Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 19, Arbitration (International Commercial) Bill, 1997 — Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 20, Courts Service (No. 2) Bill, 1997 [Seanad] — Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 21, Local Government (Planning and Development) Bill, 1997 — Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; and No. 8, motion re EMU.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m.; (2) the Report and Final Stages of No. 19 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 11.30 a.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; (3) the Report and Final Stages of No. 20 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 12.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; (4) the Report and Final Stages of No. 21 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 5 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government; and (5) the proceedings on No. 8, if not previously, concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (iii) Members may share time and (iv) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon not later than 9-45 p.m. to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed 15 minutes. Private Members' Business shall be No. 35, Licensed Premises (Opening Hours) Bill, 1998 — Second Stage (resumed).

Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with item No. 19 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with item No. 20 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with item No. 21 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with item No. 8 agreed? Agreed.

The Taoiseach will be aware of the reports of a serious public health outbreak in regard to the safety of certain foods in a shopping outlet in Dundrum. Is he aware that on 12 November he promised the food safety authority legislation would be brought before the House before the end of that month and that at the beginning of January he said the legislation would be available either in February or this month? What is the position in regard to this legislation? Why was the promise to introduce the legislation by last November not fulfilled?

There has been a delay in drafting the Bill. The final draft is before an interdepartmental committee which will meet tomorrow. It is intended to circulate the Bill to the relevant Departments to try to clear it for next week. I hope the Bill will be before the Cabinet during the Easter recess and introduced in the House during the next session.

Is the Taoiseach aware that a large proportion of the work involved in preparing the Bill was completed by the previous Government? What is the reason for this interdepartmental jockeying which is delaying the legislation?

When the Government took office it stated it would seek to ensure that the Bill gave the authority the fullest statutory powers possible. We want to bring as many of the food safety regulations as possible under one roof so that we have a strong Bill which can deal with issues such as the one to which the Deputy referred. It is important that the authority can fulfil its functions. Work was carried out on 60 sections of the draft Bill some time ago. The Bill is now stronger and I hope it will be introduced in the House after the Easter recess.

When is it proposed to introduce the television coverage of major sporting events Bill which will give effect to an EU directive and will ensure that major national sporting events are transmitted free of charge on the national air-waves? Next Saturday, for the first time since television was broadcast, the Ireland-England match will not be televised live.

The television coverage of major sporting events Bill will be ready later in the year. It will transpose into Irish law Article 3A of the EU directive which is designed to ensure the coverage of major sporting events free of charge to the national television station. The Bill will also implement other parts of the directive. The latest information available to me is that the legislation will not be ready until after the summer recess.

I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. Can he confirm to the House that following the enactment of that legislation, Irelandv. England matches, or any other sporting events deemed to be of national importance, will be broadcast free of charge? Will that be the effect of the domestic legislation?

There are different categories under the directive. As I understand it — this is from my own sporting knowledge rather than the legislation — rugby is not on the A list in terms of English law, which is extraordinary. That is the reason Sky could get access in terms of this match. We must ensure in our legislation that our treasured sporting events are on our A list.

The Taoiseach is very impressive.

Will that cover the match in Twickenham?

We will get it every second year.

As long as we win every second year.

In view of the latest revelations concerning NIB and the contemptuous manner in which it treated the Central Bank, will the Taoiseach indicate whether the legislation promised to improve the monitoring procedures of the Central Bank in relation to the private banks will be worked on over Easter and if it will be introduced here immediately after the Easter break?

As I stated yesterday, the Minister for Finance, in his letters of yesterday and the day before, has asked the Departments and agencies involved to nominate people immediately so that an early meeting can take place. They should get to work over the Easter period.

I want to ask the Taoiseach about two matters. First, on promised legislation which may have a bearing on the debate on Articles 2 and 3, the Coastal Zone Management Bill, will the Taoiseach bring that legislation before the House immediately given the higher than ever levels of erosion around our coast? One might call it the erosion of our national territory. Second, will a supplementary Estimate be moved to meet the additional cost of placing a Luas light rail system underground given the European Commission's commitment not to provide funding for such an option?

On the Coastal Zone Management Bill, a consultation process will take place this week between the three Government Departments involved in this issue. This is a serious problem in numerous parts of the country. It will be some time before we see legislation. On the other matter, the Minister will have the report at the end of April.

In the Government's inquiries into the National Irish Bank, will the Taoiseach also order an inquiry into the An Grianán farm déba cle in which the NIB and Mr. Tom Graham were involved?

The matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business, Deputy. It can be raised in many other ways.

It is very appropriate to Mr. Tom Graham.

The Government has failed to honour a solemn undertaking it gave to the United Nations Committee on Children to have a debate in this House on the rights of children. I ask the Taoiseach to give an undertaking that he will hold this debate early in the new session. He has already stated it is up to the Whips to determine this but the Taoiseach has an obligation, having made this undertaking through one of his Ministers to the United Nations, to have an early debate on the rights of children. This is an extremely urgent matter relating to many thousands of children in this country whose rights are not being adequately protected.

It is a very important matter and I have given an undertaking to have a debate in the House. The debate should be scheduled early in the new session but it is a matter for the Whips.

