Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 14, motion re report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges on parliamentary standards; No. 14a, motion re technical amendments to Standing Orders; No. 14b, motion re withdrawal of Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008; No. 14c, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 14d, motion re orders of reference and records of committees; No. 17, statements on European Council, Brussels; No. 2, Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2010 [Seanad] - Second and Remaining Stages; No. 3, Road Traffic Bill 2009, amendments from the Seanad; and No. 18, statements on cystic fibrosis.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of No. 18; Nos. 14, 14a, 14b, 14c and 14d shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 17 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 85 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements shall be confined to the Taoiseach and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time, and which shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; a Minister or Minister of State shall take questions for a period not exceeding 20 minutes; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; the suspension of sitting under Standing Order 23(1) shall take place at 1.30 p.m., or on the conclusion of No. 17, whichever is the later, until 2.30 p.m.; the Second and Remaining Stages of No. 2 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply: the proceedings on the Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6.30 p.m. tonight; the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in respect of amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Health and Children; Private Members’ business, which shall be No. 75, motion re economic issues (resumed), shall be taken at 7 p.m. tonight, or on the conclusion of No. 2, whichever is the later, and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes; the proceedings on No. 3 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. tonight and any amendments from the Seanad not disposed of shall be decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall, in respect of amendments to the Seanad amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Transport; the proceedings in respect of No. 18 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 55 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Sinn Féin and Independent Deputy Finian McGrath, who shall be called upon in that order, and 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 eight proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight agreed to?

It is not agreed. I greatly regret that I again must indicate that I cannot accept the proposals on the Order Paper before Members today, given that yesterday, in answer to concerns raised about the disgraceful cuts to services for people with disabilities and their carers, the Taoiseach——

Deputy, the question is simple.

No, I am explaining my opposition.

It is whether we are agreeing to sit later than 8:30 p.m.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach stated "we must consider how we rearrange the non-front line service part of the sector" and "we must be prepared to consider whether we can reorganise how that is delivered". With respect, while the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and Children and whoever else is involved are considering at their leisure, people with disabilities and their carers are facing cuts.

Deputy, Deputy.

Moreover, these are not proposed cuts, as cuts actually have taken place. The Taoiseach was in denial about this matter this morning in this Chamber.

We cannot have a debate like this on the Order of Business. It is not provided for.

I am explaining the reason I am opposing it. I believe the Taoiseach has time to hear the reasons.

There should be respect for the Chair.

Members have seven other questions to dispose of.

I am entitled to explain it.

The Deputy is not entitled to break the rules.

I am stating clearly to the Chair, through the Chair or any other way I have to deliver the message to the Taoiseach, that all Members——

Respect for the Chair.

——have received a communication explaining how, a month after the Minister of State, Deputy Finneran, opened——

——you are completely out of order on the Order of Business.

——a sheltered housing complex in Dublin——

Even Gerry cannot listen to the Deputy.

There are other times. All these matters are serious and important but this is the wrong time to raise them.

No, it is the right time to do so because my demand, quite simply——

I am quite willing to allow brief comment but I will not allow a Second Stage contribution on the matter.

Hear, hear.

I simply ask for a guarantee from the Taoiseach and the Government that those services which have been cut will be restored, that is, the respite supports will be restored and there will be no further cuts applying to people with disabilities——

This is a Second Stage speech. Put the question.

——who sadly are not being represented in this House by the Government today but by voices outside this House and in other centres across this State. This is a disgraceful situation——

Deputy, please will you co-operate with the Chair?

——and there is no other mechanism open to Members on the eve of the Dáil rising for this summer recess.

Yes, there are other mechanisms, if the Deputy wishes to avail of them.

Consequently, I oppose the adoption of this proposal on the Order Paper.

I will put the question. The question is that the Dáil——

It is important, for the purpose of clarification, to note this issue concerns vulnerable people and I wish to make clear what are the facts. There are 5,000 respite places in this country and Members are discussing an issue regarding the budgeting of 130 of those 5,000 places. Consequently, there are 4,870 places in respite that are not affected in any way by the discussions that are taking place today.

The Taoiseach is missing the point. This affects people's lives.

That is factually incorrect.

Deputies, please, can we have some order on the Order of Business?

It is important that the facts are heard.

(Interruptions).

Please Deputies. Just brief comment. We must have some order on the Order of Business.

That is not factually correct. I cannot allow the Taoiseach to mislead the Chamber.

It is not a solution. These are the facts.

This speech is pure waffle.

Sorry Deputy, these are the facts.

What about the earlier cutbacks?

