Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 11, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 18, Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill 2003 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 19, Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Bill 2003 — Second Stage (Resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 11 shall be decided without debate. Private Members' business shall be No. 41, motion re health care delivery.

There is one proposal to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, without debate agreed to? Agreed.

Ba mhaith liom tacú leis an rún comhbhróin a mhol an Taoiseach ar bhás chaptaen fhoireann shinsearach Chumainn Lúthcleas Gael Thír Eoghain, Cormac McAnallen, a fuair bás go tobann aréir. I would like to be associated with the expression of sympathy of the Taoiseach to the family of Cormac McAnallen, captain of the Tyrone senior football team, who tragically died last night.

I congratulate Ms Adi Roche in respect of the Oscar received by the documentary, "Chernobyl Heart", which describes her work for children from Chernobyl. Her work is to be complimented.

On the legislative programme, when can we expect to see the electronic voting Bill before the House? If the panel announced by the Minister has serious doubts about the process, will the Bill be withdrawn or deferred?

With regard to the drug offenders' Bill, what is the situation regarding the 15,000 drug addicts on the streets of Dublin, 50% of whom receive no treatment?

The first and third questions on the legislation are in order.

The legislation on electronic voting is a priority and is being drafted. The panel is independent and the Government will have to give recognition to its report. I do not have a date for the drug offenders' legislation but it will, in accordance with the commitments in An Agreed Programme for Government, provide for the registration of convicted drug dealers with the Garda and stiffer penalties for people involved in the supply of drugs to a prisoner. Work on the legislation is proceeding but it was not advanced the last time I checked.

The Labour Party too was shocked by the tragic and premature death of Cormac McAnallen. We extend our condolences to his family.

I am not clear on the electronic voting legislation. When will the Bill to permit implementation of electronic voting be introduced in the House? When will we see the terms of reference and will we have an opportunity to make an input into the terms of reference on which the independent panel will make its report? Will we have an opportunity to consider that report before final arrangements are made to allow the implementation of electronic voting?

The legislation is our number one priority. It is being drafted and I assume it will be available shortly. The terms of reference have been cleared by the Cabinet and I assume the Minister will provide the details on them shortly.

On behalf of the Green Party I join other party leaders in expressing our condolences to the family of Cormac McAnallen, captain of the Tyrone team, on his sudden death. It is a terrible blow to his family and the many Tyrone supporters.

I am interested in seeing the legislation on electronic voting published as quickly as possible.

That question has been asked and answered twice.

A sum in excess of €80 million is a considerable amount of money. When can we have a Supplementary Estimate?

We cannot have a debate on that matter now.

It is valid to ask about a Supplementary Estimate for an item whose cost is estimated at more than €80 million.

Is a Supplementary Estimate promised?

No Supplementary Estimate is promised.

It is scandalous that none is promised.

When will the pharmacy Bill to consolidate and modernise the statutory framework for the practice of pharmacy be introduced?

On the same issue, a major report on the pharmacy sector has been slipped onto the Department website without comment from the Minister.

The Deputy should ask a question on promised legislation.

I am asking about legislation. We are told that we must wait some time for the pharmacy Bill. There are serious problems affecting the pharmacy sector.

We cannot debate what might be in the Bill.

Can we at least have a debate in the House on the Mortell report as soon as possible to ensure the issues are raised?

I understand that there will be ample opportunity for debate in Private Members' time tonight.

That is not what I ask. I do not want a debate in Private Members' time, rather in Government time.

The Deputy will have to go through the Whips unless a debate on the issue has been promised. Has a debate been promised?

Work is under way on the drafting of the heads of the pharmacy Bill and it is expected this year.

I must ask the Taoiseach again. It is not a matter for the Whips. The matter relates to the Government allocating time for a debate on a major report which was slipped out without comment.

Time has not been promised for debate. The Deputy is only entitled to ask about time that has promised for debate.

Today the Taoiseach announced not an independent but a Government electoral commission, yet we have not had sight of the terms of reference. This made me——

That matter has already been dealt with.

When will we see the legislation so that we can make a meaningful input and debate?

That question has been asked and answered twice today. The Deputy is wasting the time of the House.

In light of the serious disenchantment of gardaí and many others at the type of sentences being handed down by judges, when will No. 100, the provision for an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions against unduly lenient sentences in serious cases, be introduced?

This matter has been referred by the Attorney General to the Law Reform Commission for consideration as a matter of urgent public interest. Pending that report it is not possible to give a date for the legislation.

Is it part of the programme for Government?

On behalf of the Sinn Féin Deputies, I join other party spokespersons in extending sympathy to the family of the late Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone mentors and players, and Cumann Lúthcleas Gael in Ulster and throughout Ireland on their great loss. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Also on behalf of my colleagues, I join in the expressions of congratulations and good wishes to Adi Roche on the success of the Chernobyl project documentary.

With regard to an item of legislation under the Taoiseach's responsibility, the statute law revision Bill, which is earmarked to repeal irrelevant statutes, will the Taoiseach indicate the extent and scope of work in preparation of that legislation and when we can expect to see it published?

