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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 19 May 2005

Vol. 602 No. 6

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 14, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act 2000 (Section 5) (Specified Period) Order 2005, back from committee; No. 14a, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Waste Management (Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations 2005; No. 22, Disability Bill 2004 — Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage to adjourn at 1.30 p.m. if not previously concluded; No. a8, Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Bill 2005 — Order for Second Stage and Second and Subsequent Stages, to be taken not later than 1.30 p.m.; and No. 1, Veterinary Practice Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 14 and 14a shall be decided without debate and the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. a8: the proceedings on Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3 p.m., the opening speech of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment 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 called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, members may share time, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages 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 shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 14 and 14a, proposed approval of Dáil Éireann and motion re referral to joint committee, without debate agreed?

The practice of motions of this type being referred to committee and back to the House without debate is unsatisfactory. Although No. 14 is a technical motion, it received 15 minutes consideration in committee. No. 14a requires the approval of Dáil Éireann on an important matter related to waste management, an area on which the Government is proving to be deficient. A previous motion on trade in hazardous waste was given five minutes consideration at the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food and was not voted upon or discussed subsequently in the House. On these grounds, the practice of referring motions and regulations of this nature without debate is not working in the interests of Members as they are not given proper consideration and the Green Party opposes the proposal.

Question "That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 14 and 14a be agreed to” put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. a8, conclusion of Second and Subsequent Stages of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Bill 2005, agreed?

I am glad to note in respect of No. 22 that the Government does not propose to guillotine the Disability Bill as envisaged earlier in the week. I note also in respect of No. a8 that the Government wishes to postpone statements on suicide. This is acceptable provided the House is given a guarantee that the debate will take place at an appropriate time, possibly next week.

The proposal for dealing with No. a8 is not the way to do business. This is the second time in three weeks that emergency legislation has been brought to the notice of the House. Last week, legislation was introduced to deal with Waterways Ireland and the issue of ground rents, while this week it relates to an element of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Bill. The Fine Gael Party spokesman in this area, Deputy Hogan, contacted me at 7 a.m. The committee is in Wexford dealing with small business issues but this Bill is expected to be rushed through the House today. This is not the way to do business and I object to it for that reason. The content of the Bill is necessary but I cannot understand how the Government expects to come in here, get approval for this, hold a briefing session for spokespersons at 11 a.m. and rush the legislation through all Stages at 1.30 p.m. I object to the manner in which we have been presented with this and the way the Government proposes to deal with it. Putting emergency legislation through the House for the second time in three weeks is no way to do business.

This is the second time in three weeks that emergency legislation has been brought before the House to protect the property interests of the State in different respects. On the previous occasion, the legislation related to the British-Irish Agreement and the protection of properties under the aegis of Waterways Ireland. On this occasion it applies to development land or properties — we have not been told which — under the aegis of IDA Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta or Shannon Development. Why we are in this position for a second time in three weeks?

The Government is in free-fall.

There has been no briefing on this and the Government Whip did not feel obliged to tell the Whips at the meeting last night what the emergency measure contains or its purpose. There was no briefing of the spokespersons for either party and there has been no advice to the leaders of the parties why this is the case. If I am right in divining that it is about protection of State property, can the Minister name a precedent where, twice in three weeks, the Government has been required to come before the House with emergency legislation to deal with essentially the same matter?

The arguments we made three weeks ago have been borne out. Legislation was rushed through the House without notice or scrutiny and now we find it was inadequate to deal with the situation that had arisen.

In terms of the technical defect in the British-Irish Agreement and our reluctant agreement to go along with the Government on the day to correct it, because we believed it was a drafting error and we were only restoring the status quo, it now seems, from the little I have been told, IDA Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Shannon Development or SFADCo could not be put in the same circumstance. This is not about restoring the status quo, rather it is a substantive amendment or, given the manner in which it has been brought before the House, a surreptitious amendment to amend the substantive law. It is different.

It is absurd that we have been put in a position of making a judgment about such a serious matter when we have been given no information and our spokesperson has not been briefed. The Government knows the spokespersons and the relevant committee are meeting in Wexford this morning, leaving us ill equipped to deal with the situation. If the Government had notice to draft and publish legislation, it must have had sufficient notice to brief spokespersons in detail of what is involved. It is typical of the contempt this Government has shown for the passage of legislation through the House on many occasions. It is not good enough, it is not acceptable and on the basis of the procedure alone, without committing myself on the substantive matter of the Bill, which I do not yet know, we must oppose this.

