Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 15, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of a proposal for a Council regulation to amend the Sirene manual – back from committee; No. 15a, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Electricity Regulation Act 1999 (Eligible Customer) (Consumption of Electricity) Order 2003; No. 1, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Charter Amendment) Bill 2002 – Report and Final Stages, in accordance with the order of the Dáil of2 July 2003; No. 2a, Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Bill 2002 – amendments from the Seanad; No. 24, Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Bill 2002 [Seanad]– Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 25, Official Languages Bill 2002 [Seanad] – Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 26, Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Bill 2001 – Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 15b, motion re appointment of new chairperson and new member to the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or the order of the Dáil of 2 July, that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight and, immediately upon the conclusion of oral questions to the Minister for Agriculture and Food, business shall be adjourned forthwith; Nos. 15 and 15a shall be taken before No. 1 and shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 2a shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 30 minutes and any amendments from the Seanad not disposed of shall be decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments to the Seanad amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance; Report and Final Stages of No. 24 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 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 Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Report and Final Stages of No. 25 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 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 Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Report and Final Stages of No. 26 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4.30 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; the proceedings on No. 15b shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours and five minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the opening speech of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the speech of each other Member, who shall be called upon in the following sequence, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case: Government, Fine Gael Party, Government, Labour Party, Government, Technical Group; Members may share time; the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes.

Question Time today shall be taken immediately upon the conclusion of No. 15b for 75 minutes and, in the event of a Private Notice Question being allowed, it shall be taken after 45 minutes, and the order shall not resume thereafter; the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 30 September 2003.

There are nine proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 15 and 15a without debate agreed?

It is not agreed.

Is there a report from the committee concerning No. 15, the proposal for a Council regulation to amend the Sirene manual? The practice of linking items to be taken without debate is a bad one because it regularly forces the Opposition to vote against something its members think should be taken without debate if it is linked with something that should not be.

I also object to the taking of this item without an indication of the extent of scrutiny, the views or the conclusions of the committee. We are entitled to a report with recommendations as appropriate. The absence of that makes a mockery of the process because we are being asked to rubber-stamp an EU regulation to amend the supplementary information request at the national entries – Sirene – manual, which has far-reaching implications and has already earned the express concern of credible human rights voices. There are very important matters at the core of this proposition which are not known to the Members of this House, who are being asked—

The Deputy has made his point.

—to rubber-stamp the proposal. I must report my objections and concur with the earlier speaker that this practice of taking items together without debate should be corrected in the new session.

Again, I must point out that we are being asked to take the items without debate. The items themselves will come before the House later.

Yes, but if the proposal is agreed without debate there will be no debate, and this is our opportunity to express our objections.

I have made a ruling.

These matters were discussed by the committee, at which all sides of the House are fully represented.

That is not acceptable. We have not agreed on the matter of reports from committees. There was agreement from the Government that this would happen.

Please allow the Tánaiste to continue without interruption. We cannot have a debate on the matter.

As Deputy Stagg—

The Labour Party spokesperson, Deputy Costello, was entirely happy with the proposal.

Deputy Costello is always happy.

A Deputy

He is a very contented Member.

His happiness is our business. We are talking about the business of the House.

Deputy Harney should not answer interruptions or we will be here all day.

Deputy Stagg is a Whip in this House and he is aware that there are difficulties with the clerks of the committees in relation to reports. If those difficulties are resolved I am sure reports will be forthcoming, but until they are we will not have the kind of report the Deputy is seeking.

Question, "That items 15 and 15a be taken without debate”, put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 2a, conclusion of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Bill 2002, agreed?

I have an objection to these matters being subject to a guillotine. I am not sure how much of this Bill remains to be dealt with, although it is an important Bill for the Members of the Oireachtas, both current and future. I am opposed in principle to items being guillotined and I object to the proposal on that basis.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 2a be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 24, conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Bill 2002, agreed to?

The same applies in this case.

I make the same case as the leader of Fine Gael.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 24 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 5, conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Official Languages Bill 2002, agreed to?

I object strongly to the method of dealing with this Bill on Report Stage. The Minister's amendments to the Bill were not published yesterday. I received a copy through the Bills Office in English only. The bilingual form of the amendment list was not available until this morning.



The Minister is taking a leaf from the book of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell. He has set a precedent.

Some of the Minister's amendments will not be reached today. By the way, for the benefit of the people on the other side of the House, this debate will be conducted mainly in Irish. I object to the guillotine and the way this is being handled.

