Dáil debates

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

5:00 pm

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. 10, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 15, Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2004 [Seanad]— Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 16, Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2006 — Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 10 shall be decided without debate; parliamentary questions to be answered by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children on accident and emergency services scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, 26 April, shall not be disallowed, this being anticipatory of the motion on accident and emergency services scheduled to be taken on that day; and Private Members' business shall be No. 28, Electoral Registration Commissioner Bill 2005 — Second Stage, the proceedings on which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 26 April.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are three proposals to put to the House, the first being that to deal with No. 10, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, without debate. Is that agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with parliamentary questions scheduled for tomorrow agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed? Agreed.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I note that the Government Whip has produced a list of 16 Bills to be published by the end of the summer session. The document for the spring session contained 17 Bills, eight of which were not published. There are eight new Bills in section A. Will the Government publish those 16 Bills in the next session of ten or 12 weeks? On the last three or four occasions, the Government failed to publish even 50% of the Bills proposed.

An independent and objective report published yesterday by the ESRI recommended there be no Government splurge before the next election.

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I will explain to the Ceann Comhairle why it is relevant. At the weekend, the Government's coalition partners threw out a €5 billion speculative inducement in taxation.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise. I call the Taoiseach on the first question. We cannot have a debate on a technicality.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is the very question I wished to ask. In view of the fact the ESRI has made that recommendation to the Government, might we have a debate on the report in the House? Perhaps the Taoiseach might confirm that the Government will adhere to the recommendations of the ESRI report and that there will be no splurge.

When is it proposed to publish the Bill regarding administrative fines for minor fishing indiscretions that the Taoiseach recommended to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party some weeks ago? When is it proposed to publish the Bill for single payments of education grants? Some time ago the Minister for Education and Science rightly pointed out that, if we are to have it in force by September, within a few days of which she said payments would be made, it should surely be published and passed before the end of the summer session.

Tá a fhios ag an Taoiseach go bhfuil tuarascáil ag an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta ón Uas. Harris le cúpla mí anois a phléann laghdú na Gaeilge labhartha sna bunscoileanna le 20 bliain anuas. Cathain a fhoilseofar í ionas go mbeidh sí ar fáil?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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On the legislation list for the last session there were 16 Bills, ten of which have been published. The other six are at an advanced stage. I make the point at the start of every session that the list runs to the start of the next session, in this case to the autumn. It is intended to pass them all.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Eight of them.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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They are at an advanced stage of preparation and, strictly speaking, should all be published this session. The intention is to get them all published. We rarely get them all out, but we get as near as we can. The fines Bill will provide for updating the indexation of fines and related matters and will be taken this session. I understand the education grants legislation will be taken later this year. The Minister has announced a number of new initiatives in the Irish language area in which she is actively engaged in implementing. The report is being translated into Irish and will be completed by the end of May.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Does the Taoiseach's Department have any estimate of the number of persons who did not receive a census form after the match last Sunday?

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

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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It does.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I suggest the Deputy submits a question.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Will the Taoiseach make arrangements tomorrow for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to make a statement to the House to reassure the public and the House on the issues I raised earlier?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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As I said earlier, I will make the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform aware of the issues he can answer. I have made a distinction between those he cannot answer and those he can.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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There are no questions that man cannot answer.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I do not want him doing the job of Director of Public Prosecutions.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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So the Order of Business does not become a charade, will certain promised legislation actually appear? As Deputy Kenny said, eight of the 17 Bills promised for the previous session failed to appear. Half those Bills were published. Some 62 Bills have been promised for 2007. Will even a fraction of those 62 Bills appear? Will we have a shorter recess and sit through July? Perhaps the Taoiseach could let us know before people start to plan holidays.

Are we to believe the 15 Bills on which it was not possible to give any indications will not appear? One of those promised Bills is the register of persons who are considered unsafe to work with children Bill. No date has been given for that legislation but it has been switched from the Department of Education and Science to the Department of Health and Children. At what stage is that Bill? Is there any meaning behind that switch given that no date has been specified?

