Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 23, the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2004 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 22a, motion re Statement for the Information of Voters in relation to the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2004; No. 5, Health (Amendment) Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Report and Final Stages of No. 23 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1 p.m. today 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; (2) No. 22a shall be taken immediately upon the conclusion of No. 23, and shall be decided without debate.

There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 23, conclusion of Report and Final Stages of the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2004, agreed?

It is not agreed. Fine Gael believes guillotining motions in this House is a bad precedent at the best of times. When dealing with an issue involving citizens' rights, the amendment of the Constitution and putting an issue to the people for decision, it is crucially important that this House has the time to fully debate the issues. Yesterday time was extremely restricted. Ministers acted as if they were in a game of musical chairs, with one Minister and then another in, rotating all the time. That is not the right environment for the kind of debate we need. We need extra time.

I understand the justice committee is disposed to have hearings to hear from, for example, the Human Rights Commission regarding its concerns. It is important that the Oireachtas deal with these issues so that when this matter goes to the people they make a decision based on the fullest debate and the fullest knowledge. We, therefore, oppose the imposition of a guillotine. It is the wrong way to deal with a very important issue involving citizens' rights.

My party will also oppose this proposal. We had the spectacle yesterday of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform deliberately scheduling this Bill for Committee Stage when he knew he would be absent for most of the day. So contemptuous was he of the House and the Opposition that he did not even say why he was leaving. In a kind of parliamentary relay, two junior Ministers took over from him. The Minister never engaged. Despite the fine words he uttered on radio programmes on stations throughout Ireland to the effect that he would hear what the Opposition had to say and advance amendments if necessary, the Minister did not engage.

The debate is a farce, and that the Tánaiste is presiding over it and the Minister is a member of her party is such a contrast with the days when she sat where I now, co-incidentally, sit, although I hope the politics are different. It really is contemptuous of this House that a Bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution on an issue as sensitive and as important as citizenship is being handled in this fashion. The Minister walked out and handed over to his Ministers of State, none of whom engaged with the Opposition.

The Government now proposes to guillotine Report Stage, in contravention of its own best practice and the recommendations of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution, when it was chaired by Deputy Brian Lenihan in the last Dáil. The only purpose of the guillotine is to help the Government to meet the deadline to hold the referendum contemporaneous with the local and European elections. I greatly regret this disgraceful episode in parliamentary politics. Like Deputy Richard Bruton, I oppose this proposal.

I oppose this proposal on the basis that this issue should be dealt with seriously. The Government, which is demonstrating an unseemly haste in its attempts to amend the Constitution, claims that it is closing off a minor loophole. A major flaw in its approach was exposed when major concerns were expressed by parties in the North that feel aggrieved because they were not consulted in advance. The parties have pointed out that the All-Party Agreement requires that such consultation should take place. This failure to consult will do far more damage than the closing of a loophole, which may be the Government's intention. Not only is the Government dealing with this matter with unseemly haste, but it is doing so in a destructive manner in the wider context of the peace process.

I record my opposition to the proposal to guillotine the Report and Final Stages of the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2004. Deputy Richard Bruton indicated that various Ministers of State were present for yesterday's debate on the Bill, but the reality is that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was absent. It is apparent that he will not be present for most, if not all, of today's debate on this most important issue. The Minister's disgraceful remarks about the Human Rights Commission continue to echo throughout the land and people are greatly incensed by them. He has demonstrated arrogance and gross insensitivity in dealing with the matters at the heart of this proposition. It is wrong to take away from the people the right to determine citizenship and to vest it instead in any Government. The right to decide on many critical and important issues, such as this one, should remain with the people.

Is this a Second Stage speech?

I strongly urge that the proposed guillotine be rejected, as it is an outrageous proposition. If the Bill is passed, I strongly urge the electorate to reject the proposed amendment in the referendum. The people should keep their hands on the reins in respect of the determination of citizenship.

As I understand it, the Minister made clear to Opposition spokespersons the reasons he could not be here. He is absent because he is chairing a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg. Unfortunately, it is not possible to facilitate more time today.

