It is proposed to take No. 15, Disability Bill 2004 — Second Stage, resumed, and No. 1, Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage. Private Members’ business shall be No. 40, motion re Ireland’s agri-food sector.
Order of Business.
There are no proposals to put to the House.
In view of the increasing incidence of invasion of people's privacy, what is the status of the ministerial proposal to establish a press council? When are we likely to see it? With regard to the Dublin metro Bill, has the Government decided that there will be a Dublin metro and, if so, when is the Bill likely to be published?
In reply to the latter question, the Government has not yet made a decision on a Dublin metro. With regard to the press council, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform told the Cabinet today that he will bring forward proposals shortly. He will have a number of meetings in the next few days on this issue.
When will the Campus Stadium Ireland Bill be introduced?
I do not have a date for its introduction. I will make inquiries and have somebody contact the Deputy.
We were promised in the past that there would be a full debate on developments in Aer Lingus. It is important to have that debate given that the three top management personnel have left the company. When will that debate take place?
Will Ireland ratify the Aarhus Convention? This is a matter of interest as tomorrow is World Wetlands Day. Legislation has been promised for a number of years on coastal zone management. That now appears to have fallen off the continental shelf. Likewise, the foreshore Bill seems to have fallen by the wayside. There was no indication of a date for this Bill previously and there is now no indication that there will be such a Bill. Likewise, there is no harbours Bill, no marine services Bill, no maritime safety, No. 2, Bill and no maritime safety agency Bill. Has the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources been cut back to such an extent that these Bills are no longer under consideration or when will they appear?
The Deputy can discuss a debate on Aer Lingus with the Whips. Mr. Sharman today became executive chairman of Aer Lingus in view of the vacancy that existed. The coastal zone management Bill will be incorporated in a marine services Bill but I do not have a date for the Bill.
We have not seen the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources for some time. He is probably otherwise engaged. Will the Tánaiste explain the present whereabouts of the broadcasting authority Bill, the energy Bill and the electronic communications Bill? It would be helpful to get an updated indication of when it is intended to rush that legislation through the House, after adequate discussion of course.
The broadcasting Bill will be ready later this year. The same applies to the energy Bill and the electronic communications Bill.
Has the Government yet decided when the necessary legislation will be taken in the House to provide for the referendum on the ratification of the European constitutional treaty? The electoral amendment, No. 2, Bill, to implement the constituency commission report, might usefully be taken with that Bill since they are connected in a way and since the House is under pressure for time. Both measures are of interest, although one less than the other given that there will not be an election until 2007.
The electoral amendment Bill will be taken in this session. The Government has not yet made a decision about when the referendum on the European constitution will be held.
The Government should reconsider that. The referendum must take place before 2006 and we do not want to repeat the mistakes made with the first Nice treaty referendum and have a rushed decision. Taking the Bill in the House does not pre-empt the timing of the date for the referendum.
I accept the Deputy's comments. Work is under way on preparing the legislation but I do not know when it will be ready. We have not yet decided on the date for the referendum. I agree a long lead-in time will be necessary to ensure there is no unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding.
It was signalled that the adoption Bill, incorporating the Hague convention, the adoption authority and miscellaneous items, would be published this year. In the current legislative programme, however, it is due in late 2005. Why is there a further delay? Will the Tánaiste guarantee that it will come before the House before the end of 2005?
The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, has done a great deal of work on this legislation and the Government approved the heads of the Bill before Christmas. The Bill will be brought forward as quickly as possible.
Is it planned to introduce legislation to permit members of the Defence Forces to train overseas and to participate in battle groups?
If they are to participate, legislation will be necessary to facilitate training. That matter is being considered at present.
The Joint Committee on the Environment and Local Government is due to meet tomorrow to hear from the chief archaeologist, the director of the National Museum, the chief executive of the Heritage Council and the head of the discovery programme to discuss the proposed M3 through the Tara-Skryne valley. Can the Tánaiste tell the House if it is true that the Government has instructed some of those people not to appear before the committee tomorrow?
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
That is the oldest Workers Party trick in the book.
I doubt it.
A Cheann Comhairle, it is an issue for this House if the Executive, which is accountable to it, has instructed senior State officials not to appear before a committee.
It may be an issue for the committee, but it does not arise on the Order of Business. It does not come under Standing Order 26. I call Deputy Gormley.
