With the leaders of other parties, I have received the text of a letter which has been sent to the Ceann Comhairle. I propose to raise the matter under Standing Order 58. My understanding of the Standing Order is that only the Ceann Comhairle can adjudicate in relation to this matter and it affects the Order of Business.
Order of Business.
The matter does not arise at this stage. The letter is with the Ceann Comhairle. As the Deputy rightly says, it is for the Ceann Comhairle to deal with it, and he will do so in due course. This is not a matter to be raised on the Order of Business. Under Standing Order 58, a complaint has been made to the Ceann Comhairle and it is a matter for the Ceann Comhairle to deal with it.
I understand that the Ceann Comhairle may rule that time be made available immediately and that the Order of Business will be determined by his ruling.
The Ceann Comhairle has not so ruled. At the start of Private Members' Business tonight he will bring the House up to date on the standing of the complaint.
Are you saying the Ceann Comhairle will not enter the House now but will make his views known later today?
The House will be updated by the chair at 7 p.m. as to the position at that time regarding Standing Order 58.
The Order of Business today shall be No. 20, motion re referral to joint committee of appointments to the Standards in Public Office Commission and commencement of paragraphs of the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001; No. 21, motion re terms of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, returned from committee; No. 22, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimates – Votes 2, 10, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35 and 38; No. 23, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates – Votes 2, 10, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35 and 38 – to select committee; No. 7, Road Traffic Bill, 2001 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 8, State Authorities (Public Private Partnership Arrangements) Bill, 2001 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken at 8.30 p.m. and the order shall resume thereafter.
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m., and Nos. 20, 21 and 22 and, subject to the agreement of No. 22, No. 23 shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded on Nos. 22 and 23 shall be taken forthwith. Private Members' Business shall be No. 118, motion re censure of Deputy Gildea.
There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the late sitting agreed?
The Taoiseach will have received a copy of the letter to which I referred a few minutes ago. He was not present last Thursday when the House requested that one hour of time be allocated to provide for an agreed motion—
That does not arise. We have already dealt with the matter of the letter to the Ceann Comhairle.
May I please make my point? In light of the very serious and scurrilous allegations made by Deputy Gildea, not just against a Deputy in this House but against a citizen outside the House who is clearly identified, will the Taoiseach agree to provide for one hour to be set aside—
That is the subject of Private Members' Business tonight.
It should not be. We have reluctantly put down a motion for Private Members' Business, but we do not want it taken there because it does not require the length of time provided for in Private Members' Business.
The position is that it is now the subject of Private Members' Business.
I wanted the attendance of the Ceann Comhairle because, with all due respect, Sir, this is a serious matter.
Of course it is a serious matter.
Will you allow it to be ventilated before you interrupt and reject it? I am asking the Taoiseach to do something the Tánaiste failed to do last week, to make one hour of Government time available to deal with this matter that affects every Member of this House, and not force the Opposition to use scarce Private Members' time. Subject to the agreement of the Whips, will the Taoiseach provide for additional time tonight of one hour to debate a motion, the wording of which would be agreed by the Whips?
We are moving the motion in Private Members' time tonight with great reluctance. If the Taoiseach accedes to Deputy Quinn's request we will support that initiative and will deal with the matter in an hour of Government time later this evening.
It is excessive in the extreme to allocate three hours to a motion of censure. It appears to be unprecedented and it is only being done in this way because the Government has dragged its heels and has tried to exacerbate the confrontational nature of this debate rather than attempt to deal with it in a mature manner. Will the Taoiseach allow for the use of Government time to debate the motion so that Private Members' Business can be used to debate the original motion dealing with the urgent matter of the bad conditions in primary schools?
I was not in the House last Thursday morning. I agree with the Tánaiste's remarks. She has been unequivocal in stating that these comments were without foundation and should not have been made and that it is correct that they should be withdrawn and accompanied by an apology. These matters are now the subject of a debate during Private Members' Business and the Government will move an amendment to the motion if there is no other procedure.
Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus. Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Coughlan, Mary.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.de Valera, Síle.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.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 P.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.
Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Bell, Michael.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, John.Bruton, Richard.Burke, Liam.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Finucane, Michael.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Gregory, Tony.Hayes, Brian.Hayes, Tom.Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Howlin, Brendan.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Owen, Nora.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.
Is the proposal agreed?
Before I agree, since we now have committees sitting in the House without being quite sure of what their powers are, arising from the High Court judgment on the reference of the inquiry into the Abbeylara shooting, will the Taoiseach arrange that the sponsoring Minister of that inquiry, Deputy O'Donoghue, will make a statement in the House and, with the legal advice—
That does not arise at this stage. The Deputy may raise it on the Order of Business proper.
If I got the next three words in I—
It does not arise at this stage. I will allow the Deputy to raise it—
Is the Taoiseach—
Is the Deputy opposing the proposals for dealing with Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 23?
A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, if I might—
I would prefer, Deputy Noonan, that we would have an orderly Order of Business. The Deputy may raise that question at the appropriate time.
I understand that, but I think it would be better if we proceeded in a reasonable fashion in this House.
I suggest that the Deputy arrange to have the Standing Orders changed through the appropriate procedure.
No, Sir, I—
The Chair is obliged to implement the Standing Orders in relation to taking certain items without debate.
Yes, but good chairpersons always have a certain amount—
Good chairpersons implement the Standing Orders that have been given to them by the Members of this House. I will allow the Deputy to raise the question on the Order of Business proper.
The Chair leaves me with no choice but to oppose the Order of Business.
That may well be, but the Chair has no choice in the matter.
If I oppose the Order of Business, I will be able to say what I wanted to say without opposing it. That makes no sense.
The Deputy will be allowed to ask the question at the appropriate time. I am not ruling it out of order.
I am opposing the Order of Business on the following grounds—
May I raise a matter arising under Standing Orders?
Yes, as long as it is related to the business before the House.
In reference to work of committees of this House, it is difficult for committees to conduct their business today or subsequently—
That does not arise, Deputy Noonan. The question is whether we take these items without debate.
We are considering whether we should transfer items to committees without debate. It is immaterial whether we debate them if the committees cannot deal with those items. There now seems to be a doubt as to the range of ability of committees to deal with items—
Not in relation to these items.
The Leas-Cheann Comhairle is acting like a bad referee. He is ruining the match by over-using the whistle.
For the benefit of Members of the House, the proposal is for dealing with Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 23 without debate. The motions are as follows:
Referral to Joint Committee of Appointments to the Standards in Public Office Commission and Commencement of Paragraphs of the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001;
Terms of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (returned from Committee);
Leave to Introduce Supplementary Estimates [Votes 2, 10, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35 and 38];
Referral of Supplementary Estimates [Votes 2, 10, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35 and 38] to Select Committee.
We cannot agree to take No. 21 without debate as there is no legislation in place to deal with the keeping of many of the species referred to in this convention. It is farcical to accept this back from committee when this country has such a bad record in this matter. It ought to be debated and cannot be accepted as it is framed.
It would be helpful to the House if the Chair allowed the Taoiseach to clarify the Government's understanding of the role of select committees, following the judgment from the High Court.
That matter can be raised by way of leaders' questions but it cannot be raised under this proposal.
I beg to differ, on the basis that we are being asked—
The Deputy is entitled to differ, but the Standing Orders are quite specific.
The status of those committees has now been called into question by the High Court and we want to—
It does not affect the committees dealing with the items before the House – Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 23.
Perhaps the Chair could advise the House on a point of order. The point raised by Deputy Quinn is well founded, having regard to the fact that it is now ten minutes to five and it is incumbent on the Taoiseach to make a statement before five o'clock because many of the items being referred to the committees are due to commence at five o'clock, in ten minutes time.
That is not a point of order, Deputy. The items 20, 21, 22 and 23 are not relevant to the decision of the High Court last week.
I will now take leaders' questions and call Deputy Noonan.
