Order of Business

It is proposed to take No.b14, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the ratification by Ireland of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; No. 21, Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 — Report and Final Stages (resumed); No. 22, Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 23, Civil Partnership Bill 2009 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of question time which shall be taken for 75 minutes on the conclusion of No. 23, and in the event of a private notice question being allowed, it shall be taken after 45 minutes, and the order shall not resume thereafter; the sitting shall be suspended at 1 p.m. or on the conclusion of No. 21, whichever is the later, for 30 minutes; No.b14 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on the resumed Report and Final Stages of No. 21 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall include only those amendments set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance; the Report and Final Stages of No. 22 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 5 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall include only those amendments set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; the Report and Final Stages of No. 23 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 9 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall include only those amendments set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform; and the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 4.30 p.m., there shall be no Order of Business, the taking of any divisions shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 6 July 2010, and, accordingly, the business shall be transacted in the following order: No. 1a, Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010 [Seanad] — Second Stage, the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. on that day; and No. 2, Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009 [Seanad] — Second Stage, to adjourn at 4.30 p.m., if not previously concluded.

There are six proposals to be put before the House today.

What about the cystic fibrosis issue?

Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No.b14, without debate, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 21 agreed to?

It is not agreed. Deputy O'Donnell has pointed out on a number of occasions the importance of the ECB 11 page opinion in respect of the legislation being proposed by the Minister for Finance. There were 15 separate issues outlined in that opinion in respect of the independence of the Central Bank and the Governor. One of the main criticisms was the weakness in Ireland's regulatory system whereby it was open to political and financial pressure from interest groups. It is not right that the Bill should be guillotined in this fashion. Both the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party have warned for the last four or five weeks that this is the usual style of the Government towards the end of a session, whereby it guillotines practically every Bill that comes through the House. This is one Bill that should not be guillotined. It is absolutely critical, in view of the gross incompetence and mismanagement of regulatory affairs by the Government, that this Bill be debated thoroughly and that the serious opinions expressed in the ECB report be taken into account in this House. In view of the gross incompetence, mismanagement and oversight of regulatory affairs by the Government, it is absolutely critical that this Bill be debated thoroughly and completely and that the serious opinions expressed in the ECB 11-page report be taken into account in this House.

A Deputy

Hear, hear.

Today we learned that Ireland has come first in something. We have come first in the league table for having the worst bank in the world. We are told today that Anglo Irish Bank is the biggest loss-maker of any bank in the world, and that is on top of the fact that the Irish bank bailout is the most expensive bailout anywhere in the world. Yet the Government is proposing to guillotine the debate on the Central Bank Reform Bill, which deals with regulatory matters governing banks, at 1 p.m. today. Some 56 amendments to the Bill have been tabled for discussion. By the time the debate on the Bill adjourned last night the House had reached the fourth of those amendments. There is no possibility that those 56 amendments will be dealt with, and certainly not dealt with adequately, by 1 p.m. today. On the day we discover we have the worst bank in the world——

The worst Government; we have two firsts.

——we have a proposal from the Government that the Bill dealing with the regulation of banks be guillotined at 1 p.m. without the amendments to it being dealt with.

We had addressed only a handful of amendments to the Central Bank Reform Bill by 10 p.m. last night. Substantial amendments have been put forward by Opposition Members in this Chamber and there will not be an opportunity to address those if the guillotine applies to the debate on the Bill as the Government proposes.

Why does the Government continue to deal with the banks and the financial institutions with deference and kid gloves? There is no indication or evidence, following the significant bailout of the banks by the Irish taxpayer, which will be a millstone around the neck of this generation for the rest of our lives and perhaps our children's too, that there is a willingness on the part of the Government to take the banks by the scruff of the neck and deal with them as they should be dealt with in terms of regulation and how they perform in regard to meeting the needs of society and of their customer base.

The Deputy should not anticipate the debate on the Bill that will take place later.

