Order of Business (Resumed).

Following the Taoiseach's announcement that Mrs. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will be Ireland's new EU Commissioner, will he invite her here to discuss her new portfolio when it is agreed, and to discuss the new relationship between the European Commission and the European Parliament in the context of the Lisbon Treaty?

Today's newspapers reported that Denmark has done a deal with the United States on the Copenhagen climate change conference. We were led to believe that the outcome would be a legally-binding agreement, but it will be no such thing. It appears the Copenhagen event will be a damp squib. Was the Irish Government a party to that decision? The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley, made so much of the issue but was absent from the meeting where the decision apparently was made. Does he know anything about this? What is the Government's position concerning this matter? The EU was supposed to be leading the way on climate change, yet it now seems to have done a sweet-heart deal behind everybody's backs. At least, one country appears to have done so and it will make it much more difficult to meet any of the Kyoto targets or to build on them.

I would not agree with the characterisation the Deputy puts on Denmark's chairmanship of this process. It has given a huge amount of time, effort and commitment to this area. Obviously any global deal requires all parties to the proposed treaty to meet the necessary responsibilities.

That was supposed to happen in Copenhagen.

In recent times, only very optimistic people thought a treaty would be signed at Copenhagen. What is possible — the Danish chairmanship remains very committed to it — is obtaining a political framework to enable the detailed legal work to ensue after a global deal is achieved, hopefully at Copenhagen. It does not do that prospect any justice to suggest that in some way the Danes, in undertaking the onerous task as chair of this process, are in any way resiling from that commitment or effort. On the contrary, there has been an intensification at EU level to provide leadership in this area. At its recent meeting, the European Council confirmed that. In fact, the Commission President and the Swedish Presidency have been working hard in recent weeks — including trips to India, China and the United States — to try to ensure that other partners in this process will provide the same commitment to financial aspects of a global deal, as the Europeans have. I do not think the Deputy is correct in his assessment of the situation.

I am sorry, but my point was——

May I reply?

The Taoiseach without interruption.

Neither do I agree with what the Deputy said about the Minister, Deputy Gormley, who has been keeping closely abreast of this issue on an ongoing basis for obvious reasons, both in terms of his ministerial capacity and his interest in this area over many years.

As regards our nominee for the position of Irish European Commissioner-designate, it is open to the House to examine what arrangements it should have to invite representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to attend Oireachtas committees. Now that we have passed the Lisbon Treaty, it would ensure that people could see what benefits it brings, how we can improve the whole political narrative of Europe and how it interacts with our domestic politics. That is an issue for this House to consider urgently. I am favourably disposed to examining the ways we can assist in that matter. It is not just a question of the Irish nominee. When the Commission is chosen and approved, it will be a matter for all national parliaments to determine how to have structured dialogue therewith so as to keep up to date and ensure that the Commission will be able to hear national parliamentary perspectives on an ongoing basis.

My point——

The Deputy has had a good innings.

I appreciate what the Taoiseach has said but my point was that at the meeting of the European Council, attended by the Taoiseach two weeks ago, the talk was of a legally binding treaty at the Copenhagen conference.

We now find that is no longer the case. Is the Taoiseach going to the conference on 1 December——

The Deputy will have to find an alternative way of pursuing the matter. I have allowed him considerable latitude.

It is a real question.

The Deputy should be very brief.

It refers to the climate change Bill we will be introducing in 2010. It is now up in the air because, although there is to be a political decision of some description made in Copenhagen, there will be no legally binding deal. We have only now discovered this. It is not how it was supposed to be. I understood from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley, that it was not how the Irish Government was approaching the issue. It was approaching it in the context of there being a legally binding deal.

The Deputy will have to park this and find another way of addressing it.

Did the Minister have any say in the new arrangements or has he been involved at all?

The Deputy is mistaken. At the European Council meeting, it was very clear from all who spoke that it was unlikely that a legally binding deal will be made at Copenhagen given the rate of progress thus far, but that we will seek to establish a political framework that will enable the technical and legal drafting to take place thereafter on the basis of a committed deal by all partners. If all global partners do not sign up to a deal, it will not happen at Copenhagen and we will have to continue to work on the issue. It will not go away after the meeting in Copenhagen.

Do we have a position on it?

It is incorrect for the Deputy to suggest everyone was suggesting at the European Council meeting that there would be a legally binding deal. That was not the case.

On a point of information on the same subject, I appreciate the Taoiseach is indicating there is a setback in the climate change negotiations. Will he clarify whether he will still be travelling to Copenhagen? It is very important that whatever effort can be made is made to ensure that we will make real progress rather than have stalemate at the talks in Copenhagen.

We have indicated our preparedness to travel on the basis of the work that is ongoing and that we hope we will be in a position to pursue a deal at Copenhagen. Obviously, all Heads of Government are indicating their preparedness to travel on the basis that a deal will be possible. We must await the outcome of the negotiations.

Regarding Nos. 56 to 58, inclusive, in section C of the Government's legislative programme, it is indicated that publication of No. 56 is expected in 2010 but that it is not possible to indicate when Nos. 57 and 58 will be published. Given the urgent need to introduce the legislation, will the Taoiseach inform the House whether it is deemed necessary and desirable to introduce it before it is expected to be brought in according to the legislative programme in view of the issues raised by Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business and the comments of various other Members over the past year in particular?

There is no date for Nos. 57 and 58. No. 56 will probably be introduced next year.

On the same issue——

Sorry, Deputy. I call Deputy Kathleen Lynch.

In view of the fact that there will be a national strike next Tuesday, has the Taoiseach made any provision to ensure both Houses of the Oireachtas will continue to function?

That is a matter for the Houses.

I must advise the Deputy——

If it is not a matter for the Order of Business, I do not know what is.

The matter is being considered by officials and, naturally, the disposition is to ensure the Dáil——

Is that the Taoiseach's answer or that of the Ceann Comhairle?

——will sit next Tuesday. It is a matter for the House.

Is that the Taoiseach's answer or that of the Ceann Comhairle?

That is my own answer.

Will the Ceann Comhairle be making provision for it?

I advise the Deputy that officials are considering and reflecting on the current position with the objective of having the House sit next Tuesday.

In the event that they decide not to be here, has the Taoiseach made provision for it? That was my question.

It is a matter for the House.

It is a matter for the House.

We will move on. I call Deputy Michael D. Higgins.

I am sorry if I appeared to anticipate my opportunity to speak. On the matter I raised last week, that is, the legislation on new regulatory arrangements and the governance of the Central Bank, it is simply not acceptable or satisfactory that no date for the legislation has been specified. The excuse used last week was that the Department of Finance has been very busy. We all know it has been very busy recently. If it had been busy last year or the preceding year, it would have been much better for the economy. Will the Taoiseach be able to state next week the year in which the legislation will be published? We are about to start a debate on the economy and most of the commentary will refer to failures of financial regulation and failures with respect to governance by the Central Bank and the Department of Finance. It is absolutely unacceptable that we should be discussing this——

There will be ample opportunity to ventilate that during the statements, which are to begin very shortly.

The media would like us to discuss how we will make cuts of €4 billion but we are not even to hear when we are to have the new legislation to deal with the failures of regulation.

The Deputy will be able to elaborate on these issues very shortly. We will move on.

We do not know when such legislation will be ready.

Legislation is being prepared on the proposal to bring together the Central Bank and the financial regulatory agency. I cannot state the date when it is expected to be published because obviously it must be considered by the Government. The work is ongoing and will be dealt with as quickly as possible.