I expect the Taoiseach is aware of the announcement by a scientific company in the United States that it has succeeded in cloning a human embryo. Emergency legislation is being passed by parliaments throughout the world to close the loophole. An amending Bill, for example, was passed by the House of Lords last night and is due to be debated in the House of Commons today. A statement of intent by the President of the United States has been issued which states that Congress will take similar action.
Does the Taoiseach consider it ironic that at a time when these loopholes are being closed throughout the world, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill is opening the loophole as wide as a gate by defining the commencement of pregnancy as from implantation rather than from conception? In view of this and to give the Government time to consider the emerging scien tific situation, will the Taoiseach withdraw this Bill from Committee so the range of new issues which arise can be considered and so an extraordinary gap may not be introduced into the Constitution when every legislature in the world is seeking to close similar gaps?
The Taoiseach might not be aware that a statement was issued on Monday by my colleague, Deputy Upton, who is an expert on these matters. She drew attention to the fact that other legislatures are moving rapidly to put in place some form of legal framework as a holding operation until these issues can be dealt with in great detail. While there are wonderful scientific prospects ahead in terms of treating preventable genetically transmitted conditions and diseases, there is the dark side of such procedures which could lead to people being discriminated against for something that is not their fault.
A response is required from the Government and I have no doubt the Taoiseach has been briefed to answer this question. This matter requires urgent attention and I can assure the Government that the Labour Party will co-operate fully in passing protective legislation until this matter can be properly examined.
I saw Deputy Upton's statement. It is a useful one. The issue of human cloning is not addressed in the Government's proposal on the protection of human life in pregnancy. That legislation deals specifically with the protection of unborn human life after implantation in a woman's womb. It is not concerned with assisted reproduction issues. The envisaged legislation deals with the prohibition of abortion and excludes from this prohibition medical procedures to safeguard the lives of pregnant women.
In March last year the Minister for Health and Children established a commission on assisted human reproduction, composed of people whose expertise in this area is well accepted. Its terms of reference is to prepare a report on possible approaches to the regulation of all aspects of assisted human reproduction and the social, ethical and legal factors to be taken into account in determining public policy in this area. The commission is monitoring international developments in this area in the course of its work and will take account of the developments in relation to human cloning which took place in the United States last week. The publication of the commission's report will provide a basis for informed public debate before the finalisation of public policies. I do not have a date for a final or interim report but I will check it with the Minister.
The Taoiseach will agree that the ethical considerations which arise from the cloning of human embryos arise specifically from the fact that we are dealing with human life. That is why there are ethical problems among many people and in many jurisdictions. The Taoiseach will also agree the human life in question, whatever way one might define it or whatever differentials one might make between cellular life and human life, is in fact a human life prior to implantation and might never be implanted. Consequently, there are repercussions for constitutional provisions being brought forward by the Government, with or without the consent of the House, when the protection provided in the provisions will commence only from implantation and will not deal with the protection of human life prior to that point. There are huge ethical issues stretching before us. They are even more dramatic when one considers that the professions involved in this research are scientists, not doctors. They are not, therefore, restricted in any way by the codes of practice to which doctors are subject.
What instruction is the Taoiseach or the Tánaiste giving to the IDA with regard to its replies to companies who, aware that there is an open field in Ireland in terms of law in this area, are making inquiries about setting up stem cell research facilities in this jurisdiction? What advice is being given to the IDA to deal with these inquiries?
I will repeat the two points I made. The issue of cloning does not come within the remit of the Bill that is currently before the committee. That Bill deals with the protection of unborn life after implantation in the woman's womb and does not deal with assisted reproduction. However, the latter has been an issue for the past few years and the Government discussed it at the beginning of last year. The Government asked the relevant experts to examine the issue, which is enormously complex. Deputy Noonan is correct that, as science moves on over the next number of years, some of the issues which Deputy Upton and the experts on the committee have raised will have social, ethical and legal implications. I will check this matter with the committee. It has been sitting for more than 18 months so it might be able, particularly because of the United States case, to produce an interim report.