There is no evidence of that. That attitude was demonstrated again last evening in the Government's address of the amendments tabled to this Bill. It is shameful and I absolutely object to this legislation being pressed through, which is a totally inadequate response to what is needed now.

The Government and the Minister for Finance are most anxious to bring in reform of the regulatory frameworks we have in this country, and it is on that basis this type of legislation is being brought to the House.

There was more than 15.5 hours of debate on Second Stage of the Bill. To ensure this legislation is passed by both Houses prior to the summer recess, the Government is anxious that it would be passed here. It is on that basis we are not in a position to change the order.

I am now putting the question.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 21 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 68.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • 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.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • 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.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Cregan and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 22, Order for Report, Report and Final Stages of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009, agreed to?

There is a raft of amendments tabled for Report Stage of this important Bill, yet it is proposed to have the debate guillotined. I object to that as I have done in the case of other legislation.

Three and a half hours have been allocated for Report and Final Stages of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009. There are 127 amendments to be dealt with, one of which, amendment No. 120, is ten pages long.

This matter was raised by the Chairman of the Select Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Seán Fleming, with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, which I understand made a decision on it last night. The complaint made by Deputy Fleming on behalf of the select committee was that the Bill, as presented for Committee Stage, originally comprised 40 sections laid out over 40 pages and included an explanatory memorandum. However, 128 Committee Stage amendments laid out over 100 pages were presented for consideration and no revised explanatory memorandum was provided to Members.

Deputies

Disgraceful.

The Minister was too busy dealing with wildlife.

Many of these amendments, Deputy Fleming stated in his letter, have far-reaching consequences, yet their context, purpose and rationale were not made clear to Members and the ensuing debate was "seriously compromised".

A Deputy

Was that letter leaked?

A Deputy

What would the Lemass committee say?

I understand the Committee on Procedure and Privileges made a decision last night that, in future, where Ministers introduce amendments to their Bill — which in this case amounted to two and a half times the size of the Bill itself — they should present an additional explanatory memorandum.

The Bill being presented and being complained about is to be rushed through in three and a half hours without the explanatory memoranda sought by Deputy Fleming or the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. This is a planning Bill — if a planning applicant came in at the last minute with additional information that was two and a half times the size of the original planning application, we would be going to An Bord Pleanála with it.

It would have to be re-advertised for a start.

I want the Tánaiste to tell us if the Government intends to withdraw the item today so it can be processed further, in line with the decision made by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges that proper explanatory memoranda be presented with the Bill.

Again, the Sinn Féin Deputies strongly object to the imposition of a guillotine which will see the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill conclude here at 5 p.m. It is totally inadequate to address the complexities of the legislation and the long list of amendments that have been presented from across the floor. It is just not acceptable and it is bad, bad politics for the Government to press ahead. The Minister and the Green Party have many times in the past made the case on the floor of this Chamber that rushed legislation is flawed legislation but they seem not to apply that when they have an opportunity to influence the course and passage of legislation themselves. It is absolutely unacceptable and we strongly object to it.

The Committee on Procedure and Privileges will be amending Standing Orders to cater for the issues that arose. They will not apply retrospectively, they will apply from now on.

Will the amendments to the Standing Orders be retrospective?

So they will not cover this?

Will we get an apology from the Minister?

I can appreciate the annoyance of the members of the committee where explanatory memoranda were not made available. I note that and will ensure that in future all Departments are advised that explanatory memoranda on significant changes must be made available to Members.

This is complex legislation. It deals with the European Court of Justice judgment against Ireland on the non-transposition of the environmental impact assessments, habitats and public participation directives. If it is not enacted before the summer recess, Ireland will incur serious and heavy fines.

We can sit for an extra two weeks.

Following deliberation and discussion by Members of both Houses, the Minister introduced a number of amendments. Second Stage took longer than 12 hours and on the basis of the necessity to ensure we do not incur heavy fines, we are proposing this legislation is brought forward.

