Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 20, Motion re Appointment of chairperson of the Standards in Public Office Commission – returned from Committee; No. 21, Motion re Appointment of ordinary member of the Standards in Public Office Commission – returned from Committee; No. 22, Motion re Commencement of Paragraphs of the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001- returned from Committee; No. 47b, Motion re Referral to Joint Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of a proposal under the Fourth Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam (the proposal for a Council Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of paid employment and self-employed economic activities); No. 19a, Financial Motions by the Minister for Finance [2001] (Motion 6, resumed); No. 49, Extradition (European Union Conventions) Bill, 2001 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages, to be taken not later than 2.00 p.m. and to conclude at 3.00 p.m. if not previously concluded and the order shall resume thereafter.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that; (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. today and business shall be interrupted not later than 6.30 p.m.; (2) Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 47b, shall be decided without debate; (3) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to the resumed debate on No. 19a: (i) the speech of the main spokespersons or a member nominated in his or her stead for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Taoiseach, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 40 minutes; (ii) the speech of each other member called upon shall not exceed 30 minutes; and (iii) members may share time; (4) the Report and Final Stages of No. 49 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.00 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; (5) the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 4.30 p.m., there shall be no Order of Business (that is, within the meaning of Standing Order 26 (2) and (3)) and accordingly, the following business shall be transacted in the following order: No. 19a, Financial Motions by the Minister for Finance [2001] (Motion 6, resumed), to adjourn at 2.30 p.m. if not previously concluded and any division demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday 11 December 2001; and No. 50, Road Traffic Bill, 2001 – Second Stage (resumed) and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4.30 p.m. and any division demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday 11 December 2001; (6) the Dáil shall meet on Tuesday next at 11.30 a.m. and the following business shall be transacted up to Question Time; Sustainable Energy Bill, 2001 [Seanad] – Second Stage, to conclude at 2.30 p.m. if not previously concluded and any division demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business (in accordance with Standing Order 26) which shall take place at 4.15 p.m. on Tuesday, 11 December 2001.

There are five proposals to be put to the House. Is the late sitting agreed to?

I seek clarification from the Taoiseach. He may not be aware, but the order to which we are now being asked to give our assent is considerably long. It was only faxed to my Whip's office at 10.28 a.m. today. That is a deterioration in practice and I am making a formal complaint about it now. If the Government wants the compliance and co-operation of this side of the House we are entitled to a reasonable degree of advance notice.

We will come to this issue separately and can decide then, but I am giving the Government time to consider it. It seems to me that one hour is hardly sufficient to debate an important Bill considering the controversies that surrounded the issue in this House and across the country on previous occasions. Is it necessary to adjourn the House at 6.30 p.m. today? Surely, if extra time is required we could give it today because we have other business tomorrow.

We are now ordering part of business for next Tuesday because we are diverting from our normal practice and instead of coming in for Question Time at 2.30 p.m. next Tuesday we will come in at 11 a.m. Is the Taoiseach aware that we are being asked to give our assent to a raid on the social insurance fund next week in a Bill which presumably will be in our pigeon-holes on Saturday morning? There is a problem with it being there then as this building is locked on Saturday mornings. What arrangements are being made for us to see how we are being asked to comply in this post-legalised raid on the social insurance fund? Before this party gives its assent to this measure it would like, at least, the courtesy from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs that the relevant Opposition spokespersons would be given copies of the legislation today. We are not happy with the contents of the Bill but we should at least be informed in sufficient time so we can voice our criticism in a constructive way.

Deputy Quinn has asked three questions. I apologise for the late issuing of the Order of Business. I understand it was because the Whips had a long and late meeting last night.

I am not sure how much time the Deputy is requesting on the Extradition (European Union Conventions) Bill, 2001. The Deputy can take that issue up with the Whips. We will be here if it is necessary. I understand it has been fairly well debated although I have not taken part in that debate. The question of time can be looked at. On the third issue, the Minister assures me that it is a short Bill and he can give it today.

Is the late sitting agreed to? Agreed.

The next proposal is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 47b. That is the motion re. Standards in Public Office Commission and the Referral to Joint Committee of the Fourth Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam. Is that agreed?

Could I ask a question on that?

A Deputy is only entitled to speak on it if he or she opposes the proposal.

