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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 4 Feb 2010

Vol. 701 No. 2

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 18, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2010, which is back from committee; No. 4, Employment Agency Regulation Bill 2009 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to adjourn at 1.30 p.m. today, if not previously concluded; No. 29 — statements on the special report by the Ombudsman on the lost at sea scheme. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 18 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 29 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. today and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the statements of each other member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share time and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes.

There are two proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18 agreed to?

It is not agreed. It was agreed at the committee during the week that we would fund the horse and greyhound fund for the coming year. However, the intention of the legislation was that the funding would come from the tax on gambling. In 2002, after changing the legislation, Exchequer funding was provided linked to the consumer price index to top up that fund. To continue to do this is unsustainable. There are options in respect of taxation of on-line gambling and this must be put in place to sustain this fund.

I appreciate what the Deputy has said and it has been raised on a number of occasions when the issue of funding horses and greyhounds has been discussed. I am not in a position to say right now what proposals, if any, the Minister for Finance will consider to deal with the tax loss arising from on-line gambling. I am sure the secretary of the committee may be in a position to advise the Minister of the Deputy's concerns.

Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal to deal with No. 29 agreed to?

This is a proposal for dealing with the report from the Ombudsman regarding the complaint he received on the lost at sea scheme. The arrangements proposed by the Government on this issue are for statements to be made in the House today. That is fine as far as it goes, and I am glad the issue is to be discussed in the House. However, we have to decide how we will deal with this report. The core issue is ensuring that the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman is fully respected. This is the second time in the history of the office that a recommendation from the Ombudsman was rejected by a Department. On the previous occasion — a recommendation in 2002 concerning the Revenue Commissioners — it was referred to an Oireachtas committee and was eventually resolved. The arrangement proposed for today is that the House will have statements on the issue.

When the Ombudsman carries out an investigation and issues a report that is rejected by a Department, the recourse the Ombudsman has is to make a report on that to the Oireachtas, and it is then a matter for the Oireachtas to deal with it. Will the Government agree to have this matter considered by an Oireachtas committee, as was the case in 2002? I would like to hear the Tánaiste's opinion on it now, but I would also like to hear it during the statements today. It is not appropriate that this is dealt with by statements after which the House moves on. The House must make a decision. In cases where a recommendation is rejected, the Ombudsman states:

My only option when this arises is to seek the intervention of the Oireachtas. It now has the task of deciding who is right and who is wrong in the context of good administration and fairness to the complainant.

The Oireachtas must exercise its function in that regard. That should be done in a non-partisan way, which is why I suggest the best way of dealing with this is to refer it to an Oireachtas committee, as was done before.

On the previous occasion when the Ombudsman laid a report before the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service considered it. The precedent is that the report goes to the committee. I welcome the fact there will be statements but that does not constitute consideration of the report as requested by the Ombudsman. The conclusions of the previous investigation were that the recommendations in respect of the Revenue Commissioners' case should be implemented. The committee that considered it recommended all future recommendations of the Ombudsman's office should be automatically accepted. There is precedent in the manner in which these issues have been dealt with by the House and this should inform how we deal with the matter today. A sterile debate, as proposed by the Government, where there are statements but no detailed forensic examination of the Ombudsman's report is a slight on the Ombudsman's office and undermines public confidence. The fat cats of society can go in the front gate of Government Buildings but the ordinary citizen who has a complaint against the State only has access to the Ombudsman's office to deliver justice. That is what is at stake.

The matter cannot be swatted by the might of Government or the mere force of numbers in a Dáil debate.

When she referred her special report, the Ombudsman did not do so with the expectation that we would merely comment on her findings. She definitely expected we would collectively consider her report. That is the critical difference. What is provided for in the Order of Business is comment and statements. It never results in specific action or inter-exchange. It is critically important we provide a mechanism to allow for collective consideration of the detail of the Ombudsman's report. Accordingly, I support the other Opposition voices and urge all-party agreement that the Ombudsman's report on the lost at sea scheme be addressed in full session by the relevant committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas. That is the appropriate place to which it should be sent. We should reserve the opportunity to address the deliberations of the committee in the Chamber when it reports back. I hope we have agreement and that the Tánaiste will signal an acceptance of that proposition on behalf of the Government.