I will oppose this item. I thank the Tánaiste for apologising to the House on behalf of the Government for what has happened and I acknowledge her remarks that there was a 12 hour debate on Second Stage but these amendments were submitted by the Minister after the Second Stage debate had concluded.

We are talking about planning legislation, which is complex at the best of times. The problems have been compounded in that not only do we have a long list of amendments, the debate is being guillotined so they will not be reached and discussed. On top of that, there are no explanatory memoranda to explain what these changes to the planning law amount to. We are changing planning law without being given time to debate it and without the courtesy of explanatory memoranda being circulated so individual Members on all sides know what the changes in the planning law will be. There are 100 pages of these amendments.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 22 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 71; Níl, 68.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • 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, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • 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.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Cregan and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.
Question declared carried.

Does the Government intend to introduce legislation to deal with the position of the taxpayer continuing to guarantee Anglo Irish Bank? As the leader of the Labour Party pointed out, the Government surely must have some sense of what it has got the country into, in view of the fact that Anglo Irish Bank has had losses twice as big as the US Citigroup bank, despite the fact that the Irish economy is 100 times smaller than that of the US. Is it intended to save the Irish taxpayer money by introducing legislation to make those who invested and speculated in Anglo Irish Bank share some of the pain?

With regard to NAMA, is it intended that the Dáil will have an opportunity next week to discuss the quarterly report submitted to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, and the changes to the NAMA business plan that have been introduced? We now know that developers have been looking for €1.5 billion in working capital from NAMA, loan covenants have been waived by NAMA and developers have sought to transfer assets outside the jurisdiction. We need to discuss these and many other issues of critical importance so the people know exactly what is going on. Will we have an opportunity next week to hear what are the changes in the revised NAMA business plan and to have a discussion on the quarterly report that was submitted?

I understand the Dáil may not meet again until mid-September. That seems to be the proposed resumption time. This means it is most likely that legislation yet to be published on the Dublin mayoral election will not be passed in 2010, despite the fact that only last week a spokesman for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government stated the election would take place in October. What is the position on this? Is the legislation to be published during the summer recess? Is it to be debated and passed prior to October? Are we to have mayoral elections this year?

With regard to the mission statement of the Health Service Executive, it has now transpired, as a result of forensic analysis by Deputy Shatter, that the HSE never intended to publish the reports into the deaths of David Foley and Tracey Fay, go ndéana Dia trócaire orthu. It did launch an urgent investigation into how the report was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, including an analysis of computers held by the HSE. What is the position of the Government in view of the fact that there was a deliberate intent never to publish those two reports, which in the public interest Deputy Shatter dealt with? Recently, the CEO of the HSE stated it would be better off and much more efficient had it not to deal with the issue of children in the first place. What is the Government's response to this?

Will the Tánaiste respond to the question on the position on cystic fibrosis, which she stated would be responded to today?

The revised bank guarantee scheme to implement the new expiry date will be brought before both Houses of the Oireachtas for approval prior to the end of September. It is secondary legislation but will be brought to both Houses for discussion. I am not sure we will have time available next week to discuss the NAMA business plan on the basis that a number of pieces of legislation must go through the House. It is hoped the legislation on the Dublin mayor will be printed during the summer.

With regard to the HSE report, the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, has dealt with this. The matter is in hand and will be public knowledge. I beg the indulgence of the Ceann Comhairle to allow the Deputy who raised the matter of cystic fibrosis, Deputy Finian McGrath, to raise it now and I will respond to him.

On a point of order, I raised the issues of the importance of the crisis regarding cystic fibrosis patients at St. Vincent's hospital, in particular the fact that they do not have en-suite rooms. There has been a delay and a cock up recently in regard to this project. I have asked the Tánaiste and Government if they would seriously consider having a debate on the provision of services for patients with cystic fibrosis. We have had late sittings this week and debates on stag hunting. It is important that we have a debate on cystic fibrosis services. What are the plans for such a debate?

