Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Order of Business
I call on the rapporteur for the Business Committee, Deputy Clare Daly, to announce the Order of Business for the week and to move the proposals regarding arrangements for the taking of that business.
Today's business shall be No. 9, Financial Resolutions for the Finance Bill 2016, one of which is on today's Supplementary Order Paper. Government business shall be No. 3, Social Welfare Bill 2016 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' Business shall be No. 77, motion re Deputy and Senator pay under the Lansdowne Road agreement. Tomorrow's Government business shall be No. 3, Social Welfare Bill 2016 – Second Stage (resumed). Private Members' Business shall be No. 22, Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016 – Second Stage. Thursday's business shall be No. 10a,all-party motion re Calais to be taken without debate; No. 3, Social Welfare Bill 2016 – Second Stage (resumed); No. 15, Companies (Accounting) Bill 2016 – Second Stage (resumed); No. 16, Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016 – Second Stage (resumed); and No. 1, Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2014 [Seanad] – Second Stage. No. 11, the report on the formal recognition of Irish Sign Language from the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality, will be taken in the evening slot.
I refer Members to the report of the Business Committee of 3 November 2016. In relation to today's business there is one proposal. It is proposed that the Financial Resolutions for the Finance Bill 2016 shall be moved together and decided without debate by one question, and that any division demanded thereon shall be taken immediately.
In relation to Wednesday's business there is one proposal. It is proposed that Second Stage of the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016 shall be brought to a conclusion, if not previously concluded, at 6.30 p.m.
In relation to Thursday’s business, there are five proposals. It is proposed that:
(1) the Dáil shall sit at 10.00 a.m., and shall sit later than 7.48 p.m., and adjourn on the conclusion of the report on the formal recognition of Irish Sign Language;
(2) the all-party motion on Calais shall be taken without debate;
(3) Second Stage of the Social Welfare Bill 2016 shall be brought to a conclusion, if not previously concluded, at 3.30 p.m.;
(4) if the Social Welfare Bill concludes before midday, the weekly division time shall be taken at the normal time, that is, after questions on promised legislation, and, if the Social
Welfare Bill does not conclude before midday, the weekly division time shall be taken at 3.30 p.m.; and
(5) if the weekly division time is taken at 3.30 p.m., Oral Questions shall be taken on the conclusion of the weekly division time.
There are three proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal for dealing with today's business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to?
It is not agreed. Since the Business Committee last met the week before last, an issue we have discussed this morning and which is of the gravest importance to the entire country has come into view. We have major disruption of our secondary schools. Students or teachers are locked out, depending on how one wants to view it.
I have a proposal. There has been claim and counterclaim today on the reasons for the teachers' dispute and the method by which it can be resolved and that requires that we have a debate.
My proposal is that we have a debate. I accept that we cannot have it today given the schedule before us, but it is reasonable to propose that there is a proper debate tomorrow to give everybody an opportunity to clarify his or her views and to put forward proposals to resolve it so that this lock-out does not continue and tens and thousands of young people are not further discommoded.
We have a real problem with Thursday's business as we face the prospect on Wednesday that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are going to cut out the voices of smaller parties in the Dáil. I could not let Thursday's business go through without recognising that. Does the Taoiseach support the proposal that smaller parties would not be able to share time if they are in a common group and the time available being cut? How can we agree to Thursday's business when the Government party and Fianna Fáil are working together to shut down the voices of smaller parties, starting on Thursday-----
I want to object to the imposition of the guillotine on Thursday on the Second Stage debate on the Social Welfare Bill. Teachta Aengus Ó Snodaigh objected to this in the Business Committee. The Government said very clearly there would be no more guillotines. That is the basis on which I am coming forward. I ask the Taoiseach to allow any Teachta who wants to make a contribution on the Social Welfare Bill to be allowed to do so.
As agreed at the Business Committee the other day, we have allocated nine hours to Second Stage of the Social Welfare Bill this week. The members of the committee were good enough to extend the sitting time to facilitate those extra hours. As agreed, if we have more speakers than there is time available, we can order the business to go on next week. Right now, I do not have any speakers to take me past tomorrow. Deputy Adams might tell his colleagues that if they want to keep the debate going, they might contact the Whips office to get some speaking time.
I want to repeat my point on the proposal in regard to Thursday. If the lock-out goes ahead on Wednesday, I simply cannot believe we will finish out the week without a serious discussion in this House. It is a dereliction of duty for the House not to debate the issue in detail and try to find a solution.
This has come up since then. If the Minister of State, Deputy Doherty, does not understand that an urgent crisis has arisen since last week, then she is living on a different planet to the teachers and tens of thousands of pupils who have been discommoded.
I put that to the Government.
