The hospital consultants have withdrawn from an arrangement they had with health insurers because they have legal advice that the arrangements they have operated for approximately ten years are illegal and will be deemed so by the Competition Authority. Since this has implications for 2 million people who take out health insurance, what plans has the Taoiseach——
Order of Business (Resumed).
It has in terms of a legislative change that may be required.
A question to the Minister responsible would be appropriate.
I think it would be possible for the Taoiseach to reply to this.
The Chair has ruled on the matter. It is not an omnibus Question Time.
There is a promised legislative change.
If the Ceann Comhairle insists, I will refer to legislation which may——
About which legislation is the Deputy speaking?
Will the Ceann Comhairle let me ask the question?
The Chair has ruled on the matter.
I have a question.
The Deputy will have to learn to behave in the House like other Members.
I was elected by the people of Wicklow to speak in this House and to raise issues of public concern.
I am grateful to them and the people of Carlow who elected me.
We are not having a debate. If the Deputy has a question on legislation, I will hear it. If not, the Deputy should resume her seat.
In regard to the issue I raised, it may be that the legislation about which I wish to ask may offer the solution to a problem which now exists. That legislation is the Voluntary Health Insurance Board (Corporate Status) Bill. Will the Taoiseach consider using it to deal with a major problem for people who are covered by health insurance?
The Voluntary Health Insurance Board (Corporate Status) Bill is to alter the corporate status of the VHI. I do not have a date for it but I will bring the issue to the attention of the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children.
I wish to ask the Taoiseach about next year's Finance Bill. I think he would admit that introducing amendments to the Finance Bill at five minutes to midnight is not a good way to do business. Does he agree the findings of these consultancy reports into tax breaks should be made available to the Houses of the Oireachtas so that there could be timely preparation for that legislation?
That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. I suggest the Deputy submits a parliamentary question to the Minister for Finance.
The Taoiseach's policy will be decided.
I agree with the Deputy but we must have a structured way to conduct business in the House.
Is an exceptional Finance Bill being considered prior to the budget this year which would deal with some of the loopholes——
Is legislation promised?
Surely it cannot be right to allow yacht renovation in the Mediterranean——
No legislation is promised.
——to be written off against Irish tax liabilities. Will we not see some regularity and equity?
I suggest the Deputy submits a question to the Minister for Finance. I call Deputy Durkan. Does he have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?
I have two questions, both of which are appropriate. Rumour has it there could be a general election next year and if not, the year after.
That rumour was around last year.
In that context and in view of the importance of the broadcasting authority Bill and the possible need to have it cleared up before the general election, will the Taoiseach arrange to bring in the legislation at an earlier date than 2006?
I refer to a similar subject, also in the context of a possible general election. The Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which is very much in vogue at present——
Is legislation promised?
It would be good to have it cleared up before the general election. The legislation fell off the table, so to speak. Could the Taoiseach arrange to have it picked up and placed firmly on the table?
The broadcasting authority Bill is to establish a broadcasting authority and amend the RTE provisions. The legislation is due next year. The other Bill was taken off the list.
What about the general election?
The Bill fell off the list.
That was a good performance.
Will the Taoiseach give the House an approximate date on which legislation will be brought into the House in respect of the sale of a majority stake in Aer Lingus?
Deputy Durkan reminds me that on Sunday a political correspondent wrote an article suggesting that before the general election to which Deputy Durkan looks forward, the Taoiseach may have to revise the constituencies again. Does he have any intention of revising the constituencies again based on the census that is fixed for 26 April 2006?
I do not intend revising the constituencies. The decision to sell part of Aer Lingus is a matter for consultation. Aer Lingus must take advice on the matter. Strictly speaking it does not require legislation but does require regulations which would have to come before the House.
If the Taoiseach will not revise the constituencies, does that mean he will call an early general election?
He might revise a few promises.
He will not call a general election. He is too fond of his seat.
As 1 June is only a week away and the Health Service Executive has decided to withhold increases in pay due to nurses and midwives under——
It does arise. The pay increases were due under the Sustaining Progress programme and the benchmarking agreement. Does the Taoiseach propose to intervene to avoid a further escalation of the crisis in our hospital and accident and emergency services?
That does not arise on the Order of Business. I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the Minister for Health and Children.
I have raised this question several times but we are now perilously close to causing ourselves major international embarrassment and losing the contract at Shannon Airport for an aircraft registry under the International Interests in Mobile Equipment (Cape Town Convention) Bill 2005. The Seanad has passed the legislation but it has not proceeded further. We do not know where it is. This matter is critical now. When will it come before the House? We are running out of legislative time.
It is on Second Stage but I assume the Deputy is asking whether we can take it and finalise it.
It has not come into this House. The Seanad finished with it some weeks ago.
It is listed for Second Stage in this House. I will ask the Government Whip to check on that. It probably has not started yet.
It is important.
I accept that.
It is urgent.
Is the Taoiseach concerned about the withdrawal of all the disability representative groups from the disability legislation consultation group, leaving only the service providers?
Has the Government approved the strategic national infrastructure Bill, or whatever it is called? When will the debate on housing, which I have sought for some time, take place in the House? The last time I asked about this debate the Taoiseach said the Government was preparing proposals on the matter.
The Cabinet has not yet dealt with the strategic national infrastructure Bill. I hope we will deal with it over the next week or two. I promised the Deputy we will have the debate on housing so I will check on a date for that debate.
In light of recent reports about the effect of moneylending, particularly on lone parent families, when we will have a debate on the Money Advice and Budgeting Service Bill? An order for Second Stage has been moved.
That topic was the subject of a long question during Priority Questions today, if I heard the debate correctly.
We did not get as far as any questions.
That was the question. There is an order for Second Stage so it is a matter of when it can be taken in the House. It is ready to be taken.
The Taoiseach might give it some further consideration.
In 2003 the Tánaiste and then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment promised a comprehensive Bill to revise the mechanism for the issuing of work permits, including a green card system. In the light of the litany of abuses uncovered since then, when will we see that Bill?
The Bill is to be published in this session. It is almost ready. It is in the final stages of drafting and will be published soon.
The programme for Government includes the national monuments Bill. When will that legislation be introduced? The present Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government does not seem to accept that the Minister with responsibility for heritage should make his opinions known after the planning process.
What has happened to the diplomatic relations and immunities (amendment) Bill which has been on the list of proposed legislation for some time? Does the Government intend to drop it entirely? It could have been on the list for almost a decade.
The heads of the national monuments Bill have been approved. Revisions and a new round of consultations were required following the enactment of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004, and the reorganisation of some of the heritage responsibilities.
They are being run down.
The Bill is to be ready next year. The diplomatic relations and immunities (amendment) Bill will be circulated in this session.
Will new legislation be required for the introduction of the new postal codes? Is the Taoiseach certain that the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Noel Dempsey has done all his research into that matter given the experience we had with the introduction of electronic voting? When will the Government give relief to the An Post pensioners who have waited 27 months for their wage increases?
That does not arise on the Order of Business. I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the appropriate Minister.
I am sick of submitting questions. I want to ask the Taoiseach.