I reiterate that the provision of a new ward unit at St. Vincent's hospital for the support of those who suffer from cystic fibrosis is absolutely fundamental to this Government. We will proceed with it. I have agreed with the Whip and I understand it was discussed with the Opposition Whips that we would provide time next week for a discussion on this matter.

I thank the Tánaiste.

I thank the Tánaiste for agreeing to have a discussion on the cystic fibrosis unit in St. Vincent's hospital next week. She will recall that when we had a discussion on this yesterday the Labour Party Whip requested that there would be such a discussion. I understand it was discussed by the Whips and I am glad that time is being provided for it.

I am sure the Tánaiste will have seen the report on the decision made yesterday by the Taxing Master to reduce by 82% what he regarded as a grossly excessive legal bill from lawyers in a particular case and expressed his "disgust and bewilderment" at the level of costs claimed. An OECD report——

This is not in order on the Order of Business.

It is because a Bill is promised, the legal costs Bill.

It is late to seek commencement of it, Deputy.

I know it is late in the session but it is perfectly in order. The legal costs Bill is promised to provide for the regulation and assessment of legal costs and publication is expected in 2011. Given that an OECD report on legal costs which recommended reform of the legal profession was published in 2001 and, subsequently, a Competition Authority report was published on the same area, I ask the Tánaiste and Government to consider bringing forward the publication of the legal costs Bill——

——in order that the kind of practice that the Taxing Master described as grossly excessive can be brought to an end.

The legal costs Bill is being processed by the Minister and his Department. He hopes to try to publish it before the end of the year.

I note from this morning's newspapers that the HSE managers are not planning to publish critical reports into the deaths of two teenagers in State care, specifically the deaths of Tracey Fay and David Foley. This is a very alarming further exposure of the HSE's disposition to the issue of State care provision for children. It again lays emphasis on the need for specific steps to be taken in regard to the referendum on children's rights, which we hope to have in 2010, that was addressed substantively with the Taoiseach yesterday and for which we remain absolutely uncertain as to the Government's position. There is no clarity on other critical areas of legislation.

The first report of the all-party Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, which was unanimous, commended to Government the introduction of what it has now termed the national vetting bureau Bill, the publication of which is expected in 2010. Again, there is no sight of this Bill. We have to address all these issues with urgency——

Deputy, you are really embellishing the inquiry.

I make this request in light of the further exposure of the HSE's attitude towards the information at their hands. Yesterday, I asked about the health information Bill which, if it was expedited, would assist in ensuring that this information——

We cannot have a debate on it.

——flow to the public would happen as a matter of course. I ask the Tánaiste, on the national vetting bureau Bill, if the Government will ensure that it is published immediately or upon the resumption of the new term following the summerrecess.

Yesterday, I received a reply from the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Martin Mansergh, to a parliamentary question asking for a list of State properties on which ground rent is still being paid. It lists buildings across this State on which we are still paying ground rents to landlords.

Deputy, you are abusing the Order of Business and the arrangements.

No, I am asking a question about promised legislation that now no longer appears——

Please, we do not have to have detailed submissions accompanying the queries.

——-on the list of committed legislation. The properties concerned include Government buildings, the GPO and Garda and army barracks. It also affects many ordinary citizens. I refer to the ground rent Bill. It has been a matter of titter when it was raised in the past.

Deputy, leave it with me. We will make some inquiries on his behalf.

Make no mistake about it, this State and the public finances are being robbed on an annual basis by underground landlords. We want to see an end to this practice and the only way it can be done is by the introduction of a ground rent Bill that will put into the past for good and forever this outrageous arrangement.

Is there promised legislation?

The health information Bill, as everyone knows, will be published later this year. The vetting Bill is currently being worked on and it is intended to publish it as soon as possible. The timeframe is the end of the year. I remember for many years the ground rent Bill was on a list. I will have to revert directly to the Deputy.