I also object to the guillotine on this Bill. This is a very important Bill and a number of significant amendments will not be reached today.

Ba mhaith liom cur i gcoinne an guillotine atá á chur ar an Bhille seo. Seo an t-aon Bhille ar an Ghaeilge a bheidh os comhair na Dála seo agus ba chóir an méid ama is mó is féidir a thabhairt dó ionas go mbeidh sé ceart. Ní thiocfaimid ar ais chuige. Ba cheart go mbeadh níos mó ama tugtha don Bhille agus, más gá, go gcuirfaí an díospóireacht ar athló.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 5 be agreed", put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 26, conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Bill 2001, agreed to?

I object on the basis that this Bill is being guillotined.

I wish to object to the guillotining of this Bill.

I wish to join with other colleagues in objecting to the guillotining of this important Bill that will not accordingly receive the scrutiny, attention and participation of all Members who wish to contribute to its consideration.

Question: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 26 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 15b agreed?

This is obviously a matter of great importance both for the House and the general public. The Minister will be presenting his opening proposals here and I do not object to the amount of time being allocated for the debate today. Given the nature of tribunals, however, and the information that may emerge from them, and given the fact that we do not know the sort of legal challenges that may arise, a further discussion on the Minister's proposals may be necessary. Will the Tánaiste give an undertaking that such a debate will take place in the House, if it is appropriate or necessary?

We recognise that today's debate is limited but at the earliest opportunity the Government should arrange a more wide-ranging debate on the tribunal's work, costs, effectiveness and direction towards a final conclusion. Today's debate will not allow such a discussion to take place, so we are seeking an indication from the Government as to how and when such a debate can occur.

This motion is obviously important today because we want the tribunal to continue with its work. We are passing the motion at the behest of the tribunal. Clearly, if there are to be any developments or changes along the lines suggested by Deputy Kenny, it would be a matter for the House to be discussed with Opposition parties. As I said last week, the tribunal was established by the House and is a creature of the Oireachtas, not of the Government.

Question: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 15b be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

Is proposal for taking Question Time today, agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the adjournment of the Dáil today agreed?

I propose an amendment to this proposal, "That the Dáil shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 8 July 2003". Given the publication yesterday of the public finance figures, the number of job losses in recent weeks, and the number of Bills and reports that have not been discussed either by the Dáil or its committees, the Dáil should not adjourn today until the end of September. We should adjourn until next Tuesday and come back to decide on an agenda to discuss these outstanding issues that are of importance. I suppose the Minister for Agriculture and Food is thinking fondly of going to Mexico in September.

I have a somewhat different amendment but with the same purpose as that of Deputy Kenny. I am persuaded that the credibility of the House will continue to suffer as long as we do not order our business in a manner that is more commensurate with modern times and the workload with which the House has to deal. If one looks at the legislative record of this Dáil so far, only five of the 19 Bills promised for this session have been published. Some 12 Bills have been guillotined this week alone.

Some media representatives, mainly those who never set foot in Leinster House and have no idea of what goes on here, comment adversely on the work of the Houses of the Oireachtas, no matter what we do. No matter what changes we have made to reform the institution, including the number of committees instituted which have a heavy workload, the fact is that formal sittings of the Dáil are still more reminiscent of the days when gentlemen wandered in from the Bar Library at the end of the day and gentleman farmers made up the Opposition side of the House. It is not acceptable. One will never see the same commentators remarking that we were here until after 11 o'clock last night and that that has been the pattern in recent weeks. That does not detract from the fact that the formal ordering of Dáil business, including the minimal number of sitting days, the duration of the summer recess and the unnecessary taking of additional weeks on the pretext of St. Patrick's Day and Easter, is damaging the credibility of the House.

Given the urgent matters that have come into the public domain recently, there is absolutely no reason, as Deputy Kenny has suggested, we cannot convene next Tuesday as usual. I propose to delete "30 September 2003" and substitute "9 September 2003". There is no reason the House should not be willing and able to reconvene on that date to deal with urgent matters.

