Order of Business.

The Order of Business today shall be No. a11, Immigration Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Financial Resolution; and No. 2 — Immigration Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; (2) No. a11 shall be decided without debate; (3) the proceedings on Second Stage of No. 2 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m.; and Private Members' business shall be No. 32, motion re care of the elderly (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a11, Immigration Bill 2004 — Financial Resolution, without debate, agreed to?

I oppose No. a11 as it is a contingent part of the Immigration Bill 2004 which we will discuss and decide on later in the week and which is flawed legislation. The Green Party does not support No. a11 being discussed without debate or, indeed, being moved in the House. On those grounds, we oppose it.

With Deputy Boyle, I protest that we are taking a financial resolution on legislation which is not yet an Act. It cannot be taken in this order. Taking a financial resolution on a Bill which is under discussion in the House is not an acceptable procedure. It can only be provided for subsequent to the adoption of the Bill and its enactment. We protest at this and we have strong reservations, as already articulated, about the Immigration Bill 2004. It is not our wish to see it passed.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. a11 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 79; Níl, 52.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Charlie.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Malley, Fiona.
  • O'Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G. V.

Níl

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Padraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Murphy, Gerard.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 2 agreed?

The Immigration Bill has been introduced because the previous Bill was struck down in the courts from a number of perspectives. I understand the judgment referred to the Oireachtas, as the body empowered to make and introduce legislation, having not debated the Bill sufficiently. That should be a clear warning to the Government that no guillotine should be imposed on this Bill.

One hundred amendments have been tabled to the legislation, which is of fundamental importance and addresses an important issue. Far from dealing with closing the loopholes exposed by the court judgment, the Bill brings new concepts into law, such as requiring citizens to report non-nationals if they stay in their house and are not deemed to be legal. I thought this trend had been banished from society some time ago.

Obviously, the Bill has also been introduced to deal with the embarrassment felt by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who was Attorney General when the previous Act was introduced.

Not so, the Deputy's statement is wrong.

The Minister knows all about wrong statements.

Deputy Kenny should not allow himself to be deflected by interruptions.

Thank you, Sir, for your advice not to be deflected by the Minister for unlimited blather. I oppose the proposal. There has already been a change in the Order of Business. I do not know whether this was brought about by yesterday's votes but the position is still not satisfactory. One hundred amendments have been tabled and Deputies want to comment on the Bill. I suggest the Taoiseach allow an open-ended debate until the matter is discussed properly and dealt with comprehensively. For this reason, I oppose the proposal.

I welcome the fact that the Government has backed off from ramming the Bill through today. Given that all Stages of this legislation were supposed to be dispatched as an emergency measure in one day, last Thursday, how can the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, rather than Deputies from this side of the House, table 20 amendments today? If the Bill had been enacted last Thursday, what would have happened to those amendments?

I do not know if anybody is managing the shop on St. Stephen's Green. I never thought I would see the day when I would state in the House that, when compared with the man from Cahirciveen, the Minister makes his predecessor look almost half competent.

A Deputy

That is a statement and a half.

Allow Deputy Rabbitte without interruption, please.

A Minister who last Thursday wanted to conclude all Stages of a Bill now wants to amend it today. While drafting these amendments he still has time to deliver to me personally last night a challenge to pistols at dawn.

He is sitting fairly close to the Deputy.

This is the man who handed it out for 15 years in this House and if a person says "Boo" to him he is off to get a douse of cold water and he has to be dampened down.

This is a very important Bill. Even the Human Rights Commission has today made public its dissatisfaction with the manner in which it is being processed, as have the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and several other organisations. As Deputy Kenny has said, when one takes the Opposition amendments and adds them to the Minister's 20 latter-day thoughts, there are 100 amendments to this Bill and it is now proposed that Committee and Remaining Stages be taken tomorrow and guillotined at 1.30 p.m. That is not sufficient time. It is not the way to do business in this House. The man who was its greatest critic when he was over on this side of the House is now the greatest abuser of the parliamentary system. I say to the Taoiseach that it is not acceptable.

The Immigration Bill would not have seen the light of day only for the courts. This must be recognised by the Government in its attempt to guillotine this legislation which requires time if only to deal with the amendments. This Government does not appreciate a basic and fundamental principle. With its penchant for guillotines, the Government needs to recognise that the courts should not be treated with the same disdain as it shows for everybody else. The courts have decided that this is a matter requiring legislation.