A coloniser's charter.

Will the Tánaiste bring the Bill back?

I will revert to the Deputy.

Deputy, please.

I am not responsible for the acoustics.

The Tánaiste indicated she will revert to you with the information.

Will she raise it with the Queen when she comes?

I am not responsible for the poor acoustics in this House. A few moments ago when I raised something which happened in the past number of days we did not hear what was said. The Tánaiste indicated in her first reply——

Those that create a din are sometimes——

——that something would be published later this year. Could she repeat it?

I referred to the vetting Bill.

Before that she said something else.

I referred to the health information Bill.

I had hoped that she would tell us for the first time that there would be a referendum on children's rights. Sadly, that is not the case.

With reference to the issue raised by Deputy Gilmore and others over the past number of months, namely, the legal costs Bill, has any consideration been given to the possible implications or liability of the State arising from the various tribunals? If the unchallenged costs are allowed to remain what are the likely implications? As Deputy Gilmore said, would it not be advisable to bring the Bill before the House as a matter as urgency? Otherwise, there is a danger that we will be regarded as only being here for cosmetic purposes. Is there any possibility that the Government might focus on that? It has huge financial implications for the State in the event of it not coming before the House as the Deputy suggested.

Is there legislation?

Yes. I answered the question a few minutes ago. The Minister indicated that he and the Department were working on the Bill and hope to bring it before the House before the end of the year.

With all due respect, we have been told this several times in regard to other Bills. It has been dragged on. The people outside this House know it will be dragged on indefinitely. Unless something of a serious nature is done, this issue will continue. Somebody will stand up in this House in two, three, four or five years' time and ask why this Bill was not brought forward in time. Does the Tánaiste recognise the possible implications of that?

I call Deputy Rabbitte.

I did not finish. Does the Tánaiste recognise the implications arising——

Sorry, I answered the question.

We cannot allow this type of activity on the Order of Business. It is out of order.

I have answered the question. I do not have the contents of the legislation to hand but the Minister is working on it and he has indicated that he will try to introduce it by the end of the year.

That was not my question. I asked whether the Tánaiste recognises——

The Deputy is provoking a debate on the legislation, which is out of order.

I asked a short and simple question. Does the Tánaiste recognise the serious financial implications——

The Deputy cannot ask questions like that on the Order of Business.

It is a serious matter.

It is entirely inappropriate. He should table a parliamentary question if he wishes to find out the Tánaiste's feelings on the matter.

I have no feelings on the matter.

I call Deputy Rabbitte.

I mean no disrespect to the Tánaiste but I do not wish to know her feelings on any matter. I want to know whether she is aware of the financial implications for this State of the failure to introduce the legislation. I have made my point.

The Deputy's point is well made.

I ask the Tánaiste about the judicial misconduct Bill. A report inThe Irish Times earlier this week set out the implications of not having this Bill. When allegations made against a member of the Judiciary had to be processed under a constitutional arrangement by an Oireachtas committee, we received a bill of €1.9 million from lawyers for the judge concerned. A personal injury case involving a modest award was processed through the courts and thereby accrued lawyers’ fees of €2.1 million. The Taxing Master thought it necessary to reduce these fees by 82%.

The Deputy needs to find another way to pursue the matter.

This is an unconscionable situation at a time when every other section in society has endured cuts. A certain sheltered professional class which apparently has no regard for the environment in which we live is extorting extraordinary and unjustifiable fees. The Government needs to address the issue.

The judicial council Bill will provide effective remedies for complaints about judicial misbehaviour, including lay participation in the investigation of complaints. The draft heads are currently being prepared and it is hoped that the Bill will be introduced next year.

This week the Minister for Health and Children referred a question I tabled to the HSE for reply, which is not an uncommon practice. However, the Minister, the Taoiseach and the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with responsibility for disability claim to have entered negotiations with a view to resolving the issue to which my question pertained, namely, the closure of the respite house for adults with intellectual disabilities in Limerick.