Why not?

As the Deputy is aware, the Government has decided to hold a referendum on 11 June.

It is the jackboot again.

The Bill, which needs to be passed and enacted by 12 May, has to be considered by the Seanad in advance of that date.

The Tánaiste should be ashamed of herself.

Can I say to Deputy Ó Caoláin that we are not vesting power in the Government? We are vesting power in the Oireachtas. The committee chaired by Dr. T.K. Whitaker which reviewed the Constitution suggested that legislation, rather than the Constitution, is the most appropriate way of dealing with citizenship.

That is academic, as the vote will demonstrate.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 23 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 58; Níl, 38.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Cowley, Jerry.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Deasy, John
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Padraic.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Murphy, Gerard.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

No. 22a is a motion on a notice to voters on how they should proceed with electronic voting in the constitutional amendment. In the past, the Tánaiste indicated to the House that no legislation was required for electronic voting. When she was subsequently challenged on this, she claimed that when she gave that information, it was prior to a court ruling on the matter. However, when the record was checked, it was discovered that the court ruling was before the day on which she claimed legislation would not be needed for electronic voting. The Tánaiste must correct the record on this matter.

More importantly, I wish to raise the timing of this motion. Tomorrow, the Ceann Comhairle will receive a report on the robustness of electronic voting and whether we should proceed with such a system. Why is a motion being tabled today prior to the Ceann Comhairle's receipt of that report? It is premature to table this motion, particularly without debate. This should be postponed until the views are known of the independent experts appointed by the Government to review electronic voting.

When I asked the Tánaiste before if the independent panel would have access to the source code, she indicated it would. I do not know if we weread idem but, subsequently, access to the source code became a difficult matter for the panel.

I am bemused as to how this matter is on the Order Paper today. On Tuesday I was told in answer to a question that the report would be received on Friday and circulated immediately to all Members of the House. Why are we anticipating the outcome in taking this motion this morning? We do not know the conclusions of the independent panel. We have not had an opportunity to study its report. Earlier this week we had a farce in which we voted on whether to have a Second Stage debate on the citizenship Bill, having had the debate last week.

We did not.

It is no wonder we receive the sort of press we do. The Government has been the worst offender in a crime of which all Governments are guilty. I concede that, while all parties in Opposition are interested in Dáil reform, when they get into Government, they are not so interested. The Government, however, has been the most contemptuous of Parliament and the procedures of the House. I do not understand the reasoning behind the Order of Business.

This proposal, as Deputies Rabbitte and Richard Bruton pointed out, effectively makes a mockery not only of logic in terms of the order in which we are taking our business, but also of parliamentary procedure and the independent panel which is expected to advise us retrospectively on what we should or should not have done. If we are to have any respect for the integrity and professionalism of those on the panel, we should leave the decisions until after its deliberations.

There has been a smoke and mirrors approach to the issue. Developments have been reported in the newspapers before we were informed of them. Examples of this include the indemnification of the Government against the source code falling into the wrong hands and the indemnification of the independent panel if it makes a ruling not having full possession of the facts. The Government needs to hold off on this. It is not a matter of life and death. There are many other issues of Government spending that need to take priority. Electronic voting is not urgent. It needs to be dealt with properly. We all support the principle of electronic voting generally, but we do not want it done in a manner that will cause more problems than it solves.

In the Tánaiste's earlier response to our objection to No. 23 she referred to Dr. Whitaker's recommendation about vesting the power of determining citizenship in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

That does not arise on this proposal.

I knew the Ceann Comhairle would not be able to resist the temptation. The Houses of the Oireachtas, and specifically the Dáil, have yet to make a determination on Report and Final Stages of the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2004, yet we are being asked to agree the formulation to be put before the electorate. This is pre-empting a decision that the House has yet to take. It is wrong that it should be taken in this order. In my view No. 22a should be scrapped, but it should at least be deferred until the Government has had its way and forced the Bill through by weight of numbers. It is wrong to anticipate a decision on Report and Final Stages of the Bill by offering the formula that should be put before the electorate. I object to No. 22a proceeding at this time.