There are discussions taking place with those service providers who seemingly are finding it more difficult than other service providers which have taken the efficiencies and adjustments but still have been able to provide those services.

The Taoiseach could not care less.

The Taoiseach is pretending there is no problem. The sooner he sits down the better for himself.

As for the aforementioned 130 out of the 5,000 respite places that are available nationally, the task is to find a solution that should not affect those front line services.

Will the Taoiseach guarantee the restoration of these services?

These service providers have the same responsibility to meet the adjustments as others which have been able to so do.

The Taoiseach should stop digging. He is digging in a hole.

Will the Taoiseach restore the respite care?

I will put the question.

Question put: "That the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m."

Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise?

Deputies Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Arthur Morgan, Martin Ferris and Finian McGrath rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen, I declare the question carried. In accordance with Standing Order 70 the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 14, 14a, 14b, 14c and 14d without debate agreed to?

No. On a point of information, I do not know whether Deputies are aware that the Taoiseach has read into the record this morning a proposal for the ordering of today's business. Since the objection which we had legitimately to the Taoiseach's refusal to address the matter of cutbacks in the disability sector, we are now advised that a further piece of legislation relating to the transport sector is going to be crammed into today's Order Paper and introduced later today. The House is not being notified of that at this point but its purpose is to facilitate compulsory purchase orders. Either the Order of Business the Taoiseach reads into the record is the Government's intent or it is not. We are being codded. This is a total con job. When will we get the opportunity to address matters on cystic fibrosis? Is that going to happen in the early hours of tomorrow? What are the intentions? Is it not time we had some honesty and clarity on the floor of this Dáil instead of treating the House with contempt? Is it not time to lay out exactly, fairly and honestly the real intent of the Government?

There is no change to the existing arrangements but there is——

I am sorry, but there is.

Will you listen to the answer?

If Deputy Ó Caoláin gives me the opportunity, I will try to be a little more succinct than he is in coming to the point.

Níor fhéach an Taoiseach ar an gciall.

Gabh mo leithscéal.

Níor fhéach an Taoiseach ar an gciall.

An ea? B'fhéidir nach bhfuil an aigne ag an Teachta í a thuiscint. Is í sin an fhadbh, b'fhéidir.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach should be allowed to speak without interruption please.

May I return to the ceannaire for a moment?

Go raibh maith agat. Deputy Ó Caoláin raised a valid point. The Order of Business is as I outlined, but an amendment to it will be brought to the floor of the House later today to facilitate the approval of the publication of the text of a Bill to provide for the amendment of section 217 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide for the extension of the period of validity of CPOs and to approve the moving of a motion in the Seanad providing for the early signature of the Bill by the President. This relates to enabling the extension of process regarding CPOs. It does not in any way affect how they will be handled. It is a technical issue that needs to be addressed today. Were it to be left until next week, CPO procedures would lapse and people would have to start ab initio in regard to important projects. We just want to make that point.

Why can we not have that information now? Why does the Taoiseach rise to say it will take place later in the day?

It is a technical amendment, a technical provision.

It is not a technical amendment; this is a new Bill.

The Deputy cannot comment a second time on the Order of Business.

I am advised the Government is going to seek an hour and 20 minutes on top of everything else that is before the House.

The Deputy is out of order coming in a second time.

I am damn well not out of order. I am in order——

The Deputy is out of order. He should resume his seat.

(Interruptions).

This is the Order of Business.

The Deputy is out of order. I ask him to resume his seat.

Does the Ceann Comhairle not accept this is the Order of Business?

The Deputy is not allowed to speak twice on the Order of Business on the same item. I am putting the question.

I am indicating we are not being told all the information in the way we should be told it.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 14, 14a, 14b, 14c and 14d without debate be agreed to,” put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 17 agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with the suspension of sittings under Standing Order 23(1) agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 17 agreed to?

It is not agreed. I stated on several occasions that I do not accept the Government's guillotining of Bills in any shape or form. The Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2010 is to allow for prescription charges to be imposed on some of the most vulnerable in society. There are a number of amendments tabled by Fine Gael in the name of Deputy Reilly and by the Labour Party that need to be discussed. If the Government had been interested in saving or raising money, as it appears to be given the imposition of this charge, it could have brought forward the drugs pricing Bill, which would have resulted in very substantial savings in the purchase of drugs. Therefore, I am opposed to the guillotining of the Bill in the manner proposed.

The Labour Party is also opposed to the proposal and to guillotines in general. There are very many at this time of year. Just as legislation resulted in the withdrawal of respite services for certain people, the Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2010 is asking the most vulnerable to pay yet again. People on medical cards, the sick and poor will now be asked to pay prescription charges.