With regard to the IDA, I am not aware of any such cases being made.
There are inquiries.
That matter can be checked and dealt with.
In what way?
Is the Taoiseach aware that two of his Departments are engaged in a conflict in one local authority area where, effectively, guns are being put before houses as far as people in this city are concerned? He may recall that, on 16 and 17 May, I raised the issue of Clancy Barracks. It was offered for sale in June this year with a bidding price of approximately £45 million. Nobody successfully bought the property.
Dublin Corporation bid for it. The corporation was advised that it was worth approximately £20 million, if that. The property comprises 13.6 acres which, depending on the level of density, could accommodate up to 350 separate dwellings. The housing list in Dublin Corporation stands at 7,600. Since October, when the Minister for Defence informed the House that the sale had not proceeded, my understanding from Dublin Corporation is that the Department of Defence, under instructions from the Department of Finance, has been told to hold out for the maximum amount of money it can get to fund the programme of guns, homes, bullets, tanks and whatever else the Department of Defence wants, while Dublin Corporation has been given clearance in principle from the Department of the Environment and Local Government to pay between £15 million and £20 million for the property. Neither Department can arrive at a resolution of this issue because the Department of Finance is insisting that the maximum amount of money be obtained to fund this programme. Can the Taoiseach intervene at this stage—
The Deputy has got it wrong.
—and indicate whether the Department of Defence can now reach an agreement and a settlement with the housing department of Dublin Corporation?
Given that the proposals brought forward by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government in the past 18 months or so have effectively destroyed the house building industry, does the Taoiseach have any proposals to ensure that we avoid the projected 12,000 to 15,000 redundancies in the house building industry over the Christmas period?
We had a debate previously about the issue of the Army site and I do not wish to go back over what happened prior to that date. The Minister for Defence has informed me that there are two bids still being considered by his Department. These bids are under the valuation price of the site. There are two other proposals and one of them has a significant content of social housing as part of it. These matters are being examined by the Department. It is not the case that the Minister's ability to negotiate with the developers is being thwarted.
The CIF and the other bodies made their pre-budget submissions and met the Minister several weeks ago. Their proposals are in the public domain. If the Minister intends to respond to them he will do so in the budget.
Can I take it then from the Taoiseach's reply that this is an accountancy exercise and that a Government that professes to have some concern for the homeless and which is in a position to do something positive by enabling a local authority to acquire a site for development in order to meet its massive housing list, is thwarting the local authority because the Department of Defence has been instructed to hold out for the best possible deal? Can the Taoiseach in the run-up to Christmas and six months after this matter was first raised by me in this House, resolve the conflict between the two Departments and the Department of Finance and enable Dublin Corporation to get this property so that it can proceed to provide 350 dwellings against a background of a housing list of 7,500 people? Is the money more important to this Administration – the richest Administration this country has ever seen – than facilitating a local authority in getting scarce land resources to build 350 dwellings against the background of a housing list that has grown under this Administration?
I understand there is no conflict between the Departments on the issue. Dublin Corporation did not express an interest in this for 12 months. After the debate in the House, it put in a bid. The two bids being considered are below the valuation price. The Deputy will understand the difficulty that creates for the Minister and for the Department. There are two other proposals; one proposal has a considerable content of social housing. Any application which will be made for the site will have to have a 20% social and affordable housing provision. This will assist the corporation anyway. I understand that one of the applications is geared towards social and affordable housing. That is where the matter rests. It is not a question that the Department of Finance has stopped or blocked the Minister for Defence in negotiating with the people who tendered.
Then why cannot the Department of Defence sell the site?
On the Order of Business, the Taoiseach is aware that there are serious doubts now about the powers of committees of this House, especially if they are involved in any kind of activity which could be deemed to be an investigation. Will the Taoiseach state the Government's position on the work of the various committees, particularly the committee that was investigating the Abbeylara incident and also the committee which was inquiring into the signalling system in CIE? What course of action does the Government now intend to pursue? Will the Government take measures to advise the chairmen of committees, if possible through the good offices of the Attorney General, as to how their powers have been de-limited by the High Court judgment and how they should proceed between this and any appeal which may be resolved in the Supreme Court?
