Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 9c, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support to Ireland; No. a5, Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill 2010 — Order for Second Stage and Second and Subsequent Stages; and No. 40, Multi-Unit Developments Bill 2009 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and that business shall be interrupted not later than 11 p.m., the proceedings on No. 9c shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours in respect of which the following arrangements shall apply — the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share time, and the Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply, which shall not exceed ten minutes; the suspension of sitting under Standing Order 23(1) shall take place at 1.30 p.m. or on the conclusion of No. 9c, whichever is the later, until 2.30 p.m; Question Time today shall be taken on the conclusion of No. 9c or at 2.30 p.m., whichever is the later and shall be brought to a conclusion after 75 minutes; the Second and Subsequent Stages of No. a5 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply — the proceedings on Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6 p.m., the opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member 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 speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; the proceedings of Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance; in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for the taking of Private Members’ business, which shall be No. 104, motion re proposal to reduce national minimum wage (resumed), Standing Order 117(3) shall not apply and Private Members’ business shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes; and Report and Final Stages of No. 40 shall be taken tonight and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. by one question, which shall be from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform.

There are six proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9c, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support to Ireland agreed?

The Labour Party does not agree to the arrangements proposed by Government for dealing with this important matter. This is a motion from the Government asking the Dáil to approve the terms of the EU-IMF deal and all of the contents of the programme documents, which were circulated after the deal was negotiated and concluded.

There are a number of reasons we are opposing this arrangement. First, the motion the House will debate was only circulated at 11.40 last night. It is probably the most important economic motion to be put before the House and it was circulated only late last night, even though it had been talked about in the media and Government spokespersons had been saying since last week that there would be a vote on this today. Second, only two hours are being provided for the debate and the vote on what is the most serious measure brought before the Dáil in a long time and we are required to address the contents of the documents, the restrictions which are being applied, the various conditions for the moneys which are available and the political issue, which is that this is a bad deal negotiated by a Government in its last days that seeks to tie the hands of the succeeding Government for the next three to four years.

The time being provided to address this proposition is wholly inadequate. This is an issue of such enormity that I cannot for the life of me understand why such little time is being provided. After one takes into account the contributions by the main spokespersons, the reply by the Minister for Finance, the fact there are three empty seats in the House and the Ceann Comhairle who does not contribute to debate, that leaves 158 Members to share 70 minutes. If they all wished to participate, that would mean 35 seconds each. I do not know how many will want to participate but I have no doubt that it will be much greater than the time provision allows for something of such gravity in terms of its impact on the lives of ordinary Irish citizens now and into the future. This is totally inadequate time provision.

I never wanted to see this proposition but I believed that once the Government was proceeding with it, it had to be brought before the elected Members of this Chamber. I agree that is required but the Taoiseach is not providing adequate time for Members and I cannot agree to the ordering, given the enormity of what is involved and the fact that it will burden our citizens generationally.

I agree with some of the sentiments expressed. Why is the motion on the Order Paper today? Is this because the Government has taken a decision that this should be so? We made a request that this matter would be debated and voted on in the House three weeks ago but it was turned down by the Government. Why are we having a two-hour debate on it today?

There has been a detailed debate on this matter. Over two days, we had a debate and statements from parties which set out their positions on it. I made it clear then that it was the Government's intention to proceed to a budget. The advice is there is no legal obligation here but I believe there is a political imperative, given the attempt to create uncertainty about this matter by suggestions that people would, over the coming months, question the validity of the agreement or whatever that was set down by people engaging in an exercise elsewhere.

The passing of the budget was the first instalment in that matter and the passing of the motion will further reinforce the agreement, if further reinforcement is necessary, but I am determined to send a certain and clear message that this agreement has the support of the House and on the budget, on which the availability of funding under the programme is required, which has been passed by the House through the financial resolutions passed on budget night. It is, therefore, for that purpose I wanted to deal with it in that way to avoid further uncertainty being created by others.

I would like——

The Deputy is looking for a second bite of the cherry.

