It is proposed to take No. 12, motion re. ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; a29, on the supplementary Order Paper, statements on the Gilmartin controversy, and No. 3, Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) Bill, 1998, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) No. 12 shall be decided without debate; (2) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. a29 on the supplementary Order Paper and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion within two hours or 7 p.m., whichever is the sooner: (i) the opening statement of the Taoiseach shall not exceed 25 minutes; (ii) the Taoiseach shall take questions which shall conclude after 80 minutes or 6.45 p.m., whichever is the sooner; (iii) the leaders of the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Taoiseach or a Minister nominated in his stead shall be called upon in that order to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes in each case; and (3) Private Members' Business shall also take place tomorrow and shall be taken directly after the Order of Business and shall conclude after 90 minutes. Private Members' Business shall be No. 74, motion re. Partnership for Peace.
Order of Business.
There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 12 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a29 on the supplementary Order Paper agreed?
It is my understanding that at the end of question time the party leaders will have five minutes to respond. Is the Leader of the Progressive Democrats being excluded?
Will the Leader of the Progressive Democrats and the Green Party be allowed to make statements?
There is a proposal before the House.
It was my understanding that the party leaders – normally, the Taoiseach, the leaders of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Progressive Democrats—
And the Green Party.
That is not my understanding.
What about the Progressive Democrats?
What about Democratic Left?
It was my understanding that the party leaders mentioned would make statements.
I am greatly touched by the Deputy's sudden concern.
Is the proposal agreed?
A request has been made that the Leader of the Progressive Democrats be allowed to make a statement. To be consistent, the Green Party should also be allowed to make a statement.
There is a specific proposal before the House.
May we take it the Leader of the Progressive Democrats does not wish to make a statement?
Is it in order to propose an amendment?
I propose that the Leader of the Progressive Democrats and the Green Party be included.
It is not in order to propose an amendment. Is the proposal agreed?
On a point of order, there is a motion before the House. On that basis, an amendment can be made.
It is too late to make an amendment. I have to put the question.
On a point of clarification, there is a motion before the House which we are entitled to vote for or against. On that basis, are we not entitled to amend it?
Why? Under which Standing Order are we precluded?
As I have indicated, it is too late. The question is: "That the proposal for dealing with No. a29 on the supplementary Order Paper be agreed”.
Will the Deputies who are claiming a division please rise?
Deputies Sargent, Gormley, Ó Caoláin, Gregory and Higgins (Dublin West) rose.
As fewer than ten Members have risen I declare the question carried. The names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the proceedings of the Dáil.
Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' Business tomorrow agreed? Agreed.
When does the Government intend to introduce legislation to establish a human rights commission as promised in the British-Irish Agreement?
As early in this session as we possibly can.
A circular issued in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment states that no more money can be paid to the county enterprise boards until legislation is introduced in the Finance Act in April. Who is watching legislation in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment while the Tánaiste is watching the Taoiseach?
That question is not in order on the Order of Business.
It is promised legislation. The £100 million ceiling has been used up.
The Deputy is entitled to ask when that promised legislation will be produced.
That is what I am asking.
A question on that matter has been allowed on the Adjournment.
When will that legislation be introduced?
Maybe the Deputy could pursue that on the Adjournment.
I intend to. This is the place to ask about promised legislation. Is anybody minding the House?
The Deputy has asked about the Finance Bill. This relates to an amendment to the Finance Bill. The Finance Bill will be ready in February.
In the meantime what will happen with the county enterprise boards?
(Dublin West): The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform promised legislation would be introduced quickly to amend the 1935 Aliens Act after the High Court stopped his heartless deportation policy. When will that legislation come before the Dáil?
The heads of that Bill have been cleared by the Government. I do not have a date as to when it will be ready, but it will not be ready until later in this session.
When will the local elections Bill dealing with disclosure of donations and election expenses come before the House?
It will be published this session.
As 75 Irish Defence Forces personnel have been deployed abroad, will the Taoiseach allow Government time to debate the Private Members' Bill tabled by Fine Gael to protect UN personnel serving abroad, given that the Government has failed to bring forward legislation on this matter?
The Deputy should take up that matter with the Whips.
Will the Taoiseach allow Government time to debate the Fine Gael Bill or will the Government introduce a Bill to deal with this matter?
The Deputy should take up that matter with the Whips. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
It is promised legislation.
What is the promised legislation?
It is legislation to give effect to the UN convention on the protection of personnel.
This matter is being considered. If the Deputy wants to have a debate on it, we can take it up with the Whips.
