Order of Business

It is proposed to take-----

On a point of order, is there an opportunity to discuss the Taoiseach's announcement regarding a ministerial appointment here?

-----No. 4, Health and Social Care Professionals (Amendment) Bill - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It was an announcement.

We were not alerted to it. I am just pointing that out.

Private Members' business shall be No. 61, motion re addiction services.

There are no proposals to put to the House. I call Deputy Martin.

They are not being put to the House?

There are no proposals to be put to the House.

In terms of the order of the House?

No. There is no motion before the House.

Before we start on the Order of Business proper may I take this opportunity on my behalf and on behalf of my party to express our deepest sympathy to the family of the late Teachta Dála P.J. Morley who passed away, and to Mary, his wife, and to Patrick, Enda, Brian and Cathy, we extend our deepest sympathies. P.J. served in this House for 20 years from 1977 to 1997. He was a man of great integrity and commitment and an outstanding parliamentarian in working for his people in Mayo. He had a very close association with the late Monsignor Horan and worked extremely hard on the securing and development of Knock Airport among other achievements in the region. We sympathise with his family on their loss. I hope we will get an opportunity later to pay a more fulsome tribute but I want to pay this tribute to P.J. and to offer our sympathies and condolences to his wife and family.

The Taoiseach might like to respond before we move on to the Order of Business.

I assume we will have an opportunity to say a few words about this again. I concur with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Martin and I sympathise with the Morley family on the death of P.J. I served with him both as a councillor and a Deputy for many years. I enjoyed his company and I will have an opportunity to say some words again. He was a person who showed an extraordinary degree of practical common sense in dealing with many issues that were quite contentious over the years. To his wife Mary and family, I offer my sympathy to the family and to the party. He was a good, loyal and convivial servant of the people of my own county for many years.

Ba mhaith liom cur leis an méid a dúirt an Taoiseach agus an Teachta Martin faoin scéal brónach seo i dtaobh báis P.J. Morley. I wish to extend sympathy to the Morley family. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.

As has been said, we will have another opportunity to give a more detailed response later.

We would have wished to have had the opportunity to oppose the Order of Business and we are disappointed that this opportunity has not been facilitated. I asked the Taoiseach earlier if the Minister for Health would come to the Dáil to speak about the serious issues within his own Department, particularly in the context of the resignation of the former Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, which is, by any standards, an issue of national importance, particularly as she outlined at the weekend the difficulties in following through on the programme for Government, the degree to which any worthy initiatives were blocked by the Minister-----

I thank the Deputy. We cannot discuss that now.

-----and the degree to which we could again have a balanced budget this year if the Minister had followed through on the commitments that he gave to big ticket items.

Perhaps the Deputy will stick to what he can speak about on the Order of Business.

I have to say to the Ceann Comhairle-----

No, the Deputy does not have to.

------it is an extraordinary situation that everybody outside the House is discussing the House-----

There are plenty of other ways besides this.

Every radio station is talking about it and we do not have an opportunity to have a private notice question accepted, which would have allowed for a detailed presentation by the Minister of his position and his perspective in the aftermath of the resignation of a Minister of State in his Department. This significant controversy has been under way for some weeks. On occasion in previous Dáileanna, Ministers were inevitably brought in and asked to respond to a private notice question. That was always the standard.

The Standing Order relating to private notice questions is quite clear.

The Deputy is mixed up.

I am not denying the Deputy any opportunities. The Standing Orders are quite clear about private notice questions and I only stick to the wording in the Standing Orders. Therefore, please get on and deal with what we can deal with.

This controversy has raged for weeks.

Maybe so, but I am not interested in dealing with controversies.

The Deputy is getting a good bit of mileage out of it.

The bottom line is the story has changed time and time again.

There are other ways of dealing with it.

A Minister of State has resigned and it is extraordinary that we do not have an opportunity following a frank interview by her-----

There are plenty of other ways of trying to raise it.

-----to ask the Minister for Health some basic questions and hope to get some straightforward answers.

I ask the Deputy to co-operate with the Chair.

As a political party, we are annoyed and extremely angry at this turn of events-----

The Deputy is showing it.

-----and at the failure of the Minister to come in and account for it.

It is a pity Fianna Fáil did not have these principles when it was in government.

I have asked the Deputy please-----

What seems to be happening is that a very partisan approach is being taken. I just counted the opportunities the Opposition gets in the House and they are few.

Will the Deputy please adhere to what I have asked him to adhere to?

Very little opportunity is afforded to the Opposition in this Dáil. Despite all the talk and protestations about reform, transparency and openness, it has not been forthcoming since the Government has taken up office.

I will not ask the Deputy a third time to please resume his seat if he has not something in order on the Order of Business.

I find it extraordinary that we are in this situation today where the Minister for Health will not come in and, for a minimum of time, make a presentation on the issues that have unfolded.

