It is proposed to take No. 3, Finance (No. 2) Bill 2011 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' business shall be No. 22, motion re agriculture.
Order of Business
There are no proposals to be put to the House. Are there any queries in respect of legislation?
Item No. 20 on the Order Paper, the Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill 2011 Second Stage, relates to a constitutional amendment to prohibit and ban corporate donations to political parties. The Government voted down an earlier Bill which I introduced to the House, which was in line with all the recommendations of the Moriarty report and which was comprehensive in its remit. I call on the Taoiseach to give consideration to accepting this Bill into committee and to hold a genuine discussion on it. A referendum could be held on the same day as the presidential election if the Taoiseach were so disposed to accept it, given that it is the position of every political party to ban corporate donations outright. The Bill would achieve this and the Taoiseach should give constructive consideration to accepting the Bill in good spirit and to holding a detailed discussion about it.
Is the Deputy referring to corporate donations?
Yes, and to the constitutional amendment Bill in respect of political donations.
The heads of this Bill were cleared by Government.
I tabled the Bill and I call on the Taoiseach to accept it.
The heads of the Government Bill were cleared several weeks ago. The Minister, Deputy Hogan, is working to bring it in before the end of this session. He has given clarification from the Government to go ahead and deal with it.
That is a separate Bill. This is a constitutional amendment Bill.
To ban outright corporate donations.
It is a workaround.
By definition, the Minister, Deputy Hogan, cannot do that with the legislation because it would require a constitutional amendment, unless he intends to pursue that as well.
The Government has cleared the heads in respect of Deputy Hogan's Bill. This follows legal advice in respect of an outright ban on corporate donations.
Will the Taoiseach accept the Bill I have put forward? I call on the Taoiseach to give Government time to the constitutional amendment Bill I have put forward. It is No. 20 on the Order Paper. I call on the Taoiseach to give consideration to this Bill which would ban outright corporate donations. It goes a step further than the Bill Deputy Hogan is bringing forward.
I suggest the Deputy moves it in Private Members' time as is his right.
I am asking the Taoiseach to given consideration to it in Government time. Will the Taoiseach not do this?
The answer is "no".
Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle.
Will the Taoiseach indicate the position in respect of the health information Bill and the fair deal scheme and especially whether there is a need for a Supplementary Estimate or amending legislation to be introduced to alter the fair deal scheme in light of the current crisis and the €100 million shortfall? This is a major crisis for senior citizens.
Is the Deputy aware this matter is on the Adjournment this evening?
Will the Taoiseach introduce a Supplementary Estimate or amend the legislation?
Is a Supplementary Estimate due in respect of this matter?
No Supplementary Estimate is due. The health information Bill is expected to be published later this year.
Deputy McGrath is still a young lad.
I remind people legislation must be promised before you can ask about it.
Will the Taoiseach inform the House when the Government intends to publish the Duffy Walsh report into the review of employment regulation orders and joint labour committees? Will the Taoiseach indicate whether the Government intends to invite trade union representatives, employers and relevant social partner bodies to discuss the details contained in the report? Will the Taoiseach indicate if legislation will be required to give effect to the measures to be agreed by the Government as a direct result of the Duffy Walsh review?
I can inform Deputy Nash that the Government gave approval this morning for the Minister to publish the report. The Minister has also given authorisation to follow the publication of the report with a discussion with the social partners in regard to the report and its implications.
In the programme for Government, the Government undertook to ban the practice of "hello money" or introductory inducements from suppliers to retailers. Will the Taoiseach indicate when that legislation will come before us?
It is in the programme for Government but, to be honest, I do not expect it this session. As I explained to Deputy Martin recently, several timeline requirements arise from the IMF-EU deal which simply must be dealt with. When I have the full details of the implications of these I will come back to the House with the legislation that must go through. I do not believe that legislation will get through in this session.
Does the Taoiseach intend to make room in the schedule for discussion on the Government's strategy in respect of the next head of the IMF before and after any decision the Government takes on the matter?
It is not a matter for discussion yet. A vacancy exists and names are being mentioned for the replacement but it is not yet clear from which bloc he or she will come. When the position becomes clear we will allow for an opportunity to discuss it here.
This morning the Minister for Finance published the Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) (No. 2) Bill. When is it intended to introduce it in the House?
That will be taken in the next couple of weeks.
On 7 September 2000 the Government signed the protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child which deals with the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. However, it has not yet been ratified by the Government. When will ratification take place? I am aware the UN is keen to have it ratified by all member states and all signatories before 1 January next.
