Dáil debates

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

11:00 am

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. 18, Statements on European Council, Brussels; No. 19, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2007 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 20, Carbon Fund Bill 2006 — Order for Report and Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight, and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; and the suspension of sitting pursuant to Standing Order 23(1) shall take place at 1.30 p.m., or on the conclusion of No. 18, whichever is the later, until 2.30 p.m.; (2) the proceedings on No. 18 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 80 minutes, and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the statements shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 60 minutes, and shall be confined to the Taoiseach and to the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, which shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; (ii) immediately following the statements, a Minister or Minister of State shall take questions for a period not exceeding 20 minutes; (3) the Report and Final Stages of No. 19 shall be taken today, and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. tonight by one question, which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall, regarding amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs; (4) the Report and Final Stages of No. 20 shall be taken tonight, and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. by one question, which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall regarding amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; (5) Private Members' Business, No. 67, motion re education, school places and class sizes (resumed), shall be taken at 7 p.m. tonight, or on the conclusion of No. 19, whichever is the later, and shall be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are five proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18, statements on the European Council, agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2007 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages, agreed?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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That is not agreed to for the same reason we opposed the guillotine for other Bills. There is quite a large number of amendments to be dealt with on this legislation but they cannot possibly be dealt with during the time allocated. That is why we oppose the guillotine.

12:00 pm

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I oppose the proposal to guillotine debate on this Bill. At this time yesterday, we had evidence of the Government's approach to the Health Bill. In that case, it was not possible to address all of the critical amendments that had been tabled by Members, including the relevant Minister. Will this be the pattern for the remaining period of this Dáil? If so, it is a bad way of doing business. The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2007 is an important Bill and all its elements deserve to be addressed properly.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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We, too, are concerned about the amount of time being made available for the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill. There is a particularly contentious item in the Schedule to the Bill, which will never be reached in the time available to us — it concerns the transfer of responsibility for community welfare officers. On those grounds, we oppose what the Government is proposing on the Order of Business.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with item No. 19 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 72 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Seán Ardagh, Niall Blaney, Johnny Brady, Martin Brady, Séamus Brennan, John Browne, Joe Callanan, Pat Carey, John Carty, Michael J Collins, Beverley Flynn, Mary Coughlan, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, John Curran, Noel Davern, Síle de Valera, Tony Dempsey, John Dennehy, Jimmy Devins, John Ellis, Michael Finneran, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Pat Gallagher, Jim Glennon, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Seán Haughey, Joe Jacob, Cecilia Keaveney, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael McDowell, Tom McEllistrim, John McGuinness, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Liz O'Donnell, John O'Donoghue, Denis O'Donovan, Noel O'Flynn, Ned O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Malley, Tim O'Malley, Tom Parlon, Peter Power, Seán Power, Mae Sexton, Brendan Smith, Michael Smith, Noel Treacy, Dan Wallace, Mary Wallace, Joe Walsh, Ollie Wilkinson, Michael Woods, G V Wright)

Against the motion: 59 (Bernard Allen, Dan Boyle, James Breen, Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Joan Burton, Paul Connaughton, Paudge Connolly, Joe Costello, Jerry Cowley, Seymour Crawford, Seán Crowe, Ciarán Cuffe, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Eamon Gilmore, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Tom Hayes, Joe Higgins, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Finian McGrath, Paul McGrath, Paddy McHugh, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Catherine Murphy, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Séamus Pattison, Willie Penrose, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Seán Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Joe Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Liam Twomey, Mary Upton, Jack Wall)

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.

Question declared carried.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 20, Order for Report and Final Stages of the Carbon Fund Bill 2006, agreed to?