We have had over two days of discussion on this already. The motion simply sets out the fact that we are acknowledging the terms and conditions upon which the programme is available to us. Parties have set out their positions very clearly in the statements process.

That is not acceptable.

We did not get the programme documents until the end of that debate.

The Deputy said he would tear it up.

I am glad the Taoiseach referred to sending out a clear signal, which is important. A few weeks ago we requested that this matter would be debated and voted on in the Dáil and that was turned down. Now it appears on the Order Paper today. However, at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting on 9 December——

The Deputy will have an opportunity when the debate starts to make these points.

This is important. I want to get clarity and I will prove my point.

We are turning the Order of Business into——

We are not. This is important and I want to tell the Ceann Comhairle why. The following motion was passed unanimously at the Fianna Fáil meeting: "To add political legitimacy to the agreement and to force the Opposition to take a definitive position on the matter, that the Memorandum of Understanding between the Irish Government and the EU-IMF be put to Dáil Éireann for approval." That was unanimously endorsed by the Fianna Fáil Party, which is its right. However, according to the Fianna Fáil statement, "Supporting the motion, An Taoiseach and Uachtaráin Fianna Fáil said, ‘The Memorandum of Understanding has been put in place legally, legitimately and in the national interests of this country'——

The Deputy is holding up the commencement of the debate.

I will prove my point. The statement continued, "However, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin continue to try to make the public believe that there is an easy way out of the country's funding crisis. Given the seriousness of the situation——

The Deputy is quoting from a document, which is inappropriate on the Order of Business.

I want to make a point to the Ceann Comhairle. Will he give me two minutes?

I have allowed the Deputy in briefly

The Ceann Comhairle has not.

I should not have done so. However, out of courtesy, I allowed him in.

Let the Deputy finish.

I want to make my point. I will sit down when I make my point.

I have to put the question and we must decide the Order of Business.

Yes, and I will not cause any more obstruction. I want to make this point.

We have to decide the Order of Business and the points the Deputy is making now can be adequately made when the debate commences.

I only have ten minutes.

I will give the Deputy 20 seconds to conclude.

The Taoiseach said that he challenged the other parties to come clean and outline their alternative. He stated, "Given the seriousness of the situation, I do not believe this myth can be allowed to continue unchallenged. I was delighted to support this motion and look forward to the debate in Dáil Éireann next Wednesday". Last Thursday when I returned from Shannon, when I made the point to the Minister for Finance, who was sitting in the Taoiseach's seat, that the IMF had suspended judgment on this deal because of the motion tabled by the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, he said, "There is no decision of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. The Government has decided to submit the general arrangements to political approval next week".

We have to move on.

This is about honesty and integrity.

Hold on. The Minister, who is determined to be the worst Minister for Finance in the EU two years running, told the House there was no decision of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party and the reason we are having the debate is the Government wanted to have it, even though it was refused three weeks ago.

What about the national interest?

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 9c be agreed to”.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 72.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • 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.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • 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.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • 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 the suspension of the sitting under Standing Order 23(1) agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a5 agreed to?

It is not agreed. I find it absolutely extraordinary that the Government would actually have the audacity to come in here and expect that the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill 2010, containing 77 sections, would go through by 10 p.m. tonight. This Bill will allocate to the Minister for Finance the most powerful positions in finance ever given to any Minister in any government in the history of the State.

All he has to do is to consult with the Governor of the Central Bank.

(Interruptions).

If Deputy Ó Caoláin had his way, he would be talking about Mr. Adams being in the Department of Finance. This is quite extraordinary.

Fianna Fáil will need him for the technical group.

This allocates extraordinary powers to the Minister for Finance. It is not possible from any common sense perspective to deal with a Bill of this complexity on this day. It is just not possible to do it. We have had examples before of rushed legislation not standing up. We have had a situation where the Government did not fully provide the facts in respect of the bank guarantee. It was very reluctant to talk about the progress being made by the IMF as it approached Ireland. We now have this Bill giving extraordinary powers to the Minister for Finance.

