treatment of Dáil Éireann. It also amounts to appalling treatment of an Garda Síochána that a Bill of this magnitude, importance and sensitivity, with 284 amendments yet to be debated, is expected by the Government to go through all Stages by 8 p.m. this evening. This is contemptuous treatment by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform of the Garda Síochána and the representatives of all parties and none.
Yes, but we are expected to consent to have the debate on the Garda Síochána Bill end at 8 p.m. this evening. Even if only two minutes were given to the consideration of each amendment, ten hours would be needed. The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources knows, as a former Government Whip and a Minister now serving in Government, that this is not right. We have evidence over the years of rushed legislation being taken to the Supreme Court. Such legislation does not work out. As was pointed out yesterday by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe and others, there are very serious matters pertaining to the dismissal of members of an Garda Síochána, definitions of rights of account and so on, that should not be rushed through the House. I warn the Minister and the Government that to do this today is not good practice, that it will make bad law and that they may well live to regret it.
I agree. The green list of amendments circulated this morning says the 284 amendments comprise all the amendments to the Bill. They do not. There are further amendments in the white paper from the Minister. Last night we got only as far as amendment No. 12, which means most of the amendments will never be discussed in Dáil Éireann. How can any Minister defend that? It is quite unconscionable.
I mean no disrespect to the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, but the Tánaiste is in the car park talking on her mobile phone. The Taoiseach will not come to the House and it now appears the Tánaiste will not do so. We do not know if the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform will be leaving the House at any stage during the debate on the amendments. He may have to attend another photo-shoot today. On any day on which he does not speak before a large number of cameras and microphones, he goes into withdrawal.
Having hammered away for more than three weeks since the second Morris tribunal report to get the Government to respond to Mr. Justice Morris, and having extracted 12th-hour amendments from the Minister, it is a disservice to politics and to this House that we do not have the opportunity to scrutinise any of the amendments in the manner they deserve. This is a serious matter, and a serious Bill is being rushed through by the Minister at a time when there is no compulsion on this House to rise on 1 July.
We can meet for an additional week and allow the 283 amendments, plus those on the white list to be debated in Committee for as long as is necessary, given the gravity of some of the amendments being discussed. It is a contemptuous way to treat the House and one must conclude that it is deliberate. Having resisted bringing forward amendments following the second Morris report and having been obliged to do so, the Minister is now insistent that he knows best and that all wisdom reposes on that side of the House. He will force through the amendments in this fashion, which is frankly disgraceful.
Regarding the point made by Deputy Ó Snodaigh, we would quite happily continue until later if we had some time during the day to consider these amendments in greater detail. My colleague, Deputy Cuffe, said yesterday he and his staff are trying to do their very best under difficult circumstances. The Government and in particular the Minister is showing disrespect to this House in the way he has conducted this legislative process. It is a rush rather than a legislative process. It is regrettable that the House can be treated with such utter contempt. Rushed legislation is always bad legislation.
The Chair wishes to make a point. A Deputy from each party made a contribution without interruption. The Minister is entitled to respond without interruption and the function of the Chair is to ensure that happens.
Regarding the 284 amendments referred to, many of these were debated extensively on a very long Committee Stage in this House. The Minister made himself available.
During Committee Stage, the Minister indicated he would make himself available, and he did so. We had a very extensive Committee Stage. The Opposition asked that the two Morris tribunal reports should be debated before discussion on the final Stages of the Bill. The Government agreed and the reports were discussed last Friday.
During the course of the Order of Business last week, Deputy Rabbitte made a particular plea that the Morris tribunal reports would be addressed and that was done. If the Opposition want to maximise the time available for the Bill, it should not take such actions as it did yesterday. The Opposition spent 45 minutes on recommittal——
The Opposition spent half an hour discussing the alphabetical re-ordering of a definition, 20 minutes on whether it should be "the" Garda Síochána or "an" Garda Síochána, and ten minutes on calling a quorum.
Regarding the not unreasonable point raised by Deputy Ó Snodaigh about a sos, I am agreeable to the Order of Business being amended to allow half an hour at 1 p.m.