It is hoped that legislation to repeal irrelevant statutes will be available this year. The work is under way and we hope to enact the legislation during 2004.

There is much public concern about the safety of taxis since deregulation. Recently the Minister for Transport promised legislation to restrict entry into the industry. What is the title of that legislation and when are we likely to see it?

The legislation has been passed. However, regulations are required and these will be brought forward by the Minister.

Last week a motion was passed without debate to refer the Estimates to the various committees. The Taoiseach made it clear that Accounting Officers are drawing up risk assessments of the impact of decentralisation on their organisations. Will those risk assessments be available to the committees at the time they are considering the Estimates? It is important to the impact of decentralisation and its viability that we see those risk assessments.

The Deputy should submit a question to the Minister.

I submitted a question, but I did not receive a satisfactory answer. I can bring the answer to the Ceann Comhairle's attention——

There are other ways to seek the information.

——in which it was indicated that the risk assessments are in progress but no commitment was given to provide them to the House.

I call Deputy Boyle.

We are supposed to vote through Estimates. The decentralisation programme will have an important bearing on the Estimates. Surely we have a right to see the assessments made by Accounting Officers.

Yes, but there are ways and means of raising these matters in the House.

The Taoiseach is the only one who can make sure that the Oireachtas receives the information. The Ceann Comhairle is here to protect the interests of Members.

Yes, and I am here to ensure that Standing Orders are implemented and obeyed.

The Taoiseach is the only one who will make sure we receive the information we need.

The Deputy should submit a question to the Minister for Finance. I call Deputy Boyle.

The Taoiseach wants to answer the question.

The Deputy has answered the question himself. He said it as part of the Estimates——

I did not. They are not part of it, but they should be. That is why we need the Taoiseach's commitment.

If the Deputy tables a question to the Minister for Finance on the preparations on decentralisation, I am sure he will answer it.

I will send the Taoiseach the two line reply the Minister gave me.

Will the employment permits Bill come before the House in advance of the accession of ten new members to the European Union on 1 May?

The heads of the Bill have been approved and the legislation should be in the House during this session.

Will it be before 1 May.

I have a question on the promised legislation on electronic voting, which the Taoiseach has described as the Government's top legislative priority. Have the heads of that Bill been approved by Government?

I put on the record of the House last week the legislative issues that had to be dealt with. I spelt them out and they have been cleared by Government.

That is not the question.

Have the heads of the Bill been approved by Government?

The Bill will be available as soon as possible.

The question is whether the heads of the Bill been approved by Government. Can I have an answer, please?

I repeat that last week I gave what the heads——

I just want an answer to the question.

If the Deputy would listen I would give him the answer.

I am listening.

I will give the Deputy an answer if he wants one.

The Taoiseach should give me the answer.

He should not interrupt me as soon as I start. Last week I announced the heads of the Bill and stated what its contents would be. They have already been approved by Government and——

That is not the question.

——the Bill will be published and available shortly.

A Cheann Comhairle——

What about the question?

The question that was asked has been answered.

No, it was not. The Taoiseach knows the system better than any Member of the House as he has been around the Cabinet table longer than any other Member. Have the heads of the Bill to which Deputy Gilmore referred been approved by Cabinet?

Yes or no.

When we clear the principles of the Bill, those are its heads. Sometimes the heads come forward separately. It can take many months for legislation to be drafted. In this case, as regularly happens, when the principles are cleared, the heads——

The Taoiseach is spoofing. Who does he think he is fooling?

No, I am giving the factual position.

Allow the Taoiseach to answer the question or we will move on to a question from Deputy Naughten.

The entire legislation will come forward together. We have already approved the principles——

We are not talking about the principles. We are talking about the heads which are the written expression of the objectives of the legislation.

Deputy Rabbitte should allow the Taoiseach to conclude.

——which are the same as the heads of the Bill. They will come forward in one. They will not be stitched together.

I call Deputy Naughten.

As I spelt out last week, there are only a few in this instance and they are being drafted.

That is what they call a parliamentary two-step.

A question on the heads of the Bill is not strictly in order. The question should be on legislation and when it will come before the House.

As the Taoiseach is aware, there is a protest and blockade in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, over the closure and sale of a Teagasc farm due to lack of funding for that body. As we cannot raise the issue by way of parliamentary question——

To what legislation does the Deputy refer?

——when we will see the land Bill so that we can debate this issue in the House and hold the Minister accountable?

It will be in this session.

I am now aware that the Taoiseach has a personal library to which he is able to refer for clarification on certain matters.

The Deputy must ask a question on legislation that has not already been dealt with.

On the Order of Business on 26 February, the Minister for Defence indicated that the Government would have no difficulty with holding a discussion in the House about some unfinished business regarding IRA activities. Has the Minister spoken to the Taoiseach about this matter and when is it likely we will have this debate to which the Government has no objection?

I have not discussed the matter with the Minister for Defence, but we can examine the matter of such a debate.