For the Government to say this will be done with a stroke of a pen, reluctantly allowing some time before imposing a guillotine, is nothing more than contempt. If this is not legally contempt of court, it certainly is contempt of court in principle. The Government needs to bear in mind that legislation arising from a court action is the last piece of legislation that should be guillotined.

I oppose the proposal on the Order of Business to take the Immigration Bill under guillotine both today and tomorrow. Although additional time has been given to Second Stage, it is to conclude at 10.30 p.m. and all Stages are to conclude tomorrow. While the extension of time accommodates additional opportunities for Members to participate on Second Stage, it is totally inadequate given the seriousness of this proposal.

My party has tabled over 30 amendments and I believe there is inadequate time on Committee Stage to address each of those amendments properly, along with all the others that have now been presented. It is completely unacceptable. We will be opposing this proposal because it is an outworking of the incompetence of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in this and previous responsibilities. That is the reason the House is faced with this proposal once again.

I wish to say a few words on this legislation. If the House allows me I will explain why it is important. Last week I took account of the Opposition argument not to introduce the Bill last Thursday and rush it through the House, something that has happened on many occasions in this House when the courts have struck down legislation. Members were given an opportunity over the weekend to consider the basis of the Bill. Yesterday I listened to Members who did not wish to see it rushed through the House today but the Government must see Second Stage completed today. The Whips can discuss tomorrow's arrangements for remaining Stages but we need to conclude the Bill tomorrow.

The House is aware that the High Court delivered a judgment on 22 January 2004 finding, among other things, that there was no basis in the Aliens Act 1935 for the provision of the 1946 Aliens Order relating to the addition of a condition as to the duration of stay on permission to enter the State, which is a very serious matter. The court found that another aspect of permission in the Aliens Order 1946 relating to the power of an immigration officer and the Garda to ask non-nationals to produce identity documents was invalid. This is another very serious matter. It also found that the protection which section 2 of the Immigration Act 1999 purported to give to the Aliens Order was itself unconstitutional, another important matter.

The consequences of the judgment go to the heart of the immigration control function as exercised in the State in respect of EEA nationals. All aspects of the operation of immigration control thought to be addressed by the Aliens Order 1946 are now either without a statutory basis or as open to challenge as to render these controls inoperable. These are highly important matters. The approach in the new legislation is to restate its primary statute with the minimum necessary changes and the contents of the Aliens Order 1946 as presumed to be in effect up to the day of the High Court judgment on 22 January 2004.

In order for this legislation to be effective in removing doubt as to the conditions of non-nationals' stay in the State and ensuring meaningful entry controls, it is essential that this Bill be enacted immediately. Having waited a number of days because of the serious points at issue which I have outlined, the Government will give over six hours for Second Stage today. This Bill needs to concluded. I have outlined at least three of a number of serious points.

The Taoiseach has not answered our questions. He is just rambling.

This is an urgent Bill which we must take.

Question put: "The proposal for dealing with No. 2 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 78; Níl, 54.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J..
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Charlie.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Malley, Fiona.
  • O'Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Breen, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowley, Jerry.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Padraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Murphy, Gerard.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Can I ask the Taoiseach when it is expected that the disability Bill will be published? There seems to be further delay and confusion about this important matter.

The Bill will be brought forward in this session. It will take another few weeks, but we will publish it as soon as we can.

Can the Taoiseach state whether the legislation will be rights-based? This seems to be a source of controversy. When it is published, will it be rights-based so that it can deal with the outstanding issues?

The Government intends to deal in a fair way with the issues. Deputy Kenny knows that there has been much argument about what is rights-based and what is not. I think we will deal in a fair way with the aspects of the matter that have been put to me in recent years.

It would help the process of Dáil reform and decorum in the House, which is your domain, a Cheann Comhairle, if colleagues were more respectful to the Taoiseach in the House for a couple of minutes on the Order of Business. Such a demonstration of respect would not delay unnecessarily the flight of letters around the country from constituency offices.

Does the Taoiseach intend to bring forward regulations in respect of electronic voting? Does he accept that it is without precedent that one should seek to change the voting system against the wishes of the Opposition parties in the House?

The Deputy has asked about the regulations.

This is taking place under the administration of a man who I understand is Fianna Fáil's director of elections.

On the same issue——

On the same issue, a Cheann Comhairle——

Sorry, I do not think there is an issue really.

There is.

It is a big issue.

Under Standing Order 26——

It is a big issue.

It is a hell of an issue, a Cheann Comhairle.

I have just come from the circus.

The Chair wishes to make two points. The legislation is——

It was secondary legislation.

