Order of Business.

The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 1, Equal Status Bill, 1999 – Amendments from the Seanad; No. 2, Criminal Justice (Safety of United Nations Workers) Bill, 1999 [Seanad] – Second Stage; No. 3, Cement (Repeal of Enactments) Bill, 1999 [Seanad] – Second Stage; No. 38, Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, 1999 – Second Stage (resumed); and No. 5a, Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill, 2000 – Order for Second and Second and Remaining Stages, to be taken not later than immediately following the announcement of matters on the Adjournment under Standing Order 21.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Second and Remaining Stages of No. 5a shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 7 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.

Private Members' Business shall be No. 91, motion re Shannon River Statutory Authority (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 5a agreed to?

(Dublin West): No.

No, Sir, it is not. We are opposed to this Bill being taken in this manner. We do not believe it is necessary. A convincing case has not been made as far as we are concerned. Attempts to guillotine the Bill and ram it through the House in the manner suggested by the Government are totally unacceptable to us.

(Dublin West): This Bill concerns £100 million taken illegally from the small people of this country.

The Deputy must be very brief.

(Dublin West): I had only started.

We cannot discuss the Bill now.

(Dublin West): This is a travesty of democracy. The Government is trying to ram this through in two hours. What about the hundreds of millions of pounds owed by the Ansbacher gang? Years later we still have not seen a penny of that. It is a travesty of democracy to take this Bill today.

The Deputy cannot proceed in this manner. He has exercised his right to show his opposition to it, which is sufficient at this stage.

(Dublin West): This Bill raises serious constitutional issues, such as the retrospective validity of legislation.

The Deputy can exercise his right, if he wishes, to vote against the proposal.

(Dublin West): This is supposed to be a democratic assembly. I need to say why—

This is not the time for a discussion on the Bill.

(Dublin West):—it is so wrong for the Government to ram this down the throats of the Dáil today. It raises serious constitutional issues about retrospective legislation. However, simply because it hits the small, PAYE people, the Government has no problem with ramming it through. It cannot be carried today because we need time to have a proper debate.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 5a be agreed to.”

Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh. Callely, Ivor.

Tá–continued

Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cowen, Brian.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.de Valera, Síle.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Foley, Denis.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.

Kitt, Michael.Lawlor, Liam.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGuinness, John.Martin, Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wright, G. V.

Níl

Ahearn, Theresa.Allen, Bernard.Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Bell, Michael.Belton, Louis.Bradford, Paul.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, John.Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Crawford, Seymour.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Finucane, Michael.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Gregory, Tony.Hayes, Brian.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.Hogan, Philip.

Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Barrett and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Regarding promised legislation arising from the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, does the Taoiseach share my concern that the announced rates of inflation this year have entirely wiped out the value of the first pay increase under the agreement, thereby undermining social consensus? Has the Minister for Finance, whose budget is partly responsible for the high inflation figures, plans to introduce supplementary measures to reduce other purchase taxes, such as VAT, in a compensatory measure so as to reduce the current rate of inflation, given that the Government has the fiscal capacity to do so?

I do not think there is legislation in this regard and I do not know to what Bill the Deputy referred. The increase in the inflation rate for March was in line with expectations. The figures have been pushed upwards by a number of exceptional factors, including the tax on tobacco products and the price of oil. The predictions for later this year and next year are known and are for a downward spiral.

In light of the shocking revelations yesterday in Dublin Castle regarding the activities of a lobbyist, Mr. Dunlop, and the widespread concern that these activities are corrupting the body politic, is the Government prepared to consider taking No. 74, the Registration of Lobbyists (No. 2) Bill, 1999 in my name, on the Order Paper in Government time? Do Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats think we would be doing every elected Member of the House a service, as Deputy O'Kennedy said, by registering these very unsavoury activities?

Whatever about the Private Member's Bill, as I said last June in the House, if there is a way of regulating this I am in favour of it, as it would protect public representatives.

There is a way.

There is a Bill.

There is not a way and the issue is not remotely defined in the Bill.

Then amend the Bill.

To do so would be a major task. As I said last year, would we include the IFA—

Deputies:

Yes.