With the creation of up to 10,000 jobs in the western region, will the Taoiseach state the reason for the delay in regard to the Western Development Commission Bill to establish the commission on a statutory basis? Will he also comment on the western investment fund, which is overdue?

The legislation regarding the commission is in the final stage of preparation. The legislation in regard to the investment fund will be available in the next few months.

On promised legislation, may I ask the Taoiseach for clarification on the children (juvenile justice) Bill which had reached Second Stage and lapsed with the fall of the last Dáil? When questioned about this matter over the past six or seven months, the Taoiseach said that the Government would substantially amend the Bill. The Bill was recently republished in its original form so I now ask the Taoiseach to outline the Government's intention in relation to the Bill. When can we expect it before the House?

The Bill had to be restored in its original form and that has been done. I understand it is back on the Order Paper. The Bill will come before the committee and any amendments will be put forward on Committee Stage.

When will that happen? We have been waiting for this Bill for a long time.

That will happen shortly. The Bill has been restored to its original form but I understand it is ready to be taken. If that is not the case I will inform the Deputy.

An appropriate answer for the day that is in it.

I understand it is ready to be taken by the committee but it is a matter for the committee.

So it will be taken early in the next session?

In relation to the daily Orders of Business and the documents laid before the Dáil, will the Taoiseach explain why the report of l996 which the Department of Health and Children received in the summer of l997 from the Adoption Board detailing not merely statistics on adoption but a critique of the way adoption law is working has not been laid before the House? Is the Taoiseach aware that the Minister for Health and Children is in violation of his obligations under the l952 Adoption Act in this regard? Will the Taoiseach tell us when that report will be published and laid before the House and why it is being suppressed by the Government?

Par for the course.

The report is not a matter of legislation.

It is a document that, under Statute, should be laid before the House and traditionally it is laid before the House just before or immediately after the summer recess. This report relates to l996. The l997 report has since gone to Government but has not been published.

Perhaps the Deputy could pursue the matter by way of parliamentary question or a question on the Adjournment. It is not a matter for the Order of Business.

It is an outrage that the report of the adoption board is being suppressed. It is unprecedented.

There are other ways of raising the matter.

I have raised it by way of Dáil question to the Minister of State with responsibility for children who seems to be of the view that the report will be produced whenever it suits the Government.

We cannot allow the matter to develop any further. I call Deputy Rabbitte.

It is like picking a lotto ticket.

In respect of promised legislation on a national minimum wage, will the Taoiseach state if the Government has taken the report from the commission as it was intended to do before the end of last month?

The report is being completed and it will probably be on the agenda for Cabinet consideration at the next meeting.

In relation to promised legislation and the information concerning the numbers of travellers who live beyond the age of 65, a housing Bill was promised by the Minister of State with responsibility for housing and urban renewal. When is it intended to take Second Stage of that Bill and will the Taoiseach use the occasion to make a major statement on the needs of the travelling community?

The Travellers Accommodation Bill, which was published yesterday, will be taken first in the Seanad and the policy will be outlined at that stage. The Bill will be a major improvement in dealing with the defects in the current housing system to which the Deputy refers. The Minister is anxious to move the Bill quickly along after Easter.

What is the present status of the valuation Bill?

The valuation Bill has 60 heads introducing a modern valuation Act consolidating and updating the legislation. The Bill will be circulated at the end of this year or early next year.

This Bill was largely drafted by the late Deputy Hugh Coveney, and substantial work was done under his stewardship. It does not require much consultation with other Departments. What is the reason for the delay? Has it been downgraded in terms of priority within the Department of Finance?

While work is going on, an enormous amount of consolidation is needed to prepare this Act. That work is not completed but it is ongoing. If there is any other aspect, I will inform the Deputy of it.

I want to ask the Taoiseach about legislation that he regarded as a priority, the school attendance Bill. Why has it slipped back by six months in the schedule since November when it was indicated that it would be published before Easter? We are now told it will be autumn before we see it. Is the Taoiseach aware that no record is currently held in the Department of suspended or expelled students? If we are to be serious about this, we need to regard it as a priority. Will the Taoiseach go back to his own position of September-October and put this on the priority list?

As I stated previously, it is a matter of priority. We want this legislation dealt with. The Minister announced a number of initiatives and changes in the context of areas of disadvantage and social exclusion which would be helped by this legislation. This was extensively covered during Question Time last week.

That was a smokescreen to cover the fact that the schedule has gone back by six months.

The Deputy's party did very little.

(Interruptions.)
Mr. Higgins (Mayo): Given that the Eastern Health Board recently confirmed that approximately 130 people a week are seeking asylum in this country and that there is a major accommodation problem in Dublin, given the Government's refusal to accept the Democratic Left Private Member's Bill on asylum seekers, and our flagrant breach of international obligations on human rights, what is the current situation in relation to dealing with refugees? Will the Government implement the existing Act, or introduce amending legislation?

The Minister for Justice has spelled out his policy in this regard a number of times in this House during this session.

Zero tolerance.

Jay walking.

(Mayo): That is a very poor reply.

In the context of my earlier question about the Food Safety Authority, what is the position in regard to related legislation, the national beef assurance scheme Bill which is to be introduced by the Department of Agriculture and Food and which is very important to that industry. When will that be ready?

That legislation is being prepared in the Department and the Minister hopes to have it and related legislation up and running before the end of this year.