As I stated last week the Attorney General has been examining this matter in recent days. I do not wish to speak about what the committee may do. The Attorney General has been looking at more narrow grounds within the finding which he believes would create difficulties for committees and for the Houses of the Oireachtas in the future. We will come to a conclusion on those matters soon. He reported to Cabinet on these matters today. I was asked earlier on about a related matter in another area and I will raise that one with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Attorney General is likely to come to a conclusion soon.
On a point of clarification, will the Taoiseach ensure that when the Government has decided on the issue that either himself or one of his Ministers will report to the House?
It was on the same matter, as I understand it, expert legal advice is suggesting that even the normal business of committees of the House may be impeded now as a result of this decision. Has the Taoiseach given consideration to the Attorney General and the State being joined in an appeal to the Supreme Court? There are a number of pressing imminent matters and I would remind the Taoiseach that once the Dáil falls in the context of a general election, work under way at committees goes down with it. In the case of one committee of the House, some eight months work has been put into preparing a report on a matter of some public interest. It is imperative in the short window between now and a general election, that whatever action is to be taken in the Four Courts be taken as speedily as possible and with the Attorney General ideally joined in that appeal.
On a preliminary examination of the report, Deputy Rabbitte is correct when he says that it could have wider implications. The Attorney General would take the same view but he is still finalising his opinion. On a preliminary assessment the Attorney General believes there is a narrower focus that he could take that would affect the workings of this House on any issue. He will finalise his views in the next day or two.
Yesterday, to great fanfare the Government published what it calls the health strategy.
And at great cost.
In relation to No. 22, Vote 33, Health and Children Supplementary Estimate, could that be taken on the floor of the House because it has been discovered today that the Minister for Health and Children yesterday suppressed a document which indicated that there is very strong criticism of his own Department—
These matters do not arise on the Order of Business.
—and of the health boards. It indicated that there is greater value in medical cards and the Minister did not make that known yesterday.
Deputy Mitchell, it is not appropriate to make a speech on the Order of Business. Has Deputy McManus a question appropriate to the Order of Business?
I am asking the Taoiseach in light of the suppressed report which was not made public yesterday—
The Chair has ruled you out of order. I call Deputy McManus.
I am in order. I am asking for the Supplementary Estimates for health.
Deputy Mitchell you must resume your seat.
I will not resume my seat, Sir. I am asking for the Supplementary Estimates for health to be brought to the floor of the House given that a report was suppressed yesterday.
Deputy Mitchell, you will have to leave the House. Deputy McManus.
The health strategy was published yesterday.
The Deputy can not make a statement on the health strategy.
This relates to the Supplementary Estimate that comes before us tomorrow and it is perfectly in order. Today evidence has come into the public arena—
That does not arise on the Order of Business. The question to the Taoiseach is whether the Estimates can be taken on the floor of the House.
—in relation to the value for money report which is undermining the health strategy. This is an extremely important matter.
You cannot make a statement on the Order of Business. Members with long experience in this House know that. The Taoiseach, on the question of the Supplementary Estimates that will be taken in the House.
Can I also point out to the Taoiseach that no Deputy on this side of the House has got a copy of the health strategy?
The Supplementary Estimates will be taken in the normal way.
I call Deputy Crawford.
On a point of order.
I call Deputy Shatter on a point of order.
Members of the House only know of the health strategy from what we read in the newspapers. This is a gross discourtesy.
That is not a point of order. I call Deputy Crawford.
This is a public relations exercise and not a serious attempt by Government to tackle—
Deputy Crawford has been called. Deputy Shatter, please show some respect for your colleague. I call Deputy Crawford.
I do not have a reputation for being disorderly. Can I raise a point of order please?