The legislation was passed with the support of all sides of the House.

The legislation has been through the House.

What about the regulations?

The issue was debated and the House made a decision.

On a point of order——

Sorry, the Chair is speaking.

All right.

It is in order for Deputy Rabbitte to ask the Taoiseach whether regulations are promised.

The legislation has been passed with the support of everybody in the House and now we have gone ahead with the system.

Go raibh maith agat.

Can I ask about the same issue?

Even Deputy Durkan supported it in 1999.

There is obviously the support of the director of elections——

On the same issue——

I will hear you, Deputy, but——

He supported that one as well.

On a separate issue, a Cheann Comhairle——

I hope it is appropriate to the Order of Business.

You all supported the legislation.

The opinion I have received is that regulations are required.

Do you have a question to the Taoiseach?

Is it appropriate to the Order of Business?

Are regulations required so that electronic voting can be introduced in June? Can the Taoiseach clarify the ambiguous statements that have been made in this House by the Minister, Deputy Cullen?

Sorry, Deputy——

The statements relate to the verifiable paper audit trail of the system.

I will allow the Taoiseach to answer the question about regulations. Are there regulations?

As I understand it, no, a Cheann Comhairle.

No regulations are promised. I call Deputy Sargent.

A Cheann Comhairle, the Minister has said that regulations are needed.

You cannot move on like that, a Cheann Comhairle.

He has told my colleague, Deputy Gilmore, on a number of occasions that regulations are needed. We need to clarify this.

The Taoiseach is forcing a change in the voting procedure——

The Deputy has made his point.

——against the wishes of all the Opposition in this House.

I call Deputy Sargent.

The Minister says that regulations are needed.

Deputy, you are being disorderly.

Now the Taoiseach has said on the prompting of the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, that regulations are not required.

I have called Deputy Sargent.

The Labour Party supported this.

Deputy Rabbitte, you are being disorderly.

The Labour Party supported the legislation.

Not in the way that the Government is doing it.

Yes, the Labour Party supported it.

I call Deputy Sargent.

What about——

(Interruptions).

We cannot have a debate on the matter now.

There will be a constitutional challenge.

(Interruptions).

Allow Deputy Sargent to speak.

We have had a fairly intense discussion about the Immigration Bill. This legislation is likely to end up in court.

Do you have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

It is important that we avoid the matter ending up in court——

We are not having a debate on the matter.

——with regulations in mind. That is why the Government needs to deal with the issue carefully.

You have made your point.

The warnings about legal action are valid and are not made lightly.

You have made your point.

I ask that the Government take that on board.

I would like to raise a point of order on this issue. Several Opposition Deputies have questioned the advisability of proceeding with electronic voting——

That is not a point of order.

——in light of the fact that recent legislation was struck down by the court.

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Recent legislation was struck down by the court.

The issue can be raised in other ways. The Deputy can submit a question to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Surely the Taoiseach should give a clear indication of the wisdom of proceeding——

That is not a point of order.I ask you to resume your seat.

That is fine, but it is not dealing with the issue.

We are going to have orderly business in the House. Deputies know that there are other ways of raising these issues.

There are no other ways, a Cheann Comhairle——

There are any amount of ways of doing so.

——and you know that.

Deputy, you are a Whip and you should know that.

The Taoiseach is aware that the draft EU nitrates directive has been published. If it is implemented in its present form, it will have a profoundly negative impact on Irish agriculture. I would like to ask the Taoiseach two questions. When will the land Bill be brought before the House? Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to discuss with the Minister for Agriculture and Food how the nitrates directive can be changed or amended to facilitate the agriculture industry?

The Deputy's first question is in order.

The land Bill will be before the House in this session.

The Taoiseach will be aware that the Finance Bill is due to be published at 3.30 p.m. this afternoon. Can he undertake to the House that Deputies, particularly financespokespersons, will receive a copy of the Bill at the same time or before it is distributed to the media?

I will raise that with the Minister for Finance as soon as I leave the House.

I refer to the issue of electronic voting.

Sorry, Deputy, that is not in order.

You have called me, a Cheann Comhairle. In the absence of a verifiable paper trail——

As the Chair has pointed out, there are other ways of raising this matter. It is not appropriate at this stage——

Perhaps you could specify the ways in which I could raise this.

There are any amount of ways — a question to the appropriate Minister or raise the matter on the Adjournment. There are all kinds of ways.

This matter has severe——

Deputy Allen, did you raise this matter on the Adjournment last night?