The Dail Divided:
For the motion: 62 (Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Seán Ardagh, Niall Blaney, Johnny Brady, Martin Brady, Séamus Brennan, John Browne, Pat Carey, John Carty, Michael J Collins, Beverley Flynn, John Cregan, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Tony Dempsey, John Dennehy, John Ellis, Frank Fahey, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Mildred Fox, Pat Gallagher, Jim Glennon, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Seán Haughey, Máire Hoctor, Cecilia Keaveney, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael McDowell, Tom McEllistrim, John Moloney, Donal Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Liz O'Donnell, Batt O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Malley, Tim O'Malley, Tom Parlon, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Mae Sexton, Brendan Smith, Michael Smith, Noel Treacy, Dan Wallace, Mary Wallace, Joe Walsh, Ollie Wilkinson, Michael Woods)
Against the motion: 47 (Dan Boyle, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Joan Burton, Paul Connaughton, Paudge Connolly, Joe Costello, Seymour Crawford, Ciarán Cuffe, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Eamon Gilmore, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Séamus Healy, Joe Higgins, Michael D Higgins, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Pádraic McCormack, Finian McGrath, Paul McGrath, Paddy McHugh, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Breeda Moynihan-Cronin, Catherine Murphy, Gerard Murphy, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, Brian O'Shea, Séamus Pattison, Willie Penrose, Pat Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Seán Ryan, Joe Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Liam Twomey, Jack Wall)
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.
Question declared carried.
These motions were only received late yesterday and that is not adequate time to consider whether there should be a debate on them in the House before they are sent to the committee. I have no problem with the practice in general but we should be given more notice of such motions before making a decision on whether the House should deal with them in the proper fashion before they are sent to committee.
I strongly object to this proposal. I am not seeking to make a political point but we are dealing with a major Bill. The Minister has trumpeted it as of huge relevance to the country. That is true and it is only right that we ensure the Bill in its final form is something of which we can be proud. If one were to consider how best to produce a bad product, one could not think of a better way of doing it than to impose a guillotine in the fashion proposed by the Government.
It is not just a truism to state that rushed legislation is bad legislation. There has been ample evidence of it over the years. The Minister should be well aware of this given that he caused a number of immigration Bills to be rushed through the House, which later ended up in the courts. I have been a parliamentarian for a number of years and I urge the House to do the decent thing by the Garda Síochána and by the country. Let us ensure the Bill passed by the House is one of which we can be proud.
I accept that not all the 284 amendments require detailed consideration but some of them are of major significance. In fact, when the Minister presented them he suggested that they were a comprehensive response to the reports of the Morris tribunal. He indicated that they would deal with all the strictures of Mr. Justice Morris. If that is so, let us at least have the decency to examine those proposals. Let us not be faced at 8 p.m., having gone through a quarter of the amendments, with a single question from the Chair proposing that all the amendments fall other than those proposed by the Minister. We will end up with a Bill that is not even half considered.
There is provision in the Constitution for the President to refer legislation to the Supreme Court to be considered for its constitutionality. Two issues will arise at the end of today's proceedings. The first is the process employed by Parliament for dealing with this Bill. That certainly runs counter to the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution. If we do not give due process to the Bill, particularly a Bill of such importance, that issue will have to be considered.
There is a second issue. Amendments have been put before the House which will not be given adequate consideration but which comprise new proposals for the summary dismissal of members of the Garda Síochána. These are major new powers. If such powers are to be put in the Statute Book, they must be properly considered. We must be satisfied there are adequate safeguards. Above all, we must be satisfied there is due process and that any member of the Garda who might be faced with such a decision by the Garda Commissioner will have access to a process of natural justice. On my cursory reading of the amendments presented by the Minister, I am not satisfied that there is provision for such due process. That is all I might be able to say today about those provisions because we might not reach them.
My comments are not just directed at the Minister, Deputy McDowell. So far, he has had the backing of the Fianna Fáil Members of the House. I urge them to pause and reflect. In the name of goodness, let us do the proper thing by the Garda Síochána and the country. Give us a decent chance to assess the amendments properly. I guarantee on behalf of Fine Gael, the main Opposition party, that we will deal with this constructively and fairly. However, we need time to do it properly. The Government is not giving us that time.
I, too, oppose No. 26 on the Order of Business, for many of the same reasons. The Government is proposing a guillotine at 8 p.m. We saw how the Minister delayed the Dáil yesterday by leaving during the morning to conduct a launch relating to child care and leaving the Minister of State, who has responsibility for child care, in the House as his substitute.
The Minister should have known better. It was a contemptuous way to treat the House. I object to the Minister's methodology and to his attitude to his presence in the House. His manner of dealing with legislation is unacceptable. We have raised this issue before and need the Ceann Comhairle's guidance. The Minister first presented this Bill two years ago. Now as the session ends he says the Bill must be guillotined and presents a stack of new amendments.
He does this with every Bill. On leaving this House every Bill is more than double its original size, through amendments from the Minister — he does not accept our amendments. He never thinks out fully what he intends to do and as a result we receive an ad hoc amalgam of legislation that is a set of proposals without any coherent philosophy.