I want the Ceann Comhairle to protect my rights as a Member of this House by directing the Minister to answer a question on an issue in which she is directly involved. When the Taoiseach visited the constituency on Monday, he told protestors that he would engage——

I am not empowered on these matters.

Who can get an answer for me if the Ceann Comhairle cannot? I tried to raise the issue on the Adjournment but was told I could not do so because somebody else had already raised it.

The Deputy should resubmit it.

I raised it as a priority question and received a reply from the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with responsibility for children instead of the Minister or the Minister of State with responsibility for disability. This issue must be resolved before the Dáil adjourns. If the Minister will not answer a question on a matter in which she is clearly involved, what is the point in coming here to represent our constituents?

Perhaps the Deputy can table it for Private Members' business next week.

I will not sit down until the Ceann Comhairle tells me how I can get an answer.

I cannot instruct any Minister on how he or she should answer questions.

I do not have that power.

The Taoiseach is involved in discussions.

As the Deputy correctly pointed out, the matter was considered for the Adjournment debate but there are other alternatives, such as Private Members' business next week.

The Tánaiste can require the Minister to answer.

I raised it as a priority question and received a reply from the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, even though he has no responsibility for this matter. This is not good enough. Some 63 families in my constituency have no respite care for their adult family members with intellectual disabilities. One mother who needs to go into hospital can find nowhere to put her 41 year old son and must bring him with her. I will not leave the House next week until I get an answer.

On a similar point——

The issue can be raised on Private Members' time.

It is ridiculous. Will the Tánaiste tell me how I can get an answer given that even the Taoiseach knows about the matter?

If the Deputy was not satisfied with the answer to her parliamentary question, she will have to pursue the matter another way.

They will not answer parliamentary questions.

I am not empowered.

The Tánaiste could deal with it.

This is a fundamental issue concerning the rights of the most vulnerable people in our society but I cannot get an answer on it.

The Deputy did pretty well this morning.

I have not received an answer.

She was out of order on the Order of Business.

This is not about scoring political points; it is about 63 vulnerable families. Just because I raised the issue does not mean I did well. I want an answer.

The Deputy did exceptionally well by circumventing the Order of Business.

Is this the purpose of Parliament?

The Tánaiste can require a Minister to answer the question.

I respectfully request the Tánaiste to direct the Minister for Health and Children to answer my question.

I tried to raise this issue on the Adjournment on numerous occasions. I telephoned the Ceann Comhairle's office five or six times and was told to raise it in a general rather than a specific manner. When I raised it on the Adjournment I received a general and waffling answer which ignored the issue of respite care. The majority of the parents of the 63 adults concerned are elderly and many of them are living alone. The sum required is €150,000 and it is not good enough to be given the run around by the Minister and the Government. We are now unable to ask a question in this House on respite services for 63 families.

The Deputy is out of order, as was Deputy Jan O'Sullivan.

I am not. What is the point of this House if we cannot raise these issues?

There are many other ways of raising the issue.

I ask the Ceann Comhairle to tell us another way.

There is no other way.

The Adjournment Debate.

We tried to raised it on the Adjournment but could not do so.

Try Private Members' business. I call Deputy Reilly.

Will the Ceann Comhairle allow us to put a special notice question?

I advised the Deputy to explore other possibilities.

Will the Ceann Comhairle give us his commitment?

I cannot give such a commitment.

On a point of order, I have explored all the alternatives but I got nowhere.

Did the Deputy consider Private Members' time next week?

We do not have Private Members' time next week.

This issue is not limited to Limerick because it also arises in Cabra.

Like the previous Deputies, Deputy Reilly is out of order on the Order of Business.

