Dáil debates

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

10:30 am

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Order of Business is No. 22a— Budget Statement and the financial motions by the Minister for Finance 2005, to be taken on the conclusion of questions to members of the Government.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m and the motion for the General Financial Resolution shall be moved not later than 12 midnight whereupon business shall then be interrupted and the Dáil shall adjourn forthwith; (2) following the Budget Statement of the Minister for Finance, the following arrangements shall apply in regard to the proceedings on No. 22a: (i) the statements of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed 75 minutes in each case; the statements of the main spokespersons for the Green Party, Sinn Féin and the Independent Members of the Technical Group shall not exceed 25 minutes in each case; and the statements shall be confined to the main spokespersons in each case; following the statements the sitting shall be suspended for 30 minutes; and all divisions demanded on No. 22a shall be taken manually. Private Members' business shall be No. 33, Good Samaritan Bill 2005 — Second Stage (resumed) to be taken at 12 noon and to conclude after 90 minutes, if not previously concluded.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 22a agreed to?

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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I am concerned about the time being given to the opening contributions for the Minister of Finance, which is indeterminate, and the balancing statements of subsequent speakers. The Budget Statement took 45 minutes in each of the past three years. Live television coverage on RTE of this set piece occasion in the life of the House, which gives Opposition Members one of the few opportunities they have to articulate an alternative view to the Government, concludes at 6.30 p.m. Members of the Technical Group who do not have access to party political broadcasts and whose party conferences are not covered by the State broadcasters think this is a cynical gesture. The time available is being reduced accordingly.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Perhaps I will ask the Taoiseach to again read out the arrangements.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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The Taoiseach stated 75 minutes for each of the speakers

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There is no sos at 6.30 p.m.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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No, but the television coverage of the budget debate concludes at 6.30 p.m. This is the sole opportunity for many of us to articulate an alternative vision to the Government.

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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Surely, the Deputy's contribution is not driven by television coverage. The substance of what one says is important in Parliament.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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The Minister of State knows a little about the media.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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The Minister of State should make a contribution after 6 p.m. in the House and examine the media coverage of it.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is a matter between the Deputy and the broadcasting authority.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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It is also about the workings of the House on the basis——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is not. It is important that this House does its business in the way it feels it should. The House cannot be influenced by what arrangements the broadcasting authority makes.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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I am trying to articulate that the House has taken this business in a different way in previous years and we have managed to get through it quite efficiently.

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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Television appearances are more important that policies for the Deputy's party.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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If the speaking slots are taken as proposed, the spokespersons will conclude at 8.45 p.m. and a 30 minutes sos will follow. Past experience in the Twenty-Ninth Dáil has been——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has made his point.

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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This is vanity.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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I will try to be helpful. Our party spokesperson is prepared to use only 45 minutes if that is generally agreed. I understand from the Government Whip's office that the Minister for Finance requires 75 minutes to deliver his statement. Similar time must be offered to the other spokespersons as a result. A total of 45 minutes will be sufficient for my party spokesperson if others are agreeable.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will put the proposal to the House and it is a matter for the parties if they want to make arrangements in regard to the allocation of time. Is that acceptable to the Taoiseach?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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That is acceptable.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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The order is flexible.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I do not know that Deputy Bruton wishes to speak for 75 minutes.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister for Finance thought he should inform the Opposition his statement will be longer than last year's and it will take 75 minutes.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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He has more to give out.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources; Meath, Fianna Fail)
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It takes longer to deliver good news.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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The Minister must allow time for applause.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 22a agreed to?

Deputies:

No.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 22a be agreed to" put and declared carried.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with divisions demanded on No. 22a agreed? Agreed.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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When are we likely to see the University College Galway (amendment) Bill? It is No. 6 on the list. Will it be introduced before the recess or before the return of the Dáil on 25 January 2006? Are we likely to see an amendment to the ministerial appointments Bill later?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The terms "this session" is always used but this session runs to the start of the next session in January and, therefore, it will be published this session.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Does the Taoiseach intend to let the issue relating to the Minister of State, Deputy Callely, drag on all day?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise on the Order of Business. That has been the subject of two Leaders' Questions.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Will time be made available for the Minister of State to make a statement to the House?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is a matter for the Minister of State to make a submission to the office of the Ceann Comhairle. That is the way it has always been done.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Has such a submission been made?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am unaware of one. It does not arise on the Order of Business.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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It is unwise to let the matter drag on all day.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy had an opportunity to raise the issue on Leaders' Questions, which he did.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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I am interested in getting an answer to that question but I wish to ask about a matter on the Order of Business as well. Perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate whether a statement from the Minister of State is envisaged today.

