Order of Business.

The Order of Business shall be No. 13, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimate [Vote 31]; No. 14, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimate [Vote 31] to select committee; No. 19, statements on Northern Ireland; and No. 20, Adoptive Leave Bill 2004 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m.; business shall be interrupted on the adjournment of Private Members' business, which shall be No. 46, motion re proposed new prison site at Thornton Hall, County Dublin, which shall be taken for 90 minutes at 7 p.m. or on the conclusion of No. 19, whichever is later, which shall take place tomorrow immediately after the Order of Business, and which shall be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes on that day; No. 13 and, subject to agreement of No. 13, No. 14, referral to select committee, shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded on Nos. 13 and 14 shall be taken forthwith; proceedings on No. 19, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion after 65 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) subject to (ii) the statements of the Taoiseach and the Minister, 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, (ii) Members may share time, and (iii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes.

There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting and the taking of No. 36, Private Members' business agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 13 and 14, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimate and motion re referral of Supplementary Estimate to select committee agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19, statements on Northern Ireland agreed? Agreed.

One of the most stark and disturbing stories heard this year was the revelation of the poor treatment of elderly people in nursing homes, ranging from the illegal charging scandal to the squalid conditions some unfortunate patients had to endure in some locations. Four commitments were made to produce the legislation to introduce the inspectorate for nursing homes. Two of these were made by the Taoiseach on 31 May and 1 June, another was made by the Tánaiste on 20 July and another was made by the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Seán Power on 31 May 2005. All of these were explicit that this legislation would be produced and published before the end of this year.

Despite this, the legislation is not in section A of the legislative programme produced by the Government and announced by the Chief Whip, and every Bill in section B is not due for publication until mid-2006. This is appalling in light of the outrageous situation of elderly people in nursing homes. Why is this inspectorate legislation not on this list as promised on four occasions during the year?

The health (nursing homes) (amendment) Bill is scheduled for this session.

That is different from the nursing homes inspectorate Bill.

I remember it. The health Bill provides for the establishment of the health information and equality authority and the Irish social services inspectorate on a statutory basis. We are now told that it will be in the new year before the legislation is ready. I do not know if it can be brought forward.

Does the Taoiseach agree that, now that the Dáil has reconvened, there must be an initiative concerning the plight of the five imprisoned men from Rossport?

The matter does not arise at this stage. It has already been discussed on Leaders' Questions. The matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

I am trying to be helpful on the issue. Is it not reasonable that simultaneously the Shell company should waive the injunction——

I cannot allow this debate to continue. I call Deputy Sargent.

——and the men should purge their contempt——

This matter has already been discussed in the House.

——and an acceptable mediator——

I ask the Deputy to obey the Stranding Orders.

Five men are in Cloverhill Prison.

The Deputy is being disorderly and I have already had to deal with one such Deputy. The Deputy knows the way to raise the matter in the House. He had an opportunity during Leaders' Questions and this was not taken. He also had an opportunity to raise it on the Adjournment tonight and he did not take it. Deputy Ring took the opportunity.

The five men from Rossport should be taken out and the Colombia Three put in.

I am merely asking the Taoiseach if he would agree to the appointment of an acceptable mediator to consider the entire remit of issues following the release.

The matter has already been debated. The Order of Business cannot be an omnibus Question Time. It never has been and it cannot be so.

There was always an opportunity to raise a topical issue on the Order of Business.

That is the function of Leaders' Questions.

Will the Taoiseach make time available to discuss this matter, tomorrow if possible? A number of formulae are available. We have been very constructive, as the Minister responsible will concede, in working out a formula that will have the allegiance of everyone concerned. That five men are languishing in jail and that we are making no effort to be helpful cannot be allowed to continue.

We cannot debate it now.

There was a three-hour debate yesterday in committee, I have dealt with this issue today and it is a matter on the Adjournment tonight.

We cannot debate the issue. Unless a debate has been promised in the House, it is not appropriate.

Is the Taoiseach saying that the Whips can discuss this?

I ask Deputy Rabbitte to resume his seat.

I am seeking clarity on the Order of Business.

The Chair will provide all the clarity the Deputy needs.

Is the Taoiseach saying that the Whips can meet to discuss this matter?