When this matter arose, the Taoiseach offered at the time that the matter would be discussed in committee.

That is not true.

That was not acceptable at the time and it was on that basis that we decided the matter would be discussed in plenary session.

It was not acceptable to Deputy Creed.

That is not true.

Deputy Creed should resume his seat.

I have heard comments indicating people's preference was always to have matters addressed in plenary session as opposed to in committee. We agree that it should be discussed in plenary session this afternoon.

Deputy Creed wanted a day out and he is getting it.

On a point of order——

It is not a point of order.

We have consistently raised this matter on this side of the House in the context that it should be debated initially as requested by the Ombudsman's office in both Houses of the Oireachtas and subsequently referred to committee for a forensically detailed examination. This is where it should rightfully be carried on. The Government is attempting to have a meaningless, sterile format, statements where there is no analysis. The Government is circling the wagons to protect one of its own. That is what is at stake. Deputy Fahey would welcome the opportunity to defend himself.

Deputy Creed should not make allegations he cannot stand over.

I ask Deputy Creed to resume his seat. We cannot have a full scale debate at this stage.

That is what is required. Another great day for democracy.

Was Deputy Reilly once lost at sea?

This is democracy.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 29 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 68; Níl, 63.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.


  • Behan, Joe.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.

That decision shows extraordinary contempt for the independent constitutional position of the Office of the Ombudsman.

I cannot allow a rehearsing of this issue.

I do not want to rehearse it. It is worth recalling that the Ombudsman does not have directive power. He or she has one power only, namely, to ask the Oireachtas to deliberate on these issues.


Hear, hear.

That is what we are doing, deliberating.

The Government's attitude shows——

All these matters can be raised during the statements.

No, they cannot.

The Chair is protecting the Government.

I am not. I have been fair in allowing contributions on this matter.

I wish to raise several issues on the Order of Business. The United States company, Kraft Foods, recently indicated its intention to take over Cadbury, which will have a significant impact on employment throughout the Cadbury group. Some 1,200 are employed by the company in this State between Coolock and Kerry. The British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Lord Mandelson, has met with the chief executive officer of Cadbury to seek to protect jobs in that jurisdiction, but the Tánaiste seems to be of the view that it would be inappropriate to intervene in this way. Will she reconsider this short-sighted position? There are extraordinary exposures for this company which has been a significant employer for a long time.

An issue that has come to public attention following the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is the situation where 4,000 trips were taken by persons, predominantly spouses, who were not staff members of the relevant agencies. Where is the compass of propriety in respect of the spending of public money when it is seen fit for so many employees to have their spouses' travel expenses paid for by the taxpayer under the pretence of exceptional circumstances? We must have reassurance from the Government that these practices will be stopped immediately. They are unacceptable to taxpayers who will today see a finance Bill which seeks to scrape money——

That is not relevant to the Order of Business. The Deputy will have to find another time to raise these matters.

The Chair is quick to rule Deputy Bruton out of order today. He is not giving much latitude.

In respect of promised legislation on banking, reports today indicate that the write-downs by the National Asset Management Agency will be much greater than was anticipated. It is now clear that the business plan presented by NAMA to the Oireachtas is a work of fiction, as many on this side of the House said at the time. It is incumbent on the Government to produce legislation that will provide for a bank resolution regime of the type that has been available in the United Kingdom and the United States for a considerable period, in order to deal with banks that get into difficulties. The Minister for Finance indicated that such a proposal was in preparation, but it has not figured in the list of legislation that has been presented thus far. What is the status of that legislation and when will it come before the House? When will we see the order transferring specific duties in respect of banking policy to the National Treasury Management Agency that were heretofore exercised by the Department of Finance? These decisions are of enormous importance. Any relevant order must be laid before the House and properly debated, and proper accountability must be written into the terms of that order.