Will the Deputy resume his seat?

This could have been avoided if the private notice question-----

I call Deputy Adams.

We have gone through all the procedures and we have been shot down in this regard in an unfair way.

The Deputy referred to the Chair as acting in an unfair way and I ask him to withdraw that remark forthwith.

No, I did not. I am not withdrawing any remark.

The Deputy implied in his statement that he was treated unfairly by me because I did not grant a private notice question. I ask him to withdraw that remark.

I am not withdrawing any remark. I asked earlier-----

It is a matter for the Chair to interpret the Standing Orders adopted by this House. The Standing Orders are quite clear about the granting of a private notice question. The Deputy's request did not conform with those requirements and, therefore, it is not a matter of being fair or unfair.

On a point of order, I asked-----

And I take grave exception to the manner in which the------

The Ceann Comhairle is making comments-----

Will the Deputy please resume his seat?

I asked the Taoiseach on the Order of the House today at Leaders' Questions to facilitate and provide for the Minister for Health----

The Deputy may be looking at the press but I am telling him what the Standing Orders say.

I know well what the Standing Orders are.

Has Deputy Adams got a question?

I am putting it clearly to the Chair in my opinion and I outlined what our party believes.

The Deputy is quite entitled to table a motion.

The Fianna Fáil Party believes that the way the House is being managed and the facility being afforded to the Opposition is not fair or satisfactory.

If the Deputy does not have confidence in my chairmanship, he has a means of dealing with it. All he has to do is table the motion.

What is unfolding here is a ridiculous scenario.

The Deputy is quite entitled to table a motion.

Ceist faoi reachtaíocht atá fógraithe. I wish the Minister of State, Teachta Alex White, well in his new position.

Fair play to the Deputy. He has manners that others do not.

I wish him luck. He will need all the luck he can get, given the way Deputy Shortall was dealt with. The new Minister of State has a hard job to do and I wish him luck with it.

Last week, Deputy MacDonald asked the Taoiseach whether statutory power for primary care had been delegated to the former Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, and he replied that he thought that it had not been.

This is not in order on the Order of Business. I am sorry.

I think it is but I will be bound by the Chair's instruction. Will the Taoiseach confirm whether statutory power for primary care has been delegated to the new Minister of State, Deputy White, or whether the Government plans to bring forward such a statutory instrument? Has the programme for Government been changed, given Deputy Shortall's assertion that it is not being implemented? Does the Government intend to bring forward amendments to it?

That is not a matter for the Order of Business.

I have no time for the false anger of Deputy Martin. In spite of the charge he made, the first Priority Question taken by the Minister for Health last Thursday-----

Late at night and he misled the House.

Why was Deputy Martin not present?

-----was asked by Deputy Kelleher and dealt with the issue of primary care centres. The Minister gave his answer.

He misled the House.

I further remind the Deputy that the first Private Members' business following the recess was a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health and he did not even bother to contribute to that debate.

Some of the Taoiseach's Labour Party colleagues did and they are not too happy now.

With regard to Deputy Adams's question, primary care is not based on a particular statute and cannot be delegated in the normal way-----

Of course it can. If the Government wants to, it can but it chooses not to.

------because it crosses many areas in the Department of Health and other Departments.

It might interfere with the Minister's portfolio.

From that perspective, we do not have a defined area of primary care because it is not based on a particular statute.

Cyber-bullying is a phenomenon of growing concern to many people and communities. It is not just an issue for young people, as there are many well documented cases of adults and elderly people who were victims of this crime. Is the Taoiseach aware of the extent of this phenomenon? Has he any legislative proposals to deal with this crime?

Is there promised legislation?

Yes, the criminal justice (cybercrime) Bill is listed but there is no date for publication. The Minister for Education and Skills is concerned about this. There is a conference on 19 October dealing with this issue. The Minister will reflect on the contributions made at it and will bring forward his proposals for updated legislation dealing with what is a serious matter.

The office of the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ring, has received approximately 2,7000 applications for sports capital grants. Given decisions in this regard are imminent, will legislation be required and will funding be secured for them?

The Taoiseach might join me in wishing Jim Gavin from Round Towers every success as the newly appointed Dublin manager.

In view of the oft expressed concerns about crime and the ongoing spate of crime, I used to raised the question of the bail Bill-----

What the Deputy is raising now is more important, not what he used to raise.

I am talking about it now but I am also reminiscing.

There is no time for reminiscing on the Order of Business.

I am reminding the Ceann Comhairle that when I was on the Opposition benches and Deputies Micheál Martin and Mattie McGrath were in government, I raised questions about the bail Bill and the need to introduce it at an early date to combat the problem-----

What legislation is the Deputy inquiring about?