The Labour Party has only one time slot for this Bill and it will be sharing it with Sinn Féin because it has no time allocated to it. This is simply inadequate. Many of my colleagues would like to be able to speak on this Bill. They represent people who will now be asked to pay a prescription charge for their vital medication. We are strongly opposed to the use of the guillotine on this Bill.

I, too, absolutely oppose the guillotine, and the Bill itself. This so-called Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill is disgraceful legislation. Deputies should take note it is also deceptive. While the Government and its advocates will talk about the so-called modest charge on prescriptions for medical card holders, they need to take clear note that according to the legislation, the Minister is allowed to raise that charge at any time by ministerial decision. That facilitation is one of which Members should be very cognisant, particularly those Members who intend to support it. The Bill is disgraceful and deceptive and should be withdrawn. We oppose the guillotine and will certainly oppose the passage of the Bill.

Earlier this morning, reference was made to various savings, efficiencies and alternative ways of earning moneys that would be of assistance in maintaining front-line services. Deputy Kenny mentioned Professor McCarthy's recommendations in this area. One recommendation was for a €5 prescription charge but we are charging 50 cent.

The Taoiseach is all heart.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 2 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 73; Níl, 59.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • 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, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John
  • 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.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Cregan and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 3 agreed to?

It is not agreed. We have seen an extraordinary abuse of the parliamentary system in the past few weeks in the Chamber. One item of legislation after another has been guillotined. In many cases, it has been unnecessary. In other cases, there has been no time to read the amendments, given the entire period of time allowed for debate. The planning Bill is a case in point. This practice leads to bad law and denies the House the right to keep the Executive to account. I hope the Ceann Comhairle will assist in the next session, seeing as how the new Government Whip has failed to fulfil his promise to use the guillotine sparingly, which was the intended use of the guillotine in the first place. Under the Ceann Comhairle's guidance in the next session, I ask that we consider how to change the rules of the House to prevent this abuse and ensure that the House can keep the Executive to account.

If people were not wasting time on the Order of Business, we would have more time.

On that subject——

(Interruptions).

Even the ranks of Tuscany can scarce forbear to cheer.

Evacuate the House.

Please, could we have Deputy Durkan without interruption?

When the multitude's anger has subsided.

It is constituency envy. That is all.

I support my constituency colleague. Many times previously, the Government cynically introduced the guillotine to cram through legislation that was sensitive and——

The Deputy's intervention at this time is entirely inappropriate. The party leaders deal with the——

I respectfully suggest——

Is the Deputy dealing with the issue before——

It will be a good speech.

I do not want to disappoint the Ceann Comhairle. I will intervene again, but I wanted to support my constituency colleague, as his comments were true. The use of the guillotine to ram through legislation in an undemocratic fashion that is abusive to the Houses of Parliament has become commonplace.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

There will be a celebration in Paris over the use of the guillotine.

I have never seen the Fine Gael Front Bench cleared out so quickly. We have had recent experience of it, but Deputy Durkan has his own way of clearing the deck.

At least I have a Front Bench.

Guillotine the Front Bench.

(Interruptions).

I agree with previous speakers, in that I oppose the guillotine.

I would like to put on the record of the House that I have never heard a more succinct contribution from Deputy Ó Caoláin in my life.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 3 be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18 agreed to? Agreed. If we can have some ciúnas, we will proceed with the Order of Business.

The Taoiseach outlined a number of real issues that needed to be faced up to and debated in the House when he was replying to one of Deputy Ó Caoláin's short questions. I agree with the concept. Is it intended that there will be a changed procedure for the preparation of the budget this year? Might there be real discussion in the Chamber about the Votes and the priorities to be decided upon by the Government so that, when the Minister for Finance makes decisions on the budget, he will have had the benefit of real political debate from elected politicians?

(Interruptions).

Could we have some ciúnas in the lobbies, please?

The Minister would have the benefit of political discussion in the House on the priorities to be decided on in terms of the budget. Is there any intention to change the format of the presentation and production of the budget this year?

Has a date been fixed for the return of the House? Will it be in mid or late September? When can we expect the publication of the Bill on the proposition for a directly elected Dublin lord mayor?

The third matter requires legislation and that is in preparation at the moment, as the Deputy would be aware. Regarding the first question asked by the Deputy, it is an issue for the Minister for Finance. I am not aware of any change in procedures being envisaged, but I believe the House should give itself the opportunity to have a series of debates about what the real choices are. It is important that we use debates in the House for the purpose of enlightening the electorate as to what are their real choices. We often have policy differences, and unfortunately sometimes they are not characterised by realistic debate. I have always advocated that this House should take the opportunity — there will many before December — in which these types of issues could be discussed in a way that is sensible and realistic. It would be to the benefit of the debate were that to happen.