Before we agree it, will the Taoiseach say, before the committee gets a chance to discuss this, whether any announcements will be made about the situation of foreign workers coming into this country? I understand the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment intends making changes concerning foreign workers coming here for paid employment. It is important that we have full knowledge before this matter is referred to the committee.

It is being sent to the committee for discussion. If the Tánaiste makes any announcement I am sure the committee will be made aware of it.

Is the proposal agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19a– the resumed budget debate agreed to?

May I have clarification on that? The Order of Business states that Members may share time. Does that only refer to the speech of each other Member?

No. Is it agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 49 – the conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Extradition (European Union Conventions) Bill, 2001 – agreed?

The Taoiseach has indicated that he might withdraw that proposal and I hope he will. On Committee Stage a number of amendments were not proceeded with until the Minister of State who handled the Bill took further advice. Some of the amendments in my name have been tabled again now as Government amendments. Another amendment, circulated last night, would fundamentally alter the nature of an appeal of an extradition warrant from the High Court to the Supreme Court to allow it to be considered only on a point of law. That was only circulated last night. As there are important serious matters about the rights of Irish citizens to avoid extradition except in careful areas of scrutiny I ask that this proposal be withdrawn to allow Report Stage take its course. Then all the amendments could be fully debated and discussed and I do not think it would take that long. The matter of extradition is of such importance that we should not guillotine it through in an hour. In the spirit of the Taoiseach's comments earlier to Deputy Quinn, I ask that this proposal be withdrawn.

We want to finish this Bill today. As Deputy Quinn pointed out, we can sit later this evening if that is necessary. If we can agree the order as it is, then the Whips can meet and agree to add time today. In principle I am in favour of that.

It will take more than an hour. The order says it will start at 2 p.m. and finish at 3 p.m.

The Deputy said it would not take very long. What are we talking about?

I do not know how long. It depends on the attitude of the Minister.

The Whips will work that out.

They cannot, because it depends on the attitude of the Minister. Will the Minister force issues? Certainly, two hours would be more appropriate than one hour but whether we can even arrange them all in two hours, I do not know. I ask that the guillotine be removed. We will deal with it expeditiously and will conclude it, but we should allow as much time as is required to deal with the difficult issues, some of which were only brought to our attention last night when the Report Stage amendments were circulated by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

I want the order to stay as it is but I agree in principle that the Whips may meet and agree the extra time. I will not allocate a time. The Whips can agree the time and then it can be added on this evening and the Government Whip can come in and move the order. I think that is reasonable.

Question: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 49 be agreed to" put and declared carried.

The next proposal is that for the sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow. Is it agreed to? Agreed.

The final proposal. Is the proposal for the sitting and business of the Dáil up to Question Time next Tuesday agreed to?

(Mayo): This is not agreed to. The order is that the Sustainable Energy Bill is to be guillotined. Now the Order of Business is scheduled for 11.30 a.m. and the Bill itself is to be guillotined.

The Order of Business will be at the normal time on Tuesday but the commencement of the Dáil—

(Mayo): Yes, the commencement of Dáil business is at 11.30 a.m. and the Bill is to be guillotined at 2.30 p.m. That is less than three hours of debate for the Second Stage of a Bill. Apart from the principle that Second Stage debates should not be restricted – a fundamental principle – this is an extremely important debate. It is about energy policy and general energy matters. What is the rush with this and why is it being jack-booted through the Dáil? It is totally unacceptable to this side of the House that the time allowed will only allow five or six speakers to speak.

Deputy Michael Higgins, on the proposal.

On Friday's business?

On next Tuesday's business, we have finished with Friday's business.

I can accommodate that in my thinking but I hope when I raise the matter that people will see that it might have deteriorated by Tuesday. Yesterday on the Order of Business I raised the issue of the provision of time to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Middle East. I understand time has been offered for next week. I want the Taoiseach to reconsider the offer that has been made – that a set of ten minute statements be made. I ask the Taoiseach, if not this morning then over the weekend, to consider the appropriateness of a question and answer session with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the matter. A set of ten minute statements is not the appropriate way to handle a matter which the Taoiseach has already agreed is urgent.

The reason I tried to fit it in tomorrow, as the Deputy knows, is that the Mini ster was not available, but there was a lengthy Committee Stage on this at which the Minister spoke. It is an evolving situation and we will have the debate next week.

Question, "That the proposal for the setting of business for the Dáil next Tuesday be agreed to", put and declared carried.