On the same issue, I have a query in regard to the proposal by the Minister for Finance to bring an order before the House regarding the transfer of powers to the NTMA. The legal advice available to the Labour Party indicates there is no power on the part of the Minister to delegate to the NTMA. The latter is effectively a secret organisation that is not open to any public scrutiny and is exempt from freedom of information legislation in the same way that the Central Bank staff who provided their spouses with hundreds of trips abroad are exempt from those provisions. What is the position regarding this extraordinary delegation of functions in respect of banking policy and a substantial area of economic policy via an order to the NTMA?

That question is more appropriate for the Minister for Finance, it is not suitable for the Order of Business.

Must we now live with secret government? At least the Department of Finance, despite its many failings, has to answer to this House through the Minister.

Deputy Burton should put down a question to the Minister for Finance on this matter.

We can get someone to explain it to the Deputy. If only she would listen to the answers she is given.

The NTMA is a secret organisation. When will this order come before the House and what is the position in regard to the Attorney General's advice? Our legal advice indicates it is not possible for the Minister for Finance to delegate advisory functions to the NTMA under the relevant legislation. In regard to NAMA, the NTMA has very limited functions and I do not see how it can be done under NAMA legislation either.

The Deputy's detailed query should be the subject of a parliamentary question. I call Deputy Ó Caoláin to speak on the same issue.

On a point of order, the Ceann Comhairle seems to be restricting what can be raised on the Order of Business outside of the Standing Orders. Under Standing Order 26, the following can be raised: business on the Order Paper; the taking of business that has been promised — which is what was just raised by my colleague — including legislation promised either within or outside the Dáil; the making of secondary legislation; arrangements for sittings; and when Bills and other documents on the Order Paper will be circulated. However, the Ceann Comhairle seems to be restricting it to promised legislation, which he has no power to do.

I must advise the Deputy that if I allow the Order of Business to develop into Question Time, we will be on the Order of Business all day.

The Chair must abide by the Standing Orders of the House. It is not a case of the Order of Business turning into Question Time.

The Deputy has made his point.

Members are entitled to raise the matters to which I referred on the Order of Business.

I call Deputy Ó Caoláin.

On the same body of business, there are two Central Bank Bills listed in the Government's legislative programme. When will the Government afford us the opportunity to address the disastrous failures of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator? We have a situation where the Comptroller and Auditor General's report clearly indicates the serious inappropriate conduct and failure to regulate within those entities. The Bills I refer to are the Central Bank (consolidation) Bill and the Central Bank (No. 2) Bill, the latter of which is intended to address the question of necessary changes and enhancements to the regulatory functions of the bank.

Does the Tánaiste accept that for most Members and for the public it is difficult to accept that the Central Bank should have a regulatory role in view of the exposure of the fact that it cannot even regulate its own business but instead accommodated excessive overseas travel by executives and their spouses? There are serious matters to address and that should be done on the floor of this House.

I will begin with Deputy Bruton's question regarding Kraft Food's takeover of Cadbury, an issue that has been raised by several Deputies in the House. Last night I met the chief executive officer of Enterprise Ireland and we agreed to provide every support possible to Cadbury, which is based in Ireland, in the context of the business plan it must put forward as part of the restructuring announced by the chief executive officer of Kraft Foods. I am aware that Lord Mandelson has already met the latter and I too have requested a meeting with her. It will be more useful for that meeting to take place when we have a proposed business plan for the sustainability of Cadbury's presence in the State. It is on that basis that I did not ask to meet the chief executive officer until such time as the takeover is finalised and we are given an outline of the timeframe in which Kraft Foods is moving ahead with its new management. However, I have been advised that it will be a difficult task to make the case for Cadbury's sustainability in Ireland in the context of the overproduction and oversupply that will arise from the takeover. Having said that, we will put our best foot forward and will give all necessary support to the workers and the company. I will keep Members who represent the workers in Dublin and Kerry apprised of developments.

The Minister proposes to introduce two Bills relating to the Central Bank, and we anticipate the first will come before the House by Easter. It will be a relatively short Bill that will concentrate on reforming the regulatory structures of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator. This relatively short Bill will concentrate on reforming the regulatory structures in the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland. Corporate governance will be very much to the fore in that context. The management will respond to the Comptroller and Auditor General's report. The legislation to be enacted this year will set out a new statutory basis for the senior management structure. Corporate governance issues will also be addressed, as I have indicated. As the Central Bank is an independent institution, it is not subject to the direction of the Minister for Finance or the Government in the discharge of its functions.

