Dáil debates

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

4:00 pm

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. 8, Chemicals Bill 2008 — financial resolution; and No. 14, statements on the OECD Report on Integrated Public Service Reform. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 8 shall be decided without debate; and that the following arrangements shall apply in respect of to No. 14 — the statements of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the statements of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; Members may share time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members' business shall be No. 32, motion re cancer services.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 14 agreed? Agreed.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I raised a number of questions with the Taoiseach earlier today regarding freedom of information and the supply of files to tribunals. I wish to clarify the position for him in that regard. The Taoiseach's predecessor answered a question——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot deal with that matter now. The Deputy should confine himself to 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 am merely bringing some information to the attention of the Taoiseach. His predecessor stated on 16 October 2007: "To the best of my knowledge all the files and records relating to the Battle of the Boyne were handed over to the tribunal in 1998 or 1999."

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot deal with that matter now.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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A request was, therefore, made and the files were submitted.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot deal with the matter now.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I am merely clarifying the matter for the Taoiseach.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not in order.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I wish to give credit to the new Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Deputy Pat Carey, who has arranged to extend the time allocated — from 50 minutes to two hours — in respect of Thursday's debate on the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. The Minister of State has got over the first hurdle and I thank him for arranging to extend the debate. Matters might not always be as easy for him.

Is it a matter of Government policy that Ministers of State are permitted to let fly in respect of the Garda Síochána and indicate that they have no confidence in the force in the context of its members doing their duty?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is aware that this matter is not in order.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy McGuinness, stated that the Garda is inefficient——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not in order.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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——and unable to do its job in respect of tracing missing persons. Will the Taoiseach comment on this matter?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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No. It is not in order to ask the Taoiseach to comment on matters of this nature.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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When will the Bill relating to long-stay institutions be forthcoming? Is it still on track for production in the near future? If I recall correctly the comments of the previous Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the sale of alcohol Bill, which has been promised for some time, was to have been introduced by the end of March. When is the Bill likely to be published?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The sale of alcohol Bill is due later this year. The former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform indicated that he expected the intoxicating liquor Bill, which is a shorter item of legislation, to appear before the end of the summer. The Bill relating to long-stay institutions is still expected to be published this session.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The shorter Bill to which the Taoiseach refers is that which the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan, stated would be introduced by the end of March. Is the Taoiseach stating that it will be introduced before the end of the summer?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform stated he was to receive a report from the relevant committee, which is chaired by Mr. Holmes, by the end of March. The report was duly received. The former Minister then indicated that rather than incorporating it into the longer Bill he would perhaps devise a shorter one.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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When will that be forthcoming?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As I understand it, that is the indication the former Minister provided. I do not know if his successor is of a similar view.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is fair enough.

5:00 pm

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The Order of Business announced by the Taoiseach represents the fourth draft of the business which was to be conducted today. Since Thursday last, we have been supplied with four different schedules of business for this week. It is extremely difficult to keep up with the Government, which appears to be changing its mind to such an extent regarding the business to be conducted in the House. This type of behaviour is unfair to Opposition spokespersons who are not quite as well resourced as Ministers.

A motion regarding the prison at Thornton Hall was due to be taken tomorrow. I understand it was withdrawn because it was realised, belatedly, that Opposition justice spokespersons and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform were to be engaged in other business at the relevant committee. When will the motion to which I refer be brought before the House?

The second schedule of business with which we were supplied indicated that the Second Stage debate on the Ethics in Public Office Bill was to resume. This legislation caused some difficulties to the Green Party previously as a result of the its containing provision to increase the thresholds for disclosure by Members of the Oireachtas for gifts they receive and the shares etc. they hold. Is the Government proceeding with the Ethics in Public Office Bill? If so, when will it come before the House?

When will the civil partnership Bill be introduced? The heads of the Bill were to have been received by the end of March. However, the Bill has not appeared. Will the Taoiseach indicate which Minister will be introducing the Bill when it is eventually brought forward?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The motion relating to Thornton Hall was withdrawn as a result of a request from Opposition spokespersons.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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When will it be brought before the House?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It was the result of a cock-up in the Taoiseach's office. The Whip's office did not even know what was happening.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It was withdrawn on foot of a request from Opposition spokespersons.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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When will it be dealt with?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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One would think that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform would have known that he was due to come before a committee.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Taoiseach, without interruption

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It was not just the Opposition spokespersons who requested that it be withdrawn.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It was withdrawn.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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When will it be dealt with?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The motion will be on next week's Order Paper.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Like Opposition spokespersons, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was scheduled to be involved in the committee's work.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Ethics in Public Office Bill——

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Ethics is the Taoiseach's favourite subject.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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——in which Deputy Gilmore has a keen interest, will be dealt with in a couple of weeks.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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There is no hurry on that one.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is no difficulty with the legislation. It is merely a matter of bringing it before the House.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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The legislation has been before the House since 2006.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I just cannot keep up with Deputy Stagg's fleeting mind.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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There is so much business he cannot fit it in.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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If the Deputy waits for a moment I will hear it and try to respond. Perhaps I am not designed to hear it.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The civil unions Bill.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The civil unions Bill is later this year.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Which Minister has responsibility? Is it the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I understand the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has responsibility.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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In light of the Taoiseach's own decisions, much money has not been available to taxpayers because it is resting in contract with stamp duty forgone to the State. That money could well have been used for the provision for much social and affordable housing.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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On which legislation is the Deputy speaking?