I heard the Taoiseach on the 9 o'clock news last night claiming that there is an increase of £1 billion provided for in the Health Estimate. Would he clarify these remarks since the Minister, in his statement, said that there was an additional 425 million but subsequently acknowledged in the details of the budget that 170 million of this was to cover costs incurred this year, leaving an increase of only 255 million? This is an increase of 4.7%, exactly the rate of inflation. Did the Taoiseach deliberately mislead the people on television or will he admit now that he made a mistake? Will he also acknowledge that this is the lowest increase in health expenditure in the past ten years?

On the basis of what Deputy Jim Mitchell said, will the Taoiseach, either now or later this morning during the budget debate, accept my colleague Deputy McDowell's excellent analysis of the budget that out of the entire ten year health strategy, which it is estimated will cost 15,000 million, this year's commitment amounts to about 2%? Does the Government seriously expect 98% of the health strategy to be financed by successive Administrations?

The Deputy is wrong.

The Minister does not even understand what I am talking about.

As I said yesterday and in recent days in many interviews, between the Estimates and yesterday's provisions, there is over £1 billion available for health. It is an enormous contribution on which I know Deputy Jim Mitchell will congratulate the Minister when he speaks later today. The strategy of the Minister for Health and Children, built on his own work and that of Deputy Cowen, will continue to improve the health service. I invite the House to listen to Deputy Martin's statement when he speaks as the improvements he is introducing to the health service will be of interest to all our constituents.

The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance are misleading the House. The facts speak for themselves. In the Budget Statement, the Minister stated "Today I am allocating additional Exchequer funding of 425 million.". Later, he acknowledged that provision has been made for necessary adjustments associated with the emerging out-turn of the Health and Children Vote in 2001 which will cost 170 million in 2002. If we subtract that from the increase, we get an increase of 255 million or 4.7% – the rate of ordinary inflation, not even medical inflation.

The Deputy should read the other book. There are two books.

Will the Taoiseach now withdraw his false claim that the health Estimate has gone up by £1,000 million?

I invite my good friend, Deputy Jim Mitchell, to join me in congratulating the Minister for Health and Children on his success, between the Supplementary Estimate and the budget, in achieving £1 billion for the health service.

I can understand the nervous applause from that side of the House. I would applaud too.

The imminent decision by Iarnród Éireann to transfer approximately 46% of its freight traffic from rail to road has been raised before in the House. The Taoiseach must know that only 10% of our freight is transported by rail while the rest is transported on the worst road infrastructure in Europe. If it proceeds, this decision will put an extra 5% onto an already overburdened infrastructure. A letter was sent on 3 December to the Minister for Public Enterprise drawing her attention to this fact. On previous occasions, the Taoiseach was unable to confirm or deny if this decision would be taken, but I am sure that his excellent back-up staff have informed him of the current position. Will he indicate whether Iarnród Éireann will proceed, because finances have not been allocated by this bankrupt Government—

Funding has increased by 30%.

I was interrupted by the Minister for static trams.

The Deputy had better watch his step. Spending is up by 30%.

I have been interrupted again by the Minister.

The Deputy should mind himself; the people in the Visitors Gallery are laughing at him now.

I hope the children leaving the Visitors Gallery can see who is in charge of our public transport. As I said before I was interrupted by the Minister for Public Enterprise, the Minister for static trams, will the Taoiseach, in light of the advance notice he received, indicate to the House the position of Iarnród Éireann? Has a decision been made by its board, and has it been accepted by the Government on behalf of the stakeholders?

I simply want to ask the Taoiseach whether he agrees that the Government's traffic policy is as successful as its health policy.

The factual position is that Iarnród Éireann discussed this matter on which it received proposals. The Minister informed the company, following the correspondence referred to by Deputy Quinn, that she does not support its pulling out of rail freight or substantially reducing its contribution in this area as, among other reasons, it would add more heavy traffic to the streets, as most of this work occurs at its Spencer Dock site. Developments are due to begin at that site but no decision has yet been made, although the Minister does not think it advisable to reduce rail freight traffic.

Am I to take it from what the Taoiseach has said that the Government is opposed to a policy option before the board? That option is there because Iarnród Éireann does not have the resources to continue to carry that level of freight. That is our information. Will the board be instructed by the Government not to proceed with that particular policy option?

That is not correct.

