It is proposed to take No. 11, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Official Languages Act 2003 (Public Bodies) Regulations 2006; and No. 3, the Finance Bill 2006 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 11 shall be decided without debate and supplementary questions Nos. 10 to 23 addressed to the Taoiseach on the Order Paper of today shall be taken before questions to the Taoiseach tomorrow at the commencement of Taoiseach's question time. Private Members' business shall be No. 41 — motion re Irish farming sector.
Order of Business.
There are two proposals to put to the House, namely, the proposal to deal with No. 11 without debate, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Official Languages Act 2003 (Public Bodies) Regulations 2006, and No. 3, the Finance Bill 2006, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.
Tá Pairtí an Lucht Oibre ag cur i gcoinne na tairisceana maidir le ceadú beartaithe ag Dáil Éireann i ndáil leis na Rialacháin um Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 (Comhlachtaí Poiblí) 2006. Is é an fáth go bhfuilimid ag cur ina choinne ná go bhfuiltear ag iarraidh orainn an rud seo a thógaint gan díospóireacht. Táimid á rá gur cheart go mbeadh díospóireacht ann i gcónaí nuair a thagann aon ábhar i leith na Gaeilge os comhair an Tí. Níor cuireadh na rialacháin seo faoi bhráid an chomhchoiste, fiú amháin.
The Labour Party is opposing the motion on the proposed approval by Dáil Éireann under the Official Languages Act 2003 of these two Schedules of organisations on the basis that it is being taken without debate. Even the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has not seen these regulations, nor has it had the opportunity to debate them. We seek a debate on these regulations in the Dáil and this is an ideal opportunity to review the operations of the Official Languages Act and for the Minister to explain why certain organisations are being included in the operations of the Act and others are not. In general, there is insufficient debate on Irish language affairs and an opportunity such as this should not be passed up.
Ní chuirfidh mé moill ar an Teach, ach is féidir liom a rá go bhfuil an tAcht an-tábhachtach i saol na tíre seo má táimid i ndáiríre faoin Ghaeilge. Táim den tuairim go mbeadh an Rialtas sásta go mbeadh díospóireacht ann dá mbeadh sí ag teastáil ón bhFreasúra. Táim ag rá thar ceann an Chomhaontais Ghlais go bhfuilimid ag iarraidh díospóireachta ar an gceist seo agus go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go dtuigfeadh na heagraíochtaí poiblí a ainmneofar anseo cad go díreach atá i gceist, dár linne, ó thaobh Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla de. Táimid ag cur i gcoinne Uimh. 11 anseo de bharr go bhfuilimid ag iarraidh díospóireachta. Táimid ag súil go mbeidh an Rialtas sásta díospóireacht a thabhairt dúinn.
Cuidím leis an méid a bhí le rá ag an Teachta O'Shea. Ba chóir go mbeadh díospóireacht againn sa Teach seo. I support the opposition to the proposition put before us, as articulated by Deputy O'Shea. This matter merits a full and participatory debate and it is all too seldom we have the opportunity to debate matters and measures on the Irish language and its application in the affairs of State. This is a further opportunity to examine the proposed introduction of regulations on the Irish language. Accordingly, I join my colleagues in opposing the proposition as presented.
Cuidím leis an rún atá molta ag an Teachta O'Shea. Ba mhaith liomsa go mbeadh díospóireacht ar an nGaeilge.
Cén fáth nach gcuireann sé síos é?
Is minic a labhraímid Gaeilge anseo, agus ní thagann faic as. Más sin an dearcadh atá ag Páirtí an Lucht Oibre agus na Teachtaí eile, aontaím leo.
I have no difficulty with such a debate. Deputy O'Shea indicates he will agree to a debate of two hours and the Minister will also agree. Tá mé i bhfábhar na díospóireachta.
Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for taking Questions Nos. 10 to 23, inclusive, before questions to the Taoiseach tomorrow agreed? Agreed. Has any arrangement been made for the two-hour debate?
The Whips will meet afterwards to arrange it.