Arrogance. The Government thinks it can do what it likes.

The Opposition will not see this legislation until after the Order of Business, only two hours before the debate will begin. For the second time in three weeks, the same substantive issue is being tackled by way of emergency legislation. It is curious that the amending legislation is so haphazard that two weeks ago the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs introduced legislation that should have come from the Department of the Taoiseach and today the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment is amending legislation that falls within the remit of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. If this headless chicken approach to legislation is how the Government sees the legislative programme progressing for the rest of this Dáil, it cannot be guaranteed co-operation from this side of the House. Given that these two emergency measures relate to the same issue, what is to stop another Minister coming into the House in the coming weeks to say the same problem exists in all public buildings, such as schools, hospitals and Government offices?

We have not seen any real Government attempt to deal with ground rent itself, a problem that affects hundreds of thousands of residents. The Government has chosen to tinker at the edges of the legislation, only ensuring that the ongoing difficulties with ground rent do not affect public buildings. That is not an honest way to deal with the problem and for that reason the Government does not have the co-operation of the Green Party on the issue.

While I share some of the concerns expressed, the Minister provided an opportunity for a limited briefing last evening to the relevant spokespersons and that was attended by representatives of Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. We have the Bill this morning and we must be realistic while pointing out what is necessary.

Unless this issue is addressed as a matter of urgency, further problems will arise. I am prepared to acknowledge that and accept it on the basis of the briefing that my colleague, Deputy Morgan, received from the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment last evening, with the promise of further elaboration this morning. That is part of the reality and we must deal with that.

The important message that must be delivered from this, however, is that there is a fundamental issue that must be grappled with and not in the piecemeal, reactive manner of the Government's approach to specific aspects that may present because of litigation. We need preparedness on the part of the Government to address the ground rent issue holistically and in the round, and for it to have the courage to do so. Only in that way will every element be addressed rather than chipping around it and being afraid to get into the kernel of the issue.

We do not intend to oppose the Government proposition on the basis of the information that was shared with Deputy Hogan and Deputy Morgan last evening and the opportunity that was provided to other Opposition spokespersons had they been available. Understanding the reality, I am using this opportunity to appeal to Government to grasp the nettle on the issue of ground rent. This has been part of the promised programme of legislation since the Government entered office in 1997. It should learn the lesson of the embarrassment of these reactive, emergency legislative approaches in recent weeks and commit itself to fulfil its electoral promises to the electorate eight years ago. The Government will find a universal welcome for this. While some may be disappointed, the majority will welcome that courage being translated into real action on the Government's part. The Government must deal with the ground rents issue.

Is this a Second Stage debate?

Hear, hear.

I acknowledge the difficulties the Opposition has indicated on this matter. However, I must emphasise that this is urgent legislation to address a problem that has arisen for the industrial development agencies, IDA Ireland, Shannon Development and Údarás na Gaeltachta. This is a result of a settlement negotiated on legal advice by IDA Ireland which was notified to the relevant county registrar at a hearing on 17 May.

On foot of this being brought to our attention, the Attorney General has advised that an amendment be enacted to section 4 of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No. 2) Act 1978. It states "this Act shall not bind a Minister of the Government, the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland or the Irish Land Commission.". The purpose of the amendment is to include IDA Ireland, Shannon Development and Údarás na Gaeltachta among the State authorities not bound by the legislation. The proposed legislative amendment will not apply retrospectively where a notice of intention to acquire the fee simple and land lease from one of the agencies has been served. Accordingly, considerable urgency attaches to securing early passage of the amending provision.

It is a legal lacuna which has been identified and it is important that the legislation is passed. It came about as a result of a settlement, notified to the relevant county registrar at a hearing on 17 May. This matter was brought to Government at yesterday afternoon's Cabinet meeting. It was determined that we needed to move immediately on this matter. I understand the Minister made genuine attempts to give a quick indication of the reasoning behind this matter to Opposition spokespersons. The Labour Party spokesperson was unavoidably absent on other business. Further attempts were made to contact him this morning. The briefing that the Minister wishes to make at 11 o'clock will flesh out in detail the circumstance in which the Bill must be brought forward. Members who have been in Government will recognise that on occasion, a matter such as this requires urgent rectification.

