It is proposed to take: No. 1, Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1996 [Seanad], Second Stage (Resumed); No. 2, Children Bill, 1996, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; Private Members' Business shall be No. 10, Prisons Bill, 1997, Second Stage (Resumed).
Order of Business.
I welcome the Government decision to legislate against the possession of child pornography, but will the Taoiseach consider the wisdom of his proposals? The Children Bill has more than 200 sections and will involve a long debate. The Fianna Fáil Bill on child pornography, put forward by Deputies Eoin Ryan and John O'Donoghue, which the Government accepted at Second Stage, is now before the Select Committee on Legislation and Security. This issue is urgent and we have already had a debate, but could the Fianna Fáil Bill be taken as a stand alone Bill and amended by the Government rather than awaiting the long debate on the Children Bill?
The Children Bill deals with all forms of exploitation of children, including — as a result of the amendments we will introduce — the sexual exploitation of children. There is a very great degree of interdependence in terms of the enforcement arrangements that would apply in respect of sexual and other forms of abuse of children, and to have separate legislation dealing with one form of abuse that did not derive from and work in complete harmony with the enforcement arrangements for other forms of abuse would not be the most effective way to apply legislation. The way the Government is proceeding is the best way. I would ask for the co-operation of the Opposition in ensuring that the Children Bill, including the amendments which we will introduce to it, will pass through the various Stages in the House with speed.
When are we likely to see those amendments?
I could not give the Deputy a precise date. Work is proceeding on them and I expect they will be available soon.
When will we see the legislation to provide for the establishment of the Food Safety Board on a statutory basis?
The issue of food legislation generally, and having complete procedure and enforcement arrangements, not just an auditing procedure, in respect of food safety to ensure that food is safe at every level of production and distribution and that those who buy Irish food in whatever form and in whatever part of the world can be offered an assurance of quality, is a very high priority for the Government. Obviously, the food safety legislation the Government is preparing is a very important element, but it is just one element of that approach. The Government is giving the highest priority to that matter at present.
The Children Bill which is currently before the Dáil deals, for the most part, with offences committed by children as opposed to offences committed against children. As the Taoiseach refused our party leader's request that he accept Fianna Fáil's Bill as a stand alone Bill, will he give the House an assurance that, true to form, the Fianna Fáil legislation will be plagiarised and copied, line by line, even down to the punctuation?
We are having an element of repetition. I thought we had left that subject.
What action does the Government propose to take to avert the imminent closure of Youghal Carpets with the loss of 340 jobs?
The matter is not relevant to the Order of Business. The Deputy has many other ways of raising that important matter.
When will the Air Navigation Bill, the Bill to provide for the establishment of Dublin, Shannon and Cork Airports on a full statutory basis, come before the House?
We expect it will be introduced and passed after Easter.
When will the Taoiseach bring forward the companies legislation? Will he involve the Tánaiste in the question of Youghal Carpet Yarns, as he has——
Deputy Ahern has been heard and is out of order.
Some 360 people will be out of work in Carrigtwohill.
I call Deputy Davern. The Deputy should resume his seat forthwith or leave the House.
Where is the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Rabbitte, a former member of SIPTU? What is he doing about it?
What is the Minister of State doing to ensure the 360 jobs are kept?
I have lost patience with the Deputy. He should leave the House. He may stay if he desists.
I do not have a white jacket, a Ceann Comhairle. In view of the highly successful occasion last week, will the Taoiseach bring forward the greyhound industry Bill as a matter of urgency?
The legislation in question will be published before Easter.
Having listened to the Taoiseach on the promised Food Safety Board legislation, will he review the date of publication to take account of his meeting with the Russian Prime Minister in April, as it would be important? Will the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill reflect the level of concern expressed about the Loran C mast in County Clare as it relates to electronic radio navigation aids to shipping?
I will consider the Deputy's first suggestion, which was constructive. We are in a position to brief other countries on the nature and content of our food safety legislation proposals in advance of publication. I will reflect on the Deputy's useful suggestion. As far as the second matter is concerned, it would not be appropriate for me to interpret promised legislation. I can only provide information on the intended date of publication and I advise the Deputy to raise any queries he has on the content or implication of the legislation at the time of publication.
When can we expect the estate management legislation?
That concerns housing legislation and it will be published soon, although I cannot give the Deputy a precise date.
As regards the toothless Freedom of Information Bill going through the House at present——
The Deputy's party rejected it.
Our party is in favour of the repeal of the Official Secrets Act. We read today that a committee of the House will publish a report proposing the repeal of the Official Secrets Act. Will the Taoiseach open files and make information available to the public, as promised, and include the repeal of the Official Secrets Act in the Freedom of Information Bill?
The legislation is before the House. It would be more appropriate for the Deputy raise his concerns in the context of the discussion on the Bill.
The Taoiseach said the Government has no plans to repeal the Official Secrets Act.
This should not lead to an argument. It is not Question Time.
Has the Taoiseach changed his mind in this regard? Does he have any plans to repeal the Official Secrets Act?
Let us come to the business of the House.
I am only asking for information which is difficult to get from this Government.
There are many other ways of doing so.
They all run into the sand.
Will the Taoiseach answer the previous question I asked? When will the international development association Bill be published? What will the Minister of State, who is a former SIPTU member, do about the problem in Carrigtwohill? It is a union matter.
I find it quite intolerable——
Some 360 people will be out of work.
——that a Deputy should stand up a second time and defy the Chair. I ask the Deputy to leave the House. This is disgraceful conduct.
Deputy Michael Ahern withdrew from the Chamber.
I am not looking for an Oscar. I sympathise with my colleague on his dismissal from the House.
Make sure that is noted.
I would like to ask the Taoiseach an important and relevant question as we face the prospect of a single currency. Has he plans to publish a White Paper on the single currency which will have a serious effect on our economy and on exports to the UK?
The Deputy should table a parliamentary question on the matter. It is not in order now.
It is relevant.