Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 7 — motion re. Visit of Chancellor Kohl; No. 16 — Telecommunications (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1996, Second Stage (resumed) and No. 2 — European Parliament Elections Bill, 1996, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 7 shall be decided without debate and the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 3 p.m. — or until such time as Chancellor Kohl arrives — on Wednesday, 2 October 1996 and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) Written Questions only shall be taken; (ii) matters arising under Standing Order 30 shall apply to the resumption of the sitting at 5 p.m.; and (iii) The procedures relating to raising matters on the Adjournment under Standing Order 20 shall apply, except that the Ceann Comhairle shall advise the Dáil of the matters in respect of which notice has been given and those selected under Standing Order 20 (4) at the interruption of business. Private Members' Business shall be No. 27 — motion re. Beef Industry (resumed).

Is the proposal that No. 7 be decided without debate satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Are the arrangements for next Wednesday's sitting satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Does the Taoiseach agree that Government inaction on the issue of drugs is having a devastating effect on local communities? Despite all the legislation passed by and promised by this House communities are taking to the streets all over this city and elsewhere to drive drug pushers out of their midst. Is it not the case that Government inaction and floundering policies are creating major difficulties which could well end up in tragedy?

Will the Deputy relate his questions to legislation promised?


Let us revert to that which is in order on the Order of Business.

Does the Taoiseach consider further legislation and additional resources necessary to deal with an escalating drugs problem in this city and several other locations?

Despite Fianna Fáil's inactivity over many years?

Deputies should have regard to questions tabled on this subject which are included in priority questions for answer today.

If thousands of people taking to the streets in communities throughout this country endeavouring to deal with an issue does not deserve a response from the Taoiseach, we are in a bad state.

Please, Deputy Ahern, I want to facilitate Deputies in raising appropriate matters but we are here dealing with those on the Order Paper.

Will the Taoiseach say when we shall see the legislation to provide for holding a referendum on the bail issue? Has the Government decided to hold the referendum on Cabinet confidentiality on the same day?

The answer to the first question is, soon. That legislation is at an advanced stage. The answer to the second question is that decision has not yet been taken but we expect to be able to take it soon.

In view of the judgment in the McKenna case prior to the last referendum, will the Taoiseach say whether the Government has any legislation in train to establish an independent referendum commission to ensure the Government will not try to influence the outcome of a referendum? Are there are such proposals in the Government programme?

Will the Deputy be more specific in relating the matter to legislation promised?

I am referring to legislation in respect of the proposed referendum on bail. Does the Government intend to introduce any legislation on foot of the judgment in the McKenna case which effectively forbade the Government from spending Government money to promote campaigns for a "yes" or "no" vote in a referendum? I have on the Order Paper the Independent Referendum Commission Bill, 1996. Will the Taoiseach consider having it taken in Government time to give effect to the judgment in the McKenna case?

I would like to be helpful to Deputy Dempsey. No legislation has been promised at this stage on the matter referred to so, strictly speaking, the matter is not in order. I can, however, tell the Deputy that the issues raised in the McKenna judgment, in so far as they might require legislation, are being considered carefully. The matter contained in the Deputy's legislation is being considered in parallel but no final decision has been taken at this stage. The matter is being considered with some degree of urgency in view of the fact that we will have another referendum in the near future.

Is it proposed to introduce youth service legislation in advance of the Children (Juvenile Justice) Bill, 1996, to indicate that the Government is trying to help young people as well as punish them? This would give a good signal in terms of Government priority. On what date might this legislation be introduced?

It is very important to make the point that the Children (Juvenile Justice) Bill, 1996, is designed to help and rehabilitate young people who have got into difficulty. The Deputy should not characterise the legislation in the way he has or draw the contrast he is attempting to draw by putting his question in that way. However, having said that, the Government has authorised the drafting of youth services legislation and I hope it will be introduced before the end of the year.

I asked about the youth services legislation.

I have replied to the Deputy's question. I referred to juvenile justice legislation in answer to Deputy Ahern yesterday. I am now answering a question about youth service legislation.

No date has been given.

The date given was "before the end of the year" which is 31 December.

Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for Education to correct as early as possible the record of the meeting of the Comhchoiste na Gaeilge on 25 July when misleading information was given by the Minister and her officials?

The Deputy must raise that matter some other time.

Deputies asked the Minister and her officials whether conditions for the recognition of gaelscoileanna were being changed and received an absolute denial that any changes were in the offing.

The Deputy must pursue that matter in another way. I am calling Deputy Keogh. Deputy Martin must resume his seat.

Will the Taoiseach say if there is any possbility of the equal status legislation being introduced during this session?

That legislation is at an advanced stage of preparation and I hope it will be introduced in the House before the end of the year.