—and every other organisation as lobbyists, and if so how would this be done? If people are serious about it, I would support a committee of the House examining how it could be done properly, rather than just putting together a few ideas and calling it a Bill. We do not have a Bill which would be workable. If Deputy Quinn in interested, we can ask a committee of the House to examine the issue to see if we can achieve what is being sought.

I welcome what the Taoiseach has said and suggest that the way forward is to take the Bill, which has already been printed, on Second Stage and to amend it in line with precedent. There are public representatives in the House who are sickened by the revelations. It is presumed that their families are associated with these practices and that for all intents are purposes all politicians are the same.

I advise the Deputy not to make remarks about the tribunals.

We are not all the same and for our mutual self-protection Second Stage of the Bill should be taken without delay. A committee of the House can then amend the Bill as it wishes. If the Taoiseach does not move quickly on this, he will damage the very fibre of the democratic process. I urge the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party to reconsider the issue. There is a time honoured precedent for taking a Bill on Second Stage and amending it on Committee Stage. The Taoiseach raises a serious question by refusing to do so.

I am making an offer to Deputy Quinn if he is serious about this matter—

I am very serious.

I hope the Taoiseach is not assuming the Labour Party is not serious.

Deputy Ryan should resume his seat and allow the House to hear the Taoiseach.

If Deputy Quinn is serious about this matter, and he says he is, it can be referred to a committee of the House which has done a good job with the public offices legislation, which we will hopefully have this summer, and on other matters. The first item can be the Bill referred to by the Deputy.

The Government side voted against it in the Seanad.

Because it has no definition as to what a lobbyist is – it is hopeless. As I said last summer, if we are serious about it I will co-operate with having it considered by a committee, something I think we should do as a matter of urgency.

There are many precedents from other countries.

Now that the Government is proposing that the matter be referred to a committee, can I take it the Government will take on its responsibilities and put a proposal before the committee, rather than simply throwing the problem to a committee without a Government lead as could be expected?

Deputy Bruton can take that as read. As the Deputy knows, when this matter was examined by the previous Government, when much legislation was introduced concerning many of these issues, the issue of lobbyists was the one issue which was left out as the Government could not find an easy definition. Comprehensive legislation was introduced, but that issue was omitted.

That is not true.

Deputy Rabbitte and Deputy Quinn left out that issue when the legislation was introduced. They are the facts.

That is not true.

We cannot debate the matter any further. This is the Order of Business and we cannot have a prolonged debate on the matter.

The Chair allowed the Taoiseach to make a personal reference to me.

I will allow the Deputy to deal with that reference.

The easiest thing in the world for the Government to do is to pass the matter over to a committee. To demonstrate that this matter is not being kicked to touch by the Government it should bring forward a worked out proposal, however difficult that may be to draft. I do not doubt that the difficulties referred to by the Taoiseach exist. The Government has a responsibility to propose something.

Arising from the statements yesterday on the Nevin licensing issue, legislation to deal with the removal of a judge, should it come to pass, is required as recommended in the report on the courts and the Judiciary and the report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. I accept that it will take some time to introduce the constitutional changes recommended in the report. Does the Taoiseach intend to introduce legislation to deal with the more narrow issue, namely, how this can be handled by the Houses to ensure that whatever procedure might be used in the removal of a judge will not be open to judicial review thereafter?

Is legislation promised?

I do not want to make any comment on that matter until the inquiry is complete. With regard to the Deputy's first question, the Government is examining seriously the constitutional amendment, which his committee has recommended and, hopefully, it will accept it.

I refer to the proposed constitutional changes but the committee also proposed that judges' inquiry legislation would be necessary to deal with the procedures in the Houses. There is an urgency in bringing forward that legislation. There will not be the delay associated with a constitutional change. Will the Taoiseach give an assurance that, possibly during the recess and without relating it to any particular case, that procedure will be put in place and a Bill will be ready when we resume business after the recess?

The matter will be examined.

Given that, according to the local authorities, Dublin will experience severe water shortages within the next three to five years and is experiencing water pressure problems currently, when will the water services Bill be introduced?

The heads of the Bill are expected to be published next year.

No. 2 on the Order Paper is the Criminal Justice (Safety of United Nations Workers) Bill, 1999 [Seanad] – Second Stage. Does the Taoiseach agree that it presents an opportunity to take statements in the House on the situation in Zimbabwe? If not, will he schedule a debate on this because it should be discussed in the House. Irish citizens and people of Irish descent are involved.