That is not the case.

No, I spoke about blood transfusion services.

I ask the Ceann Comhairle again to specify how I may raise this matter. I need a response from the Taoiseach.

Deputy Ó Caoláin, you are being disorderly.

That is not my intention.

The Chair intends to move on to the next business shortly. We have already been here for——

We are talking about a process of voting in which people must have absolute trust.

Deputy Ó Caoláin, I ask you to resume your seat.

Could you specify how I may direct this matter to the Taoiseach?

If the Deputy does not know already, he may contact the office of the Ceann Comhairle.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has been promising legislation dealing with one-off housing. This is an important issue in rural communities. Is there any proposed legislation to deal with this matter?

It is called nod and wink.

The Minister will be introducing new regulations under the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Nod and wink.

I refer the Ceann Comhairle to the record of the House yesterday. The country will know from the newspapers and television that the Taoiseach accused me of "jumping off" religious organisations.

Deputy, do you have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

I do, Sir, because this is your domain. The record of the House has been altered to read: "It is a deplorable act to target a few religious organisations and try to bankrupt them which is what Deputy Rabbitte is about." The country knows what the Taoiseach said, which is disgraceful in itself. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform thought it was a matter for hilarity, although when he is in the eye of the storm he takes it differently.

The Deputy has made his point.

For a long time the Taoiseach's language has been finessed in the record of the House, but now its meaning is being altered. That is a serious matter. I ask you, Sir, as the guarantor of my rights——

The Deputy is making a serious allegation.

It is true.

It should be dealt with by way of notice to the Chair.

It is here, on the record of the House.

It is not appropriate to raise it in this manner on the floor of the House. The Deputy should give notice to the Chair.

I will set it out in writing to you, a Cheann Comhairle, because it is a very serious matter. It is one thing to make changes in grammar and so on, but to alter the meaning is another. This is not the first time it has happened. It has happened on a number of occasions. It is here in black and white.

The Deputy should give notice to the Chair.

In any event, the Taoiseach ought to withdraw his outrageous and baseless allegation.

The Deputy would be fairly busy if we started withdrawing all the baseless allegations that are made.

Please allow Deputy Gormley to continue without interruption.

I am sorry, Deputy Gormley.

Given the extent of the disruption caused by a collapsed crane in Barrow Street in Ringsend, when will the Government ensure proper safety procedures on our building sites? I refer in particular to the building control Bill, which was promised for mid-2003 and then deferred to late 2003. We were then told it would be introduced in early 2004 and now it is to be mid-2004. Why, when it comes to——

The Deputy has made his point.

Why is the Government so lax——

I request that Deputies confine themselves to asking a question on legislation as there are many Members who want to speak. There is no need for a preamble or for a Second Stage speech, just a simple question on what is appropriate on the Order of Business.

I was not making a Second Stage speech.

I want to facilitate every Deputy, but that will not be possible.

On the same issue——

There cannot be another question on the same issue. The Deputy asked about legislation and the Taoiseach is about to answer him.

My question concerns legislation. No. 25 on yesterday's Order Paper was the Railway Safety Bill, which could provide for investigations into rail incidents. Report Stage of that Bill has not yet taken place, although Committee Stage took place 12 months ago.

The heads of the building control Bill have long since been approved and the legislation is to be drafted. I assume the delay is due to other priorities. The Bill was to be ready this summer but I will ask the Minister if it can be speeded up.

What about Report Stage of the Railway Safety Bill? It is 12 months since Committee Stage was taken.

That is a matter for the House.

It is a matter for the Minister, who will not publish his amendments.

On Thursday, 18 December 2003, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government stated:

An order approving the use of electronic voting in three constituencies at the 2002 general election was made on 16 May 2002 under section 36 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001. An order dealing with use of electronic voting and other arrangements for the 2004 polls will be made in due course.

Now can we have an answer on this matter?

Last week when I was in the House, Deputy Gilmore asked me a question. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Cullen, said that at that stage no regulations were required. I asked the Minister whether regulations were required and I said that to the House at the time.

Never mind Deputy Gilmore. This is what the Minister said.

I am telling the Deputy what happened last week. This can be resolved easily if we ask Deputy Cullen to clarify matters.

We will have to change the record again.

We will have it erased from the record.

Under Standing Order 26, the Taoiseach may defer a reply to a question relating to the making of secondary legislation to another day.

I am not accusing the Taoiseach of anything. I want to know whether there is to be——

Nobody is suggesting you are, Deputy, but we do want to move on with the business of the House.