What is the date of return?

I believe it will be announced tomorrow, but it will probably be around 29 September.

Given that the Government intends to close down the Dáil until late September, would the Taoiseach consider holding the three by-elections at some stage during the recess? I recall that last year the month of September was used for the campaign on the Lisbon referendum. I recall the launch of the Labour Party campaign on 31 August last year on that referendum. The Chief Whip, in responding to the Labour Party moving the writ on the Dublin South by-election last week, said it could not be held because it would interrupt Dáil business. If the by-elections were held during the recess, naturally that would not interrupt Dáil business. I suggest that the Taoiseach considers moving the writs and holding the by-elections some time in September. We can have the campaign in September and then nothing will be interrupted.

A good suggestion.

There is a good deal of work to be done by committees in July and September. The finance committee, in particular, has much work to conduct, and in fact I do not believe the Labour Party spokesperson wants to take a day off at all. I believe she wants to be here for all of it. I am sure colleagues will provide that opportunity.

We are worn out.

I do not believe that it true. I believe Deputy Rabbitte is very energetic, and indeed a senior Deputy, as I was saying yesterday.

I am like the Taoiseach was last night.

I was hoping the Deputy would be around on Thursday evening for that other thing, but we may have to move it along.

Hold on now. It was Friday that I asked the Taoiseach for.

I was wondering why it was Friday.

I am already on the Criminal Law Procedure Bill on Thursday, so Friday, with respect——

I have seen the Deputy double up without any problem, on many occasions.

I know, but, no more than the Taoiseach, I am getting old.

The Deputy is good in short spurts though.

Would the Taoiseach like the rest of us to leave?

I am sorry, I wanted to have a chat with Deputy Quinn as well. The mayor Bill will not be available this session, and I look forward to his continuing interest in that particular subject. However, regarding Deputy Gilmore's effervescent energy for a campaign in September, perhaps Galway might be his best possibility in an all-Ireland final.

The Taoiseach would clutch at any straw.

I want to ask the Taoiseach about the health information Bill and when he expects it to be published. It is item No. 27 on the B list. By way of information, the Taoiseach spoke earlier about the respite services. These services in Limerick have been closed for the past three weeks. That involves 63 families and individuals, many of whom are travelling to Dublin today for the march. Many of them are elderly and living on their own. The Taoiseach was in Limerick last Monday and gave a commitment that this would be looked after. This is about the lives of real people. All that is involved is €157,000 for the respite services in Limerick. When are we going to get a result? I put this down as a special notice question today on the Adjournment and I hope the Ceann Comhairle allows us to raise it, as we have been trying to do for the past four weeks.

We will have to see how things work out for the Adjournment. We will leave it until then.

This has been ongoing for a number of weeks. On a point of information for the Taoiseach, these respite services are already closed, not about to be closed, because of lack of funding.

The Bill alluded to by the Deputy will be later this year. I was making the point earlier that there are 5,000 respite places nationally and the discussions being undertaken today and tomorrow relate to 130.

They are not all for the intellectually disabled though.

One of the issues that should be raised in the discussions that will take place is why there was an acquisition of property which is empty. We talk about the possibility of respite services being affected in Limerick for the sake of €130,000. However, had the house not been purchased, perhaps this would have ensured that the services were available.

It is current revenue we are talking about, not capital.

That is not much of an answer for people with no access to respite services.

These are issues that need to be discussed with the service providers.

This is about staff, not about capital funding.

I am glad that the Tánaiste is present in the House. This has become an old chorus of mine, but when are we going to see the national community primary school legislation published? We were going to have it enacted this session. Will it be published tomorrow or next week, or is there any chance of getting the Bill at all? Three new schools are starting in September in addition to the two that are operating illegally at present. I just wonder when the legislation will be published.

That matter will be considered by Government very shortly — in the coming weeks.

I have three issues regarding promised legislation. Apropos respite places and the issue referred to by the Taoiseach to the effect that only 130 places would be affected, is that figure of 130 extra or is it included in the number of places already closed down?

Has the Deputy a question on promised legislation?

Yes, it relates to the promised eligibility for health and personal social services legislation. I believe one of the most crucial and personal social services involves the support services already referred to.

Will the Deputy leave it until we see whether there is legislation coming down the tracks?

There is no date for that legislation.

I am encouraging the Taoiseach, perhaps, to clarify what he said this morning——

That would not be in order.