There is some misunderstanding. The motion will take place after Final Stage is completed. As I read out in the Order of Business, "No. 22a shall be taken immediately upon the conclusion of No. 23.” There is no way it will be taken before Report and Final Stages have been agreed. In response to Deputy Rabbitte, on Tuesday we voted for the passing of Second Stage, not whether the debate should be taken.

In response to Deputy Richard Bruton, when I informed the Dáil that legislation was not necessary for electronic voting I did so in good faith. I accept I was wrong when I suggested the court had not ruled. It had in fact ruled the day before but the Attorney General only brought his legal interpretation to the Government on 15 February. That is where the difficulty arose. I apologise for any impression that I was consciously misleading the Dáil — I was not. It was genuinely my view at that stage, notwithstanding the court decision of the day before, that we did not need legislation. This did not become clear for some time.

The motion provides for either electronic or paper-based voting. Even if we were to move totally to electronic voting, postal and special voters would still vote on paper. Both options are provided for in the motion. We have not yet had the report of the independent commission. I understand they were given a deadline of 1 May so we will have that report today or tomorrow and the Government will take it into account.

On a point of order, the options to be presented to the electorate are not——

That is not a point of order.

It is a point of order.

It is related to the order in which business should be taken in the House. The Tánaiste is contending——

We have already discussed that.

The Tánaiste contends that there are two options and no matter which way the commission of experts rules——

That is not a point of order. The Deputy can debate the issue when the report is discussed.

——she will have covered it. That is not accurate. Will the Government allow it back in?

On a point of order, the Tánaiste's response is inaccurate. The Order of Business states that No. 22a shall be taken upon the conclusion of No. 23.

That is not a point of order.

It is pre-empting——

(Interruptions).

The Ceann Comhairle is using his office to add to the unsatisfactory way in which business is done in the House.

Question put: "That the proposal for taking No. 22a without debate be agreed to.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 58; Níl, 37.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Cowley, Jerry.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Deasy, John
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Padraic.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Murphy, Gerard.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Before I ask a question on promised legislation, will the Tánaiste inform the House whether the NIB investigation report, which is a substantive issue of concern, will be available soon? Has she information on the progress of the report? It is of great interest because——

The Deputy has made his point and should move on to legislation.

The Chair will appreciate the public is greatly concerned about how these issues are handled by banks.

The Tánaiste has indicated she intends to pull out of Government if there is a delay in the implementation of transport policy and legislation. The former Minister with responsibility for transport, Senator O'Rourke, reported on transport policy in 2000 and indicated legislation providing for a transitional bus regulator in Dublin would be enacted by 2001, legislation providing for a strategic transport authority would be enacted by autumn 2001 and legislation to break up CIE into independent companies would be enacted by the end of 2002. What extent of delay will trigger the Progressive Democrats to withdraw from Government if insufficient progress is made on transport policy reform?

The questions on legislation are appropriate.

As is the question on the delay.

The NIB report was expected some time ago. As the Deputy will be aware, it is being conducted by a High Court inspectorate and I do not have direct control over the report. I do not like creating hostages to fortune and I hope I will not be accused of misleading the Dáil but it is expected in the next couple of weeks, certainly by the summer of this year.

With regard to transport legislation, I understand the Minister for Transport will bring the legislation relating to the break up of Aer Rianta to the Cabinet in the next two weeks or so and it will be published thereafter. He will also publish soon a road traffic Bill, which has been approved by the Cabinet. Other Bills, which are central to the programme for Government, will be brought to Cabinet over the coming months.

I see no sign of the Progressive Democrats heading for the port tunnel in that answer. The Aer Rianta Bill was first promised for last November. It was a simple matter, according to the Minister for Transport, but it has not turned out that way.