That a separate issue arose several weeks ago is by the way as it could have happened three months or three years ago. It just so happens that these issues emerged so near to each other. They are separate matters which have been brought to the Government's attention and must be addressed immediately, based on legal advice.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No.a8, the conclusion of Second and Subsequent Stages of the Landlord and Tenants (Ground Rents) Bill 2005 be agreed”, put and declared carried.

Last week the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, said an independent terminal at Dublin Airport in competition with other terminals was not feasible or practical. Yesterday's decision in respect of terminal two, and the future prospect of an independent terminal three, is a contradiction of the Minister's views. Following the Government's decision, will legislation be introduced for this? Does the brief given to the current aviation regulator allow for competition between terminals, as now seems to be the case?

In view of the commitment given by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment for a super consumer agency with real powers, is the Government willing to use the template brought forward in the Fine Gael Party's Private Members' Bill that proposed such an agency? It was voted down last November.

Has the Government discussed whether an ideologically pure third terminal may need to be run by a separate airport authority? What legislative measures need to be taken for Aer Lingus? How does the Government intend selling its majority shareholding in the airline?

Will time be provided to allow for a debate on yesterday's Cabinet decision on the second and third terminal at Dublin Airport? Not only can it be described as a sell-off, but also as a sell-out. We must have full and detailed debate on these decisions. When will such a debate take place on these two issues?

The decisions taken by the Government on a second terminal at Dublin Airport do not require further legislation. It will be dealt with under existing legislation. The provision of external equity for Aer Lingus, should that be the analysis of the advisers appointed by the Government, does not require further legislation. It is already provided for in the Aer Lingus Act 2004.


Regarding the third terminal at Dublin Airport, the Government has decided it will commence pre-planning for this more long-term option by preparing the legislative and regulatory framework to facilitate the development. The Government's objective is to underpin the most cost effective, efficient and timely delivery of such a terminal, in line with emerging aviation trends through an open, transparent and competitive process. No decision has been taken on how this will be established until such time as those issues have been addressed.

In the past when I was Minister for Transport, we found ourselves in crisis management situations. Now, as a result of these decisions, we are dealing with expansion plans that will put the aviation sector in a proper framework and enable us to deal with the increased capacity and develop the airport's potential.

By taking money out of Aer Lingus.

We are developing business plans for the three airports so they can expand.

The Government sold out.

Just call it privatisation.

We are providing equity for Aer Lingus to enable growth in traffic, passengers, profit and jobs.

We will wait to see the evidence of this.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment intends to bring forward legislation later this year for a new consumer agency based on the recommendations, 34 in all, contained in the consumer strategy group report. Clearly I cannot indicate at this stage what model he may use or what previous work may be inputted.

If I understood the Taoiseach properly yesterday, he said it would be necessary to bring legislation before the House if the national stake in Aer Lingus was to be sold. Is the Minister for Finance saying this is not now necessary, although control has been ceded, and the lifeblood of this economy in terms of trade, with all its implications, will not be discussed because legislation will not now come before the House? If that is so, can we have the earliest possible debate in this House on the implications of this Government deciding to surrender control of Aer Lingus and that we would be enabled to discuss the matter from the point of view of trade, tourism and the strategic interests of this country?

The consumer strategy group, comprised of various experts and resourced, produced a report after a long wait. This morning I opened my newspapers find an advertisement advising that a further report on the groceries order has been commissioned. The consumer strategy group made clear recommendations and now another group is to be set up. This is in keeping with the actions of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Martin, who commissioned 116 reports when he was Minister for Health and Children.

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Now the Minister is commissioning another report, which is interesting as he does not read any of the reports he gets. Is it the case that having set up a specialist group to advise on consumer matters, advertisements are now being placed in newspapers with a view to deferring a decision on the groceries order?

That does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy may submit a question to the appropriate Minister.

The decision on Aer Lingus yesterday clearly makes a difference as to how we will proceed with the matter. Last March, the Minister for Transport outlined in the House the course he would take if the Government decides to embark on a sale of all or part of Aer Lingus:

I will set out for the House, in accordance with the provisions of the Aer Lingus Act 2004, the general principles of the proposed sale as well as the basis for the Government's decision and the arguments for and against such a sale. I will also set out how the Government proposes to deal with the important strategic issues such as slots at Heathrow.

The point is that a legal framework already exists to enable outside equity or an external investment in the airline in the event of the Government embarking on a sale based on advice from advisers to be appointed.