——when he received information from the Minister for Health and Children that only 130 places would be affected. Are we to conclude——

Deputy, we cannot have a debate at this point.

Well, can the Ceann Comhairle tell me?

There will be an awful lot of people outside the House very shortly and they will be inquiring about this.

It is a matter for the Adjournment. I call Deputy Pat Rabbitte.

I have not finished yet. I took the Ceann Comhairle's advice on another issue as well, and I presume we shall get that information or in any event somebody else can raise it with the Taoiseach. I took his advice and tabled a number of parliamentary questions. The information I received on a question relating to the number of prisoners on early release or one type of release or other over the past three years is——

The Deputy knows this is not a matter for the Order of Business.

It is, and it is on legislation as well.

Tell us about the legislation.

If the Ceann Comhairle had not interrupted me, I would have told him by now. Almost a quarter of the total prison population has been on early release. The critical question I raised, on foot of that, was regarding the number of people on bail——

Deputy, please.

There is promised legislation.

We will make inquiries. Will the Taoiseach say if there is promised legislation in this area?

The Ceann Comhairle will not make inquiries. I can make them myself. A quarter of the total prison population is on early release.

We cannot have a debate at this time. It is 12.40 p.m. and we are still on the Order of Business.

A vast number have been on bail while charged, and the bail amendment Bill that I have raised 100 times before in the House is relevant. The Ceann Comhairle keeps interrupting me all the time. Can I ask——

The Ceann Comhairle has to be respected, in fairness.

I am being respectful, and giving respect to the House involves answering questions when asked.

There is no date for that legislation.

There is no date for it, Deputy, I am advised.

What does the Ceann Comhairle mean there is no date for the legislation? Criminals are going around this city, and others as well, shooting people while on bail.

The Deputy will have to find some other way to raise it.

The legislation is item No. 72 and the Taoiseach knows that as well as I do.

The Deputy will please resume his seat.

There is no date for the legislation.

I respectfully suggest that in view of the seriousness of the situation, a date might be contemplated as a matter of some urgency. Is that possible, a Cheann Comhairle?

It will be contemplated.

Then, notwithstanding the forthcoming event, Bastille Day, which is the real guillotine time, I suggest that, after some period of contemplation, the Bill should be brought before the House as soon as it returns after the summer break. May I suggest that after a period of some contemplation a conclusion is made of a satisfactory nature? Then, without any other intervention, the Bill should be brought before the House as soon as it returns from the summer break.

It will be contemplated.

The Deputy has made his point. I call on Deputy Rabbitte.

What does the Taoiseach mean by that?

It is like paraphrasing Elvis Presley.

The Deputy has made his point about these matters even though it is not contemplated on the Order of Business. Will Deputy Durkan allow Deputy Rabbitte?

Is it not possible? I am disappointed now.

I recommend Lough Derg to Deputy Durkan. It is a great place where he could reflect on matters and calm down.

Does the Tánaiste wish to take me there?

Deputies please.

Will we take the management companies Bill on Friday to facilitate it going on to Committee Stage over the summer?

In view of what Deputies have said about this matter and in an effort to accommodate them, if there is cross-party support we could arrange to have Second Stage completed in the House tomorrow evening. That would then allow the Bill to proceed to Committee Stage in the summer months. Will we all agree on that?

I thank the Taoiseach for that. It would have suited me better personally if it were taken on Friday. There are several colleagues who want to speak to the Bill because of the relevance it has on their constituencies. Will there be time for a number of contributions?

The Deputy will be aware of the constraints on time in the last sitting week. The Deputy made the good point to me last week and this week that the Bill could move on to Committee Stage if Second Stage were taken this week. There will be plenty of opportunity for Deputies to go into some detail on that Stage. The Deputy will know from experience that the amount of time available to complete Second Stage will be limited tomorrow. We should avail of the opportunity to conclude Second Stage. There will then be plenty of opportunity on Committee Stage for Members to have detailed discussions on the finer points of the Bill.

A debate on cystic fibrosis will be held later this evening. When is it hoped to have the human tissue Bill published, which is crucially important to organ donations and transplants?

When can we expect legislation on gambling, particularly dealing with the plans to tackle the potential tax take on on-line gambling?

There is no legislation on the Government legislative programme for the second matter the Deputy raised. There is no date for the human tissue legislation.

I call on Deputy Sheahan.

I note a slight trepidation in the Ceann Comhairle's voice when he called me.

I am always apprehensive that the Deputy might not be in order.