I understand that the Minister for Finance outlined his proposals on the other issue to the House last night or the night before. It is important to emphasise that the delegation of functions will not dilute the responsibility of the Minister for Finance in any way. He will continue to be fully responsible and accountable to this House. The arrangements he is proposing——

Will it be same model that the Minister for Health and Children used in the case of the HSE?

——for the transfer of some functions will not result in this——

That is the model——

Deputy Burton, please.

I have to say that all Deputies will know——

On a point of information, the Minister's proposal is for a repeat of the HSE model.

I ask the Deputy to resume her seat.

Members of this House do not get answers from the Minister for Health and Children.

The Deputy does not want answers.

It is a repeat of that model.

The Deputy does not want information.

The Minister does the same thing with the National Roads Authority.

It is an example of secret government by Fianna Fáil.

If the spokesperson for the Labour Party wishes to continue in that vein, it is obvious she does not want to ensure there is change in this country.

I want a change of Government.

The changes that have been introduced in this House——

I am an absolute champion of change——

The work that has been done by all of us in this House——

——and so is everyone over here.

——to get this country's reputation back to where it should be——

The Tánaiste is one of the crowd who got us into this mess in the first place.

The political charge from the other side of the House——

We do want change.

——to the effect that the Minister will not be responsible is completely and factually untrue.

The Tánaiste has been in government for so long that she has forgotten the replies given to Opposition spokespersons when we ask questions about agencies.

The Deputy knows full well that the Attorney General is discussing the preparation of this order with the Minister for Finance.

We are told that the Minister is not responsible for day-to-day activities.

I reiterate that the responsibility of the Minister for Finance to the Oireachtas will stand firm.

Let us be honest — this is about the nationalisation of the banks.

That is what the Deputy wants.

It is nationalisation for slow learners. It will lead to the total destruction of our economy.

The Deputy should be able to keep up with it so.

That is what the Minister and his colleagues are doing.

The Deputy is going back to her roots.

I ask the Tánaiste to convey my thanks to the Taoiseach for writing to me today in response to the questions I asked him yesterday and the day before about the cost of the deal that was done with senior public servants to exempt them from the full effect of the pay cuts. In the letter, which was hand-delivered to me this morning, the Taoiseach informed me that approximately 655 public servants, including 157 assistant secretaries and deputy secretaries in the Civil Service, are encompassed in the pay adjustment. The Taoiseach's response also stated that the cost of this adjustment is less than €5 million. Perhaps the Taoiseach will give me the exact figure at a reasonably early stage, when it is available to him. I would be surprised if the use of the phrase "less than €5 million" was somehow intended to convey the idea that it is not a huge amount, as it is clear that the Government is looking for savings of that nature. I remind the House that the Minister for Education and Science intends to abolish the NUI and estimates that €1 million will be saved as a result. I doubt if that will be the case, given the cost of rebranding NUI Maynooth and NUI Galway. At a time when the Government is looking for savings of that order, this €5 million adjustment is not that insignificant. Perhaps I will be given the full figure.

Second, I note on the Government's list of legislation that it intends to publish another social welfare Bill this year. The Government rushed the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2009 through the Dáil just before Christmas by guillotining it. That Bill gave effect to the social welfare cuts that were announced on budget day. Do I take it from the promise to introduce a further social welfare Bill that the Government is planning a second round of social welfare cuts later this year?

Third, the Tánaiste will have noticed in the last day or two the announcement that Carluccio's restaurant on Dawson Street, which is quite close to Leinster House, is to close with a loss of 60 jobs. This successful business is closing because it cannot secure a downward revision of the rent arrangement into which it entered during the boom times. A Private Members' Bill produced by Deputy Ciarán Lynch, which is on the Order Paper, is designed to allow for downward reductions of commercial rents. Will the Government accept that Bill? It is scandalous that 60 jobs will have to be lost from an entirely successful business in the middle of the city. I accept that other businesses are in the same position. Although the restaurant is full every time I go there, it is closing because it cannot get a downward rent review.