I do not believe there is any conviction on the Government side about the necessity to maintain the reputation of Parliament. The reputation of this House has been diminished in recent years for a variety of reasons, but the least defensible one is the fact that we are not prepared to adapt to modern times and do our business like other parliaments. Our workload is such that parliamentary party meetings cannot take place because of the pressure on Members to attend different committees that are in session at the same time. Our meetings have been disrupted four or five times in the last two or three weeks and I am sure the experience has been the same for colleagues on both sides of the House. We need to examine these matters, otherwise talk about Dáil reform will not cut any ice with the public. For that reason, a Cheann Comhairle, after you deal with Deputy Kenny's amendment, I will be proposing this amendment on behalf of the Labour Party.

The Green Party also opposes this proposal. We can see no reason the House cannot continue to meet for a number of weeks, or why the recess should be of such a long duration. It is worth noting that yesterday was the 100th sitting day of the 29th Dáil, which works out at an average of one and a half days per week since the general election last year. The time spent in session contrasts badly with the expectations of the many people who elected us to this Chamber. Much of the legislation we are passing is being dealt with spasmodically. Some 12 Bills are being guillotined this week, which is the equivalent of the number of Bills we passed last autumn. That type of workload undermines the credibility of everyone in the House. We propose that the House should continue to sit for a number of additional weeks before adjourning until 2 September.

The Dáil's schedule of sitting days compares very badly with other parliaments in Europe and elsewhere. We are among the worst, if not the worst parliament, in terms of attendance and processing legislation.

Not at all.

It is true and I will provide the Minister with the figures.

I would not expect the Green Party to have its facts right. That would be a revelation.

The Minister should allow Deputy Boyle to conclude his remarks.

I recognise the Minister's contribution if his inability with figures is as strong as usual. The fact is, however, that the Local Government Bill does tackle the question of the dual mandate. The challenge for the House when it comes back—

The Deputy cannot go into the details of all the legislation that comes before the House.

I am making a point about sittings of the House. The prospect of the end of the dual mandate challenges the Government to order business so that the House can meet more frequently to process more legislation. The Government should allow legislation to be introduced from the Opposition also, otherwise we will not be fulfilling our role as elected representatives.

I support Deputy Kenny's proposal that we continue with our business in the coming week, which is the appropriate position at this point. We could address many issues and I have no doubt Government backbenchers will acknowledge that, over the past number of weeks, the way business has been dealt with in terms of guillotining and cramming in legislation within a short period has hindered the proper scrutiny and engagement we should employ in the Chamber. Two Bills are coming up, which will be both guillotined within a half an hour of each other. That is not the way to do business. I would prefer to sit for a greater part of the year to give ourselves the time to perform the roles and responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. We should continue next week and it is interesting that many Members will be present because committees are sitting. I commend that proposition to the Tánaiste. I expect, at the very least, she is probably thinking of how nice it would be to call the Opposition's bluff. Go ahead.

At least Deputy Ó Caoláin is honest that it is a bluff.

He speaks for himself.

I have been in the House since 1981 and successive Oppositions have always opposed the adjournment of the House while Governments have proposed it. On one occasion, which did not relate to an adjournment at the end of session, Fine Gael pressed the then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, about a by-election and he said the party could have it.

There was a by-election in Cork.

Fine Gael was the most frightened party at the time. That is the story told.

Does the Tánaiste have more fairy tales?

Fine Gael nearly killed the individual concerned.

People who are in the House longer than me recall the incident in detail.

There is a great deal of merit in what Deputy Rabbitte said. The manner in which we do business in the House brings us collectively into disrepute. Wednesday mornings are almost entirely taken up with the Order of Business, Leaders' Questions and so on.

What is wrong with that?

Parliamentary party meetings have become more difficult for all parties and that is why the remaining weeks of July provide an opportunity for parties and committees to meet and engage with each other free from the business of this Chamber. The fact we do not meet in plenary session does not mean Members are not working, as Deputy Ó Caoláin acknowledged. Most people will be here and very few people in politics take more than two or three weeks holidays. Few people take more than the month of August off and we all know that. We should all say that and not pretend it is otherwise.


Hear, hear.

The Government proposes the adjournment to allow committees and parliamentary parties to reflect on what they are supposed to do.

Deputy Kenny's amendment would be served by voting against the motion because we would sit next Tuesday anyway. We will take Deputy Rabbitte's amendment.

Would it be possible to take both together in order to be efficient, save time and get value for money?

That sounds like what Deputy Deasy wanted.

Deputy Kenny's amendment is out of order because a direct negative could have us sitting next Tuesday anyway. We will take Deputy Rabbitte's amendment which proposes the deletion of "30 September 2003" and the substitution of "9 September 2003".

