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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 8 Mar 2000

Vol. 516 No. 1

Order of Business.

Today's Order of Business shall be as follows: No. a15, Finance Bill, 2000, financial resolution; No. 40, Finance Bill, 2000 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages. It is proposed that, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; No. a15 to be decided without debate; Report and Final Stages of No. 40 to be taken today, with the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, to be brought to a conclusion at 1 p.m. tomorrow 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 Finance; and the Dáil, on its rising tomorrow, shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 21 March 2000. Private Members' Business shall be No. 61, Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) (Amendment) Bill, 1999 – Second Stage (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed?

Before agreeing to that, this is International Women's Day, which celebrates the work women have done in Ireland, paid and unpaid, and it is regrettable, now that we have a woman Tánaiste, she is not in the House to take the Order of Business as is her responsibility, even though I understand she is in town. I am sorry she is not here and I wonder if the Minister can give an indication why the Tánaiste, who's responsibility it is to act for the Taoiseach in his absence, is not here this morning.

The leader of the Opposition is aware that the Taoiseach is out of the country and I understand that the Tánaiste will be departing today on a trade mission. The Deputy can be quite certain she will be looking after the nation's business on International Women's Day, which is an achievement for women in any event.

She is in town. There is always a concern about things being announced outside the House and the House not being treated with the respect it deserves. While I am very happy that Deputy Woods is here, and he does his job very well, he is not the Tánaiste, who is in Dublin and is acting on behalf of the Taoiseach. She has a responsibility to be here. I understand she had a press launch this morning which she said she arranged in terms of time to allow her to be here, but she is not present.

Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a15 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 40 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the adjournment of the Dáil agreed? Agreed.

Legislation has been promised relating to administrative procedures. Will the Minister, who is acting for the Tánaiste, indicate what happened the administrative procedures in terms of conveying the decision of the Government of 22 December to appoint members of the board of CIE, given that two and a half months later that decision had not been implemented or communicated to the people concerned? Where was the fall-down in the administrative procedures, or was this a deliberate political snub to the individuals concerned in the hope they would be embarrassed in terms of their board colleagues through their board appointment not being made known to them, with their status thereby being diminished?

The matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business, but the Minister may wish to make a brief comment.

The provisions of the Administrative Procedures Bill will be included in the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill.

Will the Minister indicate whether the ongoing dispute between the Minister for Finance and the absent Tánaiste in relation to legislation to establish an independent financial regulator has been resolved? In the light of revelations yesterday from the Central Bank, when will a political compromise be reached and when will this essential legislation be brought before the House?

Is legislation promised?

Yes, but there is not a dispute on the matter, as it is to be brought before Government.

If there is not a dispute in the matter, have the heads of the Bill been agreed?

It is expected to be before Government shortly.

Have the heads of the Bill been agreed?

It is expected to be before Government shortly.

Have the heads been agreed between the two Ministers in dispute?

The heads of the Bill will be before the Government shortly. That is the normal procedure.

Have they sorted out their row?

Hope springs eternal.

A Cheann Comhairle, you ruled out of order the matter I raised under Standing Order 31. However, is it acceptable that Government decisions are not implemented by a line Minister as a result of childish and churlish breakdown of relations between the chief executive of CIE and the Government? Government decisions should be implemented by line Ministers and not be subjected to petty and churlish petulance.

I remind the Deputy that this is the Order of Business. He should not make allegations on the floor of the House. He should resume his seat as he is being disorderly.

The Government is disorderly.

The Minister was out of order.

Yesterday on the Order of the Business, I sought clarity from the Government in regard to two Bills – the immigration and residence Bill and the work permits Bill, which are to give effect to the Tánaiste's promise to provide permits to skilled workers. Last night I received a reply to a parliamentary question I tabled in regard to this matter. An asylum seeker in my constituency has been in Ireland for two years and is a trained carpenter.

Has the Deputy a question on legislation?

Yes, I will get to that.

The Deputy should put the question.

He is to be removed from the State today.

The Deputy cannot deal with a particular case. We are on the Order of Business. The Deputy should ask a question on legislation.

When will we have a rational asylum and immigration policy from the Government?

The heads of the immigration and residence Bill are expected in mid-2000 followed by publication in late 2000. The works permits Bill will also be published late 2000.

Why that late?

The summer concert season is about to begin. What is the position regarding the Prohibition of Ticket Touts Bill, 1998, which reached Committee Stage 12 months ago and is being blocked by the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation?

The Deputy has the wrong season.

When will Committee Stage be taken? When will the legislation be implemented?

That is a Private Members' Bill, which is before a committee.

It is being blocked by the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation.

It went to the wrong Department, one which cannot deal with it.

I refer to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons Bill and the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty Bill. On a related matter, when will the new Attorney General examine the possibility of taking a case against Sellafield?

That is not relevant to the Order of Business.

When will the Government do something about Sellafield and stop talking about it?

I call the Minister on promised legislation.

The containment of nuclear weapons Bill is expected mid-2000.

On a point of order, I asked about two Bills. The Minister has only replied in regard to one.

The containment of nuclear weapons Bill covers the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The Prohibition of Ticket Touts Bill, 1998, passed Second Stage 12 months ago. Will the Minister indicate why the Fianna Fáil majority on the relevant committee is blocking the processing of Committee Stage of the Bill?