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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Why was that legislation moved from the Department of Education and Science to the Department of Health and Children? Are there indications in terms of the timeframe? The Bill is to protect children and is a North-South initiative. It has been on the legislative programme for the past few years but there has been no indication of progress.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill has been switched to the Office of the Minister for Children where it can be co-ordinated properly across agencies and Departments. That is why it was switched. It makes more sense and is more appropriate that it be dealt with by that Minister and that it be co-ordinated across the agencies for which he is responsible.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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Will that speed it up?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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It should. On Deputy Sargent's other question, 16 Bills are listed for this session. Some 24 other Bills were before the Oireachtas. This Oireachtas has a good record. The programme goes up to the summer recess. This Government has enacted 147 Bills. An enormous legislative programme is before the House but we cannot take all the Bills.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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The broadcasting authority Bill was No. 32 in section C of last session's list — Bills in respect of which heads have yet to be approved by the Government. It has by chance the same number on the new list. However, the problem is the status of the Bill has not changed. The Taoiseach will remember he promised me he would look after it as best he could and bring it forward as quickly as possible. It is only eight or nine weeks until the summer recess and that will be the end of the Bill for this year if we do not pass it before the summer. We will facilitate its passage in whatever way we can if it is brought before the House.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I remember what I said to Deputy Stagg. I understood there was a commitment to bring the heads of the Bill before one of the committees but I will follow up on that. I will ask that it is done.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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I have a number of questions on proposed legislation. I hope the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty Bill is published this session. Publication of that Bill was promised when I first came into the House.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to confine himself to the legislation. There is no need for a preamble.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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There is a need because it was promised in 2003. It has now been promised for this session, so I hope the Taoiseach will comply with that. The heads of the national monuments Bill were agreed in 2003 but it appears to be listed as a Bill in respect of which heads have not been approved. Its publication date is now 2007. The Curragh of Kildare Bill was promised for 2003 and is now promised for 2006. The crimes Bill was listed in the legislative programme for 2003, although it was not possible to indicate then when it would be taken. It is still not possible to indicate when it will be taken. Why does it appear at all? Will there be any movement on it? The family law Bill was promised for 2004 and then 2006 but it is now promised for 2007. Is there any possibility of publishing that Bill by 2007?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty Bill is listed for this session. The heads of the national monuments Bill were approved some time ago but revisions and a new round of consultations were required in light of the reorganisation and enactment of the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004 and the reorganisation of the heritage responsibilities. In regard to the other Bills, including the Curragh of Kildare Bill and the crimes Bill, it is a question of priority. Approximately 15 Bills are brought forward in a session and it depends on the priority in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the work in the Departments. It is still a large number totalling approximately 50 Bills per year. It means some Bills will be brought forward on the basis of priority while others will fall back.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The issue of section 31 of the Casual Trading Act was raised with the Taoiseach but was disallowed. He may not be aware but there is much confusion in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and in local authorities in respect——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Will the Taoiseach agree to look again at this section of the Act?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I suggest Deputy Timmins submits a question. I call Deputy Durkan.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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It comes into effect next Monday. Many towns will lose their market stands.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Durkan who I hope has a legitimate question on the Order of Business.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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At a time when we are trying to encourage alternative markets and outlets for our produce——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to allow Deputy Durkan to speak or else we will move on to the next——

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Market stands could be closed. I might drop the Taoiseach a note on it.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Have the heads of the electronic communications Bill, the national oil reserves agency Bill and the single electricity market Bill been agreed and to what extent have the Bills been progressed? This would give us some idea of when they are likely to be circulated, given that they will come in before the end of the session.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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Those Bills are in section A and the heads should be finished. They are well advanced in drafting and should be ready before the next session.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The drafting is a long way out yet.