There is no indication as to the date of publication of the third level student support Bill yet the Teachers' Union of Ireland has told us the McIver report is not being funded and we have the lowest level of on-campus student accommodation in Europe. When will that legislation be published?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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It will be published next year.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Many charities fund raise at this time of the year, yet we are still waiting for the Charities regulation Bill. Will the Taoiseach assure me it will be put on the priority list for next year? It has been raised in the House on a number of occasions this year and it is important the legislation is brought before the House as soon as possible.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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It was raised yesterday.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill is a priority. As I said yesterday, it is a large Bill going back over very old regulations, Acts and practices. It will be ready next year.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Last week I asked the Taoiseach if he had any idea when the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform would produce his raft of amendments to his great crime-busting legislation, the Criminal Justice Bill, which has been around for two years. Perhaps he has found out when we will get the amendments and when we can proceed with the Bill.

Since the Minister has stated his hands are tied in regard to the CIA flights landing at Shannon Airport——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Given the number of amendments the Minister proposes to make to the Bill, will he add an amendment to enable him to search aircraft——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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No. The other amendments are being prepared.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Amnesty International and other organisations have said there is a prima facie case to be answered.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise on the Order of Business. I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the appropriate Minister.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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In previous responses in respect of the Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Bill and the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal (Amendment) Bill, the Taoiseach indicated they would be ready before Christmas. With one week remaining in which to take these very important Bills under the aegis of the Department of Health and Children, will the Taoiseach indicate if we will have sight of them in the coming week at the latest?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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As I said, this session runs to the start of the next one and both Bills will be published this session.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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That is not what the Taoiseach said previously.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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In light of the number of serious car accidents and deaths, when will the sale of alcohol Bill be brought before the House so we can discuss this issue? Given the extraordinary decision of the jury at the inquest into the death of the late Frances Sheridan, when will the coroners Bill be introduced so we can discuss how juries are set up and how this situation——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The heads of the sale of alcohol Bill have been approved, the Bill is being drafted and it is hoped to have it by the middle of next year. The coroners Bill will be ready next year.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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We were promised the regional fora to replace health boards' accountability in the health service would be in place by now.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is a matter for the Minister——

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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It involves secondary legislation. When will these health fora be up and running?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy said, I think it involves secondary legislation but I will have to check.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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Secondary legislation has been promised for quite some time. Frankly, it seems the Government has no interest in providing any accountability in the health service.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Under Standing Order 26, a question on the making of secondary legislation need not be answered on the day it is asked.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment announced the abolition of the groceries order with some fanfare. The Taoiseach informed the House it would require an amendment to the Competition Act. When will the amendment be introduced in the House? Will it go further than the abolition of the groceries order?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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With the co-operation of the Opposition, the Government would like to get that Bill through the House next week if possible.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Most of the spokespeople will be at the World Trade Organisation talks next week.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I suppose we cannot get it through next week. We could initiate it in the Seanad. The Bill is ready to proceed.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I understand Ministers and some backbenchers have received the 'flu jab. Will the Taoiseach apply another jab to the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources with a view to reminding him of the need to bring forward the postal (miscellaneous services) Bill in order to have a discussion on that important issue——

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources; Meath, Fianna Fail)
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It was taken off the agenda six months ago.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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——and of the need to introduce the equally important broadcasting authority Bill to enable members of the Government have unimpeded access to the airwaves?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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No legislation is promised in respect of the first issue. The second Bill will be brought forward next year.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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At what stage is the national monuments consolidation legislation? Have the heads of the Bill been agreed and when will it be introduced? Have consultations with the Attorney General's office been concluded?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The revisions and the new round of consultations required in light of the reorganisation and enactment of the national monuments (amendment) Bill and the reorganisation of heritage responsibilities is under way. The heads of the Bill were approved some time ago but we are awaiting finalisation of these consultations. It is listed for next year.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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When will the competition Bill be published if it is to be debated next week?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I have pressed the Minister because it has been raised by Deputy Rabbitte. I understood the only issue was whether to print the Bill in yellow or green. The Minister is anxious to get it through both Houses. If it is not possible to introduce it in the Dáil, he could do so in the Seanad.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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The Minister might circulate a white copy of the Bill to us until he decides where to introduce it.