That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. I call Deputy Stagg.

Sir, this is business of the House.

I have ruled on the matter and the Deputy must accept the ruling.

When will the Fianna Fáil majority on that committee allow the Bill to be properly processed? The Government is preventing the proper processing of legislation already approved in principle by this House.

The Chair has ruled on the matter and the Deputy should resume his seat. I have called Deputy Stagg.

The Government is acting in an unconstitutional fashion by prohibiting the processing of legislation—

The Deputy must resume his seat.

Fianna Fáil is the ticket tout party.

The Deputy is grossly disorderly. The Deputy should resume his seat.

Fianna Fáil is in favour of ticket touts. How many of its financial contributors make money out of selling tickets for major matches to ticket touts?

The Deputy must let everybody know that he is in the House one day a week.

Given that the latest rail safety regulations date back to 1927 and the report that was published yesterday identified 11 new unacceptable risks in the rail system, will the introduction of the rail safety Bill be brought forward, which is No. 95 on the list?

The heads of the Bill are expected late this year. The Minister for Public Enterprise met senior officials from Iarnród Eireann yesterday and impressed on them the need for the company to deal with the unacceptable and unreasonable risks identified.

Can we have a debate now?

The Minister should withdraw her insult to the outgoing chairman.

She is off the rails.

The company will meet the independent consultant today to carry out a detail review of its audit findings and this will be followed by a meeting with the Department—

The Minister is making a Second Stage speech.

The Minister is in possession.

If the Deputy wants to know what is happening—

When will the Bill be published?

Please allow the Minister to conclude his remarks.

The Deputy does not want to know what is happening because he is not really interested.

The meeting with the independent consultant will be followed by meetings between the Departments next week. That is being moved forward quite urgently.

When will the Bill be introduced?

(Mayo): On the list of legislation to be published before Easter, four Bills relate to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform – the courts and court officers Bill, the criminal justice (fraud offences) Bill, the criminal justice (illicit traffic by sea) Bill, and the intoxicating liquor Bill. Will all of them be published before Easter?

The courts and court officers Bill is expected to be published this session.

(Mayo): I referred to three other Bills, including the criminal justice (fraud offences) Bill, about which there was an announcement recently and the intoxicating liquor Bill, which has long been promised.

These Bills will also be published this session. The Deputy will be busy.

The Deputy should get a picture ready for The Examiner.

Does the Minister agree with the contents of his Bill to abolish ground rents? If he does, will he agree to a simple motion to refer that Bill to a committee of the House so that the House can complete its consideration of this important legislation?

This Private Members' Bill was introduced by me and passed Second Stage with the support of the then Government in March 1997.

That is right.

It is being examined in detail in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

I call Deputy Owen.

That is not accurate.

We cannot debate the matter now, Deputy Gilmore. I call Deputy Owen on the Order of Business.

On a point of order, the Bill was referred to a committee and it is a matter for the House to complete deliberations on it.

That is not a point of order. The Deputy should resume his seat. I call Deputy Owen.

The Government has changed its mind in regard to the Bill.

I call Deputy O'Sullivan.

A Cheann Comhairle, I did not rise because Deputy Gilmore had raised a point of order.

The Deputy will resume her seat. I call Deputy O'Sullivan.

I would not dream of interrupting a colleague who is calling for a point of order.

The Deputy should resume her seat.

That is why—


The Deputy should resume her seat and not make a joke of the House. I called the Deputy four times. She failed to respond. Deputy O'Sullivan is on her feet. Deputy Owen, resume your seat.

Deputy Bruton referred to the fact that today is International Women's Day and I am sure we would all like to wish all women in Ireland a very happy International Women's Day. Recent CSO figures indicate that average women's pay continues to be considerably lower than that of men—

Is this a question about legislation?

I will come to the legislation.

The Deputy must come to it immediately.

The lowest category of paid workers in this country are home helps who are all women. Will there be an allocation of funds in relation to the minimum wage Bill—

That matter is more appropriate to a parliamentary question.

—so that home helps can be paid?

That question is not in order on the Order of Business. The Deputy should resume her seat.

As this is International Women's Day I thought we might get around you to be nice to us today, a Cheann Comhairle.

We are always nice to the Deputy.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment made a major announcement outside the House today about a scientific foundation. Does that matter require legislation? Will it be put on a statutory basis? While I have managed to get the floor, may I ask the Minister, the acting Head of Government, a question? Given that it has emerged that people can get birth certificates of those who have long since died, does the Government have any proposals to amend the legislation in relation to the registration of births, marriages and deaths, now that this scam has been uncovered?

Is legislation promised?

On the registration of births, marriages and deaths, the heads of the Bill are expected at the end of April.

And will this issue be examined, the fact that people can get birth certificates?

On the other issue, it is not clear whether legislation will be required on the issue of technology foresight but that matter is being examined.

From his answers the Minister has indicated that the rest of this session will be very busy. Will he state if the mental health Bill will be taken, as promised, before Easter? This is an important Bill protecting the rights of patients in the care of the State. Is there a plan to postpone that Bill?

Every effort will be made to have that Bill taken. It is tentatively scheduled for early April.