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided by electronic means.

On the vote, it is traditional that the Opposition opposes the Government at this time in Parliament, the end of session, and it is traditional to have votes in the traditional method. Given the popularity of the traditional vote with Fianna Fáil backbenchers, who tell me they get an opportunity to meet their Ministers when they go through the lobbies, and that they will not see them for three months—

Has the Deputy a point in relation to the vote?

As a teller, under Standing Order 69 I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

As Deputy Stagg is a Whip, under Standing Order 69 he is entitled to call a vote through the lobby.

Question, "That the word proposed to be deleted stand", again put.

Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, Barry.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Niall.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Breen, James.Browne, John.Callanan, Joe.Carty, John.Cassidy, Donie.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cregan, John.Cullen, Martin.Curran, John.Davern, Noel.Dempsey, Tony.Dennehy, John.Devins, Jimmy.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Finneran, Michael.Fleming, Seán.Glennon, Jim.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Hoctor, Máire.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.

Kelly, Peter.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Seamus.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McDowell, Michael.McEllistrim, Thomas.McGuinness, John.Martin, Micheál.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Nolan, M. J.Ó Cuív, Éamon.Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.O'Connor, Charlie.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Malley, Fiona.O'Malley, Tim.Parlon, Tom.Power, Peter.Power, Seán.Ryan, Eoin.Sexton, Mae.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wallace, Dan.Walsh, Joe.Wilkinson, Ollie.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.


Allen, Bernard.Boyle, Dan.Breen, Pat.Broughan, Thomas P.Bruton, Richard.

Burton, Joan.Costello, Joe.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour. Crowe, Seán.


Cuffe, Ciarán.Deasy, John.Deenihan, Jimmy.Durkan, Bernard J.English, Damien.Enright, Olwyn.Ferris, Martin.Gilmore, Eamon.Gogarty, Paul.Harkin, Marian.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Michael D.Hogan, Phil.Howlin, Brendan.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Padraic.McGrath, Finian.McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.

Naughten, Denis.Noonan, Michael.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.O'Dowd, Fergus.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Pattison, Seamus.Penrose, Willie.Rabbitte, Pat.Ring, Michael.Ryan, Eamon.Ryan, Seán.Sherlock, Joe.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.

Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

Deputy Boyle's amendment falls as a result of the decision on Deputy Rabbitte's amendment.

Question, "That the proposal for the adjournment of the House be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Before we move on with the Order of Business, a Cheann Comhairle, I take this opportunity to thank you, the Clerk of the Dáil and all the staff for their hard work and enormous assistance they have given to all Members of the House during the past session. I also acknowledge the hard work of the staff in the Whip's office and the staff attached to the other parties. I hope they get an opportunity to have some rest and a period of reflection over the summer recess.

I join the Tánaiste in complimenting you, a Cheann Comhairle, your office and the staff of the House generally for the manner in which business has been conducted. I proposed that the House should sit next Tuesday and that we should come back earlier than 30 September and I really mean that. I join with Deputy Rabbitte in saying that as we have gone through the benchmarking process and are recipients of its outcome, we should lead by example. I would have expected that the Chief Whip to introduce a realistic package of more effective Dáil reform in order that we could present ourselves as a Parliament that really works in the people's interests.

Given the economic uncertainty that exists, threatened closures and job losses and the pressure on people in their daily lives, be it in terms of health, crime, child care or whatever, it is difficult to be part of an Oireachtas that is breaking up for three months. I join with the Tánaiste's extension of good wishes to the staff of the House for working under pressure for very long hours and delivering the effective service they provide while we are here. My intention is that we should actually be here for a longer period.

There is a great deal of uncertainty, anger and frustration in the country, and the Oireachtas has failed to address people's concerns. People feel there is not really anybody in charge on the Government benches and that we are running around in a confused haze. If the Government parties meet over the next three or four weeks outside the influence of the House, perhaps their members would inveigle the Chief Whip to introduce a list of really effective Dáil reform that would make this Parliament vibrant, responsive and alive and enable it to deal with the issues concerning people.

I join the Tánaiste and Deputy Kenny in thanking you, a Cheann Comhairle, and your office for your helpfulness and courtesy over the year, and in complimenting the staff of the Oireachtas who are directly concerned with making the House function efficiently throughout the year. I do not think everybody appreciates the hours required of staff when the House is in normal session.

