Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 14, Markets in Financial Instruments and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2007 — Committee Stage (resumed) and Remaining Stages; No. 8c, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of a proposal for a Council regulation extending the provisions of Regulation (EC) 883/2004; No. 3, Passports Bill 2007 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 13 — Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2006 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on Committee and Remaining Stages of No. 14 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at noon today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance; the proceedings on No. 8c shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion within 60 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the speeches of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and Labour Party, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed five minutes in each case; Members may share time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes.

There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 14 agreed?

No, the Labour Party will not agree to take this item until arrangements are made to enable the Minister for Transport to come before the House to make a comprehensive statement and answer questions about the state of his knowledge concerning the removal of the Shannon-Heathrow service. We have learned in recent days from freedom of information requests submitted by theIrish Examiner and parliamentary questions tabled by Deputy Kieran O’Donnell that the Department was aware as of 13 June that the Shannon-Heathrow service was at risk. The Minister wants us to believe he did not receive the note prepared for him in the Department; was not informed or briefed on the matter when he took office or at any time subsequently; that on the occasions he discussed Aer Lingus with his officials between 13 June and the end of July, as he must have done, the issue was not raised; that when news of the removal of the Shannon-Heathrow service broke at the end of July, he was not informed that his Department had this information in its possession; that he and his ministerial colleagues were repeatedly allowed out to tell the public they knew nothing of the withdrawal of the service; that news of the decision came as a bolt from the blue for them; and that no one in the Department told him anything about the issue. Having kept him in the dark about all of this, he now thinks so highly of the Department that he proposes to have it investigate itself on all these matters.

The Minister must make a statement on this matter in the House today and Deputies must have an opportunity to question him on it. The bottom line is that the Department was aware of Aer Lingus's plans on 13 June and the Government had a six-week period within which it could have intervened to prevent the removal of the Heathrow service from Shannon Airport. In these circumstances, the Labour Party will oppose the proposal, unless the Tánaiste outlines beforehand what arrangements will be made for the Minister to come into the House to respond to these matters.

It is essential that the House address this important issue. Before the decision to privatise Aer Lingus was made, the House was promised a White Paper which would address the strategy implications of privatisation for the country, including in the key area of regional policy. A White Paper has not been produced. In addition, we have discovered that the Minister did not appoint representatives to the Aer Lingus board who would convey Government opinion and policy. Protection against the leasing or switching of the slots at Heathrow Airport was not built in to the process and the vehicles the Government dreamed up to protect regional strategy proved to be unworkable. We now learn that, six weeks before a decision was made, officials in the Department circulated a note to the airport authority in which they raised this fact and that a second note was prepared either for the former or current Minister. Who in the Government is in charge if a Minister does not know of an issue of such importance? It was a core part of the strategy of the Department of Transport and the Minister was not informed. Huge questions must be asked at some stage in the Dáil today.

Apart from the Minister, who knew of this? Did the retiring Minister know? Did other Departments know and what did they do about it? Why were systems not set up from the very start, by Government, to ensure that matters of such tremendous importance to regional strategy were immediately conveyed to Ministers so that effective action could be taken? It seems that the Government just wanted something to happen, but did not put any policy in place to make it happen. That is very clear from the notes circulated today. The departmental note of 13 June acknowledged that Aer Lingus was free to redeploy its slots to new services at the very time Ministers were telling the Dáil that we had a strategy to protect against such. It is a total shambles.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

It goes to the heart of governance. If the Government seeks to achieve certain policy objectives, it must have an information network to inform it and the policy tools to deliver them. In this case, the Department had neither. The Minister, plainly, is not in control of his Department. This is a serious issue——

He lacks something.

——on which the public is being let down by the Government that serves them, primarily because it did not put a strategy in place that could deliver the objectives it had assured people would be delivered.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

We are paying enough for advisers.

Even the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Dea, was not informed.

And he is usually very alert.

Deputy Willie O'Dea would have fought with the Minister.

The Minister for Transport knew.

(Interruptions).

The heavyweight champion of the world.

It was a sell-out.

Deputy Morgan.