Today we read the story of a school that had to pay €10,000 to parents of a child who was bullied. Since I raised the matter of the Martin report on indiscipline in schools, I have received a flood of correspondence from teachers and parents. Indiscipline seems to be endemic in some schools and is an issue that should be debated in this House. When will the Martin report on indiscipline be published?
I am concerned at a trend that seems to be emerging. The advice given by the Attorney General to the Government seems not to have been adhered to. For example, random breath testing was unconstitutional before Christmas but it is now both constitutional and legal.
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
His advice to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, to go to the United Nations in an effort to close down Sellafield was the wrong avenue and the Minister is now taking Britain and the European Commission to court.
The Deputy is departing from the Order of Business.
This is important.
Everything is important but it is does not arise on the Order of Business.
It does. I am aware that the Ceann Comhairle is from a land-locked county and that, if Ted Nealon's guide is correct, it is his birthday so I am going to give some flexibility. The advice given by the Attorney General was that it was impossible to introduce administrative fines in the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill.
That is not true. That is not the advice we received.
I do not know what advice was received but the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, does.
I ask Deputy Kenny to return to the Order of Business and ask the Minister not to interrupt Deputy Kenny and allow him to raise a matter appropriate to the Order of Business.
Will the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources be removed to save the Government from embarrassment because of fines imposed by Britain?
I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the appropriate Minister or raise the matter on the Adjournment.
How can the Minister publicly admit that organised criminality exists in the sea fishing industry and that he is doing nothing about it?
Deputy Kenny cannot continue in this vein during the Order of Business. He knows Standing Order 26 quite well.
In today's newspapers, the Minister with responsibility for the marine states that organised criminality exists in the sea fishing business. In respect of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill, currently in abeyance on Committee Stage——
It is still before the committee.
——what has been done about this organised criminality?
This does not arise on the Order of Business. I call the Taoiseach on the first question concerning the report.
As one of the Deputies in the Minister's party asked, how can we send a member of the Colombia Three to the United States with a presidential pardon while the son of a fisherman may be banned forever from entering the United States?
What has Fine Gael done?
I ask the Minister to allow Deputy Kenny to resume his seat. The Taoiseach on the first question.
I was trying to be helpful.
I have requested that progress on the Martin report be checked and for Deputy Kenny to be informed.
I thank the Taoiseach.
It emerged last week the Government does not know whether it is coming or going on the M50. I would like to hear the Taoiseach's views on legislation promised by the Secretary General of the Department at the Committee of Public Accounts. When will this legislation be before the House? Will it come before the House before the reshuffle of Ministers of State? The legislation would be concerned with whatever tolling——
Is the Deputy referring to the infrastructure Bill?
There is no point in the Taoiseach asking me. I do not know. The Taoiseach did not seem to know last week and the Minister for Transport now says it is not what he said on television at 9 o'clock. I do not know. There is no point asking me.
Deputy Rabbitte is making it up as he goes along.
What is the Government view of this? The unfortunate, hard-pressed motorist on the M50 certainly does not know and I have said that if the Minister raises four gantries, he will be strung up on one of them.
We cannot have a debate on the matter now.
I will allow for a briefing as it is clear the Minister for Transport and the Taoiseach do not speak frequently.
Is anyone surprised?
If they want a consultation on it, that is all right by me.
There is promised legislation on freeflow on the M50, which will come forward in due course.
With respect, this is not a response worthy of the Taoiseach. I asked a simple question, which the Ceann Comhairle accepts is admissible. When will the legislation be before the House?
While I am on my feet and the Taoiseach is receiving a more precise answer, what is the impediment to creating some new vacancies among these underworked Ministers of State and promoting some eager backbenchers?
The Deputy should allow the Taoiseach to answer his question on legislation.
Is there any help the Opposition can give as the vacuum created is becoming embarrassing?
The answer to the first question is 2006 and, regarding the second question, I am keeping the vacancy open for Deputy Rabbitte.
We will be waiting a long time.
I have raised a matter of promised legislation for several years. The response is always that the legislation is pending, coming soon or that the legislation is large and difficult. This matter dates back to 1990, before I was elected to this House. According to reports, the Abbey Theatre will have charitable status. Legally, this requires a charities regulation Bill. The previous Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform did not introduce the Bill and I wonder if the incumbent will introduce it. Is it the case that it has been introduced unofficially and we have not been informed of this? I would like to know whether it will be published this year as we have been told. Will the Taoiseach give us an assurance? It has slipped year by year. If it is not brought forward this year——
The Taoiseach will answer the question on legislation.