Has the Tánaiste taken time to brief herself on the circumstances outside the gates of the Houses in respect of Mr. Tom Sweeney and the efforts being made by a number of people to prevent this man doing himself irreparable damage? The hope was held out on behalf of the Taoiseach that something was being done to put a formula in place that would permit the man to come off his hunger strike while his case was dealt with. A number of people, including his solicitor and the new Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin, are concerned at the latest position outlined in a formal answer given to my colleague, Deputy Costello, last night, which is that, contrary to what the man believes, the Government is saying it can do nothing and the issue has to be handled within the system that has been put in place. Surely some creative formula can be put in place to enable the man to avoid doing himself further and irreparable damage. Will the Tánaiste indicate whether anything is happening which can give reason for hope that the hunger strike will be terminated?

That matter was dealt with on the Adjournment last night.

I am familiar with the case. It is a very sad case and we all hope that no tragedy occurs. I understand there was a meeting in the House last night with Mr. Sweeney and other parties. Every effort is being made by Government representatives and church leaders, as the Deputy has acknowledged, and indeed by representatives of the Opposition parties, to intervene in this case in a humanitarian way with a view to having Mr. Sweeney end his hunger strike. I hope those efforts can be successful. I do not wish to say any more for the moment as the efforts are ongoing this morning.

I welcome that, if it is the case. I hope the Tánaiste is well grounded in what she has just said because we are heading into a holiday weekend.

I would prefer if the Deputy would not pursue the matter. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business. The Chair has allowed the Deputy a certain latitude. The Deputy might care to submit the matter for debate on the Adjournment.

May I put a question that is in order under the rules? Mr. Sweeney believes amending legislation has been promised.

Sorry, Deputy, that is not appropriate. If the Deputy wants to ask about amending legislation he may do so, but he may not continue speaking of this case.

Is amending legislation contemplated by the Government that might provide the basis for a settlement in this case?

I do not want to mislead anyone regarding this very sad situation. As I understand it, Archbishop Dermot Martin was in the House last night with Mr. Sweeney and others, and they are making a collective effort to persuade Mr. Sweeney to take an alternative course of action. I am not aware that any legislation is promised. If it is, I will inform Deputy Rabbitte, but I have not been briefed to that effect.

I have spoken to Mr. Sweeney and unfortunately he is not the only person on hunger strike outside the House. It is important that we are not in here discussing the aftermath of the situation which could be avoided if we were to take creative and appropriate measures, even through meeting the man and talking about his grievance. I know efforts have been made but we should make additional efforts before any further deterioration occurs.

I hope the Tánaiste might be able to say whether the Government has any plans for revision of the code of conduct for officeholders, or whether it is to be extended to Government backbenchers. The code is not yet a year old, and with the recent revelations regarding the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Noel Dempsey, and the Minister of State, Deputy Fahey, there might be a need to revise the code. Has the Government any such plans?

There are no plans to revise the code of conduct.

I congratulate the Tánaiste on poaching from her partners in Government my neighbour and former schoolmate Senator Brennan. I wish him well, but not a lot of success.

That is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Will the Tánaiste tell us when the nurses and midwives Bill will be introduced?

Let me reassure Deputy Neville that I am not in the poaching business.

Deputy Dermot Ahern does not look too convinced.

Regarding the nurses and midwives Bill, I understand it is not possible to say when it will be introduced.

The Tánaiste has turned gamekeeper.

My party leader raised the issue of Mr. Tom Sweeney this morning and I do not wish to repeat anything that has been said. We all share the hope that he will be off his hunger strike before the weekend. When I spoke to him this morning, he told me ——

We are not having a debate on the matter.

The Ceann Comhairle should wait for the question.

The Tánaiste answered that question this morning in response to Deputy Rabbitte.

I am asking about related legislation, because Mr. Sweeney said he was expecting the Act to be amended. I am asking if there is an intention to amend that Act. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill was on the list in the last session, and is now gone off the list. It was on the list as a result of the resignation of Ms Justice Laffoy and the recommendations of Mr. Justice Ryan. It was considered to be urgent. It seems people will be waiting 11 years to have their cases heard. Is there any urgency in this Government with regard to child abuse? What was that taken off the list?