I cannot allow a detailed contribution on this matter.

The Labour Party identified this problem some time ago. Deputy Ciarán Lynch prepared a Private Members' Bill and published it last June. This matter needs to be dealt with. Businesses are closing down because they are being screwed for high rents that might have had some degree of appropriateness in the good times, but are completely out of kilter in these times.

The social welfare Bill mentioned by the Deputy will be introduced in this session. Although we would all like rents to be reduced, we cannot legislate to change contracts that have been legally entered into.

Of course we can.

Yes we can. Has the Tánaiste ever heard that expression?

If the Deputies do not want to hear the answer, that is fine.

They might be able to do it in Moscow.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform introduced legislation at the beginning of December to deal with the issue of upward-only rent reviews, which had been raised by retailers.

That legislation relates to new leases and not to existing businesses.

Exactly. Constitutionally, one cannot do it the other way.

Fianna Fáil is protecting its own people.

The Deputies opposite know that one cannot rewrite contracts by changing the law.

Fianna Fáil is protecting the developers.

The Deputies are hoodwinking people.

The Minister should say that to the 60 people who are about to lose their jobs.

The Deputies are hoodwinking the people.

I would like to ask about the wildlife (amendment) Bill, which is due to be published in this session. It will deal with matters relating to stag hounds and provide for regulations to address invasive species. I suggest that the Government should introduce that legislation quite quickly. Has the Bill been considered by the Government? Has it been approved for publication? Will it be published shortly?

The only endangered species around here is Deputy Gogarty.

Deputy Hogan was talking about invasive species, rather than endangered species.

Deputy Gogarty is on Facebook.

We will look after the Deputy. He will not be invaded.

He is listening to his iPod.

The heads of the Bill in question were agreed by the Government in November. We hope to publish it in this session.

Deputy Gogarty must be on the Labour Party website.

I will try to remember that.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle's office for confirming that a question about a statutory instrument, which I asked in this House last week or the week before, was in order. It has since been answered. I would like to ask the Tánaiste about a Fingal County Council regulation, limiting the rate on valuation, which has been passed by means of statutory instrument. Under the relevant Act, which dates from 2005 or 2006, statutory instruments have been introduced in respect of the rates on valuation of two local authorities. I am sure the Tánaiste understands the importance of this matter for businesses and rate payers.

Are we talking about promised business?

No, we are talking about a statutory instrument that is before the House and which we have 21 days to challenge. It is absurd that at the current rate, it will take the Valuation Office at least 37 years to complete the revaluation of rates in Ireland.

It is like the primary care strategy.

I would like to hear Tánaiste's response on what the Government intends to do about the statutory instrument.

The implementation of the Valuation Act involves the revaluation of rents. The Deputy is probably aware that not everybody was enamoured with the revaluation that took place in his constituency. People saw a huge increase in their rates as a consequence.

That is because it was based on 2005. The valuations in 2038 will also be based on 2005.

Deputy Varadkar, please.

I am sure the Deputy's constituents briefed him on this issue. That said, a roll-out of valuations is taking place. It takes a considerable amount of time——

——because people have the opportunity to accept or reject them. In respect of the statutory instruments that have been laid before the House, I must revert to the Deputy as it is a matter for the Minister for Finance.

I tried to raise this issue on the Adjournment during the week but a three-month delay in payments is required. I refer to the issue of REPS 4 payments in County Kerry. The agricultural offices in Tralee and Killarney are without district superintendents.

This constitutes detail that is relevant to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

I know. However, I tried to raise this matter but could not. The position is that the agricultural offices in County Kerry are dependent on outside superintendents coming in to sign off on files for payments.

We really cannot have this sort of detail on the Order of Business.

The point is that a travel embargo is in place within the Civil Service.

Consequently, the superintendents are unable to travel and 70% of the REPS 4 participants——

Did the Deputy consider tabling a parliamentary question?

——in County Kerry have not been paid.

The Ceann Comhairle must have encountered similar issues himself.