There is no point in indicating a year.
It is due to be published this year.
It was due to be published last year.
That is fantastic progress.
It is great progress on nothing.
Before Christmas the Taoiseach promised us that the electricity Bill was due to come before the House in the next session. However, suddenly and mysteriously it disappeared off the promised legislation paper. What was the cause of this? Did the Minister get an electric shock? Has he seen or heard something that has convinced him to do nothing in this area? Will the Taoiseach give an indication as to whether the Deloitte & Touche report is likely to be incorporated in that legislation or the Single Electricity Market Bill, the only similar Bill on the clár?
I do not believe it was promised last year.
It was promised several times.
The legislation is still under discussion and will take some considerable time to complete.
It was promised, with publication expected in mid-2006.
While the Taoiseach may not be embarrassed by the M50 debacle, I wonder whether he is embarrassed by the fact that elderly people and their relatives come to our clinics wondering when they will receive the money robbed from them. I am embarrassed because I told them the legislation would be introduced last autumn. That was what the Minister for Health and Children told me. I then told them it would be introduced before Christmas because that was what I was told by the Minister for Health and Children. When exactly can we tell them that they will get back their money which was robbed from them?
The Tánaiste advises me that the legislation will be before the House this session. The scheme to pay out should be in place this summer.
Given the fact that the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission has now been discredited and the fact that it is the child of British securocrats, will the Taoiseach support an Independent Monitoring Commission repeal Bill brought forward by Sinn Féin Deputies last week? Will he allow Government time to take it and will he support it?
Regarding the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill which is indicated in the current schedule for legislation and expected in mid-2006, will the Taoiseach indicate whether it will be addressed in the course of this or the subsequent term of this Dáil?
The Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill is due to be published this summer. Regarding the first issue, there is no proposal for change.
Will the Taoiseach examine it?
Will the Taoiseach clarify the legal opinion and the factual position on the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005? The Bill has been discussed for the past couple of months——
The Bill is before a committee and does not arise on the Order of Business.
Regarding the conflicting opinions on administrative sanctions, in his reply today the Minister stated the Bill was deemed unsuitable. Last week he stated it was unconstitutional——
We cannot debate the matter on the Order of Business.
Last week it was deemed unconstitutional. In a reply from the Minister today it was deemed unsuitable. There is a big difference between unconstitutional and unsuitable.
It is like random breath testing.
It is a serious issue.
In support of Deputy Perry, the committee debate on the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005 collapsed this morning. We heard a fine valedictory speech from the outgoing Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Gallagher, who apparently has a different legal opinion from the Taoiseach. The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Noel Dempsey, has a third legal opinion and the Attorney General a fourth.
I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the appropriate Minister.
This Government is putting forward four legal views——
The Deputy should get on with the Bill and not put the taxpayer——
It is before the committee and does not arise on the Order of Business.
On a point of order, is it possible for the Attorney General to attend the committee meeting tomorrow?
The matter does not arise on the Order of Business.
Is it possible to organise that because we are at sixes and sevens?
The Deputy is at sixes and sevens.
The 15 or 16 failures——
The Bill is before the committee and a matter for it.
How many is it now?
I will remind the Deputy——
If the Deputy has a question, he should submit it to the Minister.
The 26 failures of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Dempsey——
We cannot discuss the matter on the Order of Business.
He had 15 failures when he left the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The number is now 25 or 26. We are in another mess. It is a total disaster.
The Bill is being discussed by the committee but the Deputies do not want to hear the answers.
We have four legal opinions and no one to arbitrate. A Minister of State, Deputy Gallagher, is being tortured by the Government.
I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the Minister and that he answer it in an orderly and appropriate way.
The Minister of State is a decent man but he is being tortured. He is being harpooned by the Government.
I ask Deputy Broughan to resume his seat.
The Minister of State is destroying the fishing industry.