I cannot give the Deputy an accurate date but I will come back with more detailed information. It is an important subject.
I refer to future legislation, the comments of the Taoiseach to Deputy Ross on the Irish Nationwide Building Society and the enrichment of its senior management in the amount of more than €1 million which went into a pension scheme and was to be returned to the building society but which never happened. Is there proposed legislation to force this money to be returned to the taxpayer?
I am afraid that is not in order under the Order of Business. I am sorry about that Deputy; it was a good try. Fair play to you.
The alarm caused by changes in the funding of the fair deal scheme shows again the need to recast the relationship between the Department of Health and Children and the HSE. Will the Taoiseach indicate whether the proposed legislation will be in place in the House before the summer recess?
No. The Minister for Health and Children has made arrangements for legislation to change the structure of the HSE. It is probable this will not be in before the summer recess. There is a lot of work going on surrounding the Department of Health and Children, as the policy arm of the Government in health, and the implementation of that policy by the HSE. The Deputy is aware of the longer-term evolution of a change strategy that will deliver a more effective health service for everyone.
Given the leaks at the end of last week about the JLCs and REAs, and the possible contents of the review, and the fact the review is hanging like the sword of Damocles over the heads of hundreds of thousands of workers in this country, can the Taoiseach tell us if the Government has formulated its response to the review, when we will have a chance to debate it or what legislation might come forward?
Obviously the microphone is not working on the opposite side of the House; this question has already been asked and dealt with. The Government gave approval to the Minister to publish the report today and the Deputy can read it in full. The Minister has been authorised to go to talk to the social partners about the contents of the Bill and issues they might raise beyond that. We will report back in due course.
To be of assistance to the Opposition, under promised legislation, could I ask the Taoiseach to assist those seeking to invest wisely by rushing a Bill into the House to alleviate any fears that might exist on the Opposition benches — the collective investment schemes consolidation Bill, No. 54 on the Order Paper? It could be very useful.
This legislation is promised but I cannot say to Deputy Durkan that it will be rushed in. It will hasten slowly and it will probably be next year before it is debated in the House.
Will the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs be taking questions next Thursday?
That is not in keeping with the Order of Business. The Deputy knows as well as I do that is out of order. He can ask his Leader to raise this on Leaders' Questions.
I will explain my point.
I do not need an explanation. The Order of Business is about promised legislation. It is not Question Time.
It is also about the taking of business.
It is about promised legislation.
The questions office says the Department is not taking questions on Gaeltacht affairs on Thursday and the questions are all being deferred until 15 June.
If the Deputy has been told that, why is he asking a question?
The Ceann Comhairle should let me finish.
Is the Deputy imparting information? This is the Order of Business.
I am explaining the dilemma that a Department is transferring functions and refusing to take questions that are, on the day, the responsibility of the Minister. That is wrong. This Government promised us it would be open and transparent and I cannot understand why questions put down for that Minister on that day are not being taken by the Minister on that day, but have been deferred for two weeks.
This is to do with the transfer of responsibilities from one Department to another. The Department the Deputy formerly headed, in a very energetic fashion, is being dismantled and its functions transferred to other Departments. The matter will be dealt with on the Order of Business tomorrow.
That change does not take place until 2 June. Until then, the Minister will still be Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. I want to know why the Minister is not taking questions on community, equality and Gaeltacht affairs on that day.
This matter will be dealt with on the Order of Business tomorrow, when the Deputy will have the opportunity to voice his opinion again.
I appreciate that. I like to get two bites of the cherry.
Does the Government intend to publish a third finance Bill this year given the Finance (No. 2) Bill does not contain the measures promised in the programme for Government and the legislative programme to deal with the taxation changes that are necessary as a result of the Civil Partnership Act 2010? Does the Government intend to amend the Finance (No. 2) Bill, Second Stage of which is being taken later today, or to introduce a third finance Bill to give effect to the changes caused by that Act last year?
The Minister for Finance has done an extensive amount of work on the issues surrounding civil partnership and there will be a third finance Bill to deal with it. It will be in the House before the summer.
The legislative programme clearly states that the Finance (No. 2) Bill would contain those measures. Why has it been changed? The programme was only published a number of weeks ago so why is there a need for a third finance Bill?
It was intended the civil partnership element would be covered by the Finance (No. 2) Bill, but then the decision was made to proceed with two separate Bills. There will be a third finance Bill to cover the civil partnership element. The Minister expects to introduce it before the summer.