I refer to the all-party motion on Calais, to be taken without debate. The problem is that we have not seen the motion. When will we see it? I am not signing a blank cheque for a motion that relates to the fate of 200 extremely vulnerable children. I will not agree to an all-party motion, which we have not seen, without debate. Can we see the motion?
If the motion is not what has been sought by the Not On Our Watch group, we want it amended and we want a debate. If it is what has been sought and what has been discussed in this House, happy days. If there is any row-back in the motion that is to be tabled by the Government in terms of the 200 unaccompanied children, we want a debate on it.
Outstanding discussions need to take place between the relevant parties. This matter was referred to at Cabinet this morning and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality made observations on it. The House is aware that the Government agreed to take in 4,000 migrants, or asylum seekers-refugees, and that work is under way. We are cognisant of the difficulties with the Calais camp, which has now been dismantled. I understand that the situation has, if one likes, reduced from one that was a humanitarian crisis to one that is being somewhat better managed by the French social authorities. Tusla has made comments about the situation here also. Discussions are taking place between the parties to see if agreement can be reached. We would like to help, but there are other factors to be taken into account in respect of our capacity and available facilities. As soon as agreement is reached, if it is reached, everyone will see the motion.
Bobby Aylward, Maria Bailey, Seán Barrett, John Brassil, Declan Breathnach, Pat Breen, Colm Brophy, James Browne, Richard Bruton, Peter Burke, Joan Burton, Mary Butler, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Seán Canney, Ciarán Cannon, Joe Carey, Pat Casey, Shane Cassells, Jack Chambers, Niall Collins, Catherine Connolly, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Simon Coveney, Barry Cowen, Michael Creed, John Curran, Michael D'Arcy, Clare Daly, Jim Daly, John Deasy, Pat Deering, Regina Doherty, Paschal Donohoe, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Michael Fitzmaurice, Seán Fleming, Simon Harris, Michael Harty, Seán Haughey, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Martin Heydon, Brendan Howlin, Heather Humphreys, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Seán Kyne, John Lahart, Marc MacSharry, Charlie McConalogue, Helen McEntee, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Tony McLoughlin, Josepha Madigan, Catherine Martin, Micheál Martin, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Kevin Moran, Aindrias Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony, Catherine Murphy, Hildegarde Naughton, Tom Neville, Éamon Ó Cuív, Jim O'Callaghan, Kate O'Connell, Willie O'Dea, Patrick O'Donovan, Fergus O'Dowd, Fiona O'Loughlin, Frank O'Rourke, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, Thomas Pringle, Anne Rabbitte, Michael Ring, Shane Ross, Brendan Ryan, Eamon Ryan, Eamon Scanlon, Róisín Shortall, David Stanton, Robert Troy, Leo Varadkar, Mick Wallace, Katherine Zappone.
Gerry Adams, Richard Boyd Barrett, John Brady, Pat Buckley, Joan Collins, Michael Collins, Ruth Coppinger, Seán Crowe, David Cullinane, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Séamus Healy, Martin Kenny, Denise Mitchell, Imelda Munster, Paul Murphy, Carol Nolan, Eoin Ó Broin, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Bríd Smith, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín.
The Lansdowne Road agreement was a central part of the programme for Government and the confidence and supply agreement. Last evening, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Leo Varadkar, made the comment that the context had changed. I understand the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is to meet the unions, and the Government has assessed the matter this morning. In negotiating the confidence and supply agreement, Fine Gael was adamant that the Lansdowne Road agreement would be central to public pay policy and that if there were to be any confidence and supply agreement, our party would need to sign up to it. Other political parties signed up to it subsequently. From what I am hearing from Ministers, it seems there is a change and that the Government is changing tack in regard to the Lansdowne Road agreement given what happened over the past week or so. That the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Varadkar, said the Government would have to examine what changes could be made to the agreement and that the context had changed indicates the Government is changing course regarding the Lansdowne Road agreement. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform made comments last week on bringing forward the scheduling. Where stands the Lansdowne Road agreement now?
We made it very clear that the Government stands by the Lansdowne Road agreement.
Clearly, the decision of the Labour Court has to be considered by the GRA and the AGSI in respect of their members balloting on its recommendations. Obviously, the Minister, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, met the public service committee of the ICTU and today sees the first meeting of the Public Service Pay Commission. This morning the Government obviously considered this issue. Following a discussion on the Labour Court's recommendations issued last week and pay policy more broadly, it reiterated its commitment to a collective approach to industrial relations and pay policy. It will have to reflect on the most effective means of delivering economic security and stability for the country. Clearly, the Lansdowne Road agreement is a central part of this and the Government will continue to stand by it. In the context of the Labour Court's findings, the recommendations will require careful consideration by the Government also. That is why the Minister met the public service committee of the ICTU. As I said, today also sees the first meeting of the Public Service Pay Commission.