In this case there are two green books of amendments, one provided the day before yesterday, one yesterday, and there are white pages of the Minister's amendments, which are not included in the normal green book because the Minister is keeping them separate for himself. This is the height of inefficiency. We must try to plough through different groups of amendments to find our place in the debate.
The Minister has included 34 amendments in his booklet, making a total of more than 300 amendments to deal with today. There is not the slightest hope that we will reach the seminal amendments introduced by the Minister. Many of these are amendments to which he has agreed kicking and screaming after we insisted on having at least some debate on the reports of the Morris tribunal.
We made statements only on Friday but at least we had a further debate in Private Members' time last night and the day before. There has been some attempt to tease out the implications of the Morris reports and to acknowledge that Mr. Justice Morris specifically requested this House to review the Garda Síochána Bill.
Some of the Minister's amendments are good. I am pleased he has taken on our idea for a whistleblower's charter. That is an excellent amendment for which we have long pressed. I am also pleased he has taken on board several of our proposals regarding the ombudsman's commission and that it has a different shape now from when the Minister embarked on this proposal two years ago. There is a significant proposal to roll out CCTV around the country in the interests of security which is very valuable.
I am not pleased, however, that these measures, plus several other controversial measures, will be nodded through without our having the opportunity to discuss them. It would have been proper to recommit them so we could have a full debate but we will not reach them on Report Stage because of the lack of time and the guillotine.
One controversial amendment is the summary entitlement to be granted to the Garda Commissioner to dismiss members of the Garda Síochána, ordinary gardaí, sergeants and inspectors, that cut across the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors. Both associations are angry about this because they regard it as an issue for conciliation and arbitration. Yesterday the Minister presented a summary amendment to the Garda Representative Association instead of bringing forward a proposal for conciliation.
I refer to this because it gives the authority to the commissioner on the basis of his or her opinion. Due process is not included in the legislation. We would seek to amend this amendment but will not have the chance to do so. Industrial action will be the outcome of this amendment.
In the second controversial amendment the Minister grants himself total access to all Garda files on all citizens, at whatever stage an investigation may be or wherever documentation may be. This is an example of despotic megalomania.
This Minister has lost perspective. We will not have an opportunity to amend that outrageous amendment. Maybe he will amend it himself and think about it again as he is inclined to do. Many of the Minister's amendments come from the top of his head.
Has the Minister contacted the Data Protection Commissioner about getting access to these files?
These are matters about which the Minister should be thinking. Deputy Howlin is right, there will not be another time to discuss them. This is our last opportunity to say why we believe this Bill should be recommitted for proper debate on Committee Stage and why we oppose the guillotine.
Deputy Costello referred to guidance from the Chair. The position is that the House decides how a Bill will be taken and the Chair, like all other Members in the House, is subject to that decision. It is a matter entirely for the House.
The Green Party cannot accept the guillotine on this important Bill. My colleague, Deputy Cuffe, outlined yesterday the difficulties he and his staff experienced in trying to deal with a series of amendments. I once described the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform as a binge legislator. If ever we needed proof of that we saw it yesterday when he lined up 100 amendments on the counter and went on the tear.
When the Minister was out of his mind on arrogance he wreaked havoc with the legislative process. The Minister did not want to establish the Morris tribunal. Now he has chosen to ignore the advice of Mr. Justice Morris.
There are children in the Visitors Gallery who are getting a lesson in how not to legislate. As if to emphasise his contempt for this House the Minister came in chewing gum this morning.
Like my colleagues I oppose the guillotine as we have opposed guillotines on other legislation. This guillotine is more serious because of the number of constructive amendments from all sides, including the Minister, that we wish to discuss. We will not reach them.
Yesterday and today the Minister said we were wasting time. The parliamentary procedure allows us to go through amendments, some of them vital. Reference was made to a discussion about the legal title of the organisation. If we cannot even get the legal title correct, how will we achieve the changes required for an Garda Síochána and get them right? One of my major points is that the amendments the Minister has tabled, some in response to the Morris tribunal's reports, are substantial yet have not been referred to the Human Rights Commission or the Garda Commissioner. I say that because the amendments go to the heart of human rights issues. There is an obligation on the Government to refer all legislation with human rights implications to the Human Rights Commission. I accept that the commission examined the Bill, but it did not know what amendments the Minister would produce.
On another point, the Minister has tabled more than 70 amendments. I did not manage to count them all. We will not get through the majority. We probably will not even reach the amendment co-authored by the Minister and me. It is a minor amendment but we will not get to it, which is a pity.