In the first instance, I am unaware of this. The site used by Iarnród Éireann at the docks is to be developed in February and it will have to relocate. That is the reason this issue has arisen.

It is not short of land.

That is the problem. It does have a lot of land. I often wonder why it does not sell some of it, but that is a matter for the board of the company. This issue arises because it wants to use the site in Spencer Dock for other purposes.

That is not the main issue.

The Taoiseach should ignore other questions.

He always does.


Order, please.

The Minister has made the position absolutely clear. She is not in favour of this and the board is aware of her view.

That completes leaders' questions. I will now take relevant questions on the Order of Business.

I ask the Taoiseach, in view of the mysterious and disturbing events surrounding the appointment of a director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art which has led to the disintegration of the board—

The Deputy should relate his question to promised legislation.

It is very much to do with promised legislation. An arts Bill has been promised for some time. This is becoming an intercontinental incident. When does the Taoiseach expect the arts Bill to be introduced in order to clear up the shennanigans surrounding the appointment of a very prominent Irishman of international stature to the board, which are due to ministerial interference?

That is absolutely and categorically untrue.

Early 2002.

In his projections for 2003 the Minister for Finance last night forecast a deficit of just under 3 billion. In the light of this, may we take it that the Campus Stadium Ireland Bill will not now proceed?

Well done, Deputy.

Early in the new year.

Given that the raid on the social insurance fund is going to make it far more difficult to improve disability benefits in the years ahead, when will the disability legislation be published? It is very clear that strong legislation is needed. Is the Taoiseach still confident that it will be published before the end of next week?

There are a number of Departments involved in this legislation. It is the number one legislative priority to finish it, I hope by Christmas. I am keeping in close touch with the relevant Ministers because I want to have it finished before then. Thankfully, the social welfare fund is in surplus unlike its history for the past 45 years.

The problem is next year.

It is still being raided.


The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is at a Justice Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels where the most important issue on the agenda is an agreement on cross-Union extradition and arrest warrants. Having discussed the matter with him yesterday, it is my understanding that the agreement will be brought forward by order in the House next week. In order to facilitate rational discussion, I wish to ask two questions. When will the text of the motion to be agreed be available to the Opposition and how will it be communicated to us? In terms of taking what is, again, a very sensitive issue – not dissimilar to the one we discussed in relation to extradition – will adequate time be provided next week for a full debate? It seems that many issues will be truncated in a short timeframe in the few days before the Christmas recess.

The negotiations on the European arrest warrant are ongoing in Brussels today and tomorrow and have reached an advanced stage. They began in late September as a result of the events of 11 September. I understand further progress has already been made at an early meeting this morning. We are adopting a constructive position and confident that the proposal can be agreed to. Deputy Howlin was briefed by the Minister yesterday. The proposal forms an integral part of a concerted European response to the threats posed by international terrorism and organised crime. The Opposition will be informed of any agreed proposal as quickly as possible. When I spoke to the Minister last night he hoped these matters would be finished today. There is other business ordered for tomorrow. I will ask the Minister to brief Opposition spokespersons.

Will there be a debate in the House?

The reason we must clear these issues in the House next week is they will have to be ratified at Laeken next week.

The Minister for Finance announced yesterday that he is establishing an independent commission on financial management and control systems with a remit to examine, evaluate and make recommendations on relevant systems, practices and procedures throughout the health service. This is a most notable vote of no confidence in the Minister for Health and Children. I would like to know if legislation will be required and, if so, when we might see it and how long it will take. I am worried about the Minister for Health and Children being kept on a saline drip on a trolley in the financial lobby of the Government.

Is there promised legislation?

Does it require resuscitation?

A Deputy

Deputy Dukes might need it afterwards.

Legislation is not required. I have a number of colleagues—

Who need resuscitation.

—who are not one bit worried about the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance. They are just wondering how the Minister for Health and Children gets so much money out of the Minister for Finance.

Given that the Taoiseach is making such fundamental changes to and raiding the social insurance fund to fund most of the social welfare budget, would it be possible to take the Social Welfare (No. 2) Bill today or tomorrow at the latest in order that the Opposition will have a chance to read it? In relation to European legislation, I am not sure if the Taoiseach is aware that the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs is opposing directive—

The Deputy should, please, confine his question to promised legislation.

It is related to the House. The Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, Deputy Ahern, is opposing, on behalf of Ireland, EU Directives 1407 and 1408 which give right of access to social welfare to workers across the European Union. I wonder if this opposing of social legislation is a first for Ireland?