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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People were involved in the five projects now being terminated by one of the developers.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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What is the legislation?

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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When will the Taoiseach and the Government bring forward the social housing miscellaneous provisions Bill?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is due this session. The matter referred to by the Deputy was objectively assessed. That is on the website and I ask him to read the quite interesting report.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy should get the facts.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The action is designed to avoid the sort of inactivity that would have resulted had we gone ahead at this time.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach is touchy.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Hogan should get the facts.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are dealing with legislation.

Photo of James BannonJames Bannon (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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In light of the importance of public knowledge to increase understanding of the deadly hepatitis C strain, which may affect 20,000 people unknowingly, when can we expect the health information Bill to come before the House? We were promised legislation in the form of the noise Bill in the near future. When will it come before the House?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The noise Bill will be later this year.

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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We have had it already, with the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It may come sooner if Deputy Tom Hayes has his way. The health information Bill will be next year.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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I have two issues. In light of the delay in the long-term nursing home Bill, will the Taoiseach take some steps to relieve the present chaos, where we are told that only the north east is not paying for——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot take that now. The Deputy can ask about the legislation, he knows that well.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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When is it likely the issue will be dealt with?

Mr. George Mitchell is to come to Belfast with regard to the Good Friday Agreement etc. We had a major announcement at the time of the St. Andrews Agreement that a four-lane road would go from Derry to Dublin. The Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is not going down that road now. There is no chance.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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We certainly will not.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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What about the road to Limerick?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are not going down it now anyway.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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There is a need for discussion on that area in this House.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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On the legislation——

Photo of Tom HayesTom Hayes (Tipperary South, Fine Gael)
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It needs assessment.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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If I acted like that with everybody we would be all over the place. I call the Taoiseach on the legislation Deputy Crawford raised.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have already notified the Leader of the Opposition that it will, more than likely, come later this session.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Legislation is promised to provide a legislative framework for the governance of information in the health sector. The health information Bill is promised for next year. In light of all concerns expressed in this Chamber this afternoon, when will the heads of the Bill be brought forward and will the Taoiseach make an intervention in the Department of Health and Children to ensure the backlog of legislation is addressed as a matter of absolute urgency?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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In that regard, urgent legislation other than that Bill is coming from the Department of Health and Children for this session. The health information Bill is to provide a legislative framework for the governance of information in the health sector and there is a public consultation process involved in it. It is planned to commence in the coming months. Arising from that we will proceed with the preparation of the legislation.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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On the day the Taoiseach took office, he stated he would have discussions on the legislative programme and he seemed to indicate he was not satisfied with the pace of legislation coming forward. Has he had the discussions and is he planning to make any changes to the timetable of the legislative programme, given that in section C alone, there are 37 Bills out of approximately 60 where it is not possible to indicate a publication date?

When will the public health miscellaneous provisions Bill be published, as it deals with the use of sunbeds by children under 16 and their possible prohibition?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is no date for the specific Bill inquired about by Deputy Stanton. On his general issue, the legislation committee is meeting this week and the Chief Whip will attend. He will report to me once he has had the meeting with relevant personnel.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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In view of the collapse of the five regeneration projects we have been speaking about, four of them in my constituency, under the first public private——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has the matter down for the Adjournment debate. As it was chosen to be heard, we cannot discuss it now.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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This is a separate angle.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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It may be a separate angle but it is the same issue.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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That is merely——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should ask about the legislation.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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It is a round angle.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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There is other legislation, I must be fair to everybody.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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It is a very brief introduction. The former Comptroller and Auditor General warned us last Sunday night on RTE about the area of public private partnerships and that the State should be careful with them.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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On the legislation, Deputy.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Does the Taoiseach intend to revisit the public private partnership legislation?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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No, there is none promised.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is the end of it, I believe.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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In fairness to the retiring Comptroller and Auditor General, he also made the point they are appropriate in certain circumstances.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Words of wisdom.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot discuss him now.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As I stated last week to the Deputy's leader on the matter, they are not suitable in every case. They are suitable and appropriate in some cases. With the level of direct Exchequer provision being finite by definition, however great it is, the public private partnership provides another prospect of increasing the level of activity and work than would otherwise be the case if we constrained ourselves to direct Exchequer provision. That is also a fact.