With respect, the Minister spoke of clarity, but this matter is not clear to me. Will it be necessary to bring legislation before the House to sell a stake in Aer Lingus or is that provided for in existing legislation?

Legislation already exists, the provisions of which can be utilised to enable the sale to take place. I assure the Deputy that as we embark on the process, appoint our advisers, take advice from them and do our analysis, we will give ample opportunity for this House to discuss the options and how we should proceed. There may well be different views in the House on that matter, but the Government is of the view that a process of external investment in the airline is required to enable it to grow, particularly on the long-haul routes, and thereby increase its profitability and business and broaden the prospect of further job creation in Aer Lingus in future.

Regarding the consumer strategy report, it is normal when a report is published to engage in a consultation process regarding how or if certain recommendations should be implemented. Such issues involve varying arguments. A consultation process for a limited period with interested stakeholders would be advocated by Deputy Rabbitte in regard to aviation matters, and I agree with that. Issues raised about the groceries order should also involve consultation and discussion with interested stakeholders before final decisions are taken.

On a point of order, the Ceann Comhairle regularly advises us on the importance of implementing the Standing Orders of the House. I want to check that the Ceann Comhairle is practising what he preaches. I refer to Standing Orders Nos. 42 and 43. The latter states:

The Ceann Comhairle shall have the discretion to permit any Member to make a personal explanation in the Dáil, following notice given in writing by the Member concerned, to the Ceann Comhairle of his or her desire to make such an explanation and of the content of such proposed explanation.

Will the Ceann Comhairle advise the House that this Standing Order was complied with yesterday when a personal statement was made in the House?

There are many precedents for statements being made in the House without recourse to the personal explanation procedure as outlined in the Standing Order.

Am I then to understand that the Standing Order was not complied with yesterday? It seems that Standing Orders are occasionally ignored.

Is the Ceann Comhairle saying that he did not implement his own Standing Orders?

I would not advise the Deputy to raise the incident regarding Standing Orders this morning.

The Ceann Comhairle yesterday allowed a Member to sneak into this House to give an apology and did not implement the appropriate Standing Order.

I thought the Deputy was complaining about the fact that the Chair allowed a breach of Standing Order No. 26 this morning by allowing Deputy Rabbitte and other Deputies to raise certain matters.

I cannot rise from this seat without the Ceann Comhairle lecturing me on Standing Orders. It now turns out that the Ceann Comhairle allowed a member of the party to which the Ceann Comhairle formerly belonged to sneak into the House yesterday without approval. The Whips were not advised. There is precedent in that regard too, which was not adhered to. The Ceann Comhairle ought to be consistent.

As the Deputy is well aware, the matter has nothing to with the Chair. The Minister of State involved entered the House yesterday and made a statement. That has nothing to do with the Chair.

Standing Orders Nos. 42 and 43 are very clear. The Minister of State was not entitled to do what he did.

The matter had nothing to do with the Chair.

It has. The Ceann Comhairle's job is to enforce Standing Orders.

The only breach of Standing Orders allowed by the Chair was the breach this morning of Standing Order No. 26.

In light of the increased concern arising from energy price hikes, will the Minister indicate when the national oil reserves agency, NORA, Bill will be brought before the House? It has nothing to do with the song line, "The violets were scenting the woods, Nora." That Bill and a related Bill, the electricity Bill, should be brought before the House as a matter of urgency. They are particularly relevant at this time because of the increased cost of energy.

The Deputy should allow the Minister to answer his question.

I am encouraging him.

I understand that the electricity Bill will come before the House next year. The heads of the national oil reserves agency Bill have been approved so the legislation should come before the House later this year.

I call Deputy O'Sullivan.

On a point of order.

Deputy Ó Caoláin on a point of order.

Nobody was sorrier than me when the Ceann Comhairle indicated that the Minister should be allowed to answer the question. I have still not received an answer to the question I put quite validly in the sequence of those who questioned the Minister on the Government's intent to accommodate a proper debate on the issue of the Aer Lingus sale.

That question has already been answered by the Minister.

The Deputy knows that unless a debate is promised, the matter does not arise on the Order of Business. It is a matter for the Whips.

I am asking for a debate to be accommodated by the Minister and he has not replied.

It is not a point of order. I have called Deputy O'Sullivan.

The Minister should give me an answer. I am at least entitled to that.

