The Louise Woodward case has focused great interest on child care. Many parents have to make isolated decisions when planning child care. What initiatives does the Taoiseach intend to take in this area? In particular, what legislation does he propose to introduce on the inspection of child care? What further regulation, particularly in regard to the development of services, does he propose to introduce?
Order of Business (Resumed).
Is legislation promised in this area?
There is legislation promised, but whether it is relevant to the existing case is another matter. I understand it will not be ready until late next year.
(Dublin West): Is the Taoiseach aware that many public service pensioners feel deeply aggrieved and betrayed by the terms of the increases announced by the Minister for Finance?
This does not arise on the Order of Business. There is another way the Deputy can raise the matter.
(Dublin West): It arises in this sense. Will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister for Finance——
It does not arise at this stage. There are other ways the Deputy can raise it.
(Dublin West): The Taoiseach should stand by people who have worked all their lives for the State.
When will the Bill dealing with the establishment of authoritative certification for non-university third level education be published? Will he agree that the intervention by two of his Ministers recently to seek to pre-empt the independent evaluation of colleges that would be upgraded or have degree awarding status has been most unhelpful and is undermining the integrity of a standard system that this Bill is designed to establish? Will he make sure that Ministers do not pursue the course of action we have seen? That may be applauded in Waterford and Athlone, but it will undermine the integrity of our education system in the long-term.
The Deputy will remember Niamh and what she did.
The Deputy is referring to the teastas Bill. It is under discussion in the Department of Education and is being drafted but that will take some time. The issues raised by the Deputy are under consideration in the review.
Will the Taoiseach rein in his Ministers until that is completed?
I was amazed at the lack of activity when I came into office.
Will the Deputies allow Deputy Sheehan to make his contribution?
In view of the serious effects of the French truckers' strike on the white fish industry along the south west coast, will the Taoiseach ask the Minister with responsibility for transport to take immediate steps to contact the shipping company which operates a ferry service through The Purbeck from Ringaskiddy to Santander in Spain and ask it to lay on extra services to accommodate the fishing industry which is now facing ruin? There is almost half a million pounds worth of fresh fish awaiting shipment to France and it could be shipped directly to Spain. The fishermen are concerned about the industry and I ask the Taoiseach to give this suggestion his serious consideration.
There cannot be another discussion on this matter. Does the Taoiseach wish to give an update on this?
I note what the Deputy said and his suggestion. I had an opportunity last evening to discuss the dispute with Prime Minister Jospin and I appreciate the lengths to which he went. I thank his officials in Dublin and elsewhere who assisted in making the arrangements. The Prime Minister went through the detail of the difficulties involved. I know the talks are at a delicate stage and I hope there will be an early resolution. The Prime Minister is anxious to avoid a patchwork solution. He wants to finalise this issue which has drifted on. The dispute has been ongoing for almost two years. He wants to get a settlement that will put the matter to rest for the foreseeable future. I hope some of the many issues that are mounting up, including the one raised by Deputy Sheehan, will be resolved in the next day or so. The Minister of State, Deputy Jacob, is in Brussels today putting the case of the difficulty of the plight of the many Irish companies involved.
Will the Taoiseach advise the House when he or the Minister for Foreign Affairs will visit Iran, Egypt or Libya to open up the live cattle trade in respect of the latter two countries that was promised in this House? The demand was made then——
This matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
It is extremely important for the industry and farmers are annoyed about this
The Minister for Agriculture and Food has come back from those countries.