The other point is that if one looks at the white sheets sent around with the Minister's amendments, one sees that most are amendments to existing amendments; that is how crazy it is. We end up having to take over an entire bench for the material presented to us, never mind what reports we refer to. We do not have enough time and we should sit next week to deal with this, and the following week if need be. It is important that we get it right, since it is the first major change to the structures of the Garda Síochána since its foundation. I hope that we will not need to return with other Bills to reform it; we should take the time to get it right at this stage rather than come back with new legislation time and again to undo the mistakes made because of the guillotine being forced on us today.
The Government shares the view expressed by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe and others regarding the importance of this Bill. I will not go back over how long it has already been given for consideration.
We also share the aspiration expressed by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe and echoed by others that we finalise a Bill of which we can be proud, and that is certainly the aim of the Government and the Minister.
The best way to do so is to ensure that as much time as possible be devoted to debate on the Bill itself rather than about whether we have a guillotine. Yesterday more than two hours were wasted——
——on minor technical details not at all at the core of the Bill. The fact that Deputy Ó Snodaigh and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, have an amendment in common should give us cause for further consideration.
It is a very persuasive argument for allowing extra time. Given what has been said by Deputies and in particular what Deputy Jim O'Keeffe said about trying to be as co-operative as possible if extra time were allowed so that people can focus on the Bill itself in the debate, I know that the Minister is willing to grant extra time for it. With the House's permission, he will agree to extend the time until10 p.m.
An amendment has been proposed about which I would like to make a simple comment. The idea of the Minister granting the Parliament of my country the time to discuss an important Bill, the manner in which this has been presented, appals me.
The Deputy has made his contribution. There will be one contribution from each party. We will put the question that the proposal for dealing with No. 26, the conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004, be agreed to, including an amendment proposed by the Minister that the House sit until 10 p.m.
I want to inform the Ceann Comhairle of something. On 17 May 1995, in a debate in this House on the Finance Bill, the then Opposition Member, Deputy McDowell, said the following regarding amendments.
They are not agreeable to me or my party in their present form because very important amendments have not yet been circulated to Members of the House. I ask the Chair to vindicate the rights of Members of this House. It is not proper that serious and fundamental measures are being withheld in the context of a guillotined debate.
Need I say more? The Garda Síochána Bill 2004 is even more important.
The proposal that we put forward today was that there be no guillotine this evening. We sought not a brief extension but for the entire Bill to be recommitted. We wanted a proper debate that could continue into next week and perhaps the following one.
I am entitled to reply to a new proposal from the Minister. He has put forward a new proposal, and we have stated why we were not prepared to accept No. 26 on the Order Paper. The Minister has proposed something that is not No. 26.
Listen, the Chair is speaking. I will put the question, ''That the proposal for dealing with No. 26, the conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004, be agreed to'', as it stands. The House will be aware that it has already agreed to the late sitting, to conclude at 8 p.m. It is a matter for the Whip if he wishes to make a new proposal at a later stage. However, we cannot take another proposal now, having already agreed that.
The Dail Divided:
For the motion: 61 (Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Seán Ardagh, Niall Blaney, Johnny Brady, Martin Brady, Séamus Brennan, John Browne, Pat Carey, John Carty, Michael J Collins, Beverley Flynn, John Cregan, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Tony Dempsey, John Dennehy, John Ellis, Frank Fahey, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Mildred Fox, Pat Gallagher, Jim Glennon, Noel Grealish, Seán Haughey, Máire Hoctor, Cecilia Keaveney, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael McDowell, Tom McEllistrim, John Moloney, Donal Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Liz O'Donnell, Batt O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Malley, Tim O'Malley, Tom Parlon, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Mae Sexton, Brendan Smith, Michael Smith, Noel Treacy, Dan Wallace, Mary Wallace, Joe Walsh, Ollie Wilkinson, Michael Woods)
Against the motion: 48 (Dan Boyle, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Joan Burton, Paul Connaughton, Paudge Connolly, Joe Costello, Jerry Cowley, Seymour Crawford, Seán Crowe, Ciarán Cuffe, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Eamon Gilmore, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Séamus Healy, Joe Higgins, Michael D Higgins, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Pádraic McCormack, Finian McGrath, Paul McGrath, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Breeda Moynihan-Cronin, Catherine Murphy, Gerard Murphy, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, Brian O'Shea, Séamus Pattison, Willie Penrose, Pat Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Seán Ryan, Joe Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Liam Twomey, Jack Wall)
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.
Question declared carried.