I agree the right projects and circumstances should be found.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is not in order.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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To draw from that conclusion that we should not have them at all is to suggest we can get more activity——

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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I did not suggest that.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy suggested that I should review them on the basis that we saw a setback with these important projects yesterday.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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There are elements of legal responsibility and legislation in this.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is not in order.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is no legislation promised. If I can answer the question, promising legislation to get rid of them altogether would not be a good idea for the reasons I have outlined.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Legislation is not promised.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There are many examples where the idea has worked well, with Fatima being one.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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They are gilt-edged profits for developers.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Commission on Taxation, which the Taoiseach launched when Minister for Finance, was to produce a report by the autumn on proposals for carbon taxation, as per the Programme for Government and the agreement with the Green Party. Have the terms of reference been varied, or is the report on carbon taxation being dropped or delayed until next year? Will the Taoiseach communicate with us the implications of that for the commission's work?

The commission is made up mostly of vested interests from accounting and tax advisers. The Green Party is having a hard week. The ethics legislation and Thornton Hall are difficulties. I remember——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the report promised, Deputy?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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——the Minister of State, Deputy Sargent, promising that with the Greens in Government, Thornton Hall prison would never happen. He said that on public platforms.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is not in order.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Now it appears the Commission on Taxation has gone west. Have the carbon tax proposals——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is a report promised? The Deputy is not in order.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy is aware, the Commission on Taxation terms of reference deal with the publication of a report by autumn 2009. It is left open to the commission to decide, at its own discretion, whether it will come forward with an interim report. Those are the terms of reference and that is the Programme for Government.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Durkan.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The commission was to come forward with a report on carbon taxation before the next budget.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is not in order. I did not call her, I called Deputy Durkan.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It was not.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has been answered. The matter was only marginally in order, incidentally.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That was not the case.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I wish to raise two issues. The first is the current whereabouts of the pharmacy Bill and whether any developments have taken place which might lend it a new impetus or urgency with a view to bringing it to the House.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is no date.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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What does the Taoiseach mean?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It was mentioned last week that there was no date for it.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach did so and he told me it was not dependent on the negotiations between pharmacists and the HSE.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have commentary on that.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach's predecessor told me the opposite. He told me it was dependent on the discussions. I would like clarification on that.

On another issue, I have looked around for some suitable legislation and the Taoiseach should promise some as a matter of urgency. Diesel prices seem to be escalating on a daily basis.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Go away out of that. I call Deputy Varadkar.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It is a serious issue.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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It is a serious matter.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Ministers do not have to buy it.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Could the relevant Minister not look at the issue to see where——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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You are completely out of order.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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——the public is being ripped off?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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If everybody did that, we would be here all night. This farce is ridiculous.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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The Ministers do not buy diesel.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Varadkar.

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I always seem to follow Deputy Durkan, for some reason. I would like to raise again the issue of the 15 Bills before the House which intend to establish new State agencies, or extend the powers of existing State agencies. I am particularly concerned about the different messages we are getting from the Government on this matter. When I raised this issue with the Taoiseach recently, he told me he did not think it was a question of having fewer agencies. However, the Minister for Finance told us many things in an interview with my local newspaper the other day, one of which was——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should not mind the agencies. He should ask about the legislation.

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I am sticking to the agency legislation.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We can have a discussion about that some other time.

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The Minister for Finance said in the interview that he is concerned about the proliferation of State agencies and——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not relevant now.

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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——that there are too many agencies.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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What legislation are you talking about?

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Who does speak for the Government on this matter?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is out of order.

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Is it the Taoiseach or is it the Minister for Finance?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy's remarks are irrelevant. I call Deputy Broughan.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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Is a road traffic Bill necessary to amend the drink driving limits? Will such a Bill be introduced in advance of next year's local elections? Does the Government intend to retain the current limit for the next year, at least? I would also like to speak about public private partnerships and affordability. There are approximately 10,000 families and individuals on Dublin's affordable housing list.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That matter is being discussed on the Adjournment tonight.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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There are thousands of empty apartments and houses in this city.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not in order.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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It is not in order for the waiting lists to increase.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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It is time for the Government to take an initiative in this area.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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It is a disgrace.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I will outline the position in respect of the legislation. The Road Safety Authority has given its view on the limits issue. It is silent on the issue of what the penalties should be, which also needs to be considered. We need to get a comprehensive view of all of that before we make any decisions on how to proceed. Such decisions should not be based on Deputy Broughan's rather cynical view of the matter. We need to make sure it is done properly.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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I am reflecting what the Taoiseach's own people are saying.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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No. The Deputy should not give me that nonsense about the other people who are talking to him. He has suggested that we are not serious about this issue. This Administration has introduced more reforms, as part of an effort to make our roads safe, than any of its predecessors. We do not share the rather cynical approach that is taken by Deputy Broughan.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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That is really unfair.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is pure cynicism.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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The Taoiseach told me a week or so ago that three Bills are promised to deal with management companies. The previous Taoiseach told me the same thing six months or so ago. They pointed out that a high level group and a ministerial group have been established to examine this matter. Have the examinations produced any results? Perhaps they have — a piece of paper is being passed to the Taoiseach. Has progress been made? When can we expect to see the three Bills which are needed to control management companies?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have asked that a meeting be arranged between the relevant Ministers and Opposition spokespersons to see if this matter can be advanced.