No, Deputy O'Keeffe. I will hear Deputy Crawford first and then I will hear your point of order, if you have one. Deputy Shatter was totally out of order and did not raise a point of order at all.
Let Deputy Crawford speak and if there is a point of order we can hear it afterwards. Please, Deputy O'Keeffe.
When will the Land Commission Bill be before the House so we can discuss the exorbitantly high interest rates being charged?
Is there a possibility that the Taoiseach will intervene in the strike in Letterkenny, so that payments will be made for children being born in the area—
The first part of the question is in order.
The heads of the Bill have been approved. The Bill is being drafted and is expected in the new year.
Deputy Jim O'Keeffe on his point of order.
I wish to raise an issue from the point of view of the privileges of the House. Surely it is proper that the Members of this House have access to all the documentation in relation to the Estimate for health that is to be debated.
That does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy will have to find another way of raising it. I call Deputy Gilmore.
I am raising it as a point of order.
It does not arise on the Order of Business. The Chair does not have control over that. A point of order must relate to something that the Chair has control over. Deputy Gilmore.
On a point of order.
I am not taking any more points of order on that issue. Deputy Gilmore. If Deputy Mitchell does not resume his seat I will ask him to leave the House.
With regard to No. 14 on the Order Paper, the Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2001, Order for Second Stage, the Government pushed through a Waste Management Bill before the summer recess. Is this a new Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2001, and if so why has it not been published? Is it designed to get around the Supreme Court decision in the case of Cork Corporation or where did it come from?
I can not answer that because the Waste Management Act was passed on 17—
The Taoiseach will not get much help from that side.
The Taoiseach without interruption.
The Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2001, which is the same title—
Put the Minister in a rubbish bin.
Allow the Taoiseach without interruption, please.
In reply to Deputy Gilmore, the Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2001, which is the Bill that appears as No. 14 was enacted on 17 July of this year so I cannot explain why that is on the Order Paper.
I knew the Minister would confuse the Taoiseach.
No. 93 on the Government's plans is the Fund-raising for Charitable and Other Purposes Bill. Last week the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for overseas development assistance and human rights, Deputy O'Donnell, described the Bill as going nowhere. Does the Taoiseach agree with this assessment?
This is to reform the law with regard to the administration and regulation of charities along the lines of the Costello committee report and work is in progress on it. I do not have an update on the Bill.
Like the rest of us, the Taoiseach is well aware of the horrible traffic conditions in our towns and cities. When will the Control of Road Opening Bill be brought forward due to the number of traffic jams caused by numerous road openings? I would imagine that this legislation—
The Deputy cannot make a statement.
—should be brought in before Christmas. Is there any possibility that the Bill could be brought forward?
The Bill will not be before the House until the new year but there is a practice of suspending road openings during the Christmas period.
On two items of promised legislation, where stands No. 37, the MABS Bill and will the Taoiseach bring it forward so that we can debate the industrial dispute that is taking place in County Donegal which is blocking the payment of child allowances?
Following the publication of the health strategy yesterday, will the new legislation establishing the new hospital agency be brought before the House before the next general election? When will we see the report? The Government TDs have it but nobody on the Opposition benches has it, yet the Government is talking about it on the airwaves. It is a disgrace that we have not been given the opportunity to review the report.
The Taoiseach to answer questions relating to promised legislation. Please, Deputy Naughten, can we have order?
The Money Advice and Budgeting Services Bill aims to place the money advice and budgeting service on a statutory basis. The heads were approved by the Cabinet some time ago. The Bill is being drafted and is expected shortly.
Given that both rents and evictions have soared in the past year and that many people, especially students, are living in sub-standard accommodation, will the Taoiseach bring forward the long overdue Private Rented Sector Bill to give some degree of protection to people who are being fleeced by exploiting landlords?
The heads of the Bill are expected before the Christmas period and the Bill will be drafted in the new year.
The Government lists indicates that the Arts Bill is expected in 2002. Will the Taoiseach inform the House what stage of preparation the Bill is at?
The heads were approved on 19 June and the Bill is for drafting.