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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 24 Apr 1991

Vol. 407 No. 4

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 1 and 9. It is also proposed to take No. 1 without debate. Private Members' Business shall be No. 18.

Is it agreed that item No. 1 be taken without debate? Agreed.

In respect of promised legislation, the House will be aware of the need to eliminate waste in public expenditure. In view of that, will the Taoiseach give an indication that the long promised legislation to update the powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General which are currently based in the Statute of 1866, ought to be given high priority this session? Will the Taoiseach give a concrete indication that this legislation will be introduced this session?

I assure the Deputy that the Government are just as anxious as he is to see that this legislation is brought forward. We see the need for it, but it is complicated. The legislation is at the drafting stage but I am not sure that I can promise it this session. However, we will endeavour to do so.

In relation to a matter which I raised with the Taoiseach last week, the setting up of a foreign affairs committee of this House, will the Taoiseach inform us when he expects to circulate draft terms of reference for that committee?

We will be able to make progress towards the end of this week or next week.

In view of the fact that the management of Capital Radio have now removed typewriters, telephones and fax machines from the newsrooms of that station, will the Taoiseach tell us what steps the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications proposes to take to ensure——

The matter does not arise on the Order of Business and Deputy McCartan knows that full well.

——that a proper service is delivered?


On a point of order——

The Deputy will now resume his seat.

On a point of order——

You may not raise a point of order with me, Deputy, when I am dealing with a point of disorder in respect of you.


I accept your ruling. May I make a point of order?

No, Deputy. Deputy McCartan will now resume his seat.

I have accepted your ruling with regard to the fact that the Taoiseach should not answer my question——

If you have you will resume your seat.

I am asking if I may raise a point of order now that I am on my feet.

Deputy McCartan will please resume his seat. I will call him again if he wishes to raise a separate matter.

Will the Taoiseach please arrange for the Courts Bill dealing with pension arrangements for some members of the Judiciary to be brought back into the Dáil as quickly as possible to deal with Committee Stage, so that some outrageous statements attacking individual members of the Judiciary can be corrected as quickly as possible? Will the Taoiseach agree that it is scandalous that a Member of this House can make inaccurate statements about a senior member of the Judiciary without that member having the right to defend himself?

The Deputy has asked me about legislation and it must end at that. The Deputy should not bring in extraneous matter.


The Deputy wants a response to that.

It will be brought back as quickly as possible.

Is the Minister for Energy and the Taoiseach aware that there is a vast area north of Tuam in County Galway which has been without power for the last 36 hours because the maintenance staff will not pass the pickets?

That clearly does not arise now.

They are different to the normal cuts.

The Deputy will have to raise the matter in some other way.

Will the Chair allow me to raise it as a Private Notice Question?

I will consider that.

Literally thousands of farmers had no power whatsoever, for almost a full day.

(Limerick East): On promised legislation, will the Taoiseach say when the Bill to allow Thomond College to be incorporated in the University of Limerick will be taken?

It is a matter for the Whips. It is on the programme for this session.

When is it intended to bring forward the amendment to the Health Act which changes eligibility? Did the Minister say it is intended to recognise the health boards charging £30 per week for respite care beds by introducing legislation to give effect to that?

The Deputy has me a little confused. There is an amendment to the Health Act under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. Is that what the Deputy is inquiring about?

It is in the pipeline. It will probably surface this session.

In relation to promised legislation, will the Taoiseach clarify something for me? The Taoiseach announced last week to the Dáil that the Housing Bill to give effect to the Government's proposal in relation to social housing would not be presented this session. Will the Taoiseach give an opportunity to the Minister to give details as to how local authorities can act on the proposal until the end of this year? Clearly there is great confusion in relation to the Minister's announcement of eight weeks ago. How can local authorities proceed with the proposals in the absence of legislation which will not be enacted by this House until the end of the year?

I have already indicated the position about the legislation and I have also indicated that the vast majority of the programme announced by the Minister can proceed without the legislation and in anticipation of the legislation.

I do not want to intrude——

I want to get on to the business proper.

That is the second time that announcement has been made but there is great confusion in local authorities and they are not actually moving——

The Deputy cannot debate the matter now.

Will the Taoiseach allow the Minister make a statement about the matter by way of clarification to help us?

Order. I am calling Deputy Harte.

In relation to the same promised legislation, will the Minister for the Environment tell us how the shared ownership scheme which he announced will be implemented? The scheme was a proposal of mine. As Deputy Howlin said, the lack of information is causing much confusion at local level. Many people are interested in this and they could build their own houses. Will the Minister for the Environment please tell us when he will give the information to local authorities so that they can move forward on it?

Will the Minister for Justice give an assurance to this House, and the people, that sufficient supplies of electricity will be made available to Garda stations at all times, both day and night——

I am sorry, Deputy Lee, I thought the Deputy had something relevant to raise. I am calling Deputy Spring.

——to protect the community?

The matter is not in order now.

In relation to the matter raised by Deputies Howlin and Harte, will the Taoiseach or the Minister for the Environment answer the vital question as to when the circular without which they cannot act will be issued by the Department of the Environment to the local authorities?

That is a matter for a Dáil question.

The legislation was promised.

There are so many ways of raising that matter, Deputy Spring.

It can be answered very simply. Is the Minister in a position to inform the House when the circular will be issued to local authorities?

It does not arise on the Order of Business.

He does not know.

The matter should be pursued in the ordinary way.


It is ridiculous that no Government Minister can inform the House as to when it will be given effect.

A Deputy:

Answer the question.

If the Deputy puts down a Dáil question he will get the answer.

A final question from Deputy Rabbitte.


I am sorry, Deputies, but I am not going to remain indefinitely on question. We must come to the business of the House proper. Deputy Rabbitte.

Some 25,000 people are waiting for housing.

It has been stated at local authority level——

I am sorry, Deputy Harte, but I did not call you. Deputy Rabbitte.

——that amending legislation will have to be introduced to enable them to do this. If that is so, when is the Minister going to do this?

Put down a Dáil question and you will get the answer.


If the Order of Business is going to become unruly I will have to proceed to business proper, item No. 1.

A Cheann Comhairle——

Deputy Harte, resume your seat.

Local authorities cannot implement it because it is not legal. When is the Minister going to make it legal?

Deputy Harte is behaving in a disorderly fashion.

May I ask the Taoiseach or the Minister for Health in respect of item No. 24 of the schedule of business if it is intended to include hospitals on the list of outlets and, if so, what is going to happen in a huge constituency like my own where there is no hospital and where the decision to build the hospital has been abandoned by the Government?

A final question from Deputy John Bruton.

In regard to housing a number of Members have raised a serious matter concerning the implementation of policy without the proper legislative authority. In the same context may I ask the Taoiseach when it is proposed to take No. 7 of today's Order Paper? Will he indicate if any action has been taken, pursuant to the terms of this order, in advance of the order being approved by the House in view of the importance of ensuring that orders which require legal authority are not implemented without being approved here first?

This is a gas question. I will have to communicate with the Deputy.

The Deputy has asked when No. 7 will be taken. It will not be taken today and I will have to communicate with the Deputy as to when it might be taken.