I will ask——

With all due respect, a Cheann Comhairle, the entire country is going to vote, but you want to get out of the Chair.

Members have already spent time this morning talking about how anxious they are to move on to the Immigration Bill. The Chair wishes to facilitate them. We cannot have a debate on the issue.

The entire country will be voting on 11 June, but the Ceann Comhairle wants to get out of the Chair.

That was a low one.

I ask the Deputy to calm down. There is no problem with the Chair. There will be someone in the Chair until 11.15 p.m., so he need not worry about the Chair. We cannot have a debate on this issue.

It is not a Bill. It is a question.

The question has already been asked and it has been answered by the Taoiseach. If it is a question of secondary legislation the Taoiseach is entitled to defer his reply until another day under Standing Order 26. We are not having a debate on the matter.

Are we to have an order, as promised by the Minister, or not?

The Taoiseach has already taken this question.

I will ask the Minister, Deputy Cullen, to clarify the matter. He told me last week that regulations were not required. There may be a distinction between this and making an order. The voting this June is covered under the legislation of a few years ago and there is no requirement for regulations. That is what I understood the Minister to say last week. I will ask the Minister to clarify this and organise for a note to be made. On the Order of Business tomorrow somebody can put it on the record.

On a point of order, while the Taoiseach is obtaining clarification from the Minister, could he also obtain clarification——

Sorry, that is not a point of order.

——on the matter of a verifiable paper trail.

I will move on to the next business if the Deputy does not resume his seat.

I have just returned from the media circus in the Mansion House, at which we listened to the Minister speak about a system that is totally defective and lacks security.

I will call on Deputies Durkan, Lynch and Connolly and then we will move on to the next business. Other Deputies will be called tomorrow.

On another point——

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat or the Chair will have to deal with him.

I refer to promised legislation and the failure of existing legislation. The Minister for Transport was in the House up to a few moments ago — he has probably gone to don his hard hat. In view of his failure to resolve the riddle of the Red Cow roundabout and the matter of the tunnel which was first too narrow and then too short——

Does the Deputy have legislation in mind?

The strategic national infrastructure Bill.

Since it has now been found that there is insufficient air in the tunnel, when will the Government bring in the gas regulation Bill so that the Minister and others using the tunnel can wear gas masks?

It is on page five.

The heads of the gas regulation Bill are expected in early to mid-2004.

It is a good idea to try to catch some of the hot air around here.

I call Deputy Lynch.

On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle, do you know my name?

I have called Deputy Lynch.

Why am I never called? I indicated that I wished to speak half an hour ago.

You are called, Deputy. The Chair writes the names down in order.

I caught your eye twice and both times you indicated that my name had been written down.

Yes, Deputy, but the Chair is not in a position this morning to call all Deputies.

The Opposition cannot afford to lose members at such a rate.

I have a bigger one lined up.

Will the Taoiseach inform the House when the decision made by the European Commission to abolish the planning objection fee will be implemented in Ireland? Imposition of such a fee is illegal and prevents people from taking an active interest in the development of their areas.

No legislation is proposed for this matter.

When does the Taoiseach intend to introduce legislation to comply with the Commission's decision?

Considering the high number of mistakes caused by health staff under stress and pressure in accident and emergency departments and the number of complaints——

Has the Deputy a question on legislation?

Yes, I simply want to give the Taoiseach an idea of the context——

Sorry, Deputy, the ideas should be kept until Second Stage of the Bill.

We will be a long time waiting for legislation.

Is it proposed to introduce a health complaints Bill?

The health complaints Bill will be incorporated into the health Bill. The legislation is being worked on and will be before the House this year.

A Cheann Comhairle, I wish to ask a question.

A number of Deputies indicated that they had questions but, unfortunately, the Chair was not able to hear them all this morning.

We have a right to be heard.

No, Deputy, if you read the Standing Order, it is entirely at the discretion of the Chair. All my predecessors, after 20 minutes——

A Cheann Comhairle, you nodded that you accepted my request.

——moved on to the next business. Deputy, you contributed this morning and the Chair is obliged to call other Members before you.

On a point of order, that is unfair.

The Deputy may well think so, but I suggest he has a look at the Standing Order on Dáil reform.

Members contribute four or five times and I asked to get up once.

Nobody gets up. The leaders of the Fine Gael and Labour parties are facilitated occasionally, but other Members are not.

I want to ask if the Taoiseach——

A Member gets up only once on the Order of Business.