I agree with previous speakers and ask that time be afforded to this House today to allow the Minister to lay an explanation before the House. There are huge issues of accountability and around the decision-making processes in an organisation where the Government should ensure that strategic infrastructure is delivered, which it has not in this instance. The impetus for any type of balanced regional development has been lost on foot of what happened so it is crucial that the House is afforded an opportunity to discuss the matter today and the Minister is afforded the courtesy of setting out his case.

Before calling on the Tánaiste to respond and if it is of assistance, I have received a number of Private Notice Questions and am disposed towards allowing them to be asked.

We will abide by the Ceann Comhairle's ruling in these matters. The Minister for Transport will take oral questions today and there are two priority questions on Shannon-Heathrow. There will be an opportunity by way of these mechanisms for the Minister to outline the position he described frankly and openly this morning. He has arranged for a report——

The Minister is accountable to the Dáil.

As usual, it must be dragged out of him.

(Interruptions).

——to be forwarded to him in a matter of days. There will be an opportunity to discuss these issues today.

The position is clear. We must abide by the Standing Orders and I have given a fair amount of latitude. The Tánaiste has responded to the legitimate questions asked by party leaders. If the item is not agreed, I have no alternative but to put the question. Is it agreed?

I will put the question.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 14 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 52.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Dan Neville and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8c agreed.

It is not agreed. I appreciate the Ceann Comhairle's offer to agree to special notice questions on the issue raised today. That was very fair. However, the Government needs to make time available to deal with this. While the Minister for Transport will answer questions in the House today, the questions were tabled a week ago before we had possession of the information that his Department knew about this matter in June.

A Deputy

Hear, hear.

Arrangements for special notice questions on Thursdays are usually quite time restrictive. There is a necessity for the Minister to make a full statement to the House and for any questions arising to be taken. I again ask the Tánaiste to make that time available.

Have the courage to debate it.

The public has been conned on the issue of Shannon. When the Shannon issue broke we were told that the Government knew nothing about it, that the matter was dropped on it by the company and that it could not intervene. We now know that the line Department knew about this in June and that there was plenty of time to have the matter dealt with, the decision changed and an intervention brought about.

There is an area of doubt, though, because if the Department knew about this, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, should have known.

He should have known.

Everyone, including the Minister, Deputy Willie O'Dea, knew.

It is hard to believe that the Minister did not know about this and his interview on the matter on radio this morning was less than convincing. He should come before the House to explain his situation. A better solution than the Department merely investigating itself on this matter must be arranged because the facts must be established. The issue should be examined independently by a person who is not a member of the permanent Government club.

It was a political failure, not a systems failure.

There must be political accountability to the House because we do not want a repeat of what happened before when Ministers did not read briefs or told us they were unaware of certain things. In those cases people in the Civil Service fell on their swords. I insist that there must be political accountability on this matter. The Minister must come before the House, answer for himself, take questions and take responsibility.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

The Ceann Comhairle is correct in offering a Private Notice Question and we accept it as valuable, but this issue is too deep to cover in such a constrained amount of time. A private notice question offers only half an hour at maximum, which is less than the usual hour that is frequently allowed on questions like this. On this side of the House there are at least six Deputies with Private Notice Questions and there are serious concerns about issue here.

On an issue vital to Government strategy the assistant secretary of a Department rang the chief executive of Aer Lingus and the airport authority but, we are supposed to believe, no contact was made with the Minister, the most influential individual in determining the direction of Government strategy.

We knew it was unbelievable all along.

The Minister should take responsibility.

Even if one were to believe that, it shows that the Minister had not put in place mechanisms whereby he would be informed in time of issues that are important to his strategy so that he would have the opportunity to act on them. Regardless of whether we believe that the Minister knew nothing, there must be accountability because, one way or the other, the Minister did not put in place the necessary structures in his Department. His predecessor, the Minister, Deputy Martin Cullen, who I hope will also participate in a debate, did not put in place structures in his Department that would allow a core issue to be notified to the top of the Department so that effective action could be taken to deal with it. As Deputy Gilmore said, the public was sold a pup. We were led to believe the Government had a strategy when there was none. This matter cannot be passed over as a routine question as it is a core element of Government strategy. The Government must step up to the plate, take responsibility and face the debate in this House in a proper manner.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

They all knew all along.