Will the Taoiseach give a commitment on regional airports and their public service obligations, PSOs? I raise this under No. 37 in the legislation programme, the national tourism development authority amendment Bill. The PSO for Kerry Regional Airport has been reduced from €3 million to €1.75 million. Hence, services and passenger numbers have been reduced.

The Deputy will have to raise this matter on Second Stage of the legislation.

This is the closure of regional airports by stealth. Will the Taoiseach give a commitment to the future of regional airports and their PSOs?

In Cloghane, Corca Dhuibhne, 150 households are without any television reception. We had the Green Minister in the House talking about pay-per-view——

The Deputy can raise this with the line Minister and stick to the Order of Business.

——and free-to-air television services yet these poor people in Cloghane have no television. RTE technicians have picked out a site for——

The Deputy could raise this on the Adjournment this evening or tomorrow.

I tried to raise the matter on the Adjournment but you, a Cheann Comhairle, refused me. I feel you are being very hard on me for some reason or other. Will the Taoiseach used his esteemed position to put the fires under RTE to get a television service to the people of Cloghane?

The Deputy has done well. I call on Deputy Stanton.

What about the PSOs and the legislation I raised?

We do not have a date for the publication of national tourism development authority (amendment) Bill. There is review of regional airports under way. The PSO requires state-aid approval from the European Union. There has been a policy whereby PSO arrangements must be modified in view of EU developments.

On secondary legislation, one of the first actions of the Government when the recession began was to suspend the operation of the Disability Act two years ago. When will this legislation be re-implemented?

The Government also suspended the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act. There are whole sections that need to be invoked. When will this happen?

Am I in order when raising matters concerning secondary legislation?

The Deputy is on the margins of doubt.

The margins of doubt?

Are the queries directly about secondary legislation?

Ar agaidh leat.

Sections of the citizen information Act need to be implemented, particularly the advocacy provisions that impact on people with disabilities. When will this occur?

When will the carers' strategy be published, as I understand it is ready? When will we be in a position to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? We were promised the mental capacity Bill would be published before the House rose for the summer recess. Will it be published tomorrow? Currently, this area is covered by legislation from 1870.

Legislation is required on standards of care and inspections of facilities for children with intellectual disabilities in residential institutions. The Minister with responsibility for disability said two weeks ago that the Government was exposed in this area.

There is a whole raft of the disability strategy that has either been abandoned, stalled or suspended. Two weeks ago the Taoiseach claimed he has a great record in this area. The record does not stand. Families of people with intellectual disabilities will march on the Dáil later because they are concerned and upset about the putting aside of the disability strategy, the first action this Government took two years ago when the recession began.

When will legislation be published on the electoral commission?

The latter legislation is under preparation. The line Minister can give the Deputy an up-to-date position on that.

Deputy Stanton set out several issues. I do not accept there has been a abandonment of the disability sector.

The legislation has been suspended.

The legislation is not being operated.

Under this Administration the resources provided to the sector have increased by 400%.

Does the Taoiseach accept the legislation has been suspended?

Since we came into office four times more has been applied to disability sector.

I listened to what the Deputy had to say.

Will he address them?

The Deputy took five minutes to put the issues and expects me to address them in two sentences.

The Taoiseach is starting on the wrong foot.

I thought there was a bit more substance to the Deputy's proposition than that. Can we not listen to each other?

The Taoiseach is waffling.

With respect Deputy, I would not like to regard what he had to say as waffling and he a member of the Opposition Front Bench. I am sure he is very dedicated but if he wants to take that approach I can simply——

I apologise for using that term.

It is not a question of apologising. It is a question of being respectful to each other.

I do not accept his characterisation of the abandonment of this sector. The Government has brought forward legislation in this sector based on resources. There is no point in suggesting we implement all sections of the Disability Act without reference to resources. We have increased much-needed resources in this area, an area which had not been properly accommodated in the past. It will be a continuing challenge for anyone in government for the foreseeable future. We need to examine the service provision. I would never suggest support services behind front-line services are not required but they have to be examined. A multitude of service providers have costs across the board in their own organisations that need to be considered. We must consider how we can bring all that together, similarly to shared services in the public sector, in a way that is more cost-effective. I do not want to be in any way disrespectful of these service providers because many of them filled gaps in the past when the State simply did not have the capacity to provide services at all. Thus, there is a historical issue here. There is an ethos that must be respected but, in addition, people must recognise that change is necessary. We cannot assume the continuation of services as currently delivered while at the same time making a commitment to protect the front line. It is not possible.

What changes will happen in the HSE? That is where it will start, not at the front line.

A whole range of changes have been made in that area. I would rather address what Deputy Stanton had to say, because he has some knowledge in the area, with respect.

