Order of Business

The Order of Business is No. 11, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 12, motion re Further Revised Estimates, Votes 2 and 3; No. 4, Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution (Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union) Bill 2012 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 5 Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage to be taken at 9 p.m. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn not later than 11 p.m., Nos. 11 and 12 will be decided without debate and any division demanded on No. 12 shall be taken forthwith. Private Members' Business, which shall be No. 33, Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) Bill - Second Stage, shall also be taken immediately after the Order of Business tomorrow and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes on that day.

There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 11 and 12, motions re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions and Further Revised Estimates, Votes 2 and 3, without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to?

In terms of the order, I want to oppose the general order. The Ceann Comhairle is taking items one by one but I want to oppose the order.

The Deputy must oppose something.

I will oppose this one then, I am standing to oppose it.

Oppose everything.

I am sorry if it has delayed the House.

Constructive opposition.

Very constructive.

Is the Deputy not agreeing to the arrangements for Private Members' business?

The bottom line is this: I want to put it to the Taoiseach that we have had commentary left, right and centre about a substantial issue to do with charging for water. Irrespective of one's perspective on it, it goes to the heart of the relevance of this House to debate what is taking place in the country. We have had this on successive days over the weekend. The least this House should do is to allocate time for the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dowd, to make a detailed statement outlining the work that has been undertaken to date on the preparation for the introduction of water metering and all of the detailed proposals that have been submitted by the utility companies for the selection process. It was the worst kept secret that Bord Gáis would get this because executives were saying this a number of weeks ago - that is interesting if the decision was only taken yesterday. People seemed to know Bord Gáis would get this some time ago so there is a need for the Minister of State to come in, to make a detailed statement and to take questions from Members.

The Taoiseach mentioned the VAT issue this morning. His own Minister of State could not answer the question on that this morning when he was asked it on "Morning Ireland".

We cannot have a full discussion on it now.

There is a need for clarity on the Government side of the House, not from anyone else. We did not start this on Sunday.

Fianna Fáil started it in December 2010.

Fianna Fáil started it.

The Tánaiste was coming out of his conference and someone sent this Exocet across him; he was a bit startled in the beginning and said he did not think any decision had been taken.

Fianna Fáil caused the mess.

There is a need for this House to debate it. I just want the House to discuss it, to have clarity and a detailed presentation. That is all I want. It is being discussed everywhere else.

Fianna Fáil did not discuss things in December 2010. Why did Deputy Martin not discuss it with Brian Cowen? Where was he then?

Is this House relevant anymore to anything that goes on?

Deputy Martin and Fianna Fáil did not discuss it with this House before signing it off with the troika.

I thought the Labour Party was going to renegotiate that.

As Deputy Martin is aware from his years as Minister for Foreign Affairs, we are preparing for the Presidency of the European Union for the first half of 2013. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government is at a Council of Ministers meeting in Denmark dealing with environmental matters. When the Minister returns there will be no difficulty at all in making as much time as the Deputy wishes available. However, it cannot happen today. Today we are dealing with the European stability treaty. The Deputy was giving out yesterday that there is not enough time to deal with this. It is on the agenda today and is an absolute priority, so we will devote as much time to it as is necessary.

The Taoiseach could provide 45 minutes extra and we will stay for the extra hour.

The Deputy can arrange for his party Whip to raise the question of a debate on water for as long as he wishes at this evening's meeting of the Whips-----

I am not talking about a Whips' meeting; I am talking about in this House.

We have no difficulty with talking about this and with dealing with all the issues the Deputy wishes to raise.

Bring the Minister to the House to make a detailed statement, rather than leaking left, right and centre against each other.

Deputy Martin should remember there will be two years of discussion on this, between the entity being set up, the regulator, the Government, the House and the people-----

So the Minister should come to the House to talk about it.

-----before any bill is given to anybody. The Deputy will have his opportunity to talk about it-----

The Taoiseach is dodging.

-----and ask as many questions as he wishes. He can raise it at the Whips' meeting tonight.

It is being discussed everywhere except in this House. That is not a good enough answer. It is the old story.

Sorry, Deputy, I am trying to bring a little order to the proceedings. We have been away for a fortnight but Members should settle down.