The Government has done a lot of work in the child abuse area. As I understand it, the Minister and his Department are in consultation with the Attorney General in light of the Ryan report, and the legislation will not be available until after the summer.

That is unsatisfactory. It is outrageous.

The Deputy will have to find another way of raising the matter.

In the context of Mr. Sweeney's hunger strike, I note that with reference to the Department of Education and Science, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill is designed to make largely technical amendments to the principal Act. Will the Tánaiste indicate whether this amending legislation has the potential to improve the process of inquiry?

The Deputy may not discuss the content of legislation that might come before the House.

Will it impact on the concerns of Mr. Sweeney and his colleagues, and can publication be brought forward from late this year?

I understand it cannot be brought forward before the summer. It is very complex legislation and the Government and the Attorney General must take on board the recommendations of the Ryan inquiry which came to hand earlier this year.

Will the Tánaiste clarify the Government's legislative proposals regarding the carbon tax? It does not appear specifically on the list of Government proposals which could indicate it will be dealt with in the Finance Act. Could the Tánaiste clarify the issue because it has not been debated in any form in the House. There has been no clear indication of how this will be handled.

There is no legislation promised in this area.

Is the Tánaiste indicating the Government is not proceeding with the measure?

As I understand it, if a carbon tax is to be introduced, the current legislative framework will facilitate it either by means of the Finance Act or the budget.

Has the Government made any decisions on the heads of the Bill?

In order to update and modernise existing legislation, is it proposed to bring in the co-operative Bill? Judging from what I have heard and seen lately, this legislation is urgently needed.

It is intended that legislation will be brought in. Much of the change needed in this area related to the threshold for mergers and we brought that forward in different legislation. The Bill is not expected until next year.

Under a number of criminal justice Bills, is it appropriate that the Taoiseach and senior Garda figures should be attempting to provoke a violent backlash on 1 May?

That does not apply on the Order of Business.

There are three criminal justice Bills.

The Deputy did not mention any of them.

The matter is number 14 on the list. The Ceann Comhairle can check that. I have raised a very serious issue.

There are ways of raising it, but not on the Order of Business.

I raised it by means of a suspension of Standing Orders on the day before yesterday, and the Ceann Comhairle would not accede to that. It is a very serious matter when this State is setting out to provoke violence.

The legislation is expected during this session.

I understand the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources met the independent film makers of Ireland yesterday and heard of the job losses and problems in the industry. When can we expect the broadcasting authority Bill?

The Minister did meet the group yesterday. The Deputy is well informed. He hopes to submit the legislation to the Government before the summer recess.

Will the Tánaiste indicate when the Abbotstown sports centre authority Bill will emerge into the public arena? When will the disability Bill be published? Also, publication of the electoral (amendment) (No. 2) Bill was promised for 2004. Is it intended to bring that Bill before the House in 2004 or await the result of the next census?

No. I understand it is intended to bring it before the House this year, although I do not remember it being approved by the Government. I am aware this is something everybody in the House is interested in but that is the intention, as I understand it. The Abbotstown Bill will be published this session and it is hoped the disability Bill will be published this session also.

The summer 2003 programme described the proceeds of corruption Bill as intended to further target white collar crime and corruption in the public and private sectors. In the last session the Taoiseach advised me that a separate Bill was no longer planned but would instead be introduced in the form of amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 1999, which is currently awaiting Committee Stage. If that is the case, when will the Government publish its amendments to allow the Bill proceed to Committee Stage?

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is working on that Bill to proceed with it as quickly as possible. I cannot give the Deputy a precise date.

He is a busy man.

He is very busy, yes.

I wish he could come in here now and again.

Following the publication of the Ombudsman's report on planning matters on Tuesday, and in regard to the promised building controls legislation, has the Tánaiste any intention of removing what has been decreed illegal by the European Commission in respect of planning fees, local planning and An Bord Pleanála?

We cannot discuss the content of the legislation.

The heads of the building controls Bill were approved by the Government some time ago. The Bill is expected to be published later this year.