I do not agree. I thought there would be an Order of Business tomorrow. I am particularly concerned about the Air Navigation and Transport (Indemnities) Bill 2005. I understand this Bill addresses the issue of dirty bombs made of chemical or biological material. Today is the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of the Air India crash off the south coast. The potential liability for the State here is up to €9 billion. After 1 July, insurance cover will be withdrawn from a number of companies, which will potentially leave the State with massive liabilities. There are 12 pages and 19 sections in this Bill and it is to be rushed through in an hour and a half. That is not sufficient time and the Minister knows it. Deputy Mitchell on behalf of the Fine Gael party proposed inserting a sunset clause in the Bill that would return it to the Oireachtas to allow time to explore alternatives and examine whether there should be an overall European Union approach to this issue. This is of serious concern, not only because of world terrorism but because of the massive potential liability to the State. For that reason I am opposed to No. 4 on the Order of Business.
If we are to have Friday sittings because it suits the Government's programme at this stage, then we ought to have the Order of Business in the normal way. Three Bills will be guillotined tomorrow. The guillotine is now a regular weapon in the armoury of the Government. It is not acceptable and the Ministers denounced it when they were on this side of the House. I oppose it for these reasons.
We oppose No. 4 for the reasons outlined by the previous speakers. We were also supposed to have a debate on the G8 summit, which will not now take place. That would have given us the opportunity to examine the Government's performance on this issue and particularly its failure to meet its own solemn commitments on aid. It told us it would reach the target of 0.7% of GDP. Under present circumstances we will not reach that until 2028. We want to debate this issue, particularly in the run up to the G8 summit. Many important issues are to be discussed, including climate change. It seems that once again this House will not debate these important issues.
I also object to No. 4 on the grounds that there is no Order of Business tomorrow and there are no questions to a Minister. If we are to sit, we should do so for a full day and have proper business of the House. Similar to Deputy Gormley, for a number of months I requested, and we were promised a discussion on UN reform prior to the September meeting of the UN on reform, to make proposals to be brought forward by the Government at that meeting. That should have been on the Order Paper for tomorrow as a stand alone item for proper debate and not just statements. So far we have not seen the Government's proposals on the vital issue of UN reform. If the Government is not willing to deal with it in the proper fashion then the Dáil should be recalled over the summer months so that we have some debate prior to a Government representative attending the UN reform sessions.
It is most important that we have the air navigation Bill in place before the summer recess. The circumstances as outlined by Deputy Kenny are largely correct but the insurance companies are withdrawing cover for dirty bombs. All states throughout Europe, and not only Ireland, must indemnify to ensure that should such an occurrence take place people would have some recourse.
It is a long established precedent that goes back to even before the time I was a whip that the Order of Business for Friday sittings is taken the day before.
We will be here for a few more hours. I wish to raise two matters with the Minister on the Order of Business. The British and Irish Lions play the All Blacks on Saturday, which is of interest to Ireland. Under existing legislation, the Minister is entitled to direct that this be given free to air coverage on national television. The match is only available on Sky Sports. People cannot be in public houses or golf clubs at six o'clock in the morning. For that reason and because of the interest with four Irishmen playing on the team, I expect the Minister to intervene and make it available on national television.
The issue arose today that the Revenue Commissioners are to impose full stamp duty on first-time house buyers who receive payments from their families to assist in putting down a deposit. This is against the spirit of the budget and the Finance Bill introduced last year.
The legislation on the designation of specific sports for free to air coverage is already passed. The Lions tour was not included at that time. It is not within the remit or powers of the Minister to designate it two days before the event.
The Revenue Commissioners are currently examining the issue of relief in view of the issues raised. No decision has been finalised. I understand it is not intended to limit the relief to genuine first-time buyers so much as to try to preclude the possibility of others seeking to make use of the benefit in an unacceptable way. The Revenue Commissioners have indicated that they are examining that issue to ensure that first-time buyers will not be penalised.
I agree with the Minister that if abuse of the relief occurs it would be entirely appropriate for the Revenue Commissioners to take this action. If it results in the savaging and further penalising of first-time buyers it would be entirely inappropriate at a time when all one has to do is read the newspapers to find other areas the Revenue Commissioners might focus on more appropriately.
If the Deputy has a question for the Chair he should call to the office of the Chair and we will be glad to deal with his question. Deputy Rabbitte is out of order on the Order of Business and I ask him to resume his seat.
I hope that matter is clarified. On promised legislation, we have been told by sections of the media that privacy legislation is in the pipeline. Will that form part of the defamation Bill or will it be separate legislation?
We are moving to the next business, No. 14a, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for an EU framework to strengthen the criminal law framework for the enforcement of the law against ship-source pollution.