Is it the Government's intention to introduce legislation to reverse the prohibition on Oireachtas chairpersons standing for the local elections?
That matter is being examined.
The legislative programme published by the Government lists more than 100 Bills, but not one of those deals with the housing crisis. Has the Government any legislative proposals to deal with any aspect of the housing crisis affecting so many families?
The Deputy will know that an enormous sum was made available in the capital programme under a number of headings last year and this year to deal with that issue.
It is not enough.
This is not a legislative issue, but an area for action and the Minister and the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government have been taking action.
There is no action.
On promised legislation, when will the mental health Bill be brought before the House? It was promised it would be introduced in February, but it is not on the list of promised legislation.
It is unlikely that it will be ready for this session, but it should be ready for the session from Easter to summer.
We have been promised it would be given priority on umpteen occasions.
The matter cannot be debated now.
In view of the positive responses anticipated by the Minister for Agriculture and Food to the fodder crisis, could a similar reassurance be given that the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources will react positively to the claim by fishermen for compensation for money lost owing to bad weather?
That matter should be pursued in another way. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
I note that the heads of the vocational education (amendment) Bill are being prepared in the Department and its publication is not expected before late 1999. That will mean parents and teachers will not have representation on vocational education committees before or after the results of the local elections. Does the Taoiseach propose to bring forward that legislation?
Eighteen months ago the housing Gaeltacht (amendment) Bill was described as a simple administrative measure, but I note it has receded to the position where the heads are being prepared in the Department and its publication is not expected before late 1999. Will the Taoiseach comment on the first Bill which will delay representation of parents and teachers on vocational education committees and on the extraordinary delay in introducing the second Bill, given that it was described as a simple administrative measure required to put decisions taken in the Department on a legal basis?
The heads of the vocational education (amendment) Bill are being prepared in the Department of Education and Science. The Minister intends to bring the heads of that Bill to Government within the next few weeks with a view to enacting the Bill before the end of this year. The Bill will not be lengthy, it will have probably 15 sections. It will provide a composition of committees having parents and teacher representatives, local authority and community membership. The Bill will not be enacted before the new committees are established following the local elections. Therefore, these committees will be continued under existing law. The second Bill will not be ready until late this year.
I wish to clarify a point.
The Deputy may not do that on the Order of Business.
I wish to clarify the timing of the legislation. Did the Taoiseach say the committees that will be formed after the local elections will be formed without this legislation being taken into account? That will mean five years' exclusion of representation by parents and teachers on vocational education committees.
We cannot discuss that matter now.
When is it intended to publish the Equal Status Bill, which is linked to the timeframe of the British-Irish Agreement?
That Bill is being prepared and the latest date for when it will be ready is early this year.
Given the problems in Government, where do the farmers stand now?
That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. The Deputy must find other ways to raise that matter. The Deputy should resume his seat.
There are many other ways the Deputy can raise that matter.
In view of the current economic circumstances prevailing and the bad weather which is affecting farming, why has the Land Commission Bill receded in importance? Is it not opportune to deal with the land annuities position and amend the Land Acts in that regard? Why will the Bill not be ready until the end of 1999? It will not be introduced until mid-2000. I was told in this House that it would be brought forward.
The Deputy cannot discuss the matter now?
This is promised legislation and very important in the context of the current crisis in farming.
The Deputy has asked his question and he should allow the Taoiseach answer it.
The Land Commission Bill is to regularise the position relating to land annuities. A submission to Government will be made in February for drafting authority, but it will be late in the year before the Bill is prepared.
Is the Taoiseach or the Government aware of the enormity of the crisis facing the farming community?
It is not appropriate to the Order of Business to raise that question. The Deputy should resume his seat.
Cattle are dying in the fields and families are suicidal because of the inaction of this Government. The Tánaiste said there are millions of pounds to be spent, but money is not available to farmers. The Tánaiste is part of the Government. Is she prepared to deny the people who built this country their fair share of that money to which they are entitled but which they have not got?
The Deputy is being disorderly and should resume his seat.
May I ask the Taoiseach, yet again, about the Children (Juvenile Justice) Bill? It is two years since it passed Second Stage and we are still awaiting Government amendments. When will they be ready and when can we expect Committee Stage to be taken?
The Department of Health and Children is discussing the new amendments with the health boards and as soon as they are ready, which I hope will be soon, they will be brought in by the Minister.
With respect, the Taoiseach said that six months ago.
The discussions are still ongoing.