He is up the creek without a paddle.
Two Deputies cannot speak at the same time. Deputy Broughan should resume his seat. He has had a good innings.
Will the Taoiseach clarify whether the Bill is constitutional?
That is not a matter for the Taoiseach or this House. It is a matter for——
It is just a question.
Someone should state the answer. The Taoiseach knows.
Will the Taoiseach comment on the Bill?
Make it to the committee tomorrow.
A Bill on Committee Stage cannot be discussed on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Gormley.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle.
If Deputy Perry does not resume his seat, we will move on to the next business and Deputy Gormley who has been orderly will have to wait until tomorrow.
We will discuss the Bill tomorrow at the committee meeting. Deputy Perry is in the pocket of the fishing industry. He is the mouth of the fishermen.
Remember the electronic ballot boxes.
We cannot have a debate across the floor of the House.
The Minister stated I was the mouth of the fishermen. I am not. The Taoiseach sent a letter——
I ask Deputy Perry to resume his seat.
This Bill will not go away.
The Deputy is correct. It will not.
It cannot be debated on the Order of Business. The Deputy must find another way.
On a point of order, is there a precedent for the Attorney General——
That is not a point of order.
——to attend the Dáil or a committee meeting?
The Chair does not want to ask the Deputy to leave the House——
I am seeking the Ceann Comhairle's guidance on the matter.
However, if he seems to wish to leave, the Chair will have no option.
My question is on promised legislation. The Taoiseach is aware that yesterday evening Dublin City Council voted in favour of a scheme for the sale of local authority flats. For this to happen a number of legislative proposals on the desk of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government since July must be enacted. The Taoiseach will agree that this is important and must happen. The legislation concerns the common areas of flat complexes, service charges and changes to the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1978. When will we see these changes come before the House?
The matter should be taken up in a question to the Minister. This issue was cleared yesterday and would need to be debated with the Minister.
Does the Taoiseach know whether there is legislation?
The Deputy should put a question to the Minister. Some of these issues did not come up previously, while some are old. It is best to put a question to the Minister.
Some old and some new.
An Electoral (Amendment) Bill to provide voting facilities for prisoners is listed. The heads have been agreed and the text is being drafted. Does the Bill deal with anything else in addition to voting rights for prisoners?
To the best of my knowledge, that is all that is provided for in the Bill. The Minister stated he would have it in approximately one month.
Perhaps the Taoiseach can help me with a procedural issue on the Order of Business. What is the procedure if a committee refuses to accept a Bill on Committee Stage?
That matter does not arise on the Order of Business. It is a matter entirely for the committee.
I will explain why it arises on the Order of Business.
The Chair has ruled on the matter.
May I explain why it arises on the Order of Business?
The Deputy does not need to explain anything. The Chair has ruled on the matter.
A current Bill, the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005, has been refused by the committee.
I ask Deputy Ryan to resume his seat.
On a point of order, how are we to get the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005——
That is not a point of order. I suggest the Deputy table a question to the Minister.
I have a question on the Order of Business regarding the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005.
That Bill cannot come before the House because it is already before a committee.
What is the Order of Business for——
I am not going to change Standing Orders. I call Deputy Lynch.
A Cheann Comhairle, I asked a question——
I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.
What is the Order of Business for if it is not for me to ask a question on the Order of Business?
I suggest the Deputy reads Standing Order 26. The Chair would only be too delighted to read it out to him. Then he will know what the Order of Business is for if he does not know already.
When will the national strategy on diabetes be published? It has been on the Minister for Health and Children's desk for a considerable length of time.
Is legislation promised?
The Taoiseach is at sea.
It relates to diabetes.
It is a strategy report.
There is no legislation promised.
Will the Taoiseach clarify the position in regard to two international conventions? I understand the optional protocol of the United Nations Convention Against Torture has been transferred to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for opinion and that it is his conclusion that Ireland will not sign or ratify it. In regard to the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, I understand the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may have advised the Government that it is not proceeding with ratification of that convention. Is that the case? Does the Government intend to ratify either or both of those conventions? Has it accepted advice not to ratify them?
I am not aware of either, so I will have to get a note for the Deputy.