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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The proposal is not agreed. I presume the Ceann Comhairle is referring to the Carbon Fund Bill and the Green Party is opposing the taking of this Bill with all Stages to be concluded by tonight. This matter will present the country with a very important crossroads and we may choose to go down the road of unnecessarily throwing away taxpayers' money; €270 million is a lot of money to waste on carbon credits. Will the Taoiseach reconsider this Bill and give us more time to consider alternatives because he is, essentially, playing with a carbon casino? This subject has been described by others as a huddle of gangsters plotting the most profitable scam to dodge even the woefully inadequate Kyoto targets and it is no way to comply with what we discussed earlier, bringing carbon emissions to 20% or 30% below 1990 levels. We object to this legislation being taken tonight.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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I will not address the substance of the Bill but we oppose the principle of applying guillotines to such Bills.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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On behalf of the Sinn Féin Deputies I also record our opposition to the Bill, both its substance and the methodology of its passage, that is, the application of the guillotine.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 20 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 72 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Seán Ardagh, Niall Blaney, Johnny Brady, Martin Brady, Séamus Brennan, John Browne, Joe Callanan, Pat Carey, John Carty, Michael J Collins, Beverley Flynn, Mary Coughlan, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, John Curran, Noel Davern, Síle de Valera, Tony Dempsey, John Dennehy, Jimmy Devins, John Ellis, Michael Finneran, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Pat Gallagher, Jim Glennon, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Seán Haughey, Joe Jacob, Cecilia Keaveney, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael McDowell, Tom McEllistrim, John McGuinness, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Liz O'Donnell, John O'Donoghue, Denis O'Donovan, Noel O'Flynn, Ned O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Malley, Tim O'Malley, Tom Parlon, Peter Power, Seán Power, Mae Sexton, Brendan Smith, Michael Smith, Noel Treacy, Dan Wallace, Mary Wallace, Joe Walsh, Ollie Wilkinson, Michael Woods, G V Wright)

Against the motion: 59 (Dan Boyle, James Breen, Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Joan Burton, Paul Connaughton, Paudge Connolly, Joe Costello, Jerry Cowley, Seymour Crawford, Seán Crowe, Ciarán Cuffe, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Martin Ferris, Eamon Gilmore, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Tom Hayes, Joe Higgins, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Finian McGrath, Paul McGrath, Paddy McHugh, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Catherine Murphy, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Séamus Pattison, Willie Penrose, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Seán Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Joe Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Liam Twomey, Mary Upton, Jack Wall)

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.

Question declared carried.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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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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In respect of the legislation which set up the Health Service Executive, I note from some newspaper reports today that exceptionally——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Ciúnas in the lobby, please.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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——high overtime payments are being made to some staff who were brought in on contract. Was the range of overtime allowances approved by Cabinet? Is a proper ethical framework in place to ensure conflicts of interest do not arise involving these personnel who invariably have other outside interests?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am informed that section 24 of the Health Act 2004 empowers the HSE to engage such advisers as it considers necessary for the performance of its functions. Any fees due to the advisers so engaged are payable by the HSE out of the funds at its disposal. The matter is covered in the legislation.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Is the range of payments——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The question 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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Is the range of payments approved by the Cabinet or the HSE?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should address the question to the line Minster.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The HSE.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The HSE sets the figures.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I have a question regarding the police ombudsman commission. My colleague in the other House, Senator Tuffy, received a reply from the commission chairman, Mr. Justice Kevin Haugh, in response to a query she made about the accidental killing at Lucan indicating he could not inquire into the matter because the commencement order——

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 Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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——had not been made. Why is that the case? When will the commencement order be made?

I also have a question regarding a promise made on legislation necessary to implement the State's commitment under the St. Andrews Agreement. There appears to be a lacuna in the legislation. The British-Irish Agreement of 1999, as the Taoiseach will know, made provision for North-South bodies and envisaged that there would be relevant legislation regarding parliamentary accountability of such bodies, North and South. It seems we have not introduced such legislation here, although it may well be that the Taoiseach can draw my attention to where I am wrong in this regard. It appears that in the matter of the supervision of the North-South bodies we were required to introduce such legislation and have not done so. Under the Agreement we would be required to do so before the devolution of powers is complete next Monday if, as I hope, powers are devolved. Can the Taoiseach reassure me on that point?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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On the first matter, I will bring Deputy Rabbitte's point to the attention of the Tánaiste. On the second issue, I will have to check the position but, as I understand it, when we did the care and maintenance agreement after the institutions collapsed, we had to formally agree that. There is also an agreement which has to be signed based on the British-Irish Agreement and the amendment to the 1999 Act when the institutions are devolved, hopefully on Monday. I assume that covers the Deputy's question but I will check the point.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We move on to No. 18, statements on the European Council.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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May I ask a question on the Order of Business?

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
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On the Order of Business, I indicated——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputies to listen to the Chair for a moment. The House spent 45 minutes on Leaders' Questions. We will not spend 20 minutes on the Order of Business for the simple reason that the House has just passed an order that we will spend 80 minutes continuously on European statements, which would bring us to 1.40 p.m. The staff of the House will be here until 11.10 p.m. and in fairness to them, we should move on in order that they and everybody else can have the sos. I will call Deputy Shortall first tomorrow.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
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It is the right of Members to raise questions on the Order of Business. The Ceann Comhairle has not allowed any questions.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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A number of Deputies' names featured on the list before Deputy Shortall's name. I call on the Taoiseach to make his statement on the European Council.