I ask Deputy Rabbitte to resume his seat while the Chair is on its feet. If a debate is promised, it is appropriate to ask about it under Standing Order 26 and if one is not, it is not appropriate.

The Taoiseach just promised it.

The Whips can consider this issue with the support of the Government Whip to provide for a short time in the House to debate the issue.

That is a matter for the Whips.

I am asking the Taoiseach.

I have no problem with that.

That is reasonable.

In supporting this call I predict that if the matter is not debated here, it will be debated in the European Court of Human Rights.

Legislation that has been promised over many years in a number of areas, such as the charities regulation Bill, has now dropped off the face of the earth, so to speak. No indication has been given about the legislation in question even though it was promised for 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Almost 50% of people surveyed give approximately €11 per month.

The Deputy can just ask about the legislation. We cannot have a debate on this.

Does the Taoiseach realise that this legislation has been promised since 1990?

Other promised legislation that has disappeared is the Dublin metro Bill. Over the summer we heard about the growing need for a metro in Dublin and the legislation to deal with it has disappeared. It was proposed for 2006.

There must be a void somewhere.

The charities regulation Bill is substantive and will involve the statute law revision and restatement in addition to legislative reform provisions. Work is proceeding as speedily as possible and it is being given priority within the Department. The other Bill is being included in the planning and development bill of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Deputy Callely will roll it out.

Last year the Minister for Transport promised a ten-year plan to be delivered within weeks. Almost a year has passed and we still have not seen it. What has happened in that year? Is the plan lost forever? Will it be a nine-year one or an 11-year one when it appears? Will the Taoiseach intervene to ensure we have some initiative in respect of transport policy? It is unforgivable that the matter has been allowed to drift in this manner.

The national development plan goes up to 2006. The Minister stated that he will set out a clear blueprint this year of what will happen after that.

Important legislation has been promised, namely, the repayment scheme for the elderly who had their money robbed from them by the State. We were told in the recently published legislative programme that publication is expected in late 2005. If so, will the Taoiseach explain why it has not been included with the Bills expected to be published from the beginning of the Dáil session to the beginning of the next session? One part of the programme states that it will be published in 2005 while the other part of the programme indicates that it will not be published in 2005. The elderly people who are waiting for their entitlements need to know what exactly is the Government promising.

It will provide a legislative basis for the repayment scheme which will provide appropriate safeguards in regard to payments made under the scheme to vulnerable individuals in care. It will also aim to protect payments made to individuals under the scheme. We hope this will be dealt with by Christmas.

Will there be legislation to establish a redress board for the women who were mutilated in the gynaecology and obstetrics unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda? The report of the inquiry has not been published. Will the Taoiseach raise the matter with the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children and will he clarify whether legislation is necessary? Will he clarify if legislation will be necessary to facilitate the introduction of the second level medical card described differently previously by a number of speakers — the doctor only medical card? Some 200,000 people are awaiting this and nothing happened during the summer period.

On the Order of Business the Deputy is only entitled to ask a question on promised legislation. We would like to have the debate on Northern Ireland concluded by 7 p.m.

What is their status and will there be legislation?

On the first issue, the Deputy should table a question to the Minister. On the second question, I do not believe it requires legislation but I must check that.

Is the Taoiseach aware that a convicted sex offender worked as a school bus driver for special needs children in County Laois this year? In light of the policy in Britain and Northern Ireland in regard to vetting people, what is the Government's position regarding the register of persons considered unsafe to work with children? What work has been done in this regard? I had to resort——

It does not arise on the Order of Business.

It is on the legislative agenda.

I refer the Deputy to the recommendations of the child protection joint working group. The legislation arises out of a North-South ministerial council. I do not have a date for this but the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Health and Children are having discussions on the establishment of a pre-employment consultancy service. They are trying to make progress in this area. While I do not have a date for this, meetings on the issue were held recently.

The building control Bill is to be published this session. A part of the Bill, which relates to the EU directive on the energy performance of buildings, must be enacted by 1 January. Will the Taoiseach give a specific indication if the Bill will be published on time to allow the House to have a proper debate on the contents?

I will bring the matter to the attention of the Minister. The Bill is due to be published this session but I take the Deputy's point that it should be published on time so that it can be debated in the House.