The answer to the question regarding the non-implementation of primary legislation is that the implementation is resource-led. It is about providing in the first instance for those in the younger age group through the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, with the prospect of raising the age to 16 over a period. Whether the person with responsibility for this is me or the Deputy's leader or anyone else, the same material facts apply. There is no point in suggesting to the public that this can be resolved overnight. It will not be. Instead of focusing on that aspect, let us concentrate on how, in the context of the requirement for more cost-effective services, we can protect the front line based on a good level of service.

There are 25,000 people receiving good disability services in this country. Issues have arisen with some service providers, as mentioned by Deputies in the House this morning. It is not correct to suggest that all services are at risk. A small number of places — 130, as I understand it——

That is ridiculous.

——are up for discussion, and those service providers will have to try to find ways of dealing with these issues while protecting the front line, as other providers have done by implementing the efficiencies that were asked for. It is a question of everybody facing up to the challenge. There are a number of substantive issues that can be discussed with them, including savings in areas such as human resources, which are not on the front line but which need to be streamlined. There is potential in these discussions to find a constructive outcome. There is no monopoly on virtue. We all want to see front line services protected, particularly for people such as this.

I am entitled to say in my defence that I am proud of the resources I made available when I had responsibility in this area, as Minister for Health and Children and Minister for Finance. This is recognised by the sector and was based on a planned partnership approach with those service providers. There would still be dissenting voices coming from the far side no matter what I said about this issue.

The Taoiseach is not facing reality. That is what is wrong with him.

My sincerity is no less than anyone's, including Deputy McCormack's.

He is not facing reality.

My sincerity in trying to find a constructive solution to this problem is no less than that of anyone else.

The mental capacity Bill, which is expected to be published next session, forms an important part of what is required to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Work on the implementation of the various other provisions in that convention, which are extensive, continues in the relevant Departments.

I want to ask the Taoiseach about the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 and particularly about comments made in this Chamber and in committee. The Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, intends that people who are in receipt of social welfare payments will be made eligible for work helping their communities, whether that involves building walls, painting, weeding or other activities. He informed us that the detail of this new community employment initiative would be made available in July. Can the Taoiseach inform the House when he intends to make this known?

The information will be with us shortly.

Has he put the scheme together?

There is no legislation required in that regard. The work is ongoing in the Department. The Deputy acknowledges that work is being done in that area.

When will the health information Bill be published? When will the report on the death of Mr. Peter McKenna at Leas Cross be issued? This has been the subject of a number of investigations which were not satisfactory. The latest investigation, which was carried out by Mr. Dignam, is now over and the report has been with the board of the HSE since March, which is four months ago. Where is the report and when will the Minister make it available? This issue has been followed closely by my colleague Deputy O'Dowd, but many people feel this information should come to the public domain for further scrutiny, so we can learn from this terrible tragedy.

When will the licensing of health facilities Bill be introduced? It will need to address situations such as that in which a terminally ill lady was kept for 25 hours in the accident and emergency unit of University College Hospital Galway, which is supposed to be a centre of excellence for cancer treatment. That is not excellence, or anything near it, by any stretch of the imagination. We need to know whether the Bill will address this and when it will be introduced.

With regard to the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill, I wish to ask the Taoiseach about some of the comments he made here. There was an implication that somehow the Brothers of Charity must live within the budget they are given, like every other organisation. However——

I will just finish this; I will be very quick.

We have really gone over time on the Order of Business.

The Brothers of Charity have already been hit for €1 million under value for money savings and another €1 million because of the moratorium on recruitment. They cannot even replace the CEO——

We cannot have a rolling debate on this matter on the Order of Business.

——and now they are told they will be faced with another €2 million cut.

It has been going on for the last couple of hours.

The Ceann Comhairle never gives us any debate.

If the Ceann Comhairle will forgive me I will continue for one second.

This is a very important issue. We can all go on our summer holidays——

Yes. We accept all that.

——but these people have no respite care for their loved ones. The Taoiseach stated here this afternoon that only 130 out of 5,000 respite beds were under threat.

We cannot have a debate on it at this point.

I want to ask a direct question. Is the Taoiseach telling the House that the 5,000 respite beds to which he referred are all for intellectually disabled people? Are they not also for care of the elderly and other areas?

Please, Deputy Reilly. You are not co-operating with the Chair.

Give us a debate on it.

The beds in Limerick are gone, and there are more to go in Galway. They will be lost in Dublin. There are far more than 130 beds——

I will not allow a rolling debate on this matter.

Well, give us a debate this once. We will be happy.

