As we outlined to Opposition parties this morning, the Government decided yesterday to hold the referendum on 10 November. Parties were briefed on that this morning and given copies of the wording of the referendum, as agreed by Cabinet. The Bill will come before the House next week and will be debated in the Oireachtas for two weeks. The name of the person to chair the commission will be given by the Minister at her press conference at 11.30 a.m. The commission can be effective from today. The Adoption Bill is being circulated to Members. It was in print this morning when we had our conversation.
I hope there will be a rational and comprehensive debate on this matter during the course of the next few weeks. I can confirm the Government's appreciation of the efforts of members of all parties over the years and of a number of Oireachtas committees. It is now 20 years since Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness asked for a referendum on children's rights. This is an important element of what we have to say about children and how important they are in the country. That is why the Government appointed a Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, set up a specific Department of Children and Youth Affairs and introduced important legislation in this area.
The Dáil will sit four days next week to deal with this matter. Members of the House, from Deputy Martin's parties and others, must make their minds up with regard to support for the referendum. I hope there can be consensus among public representatives on something that is of exceptional importance to us all. To insert a new article specifically relating to children, their rights and their protection into the Constitution is not something to be considered lightly. It deserves a thorough and full debate and it will get that.
If any Member, of a party or non-party, who has issues or questions or requires information about the referendum the Government will be happy to deal with those. We will provide as full an opportunity as possible to debate this matter in the House over the next two weeks.
The Adoption Bill will be circulated today. It is there for everyone to read but will not be taken in the House at present. If the referendum is approved by the people, the Adoption Bill will be put through the legislative process.