Ten weeks ago the Tánaiste denied that two million home help hours were cut. She promised to release the figures immediately but this has not happened. I am aware there is no legislation——

On the legislation, Deputy.

Perhaps there should be legislation for the Government to tell the truth but on this occasion I ask for the regulations to deal with the health Bill. It would release the flow of information to Deputies that they have not yet received.

The Bill is due early next year.

When does the Government intend to introduce the third level students' support Bill, particularly in view of the fact that there is such a delay in some local authorities and that there is much inconsistency and lack of information in regard to third level grants?

Consultations are taking place on the third level students' support Bill between the Department and the relevant stakeholders. I do not have a date but these discussions are ongoing.

A Cheann Chomhairle, I think you will agree with me in your capacity as a medical doctor that the biggest——

I am not involved in agreeing or disagreeing with any Member of the House except on Standing Orders.

In your capacity as a medical doctor, you have often given us good advice at the end of term to take a holiday etc. You will agree with me that the biggest drug problem we face is not cocaine but alcohol. I ask the Taoiseach why has the sales promotions Bill covering the control of advertising, sponsorship and marketing practices of alcohol products disappeared? It seems the task force recommendations on alcohol abuse will not be implemented.

The Deputy should stick to the legislation because a number of Deputies are offering.

The legislation exists to protect children and adolescents from over-exposure to alcohol advertising. It appears the Government is kowtowing to vested interests in the alcohol industry.

As voluntary agreements have been reached with the alcohol and advertising industries, the Department wishes to postpone the introduction of the legislation pending the outcome of these voluntary arrangements.

It will be far more effective.

Will the Taoiseach return his attention to the building control Bill? Has the Bill been completed and is it ready for publication?

It is due to come before the House this session. I do not know precisely when it will be ready.

It has not yet been passed by the Cabinet in its completed form?

In view of the obvious focus on energy matters at present, would it be possible for the Taoiseach to indicate that the energy miscellaneous provisions Bill might be brought to the House earlier than anticipated in view of the vast range of issues that could be dealt with under the Bill?

It will be before the House this session.

It should be earlier.

I want to raise what has become a hardy annual, namely, the Whistleblowers Protection Bill, which is scheduled to go to committee since 1999. Only the ground rent Bill is longer awaiting passage in the House. I ask the Taoiseach for clarification on this matter because, in the last session, Members of the Government gave two contradictory views, namely, that they were not continuing with the stand-alone Bill, they would incorporate it into individual Bills, but when an amendment to an individual Bill was submitted, we were told it would be part of a stand-alone Bill. What is the Government's position on the issue?

It is now considered that the provision of statutory protection for whistleblowers on a sectoral basis would provide a better and more focused approach to dealing with the issue, for example, in section 4 of the Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act and section 50 of the Competition Act. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 provides protection against dismissal and penalisation of employees who in good faith take steps to protect themselves or others in the workplace. This is already taking place in sectoral legislation.

I want clarity in the matter.

The Deputy should allow Deputy Broughan to ask a question because we want to move on to the next business.

I welcome the Taoiseach's comments following the disgraceful treatment of the Irish Ferries workforce.

It does not arise on the Order of Business.

I am asking about the fisheries and maritime jurisdiction Bill. Is it the Taoiseach's intention to deal with some of the serious matters that have arisen in regard to Irish Ferries? The Title of the Bill has changed. Does the Taoiseach support——

There is a maritime Bill. However, it does not relate to that issue, it relates to transport-related matters.

Cathain a fhoilseofar na leasuithe don Bhille chun Údarás na Gaeltachta a leasú?

Will it be early or late?

They do not tell me that.

The roof, thankfully, is back on the swimming pool at Abbotstown, County Dublin. The Abbotstown Bill 2005 is No. 1 on the Government's legislative programme but the Minister for Finance announced he is blocking funding for this. What is the future of the Abbotstown centre?

I call the Taoiseach on the legislation.

The Government had better hurry up before the roof is blown off again.

As the Deputy said, it is No. 1 on the list. A total of 1 million people have used the centre over the past few years.

Yes, but the Minister for Finance has announced he will not provide funding for the centre.

He did not say that.