A Deputy

An Irish solution to an Irish problem.

Did the Deputy consider tabling a parliamentary question or raising the matter on the Adjournment?

Such a delay would not be encountered anywhere else in the world. I tried to raise this matter on the Adjournment but the Ceann Comhairle refused to accept it.

There are many ways in which the Deputy can raise this matter.

Operation Transformation in County Kerry.

As a travel embargo is in place, no superintendent is available to sign off on the files for payment.

I invite the Deputy to submit this matter by way of a parliamentary question or as an Adjournment matter.

No superintendent is available to deal with the files that come in and a travel embargo is in place.

The Deputy has had a good innings on this matter and Members understand.

Consequently, the superintendents based in counties Cork and Limerick will not be paid to travel to County Kerry. The result is that 70% of the farmers in County Kerry have not been paid their REPS 4 payment because of what is happening——

Yes. The Deputy should table a parliamentary question.

——within the Department. The Tánaiste should put someone in place——

I call Deputy Joe Carey.

——as the files are available to be signed off by a superintendent.

Deputy Sheahan, please.

Can the Army be brought in to transfer the files?

It is a catch-22 situation.

Throughout the country, parents and medical practitioners are highly concerned with regard to head shops that appear to have been springing up overnight.

Is Deputy Carey speaking about legislation or promised business?

There are two such establishments in my constituency in Ennis.

This issue has been raised quite a number of times in the House over the past ten days.

I understand that legislation is promised and that some action is promised by the Government. When will such legislation come before the House and when will it take effect? This is a major problem.

Deputy Naughten, on the same issue.

I asked the Taoiseach about this matter in the House on Tuesday and he informed me that there was a problem with the statutory instrument in the United Kingdom. Last night, the Minister for Health and Children disclosed in the Seanad that the problem does not pertain to the drafting of the legislation but that it has not been communicated to Brussels. Last night in the Seanad, the Minister for Health and Children made the point that——

Deputy Naughten, we cannot have this sort of detail on the Order of Business.

I ask the Ceann Comhairle to hear me out for a second. The point was that were this statutory instrument to be put in place within the next four weeks, we would be obliged to wait for three months for it to be approved by Brussels. Given that the NAMA legislation could go through the Oireachtas in a couple of weeks and receive approval from Brussels and given that head shops are advertising on the basis that such chemicals are already legal, signing the ministerial order in advance of getting approval from Brussels would ensure that such products could no longer be advertised as being legal in this State.

The Deputy has done exceptionally well.

I ask the Tánaiste to ensure that this issue is expedited——

Deputy Naughten, please.

——and prioritised by the Government and that the ministerial order be signed as has already happened in the United Kingdom.

I ask Deputy Naughten to resume his seat please. I call Deputy Jan O'Sullivan on the same subject.

There is no doubt but that this issue has brought up a head of steam, if I may use that phrase, nationwide.

The Deputy should not add to the head of steam.

I wish to ask a specific question of the Tánaiste because this issue is important and must be addressed comprehensively. I support the point just made by Deputy Naughten regarding the statutory instrument and dealing with this matter expeditiously. Part of the problem is that new products will be introduced by the manufacturers which are not encompassed by the statutory instrument. Consequently, a broader response also is required and the Tánaiste should indicate whether further legislation will be introduced in addition to the secondary legislation. This could be done under the planning laws or perhaps by ensuring that such head shops must be licensed. A broader and more comprehensive measure is required to ensure they will not simply get around the statutory instrument and produce something else.

The Deputy has made her point well.

This is a very important issue and is potentially fatal to young people.

Yes it is. I call Deputy Costello. Is this on the same subject?

Yes, albeit from a somewhat different angle.

The Deputy should be brief.

I have received notice of a proposal for a new head shop located beside a school in my constituency in which there already are 13 such establishments. This is a major issue and I note reports in today's newspaper editions that a judge found himself to be the landlord of a head shop. He found himself in this position simply because——

The Deputy must find an alternative way of dealing with this matter.

This point relates to the planning legislation.

The Deputy is going into considerable detail on this issue and I ask him to find another way to raise it.