I ask the Taoiseach to reply to the inquiries about legislation.

A Deputy

The Ceann Comhairle should allow a debate on this.

There should be a debate.

The health information Bill will be introduced later this year. There are no dates for the other two Bills.

The Deputy mentioned the licensing of health facilities Bill. When we introduce the licensing arrangements, it will represent an improvement to the health service in terms of implementing standards and making sure we provide a level of service that people expect. Where that does not happen, there will be consequences. People often call for licensing legislation but then when the licensing arrangements are established, surveillance and monitoring are carried out and decisions are made on that basis, the reaction from the Opposition is often to say that we should not close this or change that.

The Deputies play for all sides when it suits. It is a luxury they have.

I do not wish to interrupt the Taoiseach, but the Government can fix a problem when it identifies one, or it can use it as an excuse to withdraw services. That has been the case.

No. It is a luxury they have and the record will show that is how they play it. If we are to have licensing arrangements, as the Deputy is calling for, he must accept that when issues are not being dealt with or standards are not being reached, there must be consequences. Often, unfortunately, when that is the outcome of improvements, Opposition Members come in and say we cannot follow through on it because it will have this effect or that effect. They cannot have it every way.

Nobody wants it every way.

Well, unfortunately——

We want problems identified and fixed.

I have seen the Deputy's reaction to a number of issues that have been raised in recent times, and that is precisely what he does.

I put it on the record of the House——

We must move on.

I put it on the record of the House that these reports——

There are time constraints on the order of the House. I have motions to put to the House and the statements on the European Council begin at 1.05 p.m.

Facilities are being starved of resources to make them unsafe.

Deputy, please.

Reports are commissioned to show they are unsafe——

We cannot have a debate on it at this stage. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

——and those reports are then used to close the facilities down rather than addressing the problem.

The Deputy's point is made.

The Taoiseach did not tell us when we will see the Dignam report, which has been with the HSE for four months.

I ask Deputy Seán Power to speak very briefly because we are under serious time constraints.

I will not detain the House.

In view of the concern of the racing industry about future funding and the commitment made by the Taoiseach to tax firms that are providing a betting service in this country, could he tell us what progress has been made in this regard and when we are likely to see the publication of the legislation?

I thank the Deputy for his inquiry. It is an issue to which I referred recently. Work is being undertaken to deal with the matter this year and I expect we will have it in the next session.

I will be very brief. I have waited a long time, but I would like to make my point to the Taoiseach. This may be the last formal occasion on which the Taoiseach will be here before the summer recess. I would, therefore, like to remind him that he will have hard decisions to make in the autumn regarding budgets, tax cuts and cuts in services and he will have to make the choice. I put it to the Taoiseach that there is significant flabbiness and abuse in the public services and if Oireachtas committees had the adequate powers to investigate these, they could be dealt with. For example, in the area of procurement ——

The Deputy will have to find another way to address that.

I make this point in the context of legislation. I suggest the Taoiseach give committees the powers and they can do effective work. I am Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts and we have asked for extra powers with regard to data protection and the Supreme Court decision made on Abbeylara. We are hamfisted in our dealings with some of these issues. For example, we have got the job of looking at the Dublin Docklands Authority. We will also have to monitor NAMA, but we will not be ——

The Deputy was asked to be concise.

We will be unable to do the work we should do on behalf of the taxpayer because we do not have the necessary powers. We have asked for the powers and should get them. When will we have legislation that will give committees like the Committee of Public Accounts more powers to deal with the significant issues that exist, such as abuse, misspending etc., across the board?

The Deputy has made his point.

Abuse of procurement practice is another issue. Will the Taoiseach give us the powers to deal with the issues or will these issues become the subject of tribunals in the future?

We have brought forward legislation, through the commissions of inquiry legislation, to deal with those issues in a far more effective manner than through the 2004 Act, which as we know from experience has major cost implications, even in matters of public importance. These are often not dealt with with the speed people would expect because of the issues that arise in terms of witnesses etc. With regard to powers being given to the Committee of Public Accounts, I will have to check with the line Minister on the situation and the view of the relevant Department. The committee, under the Deputy's chairmanship and that of previous chairmen, has done important work and carries out an important function for Parliament. I would like to see it doing its work effectively. I will check on the matter and come back to the Deputy on it.

We need extra powers for dealing with NAMA and the Dublin Docklands Authority. The Comptroller and Auditor General also needs extra resources. The pay review done in his office points to serious lack of resources to deal with the issues.

The Deputy will have the opportunity at some other stage to raise this.

There is no point in Ministers sending stuff off to committees if the committees do not have the powers to deal with them.