Tuesday, 7 November 2006
Order of Business
It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re Standing Orders Nos. 125 and 170; No. 10, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 15, Citizens Information Bill 2006 — Second Stage, resumed; and No. 1, Europol (Amendment) Bill 2006 [Seanad] — Second Stage.
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 9 and 10 shall be decided without debate. Private Members' business shall be No. 54, motion re energy price increases.
There is one proposal to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 9 and 10 without debate, motions re Standing Orders Nos. 125 and 170 and the ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, agreed? Agreed.
No. 28, the carbon fund Bill, is on the list for early 2007. When is it likely to be published? When is the immigration and residence Bill due for publication? This Bill will update the law on immigration, residence and other matters relating to non-nationals and is also expected in early 2007. Will the Taoiseach give an update on the situation in respect of the wish of the people of Dingle——
Seán Lemass used to say that Fianna Fáil was slightly constitutional. In fairness, the question is not far off the mark. There was a referendum in Dingle and perhaps the Taoiseach will give us an update on the visit of the Minister with responsibility for the Gaeltacht to that area.
The heads of the carbon fund Bill were approved in July and the Bill is on target for early 2007. There are 70 heads in the immigration and residence Bill and these have just been approved. The Bill is due in 2007 but I do not have a definite date on it. The Bill will update the law on immigration, residence and other matters relating to non-nationals. I understand the Minister will attend a meeting on the other issue raised.
——and he said he probably deserved it the first four times and he certainly deserved it the last three times. Similarly, I think a question about the state of the electoral register on the Order of Business is entirely appropriate.
It is an appropriate question for the line Minister and there are many ways the Deputy can raise the matter in the House, but it is not appropriate on the Order of Business. The Deputy could have raised the matter on Leaders' Questions.
I wish to raise a second matter. Do I understand the Taoiseach to have said today at Question Time that there is no prospect of a referendum on the children's issue before the general election or did he say that it is an open question because he must discuss the issue with the rest of us? I know that will weigh heavily on him. Will he be clearer? Will there be a referendum before the general election?
If I state that we must have it by a particular time, taking into account the consultation process, people will say that I am being prescriptive in trying to decide it. It is an open question. The Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan, is available and ready to enter into dialogue with the political parties and the many NGO organisations with an interest in this issue and has been talking to them over recent months prior to the UN meeting. If we can agree on the wording, I am happy to have the referendum whenever possible. It may be included with other issues, before the general election or with the election. I am totally open on the issue.
It is an important matter. Will the Taoiseach provide time for us to have a discussion on the matter or will he say what measures will be taken to make the register representative of the number of people who are entitled to vote?
I cannot answer the second question. The Minister has asked that the relevant Oireachtas committee meet so that he can make a presentation on the matter. There is a good and positive story to tell. There is also the requirement where the House can help to ensure the register is completed. Given that the Minister has asked I suggest the committee do that.
I regret the Chair did not see fit to accept my Standing Order 31 request. On promised legislation, I seek to move the matter on to some extent. When it comes to the use of banned chemicals and violation of labour standards in a company it is strange that the employment rights compliance Bill does not, as yet, seem to have a date for publication.
Has the Government abandoned the intellectual property legislation? I remember I was likened to a good German doctor for quoting statistics from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Now the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is turning 12,500 Garda into 14,000 and the Minister for Finance is turning 650,000 people paying tax at 42% into 400,000.
I was looking at the correspondence. It was good of Deputy Bruton to word the question in a way that makes everybody look at the answer. It was interesting to find out, when one examines it, that only 20% of people pay the higher rate of tax.
I did not have the time to do it. It was very kind of the Deputy to frame his question in a way that actually made people look at the answer. Now we know that only 20% of the people pay tax at the higher rate.
I note the heads of the Bill on the long-overdue legislation to outlaw human trafficking have finally been published. When is it intended that the criminal law trafficking in persons and sexual offences Bill will be brought before the House? In relation to the Child Care (Amendment) Bill, can the Taoiseach advise as to what stage it is at in terms of its passage through the Seanad and when it is intended that the Bill will come before the Dáil Chamber?
The heads of the criminal justice trafficking in persons and sexual offences Bill have been completed and it is gone for drafting. It is hoped to have the Bill in early 2007. I understand Report Stage of the Child Care (Amendment) Bill has been ordered for the Seanad tomorrow.
Under promised secondary legislation, part of the nitrates action plan was implemented on 1 August 2006 and part has yet to come into force. When will that statutory instrument come into force? When will the agricultural community be informed of the legislation that is now binding which means they can be fined up to €30,000——
Will secondary legislation be available by way of an instrument to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment for a situation I outlined earlier under Standing Order 31 for a company in which the Minister for Agriculture and Food, supposedly, has a golden share, in terms of redundancies in the Greencore company? If that instrument is not available to the Minister does the promised legislation, the protection of employment exceptional collective redundancy Bill, cover that circumstance?
A year ago the postal services Bill was promised. Last week the Tánaiste said it was not promised. On the legislative programme published at the time, which I have, it was promised. Perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate how, in the space of a year, legislation that was promised is no longer promised and for what reason——
It is promised legislation. On a daily basis we all get continuous complaints about the lack of availability of broadband and the lack of urgency in the provision of the facility throughout the country with a consequent impact on business. The legislation is the electronic communications Bill which is promised.
Regarding the Deputy's first question on postal services, earlier this year the Minister withdrew that Bill. The other two Bills, the Single Electricity Market Bill and the Electronic Communications (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, will be introduced this session.
Deputy Gilmore is clearly not familiar with parliamentary procedure. The Whips meet once per week to discuss various issues. The Chief Whip puts forward what he would like to do and the others have their say before he sets out the schedule.
In light of the fact many families are being disadvantaged by the lack of rights to residency and that the waiting time for the processing of applications is more than two years, when will the immigration and residence Bill be debated in this House?
In the entertaining comedy turn given by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, at Citywest last weekend, he referred to major changes in the area of microgeneration. Given that the CER is carrying out a consultation process at present, will legislation be introduced on these changes before the general election?
Am ar bith. I ask the Taoiseach to inform the Chief Whip that I would like a debate in due course on the Harris report which, as the Minister is aware, concerns the quality of spoken Irish in the primary school system.
I wish to inquire about two United Nations conventions. On 7 September 2000, or more than six years ago, Ireland signed the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. On 13 December 2000, Ireland signed the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, which was supplementary to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. When is it proposed for Ireland to ratify these two basic conventions to protect the rights of the child?
Under legislation, a proposal which offers a reasonable and sensible way for resolving the Corrib gas conflict is an independent public inquiry into the location of the Corrib gas project. What is the Taoiseach's view of the matter?