As I said, the Minister will try to have the Bill for Opposition spokespersons today and the Bill will be presented tomorrow.

I want to return to legislation about which I asked last week, the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill, to which an urgent amendment is required in order to stop pyramid selling in which hundreds of thousands of euros have already been lost by ordinary citizens—

The Deputy should, please, confine her remarks to the question.

There is a lacuna in the law in that the Garda cannot stop this happening. Already in north Dublin where I live, hundreds of thousands of euros have been lost by people who have been duped into participating in pyramid selling under the guise of "women empowering women." Men are also now becoming involved. Will the Taoiseach introduce an amendment to the Bill in order that we will know the legalities of the schemes?

I suggest the matter could be raised by way of parliamentary question to the relevant Minister. The Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill will be taken next year.

We gave you a Bill yesterday.

Some time ago on the Order of Business, I asked the Taoiseach whether financial provision would be made for the implementation of Bille na Gaeilge, knowing that the Department of Finance at that time was opposing its implementation. An féidir liom ceist a chur ar an dTaoiseach faoin reachtaíocht seo. Tá sí geallta le fada. Cathain a bheidh an reachtaíocht os comhair an Tí agus seans againn á plé? Tá an Bille geallta ón lá adúirt an t-Aire Stáit, an Teachta Ó Cuív, go mbeadh sé i reachtaíocht sula n-imeodh sé as oifig.

The heads of the Bill were approved on 12 June and the Bill is being drafted. The Minister is pressing to introduce it early in the new year.

The Taoiseach gave an assurance to the House that the funding necessary to implement the legislation would be provided. There is nothing additional in the Estimates that would allow Bille na Gaeilge to come into effect in the lifetime of this Government or afterwards.

The legislation will be introduced next year.


This morning we heard of another case of illegal dumping in north Dublin and I am sure there are many more such cases around the country. At what stage is the EPA Bill? Will we see it early in the new year and will it have measures to deal with incidents of illegal dumping?

I am aware that the Minister for the Environment and Local Government visited illegal landfills in County Wicklow this morning. Will the Taoiseach consider bringing forward the Environmental Protection Agency Bill in view of the fact that the illegal landfills found to date may only represent the tip of an iceberg? Does he plan to update the Government environmental policy in Changing our Ways? Does the Minister for Health and Children have any plans to introduce legislation to regulate the disposal of hospital waste?

The Deputy's question must relate to promised legislation.

In view of the fact that this illegal dumping of hospital waste occurred under the nose of the Minister for Health and Children, will he consider bringing forward the opticians legislation?

The heads of Environmental Protection Agency Bill were approved about two months ago and the Bill is being drafted. The issue raised by Deputies Clune and Timmins is addressed by provisions in section 59 of the Waste Management Act so new legislation is not required.

Some time ago, the Opposition could not hear the Taoiseach when he was addressing the House and we discovered his microphone had been interfered with. I wonder if the issue was addressed as it is nearly impossible to hear the Taoiseach again today. I am not suggesting he is in faint health.

We will have the microphone examined.

Three weeks ago the Minister for no houses, Deputy Dempsey, outlined his objections to any reversal of policy on housing, particularly in relation to the private rented sector. Given that he did a runner from the House last night and is not here this morning, although the Minister of State, Deputy Molloy, is present, will the Taoiseach inform the House when legislation will be introduced to reverse Government policy in this area and whether he has the support of his Minister for the Environment and Local Government?

That is not a question on promised legislation.

He is out building houses.

I think the record will show the Minister is in a dump. Last week I asked the Taoiseach, in the context of the European Union Bill which passed Second Stage last June, if he intended making time available next week to give an advance indication to this House as to the line he will take at the Laeken summit, which will take place after this House adjourns next week and particularly in relation to a decision—

As the Deputy is aware, questions on making time available are not appropriate to the Order of Business.

They have been asked before.

They are not appropriate to the Order of Business.

I will be very brief. I know there is a busy schedule next week. Will the Taoiseach address the issue of the composition of Ireland's membership of the convention to be agreed in Laeken? When must the names of nominees to that convention be communicated to the organisers?

The position has not changed from that which I outlined last week during Question Time. Today I will meet Guy Verhofstadt, the President in Office of the European Council. I understand there will be two parliamentarians and that is unlikely to change before the summit.