I do not want to engage at this stage in more serious comment, except in terms of the Bill the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has published on inquiries into matters of public interest. It is regrettable that the Government has not come forward with legislation or even promised legislation, following on the Abbeylara judgment, that would enable inquiry by parliamentary committee to be resumed on the DIRT inquiry model. I am not suggesting that would be suitable in every case but it certainly would be a cheaper, faster and more efficient option in certain circumstances. I ask the Tánaiste to have this matter examined during the recess. It was shown in the DIRT case that such business can be done by Members of the House and can enhance the standing of the House in the process.

I accept what the Tánaiste says about the role of Members when the Dáil is not formally in session. Having seen the finances yesterday, I do not envy the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Cullen, or other spending Ministers in the Estimates conflict that will take place for the rest of July. I wish them well and hope they come out of it unscathed before the autumn.

Other than that, as a former nemesis of the Tánaiste used to say, the beaches of Kerry beckon in August. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the Taoiseach more frequently during August than I have seen him since Christmas. While I am on my feet, I extend a word of thanks to those in the press gallery for their work over the year, even if I do not always agree with them all of the time.

Deputy Rabbitte has less cause to complain about the press gallery than most. I join the Tánaiste in thanking you, a Cheann Comhairle, and the staff of your office for facilitating the business of this House over the past session, and indeed all of the staff of Leinster House, whose personal and family lives are affected by the manic way in which we order business. Hopefully, when we return we will give serious consideration as to how that business might be better ordered.

All of us are looking forward to the opportunity of reacquainting ourselves with our own families and many of our constituents. Hopefully, we will come back refreshed in the autumn and have the opportunity of keeping the Government on track in a way that, at times, it does seem to be able to do itself.

I join with colleagues in extending good wishes to you and your staff, a Cheann Comhairle, for the summer recess, and indeed to all of the staff in the Houses of the Oireachtas. I have no doubt as to the Tánaiste's sincerity in extending those warm wishes. We will shortly deal with the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Bill 2002 and I appeal to the Tánaiste, on the back of her comments, to translate this warmth into the acceptance of the proposal to allow for worker representation on the commission that will hopefully be in place in the near future regarding the workings of these Houses. The absence of worker representation is a major issue for the 500-plus non-elected people who regard this as their daily workplace, just as we elected representatives do.

I extend good wishes to my own colleagues, to all of the other Opposition Deputies and to the Government Ministers and backbenchers for the summer period. I hope that the period of reflection the Tánaiste spoke about will be employed by the Government Ministers and backbenchers and that on our return in the autumn, they will have seen their way to accepting that they have no monopoly on wisdom in terms of the course of legislation and the interests of the wider populace. The Opposition presented much to the Government that was worth taking on board and embracing, but regrettably, many good ideas and sound amendments have been rejected purely because of their authorship. That is a significant failing, and I look forward to a more productive session on the commencement of business at the end of September.

I thank the Tánaiste and Deputies Kenny, Rabbitte, Boyle and Ó Caoláin for their remarks. I join them in thanking the staff in my own office and all of the staff in this House, those we see on a regular basis and those we do not see in all of the various disciplines, who work with dedication and commitment to ensure that we have a very smooth-running parliamentary democracy.

I thank my parliamentary party colleagues in this House for their co-operation during the year. The Tánaiste said earlier that Deputies worked very hard in here and that is true. If I might put on my medical hat, I advise them to take at least three weeks' holidays. They will be working in July and September and it is important that they take a break.

The report published by Mr. Justice Kinlen recommended that Mountjoy Prison and Portlaoise Prison be demolished, that it was a serious error to close Shanganagh and that the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform was not sufficient in its responses to him in terms of his report. This is a serious matter and the implementation of what is recommended would involve a sizeable cheque. What will happen in respect of this report? Will there be an opportunity to debate it here, at a committee or has the Government considered its implications?

I wish to raise a matter on the same issue—

It is not strictly in order, but as it is the last day—

I am sure the Deputy can proceed given the day that is in it.

No, it is not in order.

Of course a good Sligo man like the Deputy can come in on this matter.

I would prefer if Deputy Costello would allow the Tánaiste to answer Deputy Kenny's question.

The Chair might make a concession for one day.

This inspector's report is the first independent inspection of prisons that has been carried out in 75 years. Considering the appalling nature of the report which went so far as to ask for the closure of two prisons, Mountjoy and Portlaoise, and described some terrible conditions in them, is it intended that the Office of the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention will be put on an independent statutory basis so that we can get an independent inspection and assessment of what is really going on in our prisons?