This matter is related to legislation that has been promised in this House. Two years ago, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government promised to set up a group, which presumably is beavering away at present, to examine the question of retail legislation in order that all operations of this nature, including adult shops as well as head shops——-

Have we promised business in this area?

I seek the present status of that report. Second, with regard to mislabelling on the part of head shops, what about consumer enforcement and secondary legislation in that respect?

On the same subject, I agree with all the points that have been made. Members have asked a number of times that legislation on this issue should include a quarantining of analogues of any substances that have been banned and that planning laws should be put in place to make it more difficult for people to set up such shops beside schools or outside nightclubs. In addition, Members have sought product liability insurance and that any substances being sold for human consumption must be passed by the Irish Medicines Board and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. I agree absolutely with the point made by Deputy Naughten as there is no need to wait for Europe in this regard.

The Government should be proactive.

This legislation can be put through and Europe can give its approval subsequently.

The Deputy is adding to the head of steam.

One gets action if one builds up a head of steam.

I will not add to the head of steam.

While I am on my feet, I note this is a mental health issue and I wish to raise an issue in respect of another legislative item. Fifty years ago, a temporary building was put in place in St. Ita's in north Dublin to house people who needed to be admitted with acute psychiatric illnesses and they still are there today. There are 23 people to a single room with 2 ft. between the beds, one shower and a bank of three toilets.

I ask the Deputy to submit a parliamentary question on this matter.

The Government refuses to take responsibility.

I will come to the legislation. When will the forthcoming mental capacity Bill be published? Why has the Minister——

We will try to find out that information for the Deputy.

Please let me finish. Why has the Minister not made available funds to apply for planning permission? The money is available to build a unit in Beaumont. It was obliged to move because of the private co-located hospital. While another site is available, planning permission has not been applied for. Although this is the second decade of the third millennium, people are living in Dickensian conditions. It is the greatest insult to people with mental illness in Ireland and it must be addressed.

The Deputy should let it rest for a moment until we get an answer to some of the queries.

On the issue of head shops, the Ceann Comhairle is aware that the Taoiseach did respond and regulations are being prepared in this regard. As for the role of a number of other Departments, the Government is working on co-ordinating how this matter can be dealt with. The Government takes this issue very seriously and I believe the Upper House had a discussion on an all-party motion on the subject yesterday. The Government is working to ensure that these regulations are prepared as a matter of urgency. I wish Deputy Naughten well at his public meeting in Roscommon tonight.

It was held last night.

Then at least he certainly has brought forward the views of the attendees. This is a highly serious matter. In common with many other Members, there are two such establishments in my home town. It is a cause of grave concern to parents and everything that can be done will be done as expeditiously as possible in co-ordinating between——

What Department is drawing up the regulations?

The Department of Health and Children.

Deputy Naughten has had a very good innings on this matter.

It is being co-ordinated under the national drugs strategy for which the Minister of State, Deputy Curran, of course has political responsibility.

The mental capacity Bill will be introduced this session.

The Tánaiste should revert to the House to confirm that the problem with regard to the United Kingdom legislation appears to be in respect of lodging it with Brussels.

While preparing for the Order of Business this morning, I was considering what legislation might be required with regard to the Minister's announcement last April on the dismantling of the e-voting project, only to discover that his Department has a website in operation at present telling people how to use the e-voting process. It beggars belief that last April——

Deputy, there is no promised legislation on this matter.

——the Minister stated that this system should no longer continue but——

The Deputy should submit a question to the appropriate Minister please.

——this morning, the Minister's website provides a set of instructions in this regard. The title of this is, "We've been practising for years". Will the Minister come to the House——


We cannot have displays like this in the Chamber. Deputy Ciarán Lynch is completely out of order and I ask him to resume his seat.

It is more like D'Unbelievables.

When Abraham Lincoln commented on one of his generals to the effect that McClelland had "the slows", he could not have anticipated how slow the Irish Government could have gone in respect of particular promised legislation that was urgently needed and which I raised before, for example, the national vetting bureau Bill which is under consideration. Have the heads of the Bill been discussed? What degree of agreement has been reached on the heads of the Bill? When will it be brought before the House?