The implications of this matter could be profound indeed because had the Minister made himself aware of what was about to happen the prospects of a different outcome to the Aer Lingus decision are clear. We know that Ministers are not accountable because it has been evident in issues such as e-voting and other debacles, but on this occasion it is important that the Minister come before the House to make a statement with questions to follow. I support the call for an independent investigation in the Department to find out exactly what happened, to be followed by a published report.

The issue under discussion is a proposal for a Council regulation extending the provisions of EU social security regulations. The Ceann Comhairle has already ruled on the previous matter. The Minister has always been anxious to put the details of this matter on the record of the House.

It is a complete abdication of responsibility.

He should make time for the matter.

The political charges and assertions made this morning for the purposes of the Opposition are not valid. The Minister will be in the House today and it is for the Ceann Comhairle to decide the length of time given to a Private Notice Question. The Minister is available and anxious to address the matter today and there are two Priority Questions dealing with it. The Opposition is seeking to manufacture an argument on the matter this morning.

This is coming from a man who hopes to lead the country and he has made a political blunder.

On a point of order, am I correct in saying that it is not for the Ceann Comhairle to order Government business and that it is open to the Government to provide time for the Minister to answer questions in an open debate? The Minister is hiding behind the Chair and is reneging on his responsibilities. The Government has the right and the obligation to provide time for this matter but it is too funky to do so.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 8c be agreed to.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 50.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Dan Neville and Emmet Stagg.

I hope the Tánaiste has taken on board the strength of feeling on this side of the House with regard to accountability on this important issue and that he will at least use maximum discretion to provide time for a debate on it. I am sure that by the end of today's session we will still have unanswered questions and that the Dáil will, once again, have been found unable to fulfil its duty and obligation to properly scrutinise Ministers. I expect that will be the disappointment at the end of today'ssession.

Yesterday we heard another Minister describe the position on pensions as unsustainable and state that to do nothing would be disastrous. Why has that Minister then decided to defer making any decisions on pension legislation? We were told that after the review, decisions would be made on such legislation. The previous incumbent, Deputy Brennan, expressed the clear view that a one-for-one system should be proceeded with, but now the decision has yet again been deferred. Will the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance move to bring forward, at least, the one-for-one proposal made by the previous Minister as a way of moving forward in a practical way. The Minister must not continue with the charade of continuous consultation which, in the case of issues such as public transport regulation, has left us without a decision for decades.

It is interesting that in discussions on policy evolution and development Deputy Bruton is to the fore in the House in calling for considered consultation papers and highlighting the need for Green Papers to be provided in order that informed debate can take place.

The Tánaiste had a consultation paper less than 12 months ago. Now he is looking for another round of consultations.

I obviously paid the Deputy a compliment he could not accept. This is a matter of complexity and importance which looks to the long-term financial, economic and social sustainability of the pension system. It must take into account many factors, including the actuarial review that has taken place with regard to the PRSI system. A number of major documents were published and placed in the public domain yesterday for discussion by the many interested parties involved. The Minister has indicated that it will take until the middle of next year for that informed discussion to take place. It is important we get it right because of the significant implications. Making wrong decisions would have serious implications, not just in the immediate future for our finances, but also in the long term. People should first consider and absorb the important work that resulted in the publication of the Green Paper. We must look at all the options and measures for consideration before deciding on the direction we should take. It is about a strategy for the long term, not the next two, three or four years. While successful initiatives were brought forward which increased the savings ratio in the economy and reintroduced a culture of saving to this generation in a way not envisaged before their success, the Opposition did not agree with some of them and suggested some had not been properly set up. However, they proved very successful. Rather than seeking immediate decisions on the publication of a Green Paper, it would be better if everyone internalised and debated the matter. We would then have a better prospect of coming to the right strategic decisions in due course.

I agree with Deputy Bruton on the need for a debate on the Shannon issue and hope the Ceann Comhairle, as indicated, will allow Private Notice Questions on the issue later today. One of the committees proposed to be established by the Government is a transport committee. The Labour Party intends to propose to that committee that the Ministers currently and previously in the Department of Transport on 13 June, as well as their officials, be invited to attend and outline their knowledge of the matters relating to Shannon and answer questions. Will the Government agree to this proposal?

I understand the constituency commission which deals with Dáil and European election constituency boundaries is due to report to the Ceann Comhairle before the end of this month. When does he expect to receive that report?