Maybe the opportunity mentioned by the Deputy can be taken. If not, the Whips can arrange another time. I do not have a problem.

The adoption contact register Bill is promised and consultation on it has long been completed. Last week the Law Society issued a report recommending the establishment of such a register. When will the Bill be published? It was announced in the Irish Examiner last Saturday that the European Convention on Human Rights will be incorporated into Irish law. Will that involve an amendment to the Human Rights Commission Bill, 1999, Committee Stage of which will be debated at the Oireachtas Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights later or will there be separate legislation?

There will be separate legislation.

That is a waste of time.

With regard to the human rights convention, as I understand it, there will be new legislation but if we can conclude the Human Rights Commission Bill—

Why not amend that Bill?

The Deputy should raise that at the Select Committee. I understood the Minister stated that it was a separate Bill. I do not know if it can be incorporated.

That is ducking the issue.

The Oireachtas Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights meets later to discuss the Human Rights Commission Bill.

The Labour Party has already tabled an amendment to it in this regard.

The heads of the adoption contact register Bill will be before the Cabinet after Easter and the Bill is expected to be taken during the autumn.

I understand that parents of children whose organs were disposed of in certain children's hospitals have withdrawn their co-operation with the inquiry that was set up to deal with this issue. This is a matter of the gravest concern to all. What arrangements are being made to deal with this?

There is no legislation in that area. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

I appreciate that but it is a matter on which the Government should comment now in a timely manner because we do not want a situation to develop where this becomes the subject of litigation. It is already a difficult enough issue for everyone involved. It is of great sadness that the inquiry is not—

That is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Will the Taoiseach say something on it?

Does the Taoiseach wish to comment?

The Department of Health and Children has made further contact with the legal representatives of Parents for Justice and a meeting has been arranged for this afternoon. Hopefully, the matter will be resolved then.

With regard to the earlier discussion on the registration of lobbyists Bill, the Labour Party intends to formally submit its Bill to the relevant Oireachtas committee as the basis for discussion. I presume that action is acceptable to the Government.

It is a matter for the—

The Government should bring forward its own proposals.

We know it will not do so.

The Taoiseach said that the Government would.

We will bring forward our own proposals.

The Equal Status Bill, 1999, will complete its passage through the House today. Will a disability Bill be introduced shortly because the rights of the disabled are not adequately protected in the Equal Status Bill, 1999? A separate disability Bill is necessary. Is the Government considering a constitutional amendment in regard to the rights of the disabled?

Work is in progress in the Department on the disability Bill. The heads of the Bill are expected later this year. It is intended to provide the legislative basis to advance and underpin participation by people with a disability in society. As the Deputy will be aware, it is major legislation and it might even be next year before the Bill is circulated. Work is continuing on it.

Are the Taoiseach and Minister for Health and Children aware that there is an industrial dispute in the health service?

That matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Are they prepared to do anything to resolve it before it escalates?

That matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business. There are other ways in which the Deputy can raise that matter.

Yesterday the Minister for Public Enterprise published and circulated proposals for reform of the public transport sector. Will the Taoiseach clarify whether there will be legislation as seven reforming Bills will be required? Will there be a debate in the House on public transport before the Cabinet fully considers these matters?

The 1932 CIE Act will be amended in due course. There have been a number of debates on this issue; I am sure there will be no difficulty having another. The Minister is working on these proposals in consultation with staff representatives.

Two pensions Bills are promised. Will they published before the summer?

Hopefully, yes.

Have they been cleared by the Government?

(Dublin West): There is no problem defining the type of lobbyist who should be outlawed. It is a man waving brown envelopes in front of councillors to secure corrupt land rezonings.

That matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

(Dublin West): Will the Taoiseach set aside two and a half hours tomorrow to take emergency legislation to compel the Ansbacher crooks to pay back the hundreds of millions of pounds they owe to the State in the same way he has come in today compelling small PAYE workers to pay unjust taxes?

The Deputy is disorderly. He should resume his seat.

It is not a bad suggestion.

(Dublin West): Why should there be double standards in this House, one for PAYE workers and another for—

Has the Government any plans to bring forward new legislation in regard to the Garda complaints board?

I do not think any legislation is due in regard to the Garda complaints board.