A Cheann Comhairle, what is the status of an Oireachtas committee, if members of the Government can instruct officials not to appear before it?
It does not arise on the Order of Business. The Chair has ruled on the matter and I have called Deputy Gormley. You will have to find another way of raising it.
I will find another way of raising it.
I welcome the Tánaiste's comments as reported in a newspaper this morning about the need to protect the privacy of individuals.
Deputy, do you have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?
I do. Does the Tánaiste agree that the protection of privacy should form part of the defamation Bill or should it be provided for in separate legislation?
That does not arise. I call Deputy Lynch.
Hold on. I know the Tánaiste wants to answer. Given the Tánaiste's comments in the newspaper this morning, is such legislation in the pipeline?
Is legislation promised?
I said that everybody in public life was entitled to their privacy, particularly with reference to their families, and that should be respected. Thankfully, it was until very recently in our society. I have already said the heads of the defamation Bill would come forward very soon. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform told the Cabinet this morning that he had arranged a number of meetings and would bring forward proposals very quickly.
On the Order of Business, will the Tánaiste ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government what he will do about the condition of our European capital of culture and the amount of litter which is now dumped on its streets? The manager is refusing to allow workers to remove it.
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
They should pick it up.
I am glad to hear that.
They are well funded.
In view of reports that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has purchased for a new prison a site for €30 million, which is between ten and 20 times greater than the market price in north county Dublin, will legislation be introduced to close Mountjoy?
I am not aware of any legislation promised on this. The idea is that we are moving to there.
Will proposals be contained in the prisons Bill as legislation is required?
The prisons Bill will be published in the middle of the year. I do not know whether legislation is required to move a prison from one location to another.
The Government has promised to introduce as a matter of some urgency in this session a Bill to provide for the use of non-UCITS common contractual funds, protected cells and cross-investments to meet the development needs of the IFSC funds industry. What does this mean and can the Tánaiste provide briefing for the Opposition on what specifically is envisaged?
The employment permit Bill was promised for a long time by the Tánaiste when she was the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Will the content of the Bill be as announced when she was Minister to provide that the permit will accrue to the individual rather than to the applicant company?
It will be the case that the permit will rest with the individual. Circumstances have stabilised to a great extent since the ten new countries joined the EU. Briefing will be provided on the UCITS legislation.
I add my voice to the concerns raised by Deputy Gilmore on the appearance of key officials at a meeting of the Joint Committee on the Environment and Local Government tomorrow.
Deputy Cuffe, that matter has already been dealt with and I ask you to resume your seat.
I am concerned that officials might be muzzled and not allowed to appear at a committee tomorrow.
Deputy, I ask you to resume your seat. I call Deputy O'Shea.
Specifically, I want to ask about the status of the national monuments Bill given concerns about the Tara-Skryne valley.
If you resume your seat, I will call you again on promised legislation. I have already called Deputy O'Shea.
Contributions to charities have been at an all-time high since Christmas. Is it intended that the charities regulation Bill will be published during this Dáil term?
Will it be published during this Dáil term?
Sorry, it will be published during this calendar year.
It could be any time in 2005.
Is it intended seriously to bring forward the Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2001, which is one of six items of legislation on the Order Paper? The Bill is not mentioned at all on the agenda for the spring or any other session in 2005. Is it window dressing?
Has the Tánaiste given consideration to introducing emergency measures or legislation on accident and emergency departments? I was in Beaumont Hospital yesterday——
That does not arise.
It arises as the Tánaiste is the Minister for Health and Children. Circumstances in Beaumont, near my constituency, are utterly shameful. When will the Tánaiste take action?
I ask you to allow the Tánaiste to answer the question of yours which was in order.
The Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is ordered for Second Stage. I would bring in all the emergency legislation that was required, if I thought it would sort out accident and emergency departments overnight.
The Tánaiste should get extra doctors and do whatever she has to do.
Deputy Cuffe, do you have a question on legislation?
Given the concern about the Hill of Tara, it is on the national monuments Bill.
The Bill will be published later this year.
Hopefully, prior to——
On the Hill of Tara.
What is the Government's commitment on the pharmacy Bill which has been promised for the last year or so? Will it be processed during this session?
While it will not be processed this session, it will be published this autumn. It is very significant legislation which is being drafted as a matter of urgency. I intend to publish the heads of the Bill as soon as they are cleared by the Cabinet. It will be after the summer.