The work to be undertaken by committees is a matter for each committee. It seems clear from Deputy Gilmore's statement that he has made up his mind on these matters already and sees an opportunity in so doing. The Minister is anxious to come into the House to explain the position in respect of the matter not brought to his attention but which everyone agrees should have been.

Substantive work on the electoral amendment Bill will commence when the commission report is available. That report has not yet been received.

I understand the commission report may be available next Tuesday.

On a point of order, when formerly in this House, it was my understanding that if a Minister deliberately or inadvertently misled the House on an issue, the tradition was a statement would be made by him or her to the House. That was the position until 2002. Am I to take it that in the context of the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, having given this House misleading information about the knowledge within his Department of what was happening in Shannon——

No, I cannot allow you do that.

The tradition that the Minister would come before the House and make a statement has been abandoned by this Cabinet.

I cannot allow that. I call Deputy Timmins.

I suggest, Sir, that before any questions are answered the Minister——

I have called Deputy Timmins. The Deputy is out of order.

——abide by the tradition of the House and make a statement, as previous Ministers have done in circumstances where they misled the House.

That used to be the old way.

I have given leaders of parties great latitude on this matter. I am not revisiting it now. We have to have some order, Deputy Shatter.

My understanding is that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is going to Lisbon later today. Will he use that opportunity to express the concern of this House at the decision of the Turkish Parliament to give the green light to a possible invasion of Iraq?

That will not do; that does not pass the litmus test. I call Deputy Bannon.

Will the Minister relay that concern? He should threaten them with the Minister, Deputy O'Dea.

No. You can wish himbon voyage if you want. I call Deputy Bannon.

Now that the Government has done a U-turn on mandatory alcohol testing at road accidents, when can we expect legislation in this area? As this matter is urgent, will legislation be published before Christmas?

That matter was discussed last night, as I understand it.

The road safety strategy was adopted by Government in recent weeks and therefore work will begin on it.

Will the Tánaiste clarify the position regarding the criminal law defence of life and property Bill? The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan, told the Irish Council for Civil Liberties this summer that the Government would not be proceeding with that Bill yet the legislative programme states the heads have been agreed. There are strong grounds for concern about the Bill, a Cheann Comhairle——

You can express those on Second Stage. You can ask a question on it now.

I ask the Tánaiste to clarify the position regarding the Bill because there is no doubt that an unintentional——

That is it. We understand the question.

We are awaiting a Law Reform Commission report, which is due next year, before deciding in what way or if we will proceed with that issue.

A number of Deputies on this side of the House have been trying to find out from the Government which Minister is responsible for the marine. That business has not been well cleared up by the Government. In fact, things are getting fishier. On 12 October a statutory instrument was published, this is secondary legislation, in the name of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. On 16 October a statutory instrument was published, secondary legislation, in the name of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Another reshuffle.

Has a new Department been created? Has there been a reshuffle? Do we not have a Minister for energy now?

No Ministers with energy.

Is a Minister double-jobbing?

You can ask a question on secondary legislation if you wish, Deputy McManus.

Can I also ask if those statutory instruments are now legal? What is going on——

Which office does he go to in the morning?

I hope he does not go to Clonakilty because poor Deputy Sheehan could not get through on the telephone.

No wonder he cannot find him in the phone book.

The Deputy asked if the statutory instruments were legal. That is not a matter for the Tánaiste.

No, I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle——

The presumption is that they are.

I am sorry. I did not hear the Tánaiste.

He said they are. I call Deputy Creed.

This is important, a Cheann Comhairle. This is about the way the Government manages its affairs and how the public can relate to the Government. It appears we now have two different Departments that have been declared as responsible for statutory instruments inIris Oifigiúil. That is untenable. The Tánaiste might treat this matter with a little more respect. What is the position? Who is responsible for the marine? What is the name of the Department and how will that issue be addressed?

The Deputy will have to put down a question about that.

I do not know if there is any substance to what the Deputy has said. I will have the Minister's office contact her. There is a legal presumption that they are in order.

What is the name of the Department?

No one is responsible.