I know that next week is Christmas week, but we should meet here next Tuesday and deal with this Bill. It is not right to expect——

Deputy, you have made your point.

——that a Bill of this complexity and this range could be dealt with adequately by this Parliament, when our people are expected to fork out over €10 billion in interest every year, due to the carry on and the reckless lending practices of some bankers and some institutions. It is not possible to do it today.

I suggest that we come back here next Tuesday and let us deal with this Bill under some sense of normality and common sense. It will not change the impact of the Bill, but it will at least give the Parliament an opportunity to have a rational debate about something that is very complex, but very serious.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

The Labour Party objects to this Bill being taken today. This Bill could probably teach the North Koreans a lesson in ministerial powers, because——

The Deputy would know all about that.

(Interruptions).

Deputies, please. Could we have some silence for the Deputy in possession please?

That was an own goal.

Outside of totalitarian regimes, I do not believe there has been a proposal to give powers like this to a Minister for Finance. We have received legal advice from a number of sources which agree that section 53 is more than likely unconstitutional, because it seeks to replace the law-making powers of the Oireachtas within the Constitution and transfer them to the Minister for Finance.

All these points can be made during the discussion.

The later Schedules to this Bill provide for the disemboweling of the National Pensions Reserve Fund in two parts; one for the banks and one for spending——

We cannot have a debate on this matter on the Order of Business. Standing Order 26 provides for a brief statement on the matter, which I am allowing you, but you are branching into a discussion on the matter.

You are interrupting me when I am speaking. The second power in respect of the National Pensions Reserve Fund is a power to the Minister for Finance to devote what he can of that fund to capital expenditure. It is a Fianna Fáil election slush fund.

(Interruptions).

It is proposed to turn——

The Chair is on its feet. You will resume your seat. I will suspend the House if you do not resume your seat.

(Interruptions).

You are out of order. Permission is granted on the Order of Business to issue a brief statement on matters such as this, but not a Second Stage speech. The debate on the issue will begin later in the day and you will have ample opportunity then. I have allowed you make your point and I have done the best I can to protect your position.

With respect, they think they are in North Korea.

On a point of order, Deputy Burton was repeatedly interrupted during her contribution.

She does it here every day.

Deputies, please.

Not once, a Cheann Comhairle, did you call order to allow Deputy Burton to make her point.

That is not true.

It is not true.

It is true. Check the record.

Deputy, please resume your seat and allow business to proceed.

I am making a point of order.

Yes, you have made it. Resume your seat and we will get on with the business of the House.

I am making a point of order. You are right in saying, a Cheann Comhairle, that when people make points on the Order of Business, they are required to be brief.

Deputy Burton would have been brief if she had been allowed to make her comment, but you did not——

That is not true.

With respect, a Cheann Comhairle, you did not provide her with the protection from the Chair to which she was entitled.

He is right, a Cheann Comhairle.

Deputy, that is an outrageous slur on the Chair.

You are there to protect Fianna Fáil.

It is not, a Cheann Comhairle. It is true.

May I finish speaking?

Yes, very briefly.

I made two points about this Bill. Section 53 is clearly unconstitutional because it provides most extraordinary powers to the Minister for Finance.

Deputy, you are branching into a discussion on the Bill at this point, which is out of order.

The section on the National Pensions Reserve Fund equates to the creation of a slush fund for Fianna Fáil to put into capital projects.

(Interruptions).

It is a slush fund for the Minister's party.

Deputy Burton, will you resume your seat, please? Will you co-operate with the Chair for once?

I will finish on this. The provision of these extraordinary powers after a debate of less than four hours on 77 sections and 66 pages is a travesty of democracy. People talk about political reform.

Deputy, please. I have advised the Deputy she is out of order.

The job of Parliament is to examine legislation.

The Deputy is out of order.

You are aiding and abetting that.

Deputy, you are out of order.

Four hours is not enough for this.

You will withdraw that remark or leave the House.

I am not aiding and abetting.