A Cheann Comhairle, it goes to the heart of the relevance of this House.

Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to?

Question put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 94; Níl, 28.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lyons, John.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Nulty, Patrick.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Donovan, Patrick.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Brien, Jonathan.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Niall Collins.
Question declared carried.

It has been stated by the Taoiseach that the Government is anxious to raise up to €500 million through a property tax and that it will bring proposals before the House shortly in that regard. Could he indicate when legislation will be introduced?

Could we have order please? I am sorry, but could those who are leaving the Chamber do so quietly? We have business to transact in the Chamber.

Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle. The Government has stated that it wishes to raise €500 million through a property tax. Could the Taoiseach indicate to the House when he intends to bring legislation forward to prepare for the introduction of a property tax?

Given that we now have a date for the European fiscal treaty referendum, could the Taoiseach indicate when it is his intention to bring forward legislation to provide for a constitutional amendment to abolish the Seanad?

I understand that a committee headed by Dr. Don Thornhill is due to report to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, shortly on the introduction of a property tax. As the Taoiseach is aware, public speculation is that the proposed tax could amount to €1,000 for home owners.

It is nearly as bad as in Northern Ireland.

Could the Taoiseach confirm when the group will report to Government, whether the report will be published and debated in the Dáil and what his plans are to introduce proposed legislation for the property tax?

I thank both Deputies for their questions. I saw the report from the ESRI referred to this morning. The Government has its own specialist group which is operating under the chairmanship of Mr. Thornhill, as Deputy McDonald indicated. I do not know when his report will come to Government, but when that happens there will be a full discussion on all such matters. I cannot answer Deputy Martin's question on when legislation will be introduced.

My understanding-----

We have not even got the report back from Mr. Thornhill yet. I have seen the speculation about the ESRI report. That is just speculation. In reply to the question on when we will get the report; I do not know. In reply to Deputy Martin's question on when the legislation will be introduced; I cannot tell him that because we do not have the basis for a discussion on the issue.

But the Government said it had to be in place by 2013.

Deputy Martin asked me when I will introduce the legislation. I cannot answer the question for him. I will wait and see what the report states. We have a process of decisions to make following the production of the report. I do not have a date either for the legislation in respect of the abolition of the Seanad. I will speak to Deputy Martin's party and other parties about the proposition in that regard. It is clear that referenda and the holding of them is a matter for public consultation and political decision in the House. I want to do this in the right way.

Because of the vote we have only seven minutes remaining on the Order of Business and we have seven Deputies offering. I urge them to please be brief.

Notwithstanding what the Taoiseach said this morning, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, said yesterday that he was in favour-----

I am sorry, Deputy Higgins, but this is not in order. Please. We are not having such a debate.

-----of having water cut off to people's homes.

I do not care what he said. This is not in order on the Order of Business.

No, but the legislative issue that arises, a Cheann Comhairle-----

The Taoiseach has just answered the question.

-----relates to the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1997. Section 12 removed the power of local authorities to implement water charges for homes and therefore removed the monstrous power to cut off people's water. Could I ask the Taoiseach in that regard what legislative measures - and when - he is bringing forward?

I am sorry, but is legislation promised to cut off people's water?

No legislation is promised so we cannot deal with the matter.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, in response to a journalist clearly indicated yesterday that this was his wish. That needs a legislative response.

I am not into wishes here. I am into practicalities. Will the Taoiseach clear this matter up?

Deputy Higgins wants to go on his sensational rant again. All public utilities, such as Bord Gáis Éireann and Bord Soláthair an Leictreachais, or, as it is now called, Electric Ireland, have protocols in place for persons who have a difficulty. There is a two-year process here for the discussion on the detail and the legislation in respect of Irish Water. I already made the point that the Government made the decision to award the responsibility to set this up to Bord Gáis Éireann. There will be 2,000 jobs created in the installation of the water meters. The decision of Government is not to increase income tax or to impose further taxes on jobs, and there will be no upfront charge for anybody. No more than any other public utility - this is being retained in public ownership - protocols and details of that matter are for the regulator and Irish Water to deal with over the course of the next two years.