These are the most vulnerable people in society and their elderly parents are doing the State a considerable service by looking after them. By closing respite care facilities, we are now taking away the bit of help we can offer. It is penny wise but pound foolish and it must be addressed before the Houses rises for the summer or else these people will be left without respite for the rest of the year. There will be detrimental effects on the health of carers and many of their wards will end up in full-time care as a result.

We must move on.

On a point of order, the Tánaiste is obliged to reply under Standing Orders. This is an important question which affects all our constituencies.

We are discussing a specific issue that relates to a specific Department.

The Minister will not reply.

No, it is a general issue.

The Tánaiste is not responsible for the Department concerned.

As the Tánaiste is taking the Order of Business, she is accountable to the House for the responses of Ministers. She should answer, therefore.

There are many other ways of raising this matter, as with issues generally.

There is no other way.

The Deputy is out of order.

I do not want to delay the Order of Business. As a long-standing Member of this House, the Ceann Comhairle knows that if he was sitting on these benches he would expect the Tánaiste or the Taoiseach to answer important questions on the Order of Business.

The matter concerns the Department of Health and Children, not the Tánaiste's Department.

The Tánaiste is accountable to the House.

We have been debating the fact that spokespersons do not have enough time to discuss legislation. If the Minister of State gave a response to a parliamentary question, the fact that he is not a senior Minister in no way detracts from his ability to respond.

He had no responsibility in that area.

It does not matter whether he had responsibility.

Of course it does.

The Minister of State is more than capable of giving a response. I am not aware of whether there has been any change from his response. I am aware, however, this is an issue of grave concern. When the Taoiseach spoke about it during Leaders' Questions on Tuesday, he indicated that substantial resources were being made available. However, in trying to work within available resources the HSE and voluntary sector were working to ensure frontline services would be paramount. This work is ongoing. When I see the Minister, who I believe is attending an event, I will inform her that this matter was raised by the Deputy and a number of other Deputies from Limerick and ask her office to revert to them.

We have made a little progress.

I raise with the Tánaiste the standards in public office requirements for officeholders. Is it appropriate that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government should adjudicate on a foreshore licence for a project in Dublin when he holds a contrary view and policy on the matter under adjudication?

The issue raised by the Deputy is out of order.

Will the Minister or Tánaiste introduce further legislation to ensure Ministers understand their obligations under the Cabinet handbook and know what is the law of the land regarding their duties and responsibilities?

We will ascertain if legislation is contemplated in this area.

Will the Tánaiste indicate whether it is appropriate or otherwise for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to adjudicate under law——

It is not appropriate to pose questions of this nature on the Order of Business.

This is a legal matter.

It is out of order.

It is not out of order, it is a legal matter.

If the Deputy wishes to table a substantive motion, the matter can be discussed.

I am seeking to find out if the Tánaiste is satisfied——

Is legislation promised in this area? Legislation is not promised.

——that her ministerial colleague is within the law in dealing with an application for a foreshore licence in an area in which he has a vested interest.

If allegations are being made or even suggested, the Deputy should table a substantive motion.

I am asking the Tánaiste if it is appropriate that a Minister should be in a position to adjudicate on a matter in which he has a conflict of interest.

The Deputy knows it is out of order to pose questions to the Tánaiste on the Order of Business in such fashion.

It is not out of order. The issue is one of ministerial accountability to the House and keeping the Minister within the law.

The Deputy should table a parliamentary question on the matter.

The Ceann Comhairle is telling us it is okay if a Minister has a conflict of interest in any Department.

I am advising the Deputy to submit a substantive motion if he has serious misgivings about the matter.

I will put the question in another way. Will the Tánaiste agree to investigate the matter of a ministerial conflict of interest in adjudicating on a licence application before him?

The Deputy is making an allegation and should submit a substantive motion on the matter.

No, I am stating the facts. Is it appropriate, in order or within the law for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to make a judgment on an application when he has a conflict of interest?

We have a long list of legislation to deal with later and the Deputy is holding up proceedings.

What steps will the Tánaiste take to remove from the Minister a role in making this decision?