Is the Taoiseach in a position to state when the objections of the Tánaiste and the Labour Party to legislation on the greyhound industry can be overcome so that a Bill can be published for the benefit of the industry?

When is it proposed to take the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill? Even if it were taken now, it would not be effective until next March. At what stage is that legislation?

I told the Deputy during the last session that the Bill in question is in drafting. I am aware that the legislation is urgent because of the need to provide a licensing framework for aquaculture. I intend that we will see that legislation before the end of the year, perhaps comparatively early in this session.

On the question of greyhound legislation it is not possible to give any time for the date of introduction of the legislation because the matter is still the subject of consultation with the relevant interests in the industry. I am sure the Deputy, being as interested in the industry as I am, wishes it to be consulted properly.

Will the Taoiseach say whether under the Health (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill, which is to reorganise the health services, we will see an improvement in the waiting lists for detoxification and other services related to the drug crisis?

The Deputy should table a question on that matter.

Has the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry any information on the American scientific claims on BSE testing, which we heard about on the news this morning. Perhaps the Minister will advise us later on this issue.

I hope the Deputy will find an opportunity to raise that matter formally.

Arising from the legislation on light rail, which we passed before the summer recess the Taoiseach promised that as soon as the European Commission had reported on the social and economic arguments in regard to the Ballymun line, he would make a statement. I understand the Commission has now reported. When will the Government announce that the Ballymun line is included in the light rail plans?

No legislation is promised in this area. The matter is one for announcement by the Minister. I suggest that the Deputy tables a parliamentary question on this matter.

Does the Taoiseach agree that the report has recommended that Ballymun be included in the light rail plans?

The best way for the Deputy to obtain that information is by means of parliamentary question. It is not appropriate on the Order of Business.

When does the Government expect to be in a position to publish legislation on an inspectorate of social services inquiries?

I cannot give a ready answer to the Deputy's question on this legislation but I will inquire about it and come back to her on the matter.

During the summer two Ukrainian families were sent home quite inhumanely from Shannon Airport. Has the Government any plans to amend the refugee legislation to allow people to apply for ecological asylum?

The concept the Deputy is introducing would represent a major change in traditional approaches to asylum. The implications of that would be quite difficult to measure. Such a change would also have to be examined in the context of our responsibilities as part of a common travel area with other countries in the European Union. We need to be aware of that consideration at all times. As far as possible there should be a uniform approach on asylum issues at European Union level. This is one of the issues currently under examination in the Intergovernmental Conference concerning the new treaties of the European Union which we hope to see approved next year. Pending that wider consideration I would not be in a position to give any answers in regard to the concept which the Deputy has introduced. He should analyse this concept very carefully before advocating it.

Does the Taoiseach accept that the Chernobyl incident is unique?

We cannot go into that now.

When is it proposed to publish the promised Companies (Amendment) Bill?

The Companies (Amendment) Bill is not likely to be ready for presentation to the House until next year. However, work is proceeding on it on the basis of the company law review group report.

There are three promised Bills on the Order Paper relating to changes in the bail laws. Is the Government mindful that the change in the law on bail will have huge implications for the management of the Prison Service and for the allocation of more prison spaces? Is the Government prepared to bring forward additional measures to reform the Prison Service given that, for example, so far 197 people have absconded from open prisons this year?

The Deputy may not elaborate on the matter now. If she wishes to ascertain the position of legislation on the matter I will defer to the Taoiseach.

There is need for total reform of our Prison Service. Is there a plan to deal with this creaking prison service which has allowed 197 persons to abscond this year?

The Deputy will recall that the Government's announcements of the introduction of a referendum to permit a change in the law on bail was accompanied by announcements of additional prison spaces. We recognise, and have recognised from the beginning of our consideration of this matter, that the provision of additional prison spaces would be required. The Deputy has advocated views on the management of the Prison Service. Those are policy decisions that would be best the subject of a substantive motion or discussion at Question Time with the Minister for Justice. They are not matters that require legislation in accordance with arrangements as they exist, but of course improvements can be suggested and will be considered.

We are all increasingly concerned at the number of early school leavers. Will the Taoiseach indicate when additional and more updated statutory protection and rights will be given to early school leavers through the much promised and long awaited school attendance Bill?

I hope the legislation to amend the School Attendance Act, 1926, and associated legislation will be introduced in December this year.

Given that county councils and corporations are now preparing their estimates for 1997, does the Government propose to introduce legislation to deal with local charges or will the Labour Party and Democratic Left, as they usually do, vote down every——

Sorry, I am proceeding to the business of the House.

The Taoiseach is searching for an answer.

The Deputy has been searching for a party for most of his life.