Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Order of Business
It is proposed to take No. a13, motion re membership of committees; No. 4, Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012 - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 16, statements on philanthropy and the arts (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. a13 shall be decided without debate. Private Members' business shall be No. 63, motion re agriculture (resumed), to conclude at 9 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded.
I am unsure whether the Taoiseach read the Irish Examiner this morning but there is an interesting headline: "Child benefit scare tactics 'hit economy'". It refers to and accurately reports the comments of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Leo Varadkar, to the effect that the various kite flying exercises that have gone on have damaged consumer confidence to the extent that it has gone down ten points.
My question relates to forthcoming legislation. We understand from another report that Ministers were discussing bringing forward the date of the budget because, without question, what has been going on in recent weeks is damaging consumer confidence and jobs. Can the Taoiseach confirm the date of the budget and when the finance Bill will be forthcoming? I realise he is consulting with the Minister, Deputy Varadkar, but the Minister was clear yesterday in the Dáil about the damage Ministers are heaping on the economy and the damage Ministers are doing to consumer confidence by the serial leaking and kite flying. I have been on the doorsteps talking to people about the property tax-----
I am glad Deputy Martin has been on the doorsteps. Let me confirm that the Government has not considered the question of child benefit. The Government has not considered the question of disability benefit. The Government has not considered the question of property taxes.
The Government has not discussed any of those issues and there is no change in the date of the budget or the finance Bill, as outlined by the Minister for Finance here on a number of occasions. What Deputy Martin is talking about is absolute fallacy.
Seo ceist faoi reachtaíocht atá fógraithe. I want to ask for an update on the progress of the health (Amendment) Bill to provide for free GP services. When will this Bill be published and when will it be debated here, and will the Government provide free GP care for claimants under the long-term illness scheme before the end of the year? What is the reason for the delay in bringing forward this legislation?
It is merely the pressure of the line of legislation. The GP services Bill is scheduled to be published this session and Deputy Adams will have the opportunity to raise any issues he wants when it is published.
Will the Government take any initiative next year to restore a reasonable programme of social housing?
When will Mr. Justice Finnegan's report on Priory Hall be published? A colleague asked about it yesterday. Priory Hall residents are deeply anxious to know what kind of resolution there will be about their homes.
I am coming to that. There is a serious issue over homelessness. There are nearly 5,000 homeless on the list and there are 100,000 on the housing list. When will the housing Bill be brought before this House?
I heard him saying that. I intended to ask that. Also, in the meantime, if it is not coming soon, can we have a debate on the issue of homelessness and housing because it is such an important issue?
There have been reports in the media that the advisory group on the ABC case has completed its report. Has the Cabinet seen that and when will the Government bring it to the Chamber?
It certainly has not been presented to the Minister. I am not aware that it has been completed. Obviously, we will wait until it is presented to the Minister for Health to see what it contains.
As the Taoiseach will be aware, the mortgage crisis faced by approximately 160,000 households in this country is one of the most pressing issues facing this country. In the context of the Personal Insolvency Bill coming back for its final Stages, will the Taoiseach release the information that Mr. Simon Carswell of The Irish Times indicated the Government was refusing to give out-----
Would Deputy Boyd Barrett please respect the Chair and resume his seat? I ask the Taoiseach not to answer somebody who is totally out of order. Deputy Boyd Barrett should respect the Chair. When I stand up, the Deputy is supposed to sit down. He is totally out of order.
The Government is proposing to introduce unfair and anti-family water taxes. Recent reports suggest that as many as one third of connections cannot be metered and will be the subject of a flat tax. Similar reports, or maybe the same reports-----
In July, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, announced that he would provide an additional €36 million to the CIE group of companies to assist in the protection and retention of services. Today we understand that he has changed his mind on that.
When is it expected that the criminal justice (proceeds of crime) Bill, to strengthen the powers of CAB in forfeiting the proceeds of crime, will be published? Naturally, one of the big issues would be the smuggling that is having a significant effect on this country.
I want to ask the Taoiseach, under the Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012, about the serious erosion taking place here in the proposed legislation in relation to the Veterinary Association of Ireland. Its members have given good service to the community and farming practices and they are being undermined here.
Will Deputy Bernard Durkan please resume his seat, co-operate with the Chair and adhere to the rules applying to the Order of Business, which require Deputies to ask when promised legislation is likely to be brought before the House?
The criminal records information system Bill has been promised for some time, with other similar legislation, the introduction of which is hugely important. Is it intended to expedite the processing of this legislation through the House in order that we can make a real impact on the criminality taking place?
This is codology. Every single morning this happens. Deputies know exactly what issues they are entitled to raise on the Order of Business and I ask them please to do so. However, we do not want speeches.
Deputies can table parliamentary questions, raise Topical Issues and attend committee meeting, but they should not use the Order of Business every single morning to raise issues that they should not. I have to cut them off when they do so, even though I do not want to do so.
Will the Dolphin report be published in full? Can we have a debate in the Dáil on the proposed location of the new children's hospital and the detail of that report?
Primary legislation is required to abolish the 50 cent prescription charge. As the Minister has made a commitment in the matter, will the Taoiseach indicate if the required legislation will be published in the near future? The Minister made the promise in March 2011 to abolish the charge.
I will have to get back to the Deputy on the legislation to which he refers. The Dolphin report is in the hands of the Minister. When the Government makes its decision, there will be an opportunity to have a full discussion in the House. Clearly, the report can be published at that stage.
First, I express my disappointment that Deputy Micheál Martin did not have a copy of the Evening Echo when he was canvassing in Rathgar last week. I am glad he was canvassing there and not in Cork-----
I am learning the rules slowly. Regarding Bills in preparation touching on the security of citizens, gangland crime, the proceeds of crime and so forth, I ask the Government to consider the possibility, if not the necessity, of providing for the visible arming of the Garda Síochána. The news today that a 16 year old boy was shot at 9 p.m. is yet another example of the problem. We are seeing it day by day. With such a move we would have manners and decorum on the streets.
It does, a Cheann Comhairle. I regret the incident in which a 16 year old boy was shot and I hope he recovers fully. The changed rosters after discussions within the Garda Síochána have meant a greater level of activity and greater visibility on the streets, which I welcome. The Minister for Justice and Equality is concerned, as is the Garda Commissioner, about the ongoing level of violent crime on the streets of Dublin, in particular, and every effort will be made to deal with it effectively.
Will the Taoiseach confirm that the Thornhill report has been with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government since June? Has the Minister read it yet? Has he passed it on to the Cabinet and when will it be made public?