Sorry — are you now going to keep control?

(Interruptions).

You will withdraw the remark.

Deputies

Withdraw the remark.

Deputy, resume your seat.

On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle. With the greatest of respect——

Or the respect of the greatest.

——to allow that type of rabble to continue like that when someone——

(Interruptions).

A Cheann Comhairle, do you hear it?

That is not a point of order. Deputy Lynch, resume your seat or we will have to suspend the House for ten minutes.

You should suspend it.

Do you hear it, a Cheann Comhairle?

Yes, I do. I hear the whole House.

Then you should stop it.

I hear it continuously. I am doing the best I can, and if I had some co-operation we would be more successful.

A Deputy

She did not withdraw the remark, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Teachta Ó Caoláin.

Now we will have brevity.

Please, could we have some silence and respect for the Deputy in possession?

A Deputy

It is a slur on the Chair.

The Sinn Féin Deputies oppose proposal No. 4 on the so-called Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill 2010. We do so because it underpins the Government's failed banking strategy and because, despite what the Taoiseach claimed in his responses earlier to Deputies Burton and Gilmore, there is not adequate time to address the reasons this Bill should not be supported. This Bill is being guillotined at all Stages of its scheduling. That is why——

The rule about comments on the Order of Business being brief applies to Deputy Ó Caoláin just as it applies to every other Deputy, so I ask him to respect that.

Dear God. How many seconds do you think I am on my feet, a Cheann Comhairle?

Yes, but let us speak to the issue.

It might be too many for some over there, but I can assure them they will be sitting somewhere else after the next general election, and it will not be in here.

(Interruptions).

We will not accept this Order of Business. That Bill is out, and they are out with it.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No.a5 be agreed to.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 71.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • 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.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • 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.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • 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 Private Members' business agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 40 agreed? Agreed. I call Deputy James Reilly on the Order of Business.

At the Joint Committee on Health and Children yesterday I alluded to the practice in the past where hospital pharmacists could do deals with certain drug companies and get branded products cheaply which they would then prescribe within the hospital. Those prescriptions would then go out to general practitioners and patients would remain on those branded more expensive products while cheaper generics were available. I understood this was an issue in the past but I received a phone call from a colleague this morning suggesting it is believed this is ongoing. Will the Taoiseach cover off this issue when the Government introduces the drugs reference pricing Bill? The problem is that patients are being left on expensive medication on which the hospital makes a small saving but on which the State loses heavily because the patient is left on that medication for years.

We will inquire about the legislation.

The Taoiseach informed me at the beginning of this year that this legislation would be delivered on the same finger as the prescription charges Bill, which has come in and which hurts those who are chronically ill.

On the long finger.

There is no sign of the drugs reference pricing Bill. Will the Taoiseach tell the House if it will come in during the lifetime of this Government?

Is there promised legislation in this area?

I understand that will be next year.

I wish to ask the Taoiseach about two tranches of legislation. When will the Bill to regulate the casino sector be published?

What is that?

It is for Two-Mile Borris.

Has the Bill to ban corporate donations been signed off by the Cabinet? When is it likely to be published?

No Government decision has been made in respect of the first matter raised by the Deputy. As the Deputy is aware, a report has been prepared in the Department of Justice and Law Reform on these matters to get a more modern framework for the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. There is a question as to whether resort tourism should be catered for in that context as well and that is an issue for a report from the Department.

Is the Taoiseach suggesting a Bill is not necessary?

No, I have not said a Bill is not necessary. I am simply saying a decision must be made by Government for legislation to be brought forward with regard to these matters. What has been looked at, as the Deputy is aware, is the need to review the whole legislative framework currently governed by 1956 legislation which, I presume, does not take account of the many technological and other advances made in betting. For example, one issue that arose which will require legislation in the new year is to give legislative effect to a budgetary decision to try to capture funds for the Exchequer in respect of Internet betting and betting outside normal bookmakers' offices or turf accountant arrangements where there are on-course and off-course bookmaking arrangements at the moment.