I thank the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach has stated that there is no question of the privatisation of water. Given that commitment, what legislation will the Government bring forward to insulate the State from the requirements of EU law which necessitate that any revenue-producing monopoly must be subject to EU rules of competition and, therefore, deregulation and privatisation?

That is a matter of detail for the legislation.

Sorry, this is about legislation.

Not about promised legislation.

It is. The Taoiseach has stated there is no question of privatisation. I am pointing out to him-----

We are not into privatisation at this point.

-----that EU law requires that once a revenue-producing monopoly-----

We cannot have a debate on promised legislation.

-----is in place, it must be subject to EU rules on competition.

Will you be fair to your colleagues?

What legislation is the Government bringing forward-----

The Deputy should put down a parliamentary question and we will get an answer.

-----to copperfasten the Taoiseach's commitment that there will be no privatisation of water given EU law?

We are not dealing with that.

That is to do with legislation.

It is nothing to do with legislation.

It is to do with the content of legislation.

We are dealing with when legislation will be taken, that is it-----

When will the legislation-----

-----not about the detail.

The Taoiseach has already told the House: two years time.

I call Deputy Michael McGrath.

Deputy Boyd Barrett should be cognisant of the fact that there are other Deputies wishing to contribute and there are two minutes and 50 seconds left.

I am simply asking what legislation will be brought forward.

Deputy Boyd Barrett will not bully us here. I ask him to resume his seat.

I am not trying to bully anybody.

I call Deputy Michael McGrath.

Is it the Government's intention to delay the taking of the Bill which will enable the ratification of the ESM treaty until after the referendum on 31 May? Is it the Government's intention to propose ratification of the ESM treaty irrespective of the result of the referendum on 31 May?

The Bill dealing with the treaty to establish the European Stability Mechanism is No. 15 on the A list. This is a short Bill to enable Ireland to ratify the treaty.

Will it be before the referendum or after it?

It is on the A list. I expect it will be dealt with fairly quickly.

Both the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Minister for Justice and Equality have stated that they are working on legislation to introduce a levy on online betting. When might that come before the House?

That is No. 11. That is a matter I would like to see dealt with quickly. I expect that it should be dealt with before we rise for the summer. It is a matter that has been raised with me in many places throughout the country.

The Government has finally published draft legislation that will let the State guarantee up to 75% of loans advanced to small businesses. Could the Taoiseach explain how it proposes to stop the banks using the plan to offload riskier customers onto the taxpayer?

We cannot discuss the content. It is only the taking of the legislation we are dealing with now. This is content. If the Deputy tables a parliamentary question, we will make certain he gets an answer.

That is the Credit Guarantee Bill published on 10 April and it is on its way through the system.

When can we expect the independent review into child deaths in the care of the State to be published, and why the delay? Can the Taoiseach give an update on when we can expect publication of the fifth report of the special rapporteur into child protection?

The Minister is anxious to publish the report but there are a number of matters relevant to it that must be considered by the Attorney General. On the basis of the legal advice coming back to the Minister, she is anxious to publish it as soon as possible. I ask the Deputy not to seek an exact date from me now, but he can take it that once the Attorney General has advised the Minister in respect of elements of the report, she will deal with it.

When can we expect the fifth report of the special rapporteur into child protection?

The Minister tells me that she has received the report and that she will publish it shortly.

The Taoiseach will be aware that petrol and diesel prices have reached an all-time high. It is having a significant impact on the capacity of the real economy to operate. It is affecting tourism and small businesses. Does the Government have any proposals to bring to this House on changes to both VAT and duties-----

Is there legislation promised here?

There is no legislation promised.

-----to moderate the effect of every increase in the base price of oil-----

Deputy Dooley is out of order. I call Deputy Niall Collins.

-----resulting in a significantly increased take by the State?

I am told there is no promised legislation.

When is it proposed to take the mental capacity Bill?

This session, I understand.

Was it possible to advance in any way over the Easter period the issue of a constitutional convention and the legislation that may be necessary in that regard? Can the Taoiseach comment?

Yes. I expect to bring a memorandum on this to Government shortly and have informed the members of the parties opposite of where we are headed with it.