The Ceann Comhairle will agree that another very serious issue is the bail (amendment) Bill, which is also promised. On this, the Government states that it is not possible to indicate at this stage when it will be introduced. In view of the serious, and correct, emphasis on crime in the House at present, what attempts are being made to bring the Bill before the House as a matter of urgency?

Here is another matter that the Ceann Comhairle will love, on which we have huffed and puffed, brought the legislation before the House and passed, but still have not implemented. This is the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 which was passed on 23 July 2009. The Minister must introduce a draft of restrictions in respect of the Bill, which are to be placed before the House and adopted prior to the legislation being legally active. When is this likely to happen? It is promised.

The heads of the national vetting bureau Bill are being prepared by the Minister of State with a view to having it with us fairly quickly. There is no date for the bail (amendment) Bill. With regard to the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill, I know the Deputy had a response to his parliamentary question and a further response regarding the enactment of the new provision 26A. A draft was laid before the House on 19 January 2010 and a resolution will be put to the House in due course.

When is due course?

I am not in a position to give an exact date.

There has been a whole debate about justice in recent days and correctly so. Surely this could have been introduced. It is a very simple matter. Throw up the list of restrictions and put them before the House.

Deputy Durkan can revisit the issue later.

Does the Government have plans to publish the new Central Bank Bill as a draft paper similar to the NAMA legislation, which would be in accordance with the White Paper on better regulation, to ensure that there is full and proper consultation on this very crucial legislation? We need to ensure there is no repeat of the banking fiascoes in the future. Can the Bill be referred to the Committee on Finance and the Public Service so that it can take presentations from the various stakeholders concerned?

There are two Bills with regard to the Central Bank, one is a short piece of legislation and the other is much longer. I can revert to the Deputy on whether it is expected that the Minister will put this out to further public consultation as I cannot give an undertaking.

I am aware that the criminal justice (legal aid) Bill is set down to be published in this session but the legislative programme does not give any detail as to what is envisaged by this legislation. Prior to Christmas I asked the Taoiseach about it and he agreed with many of the points I made but he did not clarify precisely what the scope of the legislation will be. When does the Tánaiste expect the Bill to be published? Is it envisaged that the Bill will include badly needed statutory guidelines on eligibility for legal aid? Will there be a limit on the number of times that any individual would be entitled to legal aid? I believe eligibility requirements should be predicated on income and assets declared to the Revenue Commissioners. It is quite well documented that very high profile members of criminal gangs, which we debated during Private Members' time yesterday and the day before, avail of legal aid when it is quite clear that they ought not to be in a position to do so. It is imperative that this new legislation, for which we have been waiting since 1962, will cover these major loopholes and discrepancies in the system. Is it envisaged that the fees paid under the current criminal legal aid scheme will be reviewed in the context of the current economic situation?

The Deputy is asking about the contents of the legislation. The legislation will be brought before the House this session. I am sure the Minister would take on board a number of the issues raised by Deputy Creighton and perhaps it would be appropriate for her to forward her views to him for consideration prior to the publication of the legislation.

There was not a person in here who was not shocked when they read the story in The Irish Times recently about people with an intellectual disability in residential care. I know the Tánaiste has an interest in the area so she knows it is simply a matter of extending standards to institutions that care for people with an intellectual or physical disability. As we have discussed here on many occasions, some of the standards are on very simple matters such as respect, choice of food, heating, visiting and being able to move freely. Inspection is important and the inspectorate is the area which will cost money. The legislation exists and it is a matter of extending it. In view of what we read in recent days, I am sure the Tánaiste would be in favour of moving it along as speedily as possible.

As Deputy Kathleen Lynch knows, the National Quality Standards: Residential Settings for People with Disability for adults was published by HIQA in May 2009. They are being considered and HIQA is working with the HSE on rolling out those standards. The Deputy is correct that there will be financial implications. That being said, the Government is also considering, following on from the Ryan report, the inclusion of further proposals on the protection of vulnerable adults with disability who are in institutional care. We are all anxious that the standards set by HIQA for all aspects of care and attention should be across the board for everyone regardless of whether they have a disability.