No, the Deputy is not.

Of course I am entitled to an answer.

The Deputy is not entitled to raise the matter on the Order of Business.

Under what Standing Order?

The Standing Order is quite clear.

I am entitled to an answer.

If a debate is promised in the House, the Deputy is entitled to an answer on the Order of Business.

The issue was accommodated by the Ceann Comhairle. I sought an answer and have yet to hear one.

The Minister has already replied on the matter.

He has not replied.

He has replied.

If you would allow him he might.

The Minister has made a statement. We cannot have repetition.

What has happened to the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill? It was passed expeditiously in the House but I do not know if it is before the Seanad or what has happened to it. Students and staff are working in difficult conditions throughout Dublin at present.

It is awaiting an order for Report Stage.

We dealt with Report Stage.

According to the information available to me there is an order for Report Stage for the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004. It was published in June last year.

It is very slow.

If the Whips agreed to view it as a priority, it could be arranged. I assure Deputies, including Deputy Ó Caoláin, that there will be many opportunities to discuss the issues relating to aviation. I base that on my prior experience of having responsibility for that Department.

Will the critical infrastructure Bill include provision to appoint a special division of the High Court to deal with legal matters arising from the Bill?

We cannot discuss the content of the Bill.

The Bill is due to be discussed by the Government and is due to be published next year. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is working hard on it.

The Government is currently undertaking a countrywide consultation about Irish overseas development aid. How appropriate is it to have the Minister of State with responsibility for overseas development aid lecturing the country on the need for good government in Third World countries——

That does not arise on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Bruton.

——when he cannot show good behaviour himself?

I call Deputy Bruton.

Will the outcome of this consultation process, which relates to a great deal of money, result in a Bill——

Deputy, that does not arise on the Order of Business. If the Deputy has a question on the consultation process, she should submit a question to the appropriate Minister.

——dealing with Ireland's commitment on overseas development aid, which has already been reneged on by the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan?

The Minister put a disclaimer on the record yesterday and that must be accepted.

This is a question about legislation. There is a consultation process about a White Paper. Will that result in legislation?

I ask the Deputy to resume her seat.

Will it result in legislation?

The Deputy must resume her seat. I call Deputy Bruton.

My question is about No. 27 on the legislative programme, legislation to end imprisonment for inability to pay fines and to provide for new ways of enforcing fines. The Government has said it is not possible to indicate when this Bill will be produced. If this legislation saved even 5% of prison places, it would mean a saving of €25 million per year. Why is it not possible to produce this legislation? There is emergency legislation before the House today and this is clearly——

Allow the Minister to answer the question.

I do not want to hear about hold-ups in the parliamentary draftsman's office. This will save €25 million a year. Surely draftsmen can be employed for that type of saving.

On the Order of Business I must communicate to the House about the schedule for dealing with each Stage of legislation. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform answered questions in the House two days ago and a specific parliamentary question to him would elicit more information than I am in a position to give. The Deputy should accept that point rather than criticise me for the information I can give. It is not possible to say at this stage when that legislation might be brought forward. A question to the Minister concerned would elicit more information than simply raising it on the Order of Business.


Deputy, we cannot have a debate on the matter.

——we are entitled to ask why it is not being delivered. This was regarded as a Government priority but it now seems to have been put on the long finger. The Minister has some accountability to the House for that.

Following last night's announcement, where stands the promise to Cork Airport about leaving it debt free with a new terminal and does the Minister wish to comment on that?

It does not arise on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Boyle.

It is reported that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has presented the heads of the defamation Bill to Cabinet. When is that Bill likely to be introduced and will it cover racial slurs made by members of the Government?

These matters are before the Government at present. Until the Government takes decisions I cannot indicate what the legislation might include or exclude.

Can the Minister for Finance explain how taking €300 million out of Aer Lingus will assist the national carrier?

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

What are his plans for the proceeds of that sale?

I call Deputy Sherlock.

Second, with regard to legislation, does the Minister for Finance accept the ruling of the European Court of Justice that golden shareholdings are illegal?

That does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy should put the question to the appropriate Minister.

If he does, why is the Minister pretending that the Government can keep any type of control over the national airline?

If Deputy Shortall does not wish me to call Deputy Sherlock, we will proceed to the Disability Bill.

The Minister is misleading the public on this and probably his backbenchers as well.

I ask Deputy Shortall to resume her seat. I call Deputy Sherlock.