The Government discussed the report when the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform brought it to Cabinet before publication. We have not made a decision to close Mountjoy Prison and Portlaoise Prison. The report makes interesting reading. It is a forthright, colourful and different report and it is the first of its kind. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is working hard regarding prison reform. It is the intention to establish the Irish Prisons Service on a statutory basis and the legislation to do that will be published next year.

The Tánaiste did not answer my question. The report was critical of the Irish Prisons Service. My question concerned a promise that was made that the Office of the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention would be put on a statutory basis.

Is legislation promised on this matter?

I am not aware if there is, but I will check that matter. I do not think the failure to put the office on a statutory basis has in any way inhibited the chairman from making a forthright report.

I call Deputy Rabbitte.

I defer, Sir.

We are all conscious today in particular about the terrible tragedy visited on the family who lost a child who was unable to access cardiac care in Crumlin Hospital. A report is being made to the Minister on this case, but the crisis has been compounded by reports that 30 paediatric beds are to be closed in Tallaght Hospital. Will the Tánaiste consider recalling the Dáil for one day at the earliest possible date to debate and concentrate on the issue of the crisis in paediatric care?

The Deputy has made her point.

We cannot live with the idea that there will be further risk to seriously sick children as a result of Government cutbacks.

I will allow the Tánaiste to answer the Deputy's question, but we cannot have a debate on this matter now.

There are no plans to recall the Dáil. The Minister for Health and Children has ordered a report into the tragic death of the infant and when it is to hand I am sure the Minister will give full consideration to what it contains and discuss it, in the first instance, with the family who have suffered such an awful tragedy.

The Taoiseach stated last week that the regulations outlining the relationship between Oireachtas Members and local authorities would be published this week, but we have not had sight of them yet. Will they be published today or will we have to wait longer for them?

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government tells me they are ready so presumably they will be published today or tomorrow.

For once I am glad the Tánaiste is taking the Order of Business and not the Taoiseach because although we might share—

Has the Deputy a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

I do and given the day that is in it a preamble might get a more forthcoming reply from the Tánaiste. She and I share a constituency but are oceans apart in political terms. I want to praise the Tánaiste for her forthright manner and the fact that she gives precise answers.

The Deputy will have to find another way to raise his matter.

I raised a matter of promised legislation a number of times on which I got an answer from the Taoiseach that it would be ready shortly and an answer from the Minister for Defence that it would be ready soon. I anticipate that the Tánaiste will provide a better answer. When will the education for persons with disabilities Bill be published and will it come before the House as soon as the Dáil resumes?

On the same subject, I also want to ask the Tánaiste what "very soon" means regarding when this Bill will be ready and can she be more precise in regard to it?

I think it means during the month of July.

Now that the House will be closed for three months and access to information under the Freedom of Information Act has been closed down, does the Tánaiste think it is right that I, a public elected representative, on foot of a letter I received this morning from the Department of Transport, in response to an inquiry under the Freedom of Information Act as to where the Minister was for the past four Fridays, should be asked to pay €50 for request? I know the Minister, Deputy Brennan, is a big man—

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Seán Ryan.

What is the Tánaiste's view on elected representatives being charged for requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act?

As regards the much promised Private Security Services Bill 2001, the industry was informed that the legislation would be introduced in 2002. When will we see the Bill?

I am sure that if Deputy Ring gives the Minister for Transport details of where he was for the past few Fridays, he will give the Deputy the information without any fee.

I can give him the information and he can follow me around.

The Bill referred to by Deputy Seán Ryan is awaiting Committee Stage.

I want to express disappointment that the Private Residential Tenancies Bill has not completed Second Stage before the summer recess. Will the Tánaiste arrange to ensure that it will be scheduled to be taken early in the next session?

In relation to the Ceann Comhairle's medical advice on holidays, he might encourage my constituency colleague, the Government Chief Whip, to take a bit longer of a break than three weeks this year.

Did the Ceann Comhairle say three weeks or three months?

On the matter of the legislation, the Tánaiste to reply.

The legislation will be a priority in the next session.

When is it proposed to introduce legislation to deal with the report on the disabled drivers and passengers scheme which was commissioned?

Is legislation promised on this matter?

I understand there is no legislation promised on that matter yet.