The Deputy should table a substantive motion.

Will the Tánaiste agree to investigate the matter?

I ask Deputy Hogan to resume his seat.

Following this morning's events, I expect the Chief Whip will make copious notes about how Dáil reform would improve the House, the most ineffectual and weak Parliament in Europe. The Oireachtas does not work and Deputies are frustrated. When will Dáil reform be proposed?

The programme for Government includes a promise to establish an independent electoral commission. Why is it not mentioned in the legislative programme? Will legislation be published in this area and, if so, when?

New legislation will be required to establish a new electoral commission. I believe work on this matter has commenced with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. An expert report commissioned by the Minister at the time recommended an electoral commission. The Minister's intention in this matter — I recall the issue coming before the Government — was noted during a Cabinet meeting in May. Electoral reform is being considered by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution which is holding public hearings on the matter and is due to report in the coming weeks. This process is proceeding in tandem with the preparation of legislation. I will obtain a further update for the Deputy.

Have the orders transferring functions from members of Cabinet to Ministers of State been completed? If not, will they be completed before the recess? I raise this matter owing to my concern about an announcement last week by the Minister of State, Deputy Mary Alexandra White, who, in disapproving of a pamphlet issued by the Migrant Rights Centre, stated: "My office, as the responsible authority for the European Integration Fund, could not be associated with any publication criticising Ministers and their policies, still less with criticism which amounted to accusations of bad faith, nor could it support attacks on other politicians."

It is inappropriate to give detailed information on the Order of Business.

I will finish in any case. The Minister of State added: "For that reason, funding of more than €5,000 — half the cost of the report — was decommitted from the amount due to the centre for its overall project."

We will ascertain what is the position regarding the Deputy's initial inquiry on the functions of Ministers of State.

The delegation of functions has not been completed in all cases, including in my Department. We hope to have them completed before the final Cabinet meeting in the summer.

I will finish——

The Deputy has provided detailed information on an issue. It is inappropriate to do so on the Order of Business.

I am seeking information from the Ceann Comhairle on this issue. For example, in the case of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, 6,000 people, including 2,012 children, in direct provision cannot be handled by the Minister of State, Deputy White, because she will have integration until the individuals concerned have secured citizenship or residency. In the meantime, she is cutting by half the grant to a publication that would have advocated their rights. This is an outrageous precedent in censorship for any Government, Minister or Department in the history of the State.

As a long-time Member of the House, Deputy Higgins should know the Order of Business arrangements. He is transgressing normal behaviour on the Order of Business.

Yes, I know the arrangements. This is the reason I oppose political censorship. We should not be afraid to be criticised. The Tánaiste welcomes criticism. In this case, an organisation's grant was cut because it said "Boo" to a Minister.

On a point of order, is there any precedent for a Minister taking a position that a grant should be cut by half because a pamphlet is claimed to have criticised a Minister. Perhaps her action would be more acceptable if there was not such a stench of sanctimony from the same Minister, Deputy Mary Alexandra White.

The Deputies should table a substantive motion.

The drug prescription Bill, which is before the Seanad, may save a couple of million euro but it will hurt the oldest and most vulnerable. Where is the drugs reference pricing Bill, which could save hundreds of million euro but would hurt the drugs industry? When will it come before the House?

The 4,867 people who are unemployed in Balbriggan have had a very small facility available to them since the original facility was shut in December 2008. Will the Tánaiste, the Minister responsible at that time, indicate if provision has been made to open a one-stop-shop in Balbriggan given the large number of empty premises in the town? People still have to travel to Dublin to get——

Legislation would not be required to do that.

Something needs to be done because with unemployment in the area increasing, unemployed people are not being provided with a proper service. They must travel to visit welfare officers and cannot sign on because the facility is too small. The position is unacceptable.

The Tánaiste may respond on the first question regarding legislation.

I believe the legislation is due next year.