On many occasions I have asked the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach about the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Bill. It was removed from the Order Paper and I received a letter from the Minister for Finance explaining that this was because the issue was before the Supreme Court. What is the current position with that legislation and when will it be brought before the House?

I understand the Supreme Court decision might have implications for how we try to address the matter. That is the reason we have not been able to progress the Bill as quickly as the Deputy would wish. I am aware that he has had a long standing interest in the Bill.

Will the Minister write to the Deputy again?

I have three questions for the Minister. What is the position of the water safety Bill? Will Second Stage be taken before the end of this session? Second, with regard to CCTV cameras and anti-social behaviour, the OPW is preventing the Garda Síochána from monitoring CCTV systems in Garda stations.

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

The OPW claims new legislation is required to allow the Garda Síochána to monitor them.

Is legislation promised?

My third question relates to one of the biggest betrayals of this country by the Taoiseach, a northside Deputy, in my time in politics — the despicable privatisation and sale of Aer Lingus——

The Minister will reply on the water safety Bill.

I want to ask the question.

The Deputy cannot raise the issue in this manner.

It is a disgrace.

Deputy Broughan, you cannot raise the issue in this manner.

It is an act of treason by the leader of the country, a northside Taoiseach——

I ask Deputy Broughan to give way to the Minister to deal with his question.

——to sell off our national airline in this disgraceful manner.

Deputy Broughan is being disorderly and knows it. It appears to the Chair that the Deputy wants to be asked to leave the House. If the Deputy wishes to leave the House, he should do so of his own volition.

I want to ask a question. It is the question my colleague, Deputy Shortall, asked. Do we need new legislation on this despicable morning for our country?

I call the Minister.

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Maritime Safety Bill. That is due to come to the Dáil on Second Stage. A discussion among the Whips would facilitate arranging a time for the Bill to be discussed in the House. With regard to the other matter, I recall that when the Fianna Fáil-Labour Government made some strategic decisions on Aer Lingus there were prophecies of doom from Deputy Broughan and others, which did not prove to be accurate.

I call Deputy Joe Higgins.

We stopped you doing what you are doing now.

I have called Deputy Joe Higgins.

I believe the Deputy was expelled from his parliamentary party.

We ran a campaign on it and stopped you doing what you are doing now.

The Deputy was expelled from his parliamentary party.

Allow Deputy Higgins to speak without interruption.

Talk to John O'Connell.

I will talk to John O'Connell.

I have a question for the Minister for Finance on legislation but if newspaper cartoonists keep showing us the hapless Minister of State with responsibility for development aid——

It does not arise on the Order of Business. Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

I do. If they keep showing him protruding from a kebab on the roasting spit, collective nausea among the population will cause a collapse in trade for honest kebab sellers in this country.

The Deputy should ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business.

I am sure the Minister of State must shudder at what cartoonists would have done if he had advised me to stick with lettuce as well as the kebab.

It could be a breach of the trades description Act.

I refer to the work permits Bill. Given the crass insensitivity of the Minister for Finance's colleague yesterday, will the Government compel Gama Construction Ireland Limited to reinstate sacked workers and to pay the overtime they are due?

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

I put the question in the context of the work permits Bill.

That is due this session and the Deputy will have an opportunity to raise these issues.

Will the Government stand up to this gangster company in our midst?

We cannot discuss the content of the Bill.

I refer to the Government's decision yesterday in respect of Aer Lingus. When will the Minister for Transport be in a position to say precisely how the Government proposes to implement that wrong decision?

It was not a wrong decision; it was very much the right decision strategically for both aviation generally and Aer Lingus given its role in the economy going forward in terms of tourism and so on. Under the proposals, we will decide on a set of advisers to advise us on what the proper investment mechanism might be for an equity share in Aer Lingus by the private sector. We will await that analysis.

With regard to the terminal issue, the Dublin Airport Authority is mandated to proceed and commission a design proposal which will be independently verified. The Commissioner for Aviation Regulation will also use his statutory powers to ensure the proposal is commensurate and consistent with the requirements of the airport going forward, as per his remit. The operational integrity of the airport, for which the DAA has statutory authority, will be married with necessary cost effectiveness and efficiency to ensure the maximum business can be done through the airport.

On the point of order raised by Deputy Stagg, a personal explanation procedure under Standing Order 43 can only be initiated by the Member concerned and not by the Chair.