The matter of political donations is at an advanced stage of preparation and I expect it to be brought for final approval and publication shortly.

I refer to the Child Care (Amendment) Bill with particular reference to the short period between now and the dissolution of the Dáil. Will the Taoiseach ensure, through his Whip, that this matter will be taken in its entirety? The Bill is on Report Stage at present. The main Opposition party will co-operate and see Report Stage through in a couple of hours if it could be prioritised for the New year.

I have realised there is no other mechanism for me to raise this matter. There is a difficulty with the Department of Transport and the National Roads Authority with reference to the completion of the M7 motorway and payments to workers before Christmas. The Taoiseach is aware of it. Will the Taoiseach discuss this with the Minister for Transport and propose that the Minister act as a facilitator to ensure these workers, of whom there are 70 unpaid since 1 November, might receive their due wages before Christmas? This is an important issue and I call on the Taoiseach to give it his attention.

I understand we could complete the Child Care (Amendment) Bill without much difficulty based on the co-operative support of the Deputy and other Deputies. The other issue was raised earlier this morning in the context of changes to sub-contracting legislation. This is being dealt with in the Seanad at the moment and will come here. Unfortunately, it does not have retrospective effect as the Deputy is aware. The ongoing difficulties that arise specifically with regard to this matter and others throughout the country are matters about which we must continue to try to establish what can be done. There is a difficult legal situation in this case, as the Deputy is aware.

I support the comments of the previous speaker with regard to the Child Care (Amendment) Bill. It is crucial legislation and we are keen to see it completed as quickly as possible given the "Prime Time" reports on the elderly. The list of published legislation which I received this morning included the Dublin Mayor Bill and the Biological Weapons Bill both of which, I am sure, are crucial tranches of legislation. However, when will we see the mental capacity Bill? It is a good deal more important than those two tranches of legislation.

I stated earlier or yesterday that we hoped to have it this session as well, before the beginning of the next session.

I concur with the previous speakers with regard to the payment of sub-contractors. Incidentally, I raised this matter with the Minister some two and a half years ago. It took a great deal of time for the legislation to come before the House and there should be no need to deal with this now.

There are approximately 40 Bills on the published list before the House, some of which have been on the list for three years. The list indicates that, "publication is expected", "it is not possible to indicate at this stage" or "publication is expected in 2011". Either 2011 will be an extra long year or there will be little else done except what is contained in this legislative programme. Will the Taoiseach indicate if it will be possible in future to bring forward legislation which is deemed to be urgently required at a given time? Examples include the bail amendment Bill, a matter I and others have raised previously, and the legal costs Bill, which has been also raised previously. Such legislation could have an impact on dealing with crime, in particular organised crime, and the costs accruing to the State arising from tribunals.

There is no date for the bail amendment Bill. I expect the legal costs Bill to be published next year.

Another one for next year.

On Monday, the Taoiseach met the British Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, at the British-Irish Council meeting. The bilateral funding arrangement for €7 billion was part of these discussions. What interest rate will be applied by the British to this tranche of funding? What interest rate is likely to be applied to the Swedish and Danish contributions?

That may be more appropriate to a parliamentary question.

These matters will be debated in a couple of moments.

We will move on then.

A Cheann Comhairle, I will not get the opportunity to participate in the debate on the forthcoming EU-IMF debate. I do not see why the Taoiseach cannot answer my questions.

There is no provision for questions on the Order of Business.

My question relates to a meeting that took place between the Taoiseach and the British Deputy Prime Minister at the British-Irish Council on Monday.

The Deputy could submit a parliamentary question on the matter.

It is quite proper to ask about the outcome of this meeting on the Order of Business.

No, it is not quite proper as no legislation is involved. We will move on.

It is not just questions about legislation that can be raised on the Order of Business. It can include questions on European Council meetings——

If I were to allow questions on the Order of Business about every meeting held, we would be here all day.

It is a simple question. I am only looking for a simple answer.

Will the Deputy please put down a parliamentary question?

That is very unfair.