On promised legislation, the Taoiseach may have inadvertently misled the House yesterday and perhaps the Tánaiste might wish to correct the record. I raised the issue of country of origin labelling and the Taoiseach said no such legislation was promised yet it is mentioned in the programme for Government and in a press release issued by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food this week. Where is the promised legislation on country of origin labelling and when will it be published?

Is legislation promised?

It is not on our list. Ministers work on these issues and initiatives as they go through their five year term. A direct question to the Minister would indicate the progress she expects to make.

I take it no legislation is promised in this area.

It is not on the list.

There is no legislation on the list. There are initiatives in the programme for Government that we work on subject to the availability of resources. That is the normal course.

It is good to know that.

The Whips meet every Tuesday and deal with requests from Departments and the Opposition from matters that arise in the House and put together, as best they can, a programme for the week. The practice has developed now where, during the week, Ministers who are not keeping their eye on the ball are putting down motions for debate which they expect to be rubber-stamped in the Chamber without any notice. No. 8c on today’s Order Paper has been on the Minister’s desk since 25 July but it must be dealt with today as a matter of urgency.

We cannot go back on that, Deputy.

I am not suggesting we can but perhaps you could convey to Departments or Ministers that this practice should not become the norm.

You have conveyed it now, Deputy Stagg.

There are two Bills in respect of which the heads have yet to be approved by Government, namely, the electricity (transfer of transmission assets) Bill and the electricity regulation (EirGrid)(amendment) Bill. In view of the current lack of consultation in other areas, will the Tánaiste indicate whether discussions are ongoing among the various interested parties and the relevant Department or if these matters have been discussed recently at Cabinet?

He cannot do that. On the legislation, Tánaiste.

It was not discussed recently. That is a question for legislation next year, I understand.

That does not answer the question.

Can I ask the Tánaiste, who is answering for the Government today, where a document is prepared in a Department marked for the Minister's attention, what is the procedure for bringing that document to the Minister's attention?

That is very interesting but you can ask about it in the afternoon.

It is very interesting. It is a general question. If something is marked for the Minister's attention it should be brought to the Minister's attention.

We have only until midday to deal with the legislation before the House and it is now 11.30 a.m.

(Interruptions).

I will ask the question.

What is the position regarding management companies? Thousands of people who buy homes now are subject to management companies.

If we start that game we will be here for the night. What legislation is the Deputy speaking about?

In the last Dáil and on the list we were promised legislation, namely, the property services regulatory authority Bill.

Ask about that.

I understand the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is also taking an interest in this area. Who will deal with management companies in the future? It is listed for the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform but I understand the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, as he should, will take an interest in this issue. Thousands of people are now living in homes subject to very high management company charges, perhaps not in Kerry, a Cheann Comhairle, but in Dublin West people are paying €2,000 a year to have a little bush clipped at the front of their house.

On the Order of Business "what" and "when" may be relevant but "who" is not. That is the point.

It is important to many young people buying houses. We should be clear about that.

I understand the property services regulatory authority Bill is due next year.

As you are aware, Sir, Article 35.4 of the Constitution gives absolute power to this House and the other House to remove a Supreme Court or a High Court judge on the basis of stated misbehaviour of incapacity. Given the circumstances of the case that came to public attention last year, and the Curtin case, and the view of the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, which is five years established, that we should implement legislation surrounding that article in the Constitution, has the Government plans to introduce legislation on foot of the unanimous view of both sides of the House that we must deal with this issue sooner rather than later? We faced this issue before and we are likely to face it again.

We did indeed, but I wonder if legislation is promised in this area.

There are draft heads of a judicial council Bill, the purpose of which is to provide effective remedies for complaints about judicial misbehaviour including lay participation in the investigation of the complaints, in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The draft heads, taking into account the work done by the Constitution Review Group, the All-Party Committee on the Constitution and the Chief Justice's committee on judicial ethics are the subject of certain consultations at present. That is where the work referred to by the Deputy now rests.

Last night, the House agreed a formula with the Minister for Transport for the testing for alcohol at the scene of serious accidents. The Minister agreed to refer the matter to the Attorney General before he introduced legislation. Will that process include other drugs besides alcohol?

That question is not relevant to the Order of Business. It deals with the content of legislation.

The House agreed a process for legislation last night after much agonising debate.

Deputy Broughan, you know we cannot revisit that matter.