The bail Bill. To show serious intent, since the previous Administration did not show any intent in that area, would it be possible to bring that important legislation to the House ahead of schedule?

Let me reflect Deputy Durkan's concern. The heads of the Bill are being drafted in the Department of Justice and Equality and it is the intention of the Minister for Justice and Equality to bring the heads of the Bill to the Government as soon as he has completed the work.

One year ago last week, the Taoiseach announced the establishment of the strategic investment fund and he is well aware that we need an amendment to the existing legislation, the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000, to allow the National Pensions Reserve Fund to invest in the strategic investment fund that is supposed to help venture capital and long-term capital for small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs. Given that it is a cornerstone of the job creation strategy one year on, amendments have not been coming forward and it is not on the list for the rest of the year. When are we likely to see legislation brought forward in order that the strategic investment fund announced by the Government on 28 September last year can finally be established?

A great deal of work has been done on this. It is to give effect to that commitment for investment in Irish infrastructure for Irish jobs. I cannot give an accurate date for publication but it is receiving priority. The use of the NewERA concept and the National Pensions Reserve Fund for investment in Irish infrastructure has been the subject of a great deal of discussion.

That is a blast from the past.

We are now one year on.

I cannot give an accurate date for its introduction but it is moving along. It is not too far away.

Regarding the noise nuisance Bill-----

Deputy McGrath is qualified.

No, seriously. This is in section C of the Government legislation programme. Can the Minister extend or improve the powers available to the enforcement authorities to prevent noise or to reduce and abate noise? Last night, at the homecoming of the victorious Kilkenny team, which I congratulate, the noise of the booing broke all decimal levels when the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Phil Hogan-----

Will Deputy McGrath please resume his seat? This is a House of Parliament. I call Deputy Healy-Rae.

They were so jubilant but they booed the Minister, Deputy Hogan.

Deputy McGrath is proscribed.

Was Deputy McGrath at the gate collecting fivers?

I called Deputy Healy-Rae. It is bad enough the way things are going without making a total show of ourselves in here.

I congratulate the new Minister of State and I wish him well. Regarding the new land and conveyancing law reform (amendment) Bill, can we ensure that when the Bill is brought before the House, the new practice of-----

When it comes before the House, Deputy Healy-Rae can have a long debate on it. When is the legislation due?

Can I just say to the Taoiseach-----

No, Deputy Healy-Rae cannot say it, not on the Order of Business.

Everyone else gets to say-----

No, they do not.

Very briefly, the Taoiseach knows that in recent days there has been a practice of the value of properties being put online showing what people paid for properties.

I ask Deputy Healy-Rae to resume his seat and not to make a farce out of the House. He should table a parliamentary question. What item of legislation does this concern?

It is the land and conveyancing law reform (amendment) Bill.

It will be next year before it is published. Deputy Healy-Rae will have the opportunity to make comments at that point. I hope the man beside him does not suffer from tinnitus from all the noise.

The noise is coming from there.

Deputy McGrath can get treatment for that.

I will bring some normality back to the House.

Deputy Durkan needs some of that treatment.

I thank Deputy McGrath. When is publication expected of the gambling control Bill? I refer especially to the gambling done on websites. Facebook put up a website in England and we could have the same site in Ireland. Many young people are on Facebook and we need control of websites and gambling.

This refers to the gambling control Bill. The Government approved the preparation of the heads of the Bill but it has not yet come to Government. It will be next year before it is published.

I refer to the minerals development Bill and, in view of alarming reports today of sharp increases in health insurance, the health insurance (risk equalisation) Bill. I had hoped to advise Minister of State, Deputy Alex White, before he left the Chamber-----

I am sure Deputy Higgins could meet him in the corridors.

That is a dangerous place.

In his new dispensation, he might be able to use his youthful political training in how to deal successfully with an entrenched Stalinist regime.

He was there before.

This involves two items of legislation.

The minerals development Bill and health insurance risk (equalisation) Bill will be published this session.

In wishing the Minister of State, Deputy White, the best of luck, I want to inquire if the instruments assigning power to the Minister of State have been signed. Will the instruments be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas?

That question was already asked.

Will it include primary care and will the delegated functions be in the tenure of Minister of State?

The question was answered already.

I call Deputy Buttimer.

There was no answer.

There was no answer the previous time when Deputy Adams raised it.

The answer is that I have already made an announcement in the House for the information of Deputies, including Deputy Kelleher, that Deputy Alex White has been nominated and approved by the Government as a Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for primary care.

Primary care is not contained in a particular statute because it crosses many areas of the Department so powers are not assigned in the normal way because the statutory remit is not that narrow.

That is why reform did not happen. What was the Tánaiste doing?

I call Deputy Buttimer.

False anger, Deputy Martin.

There were many Ministers of State in the previous Government.

I ask Deputy Buttimer to proceed.

The heckling is getting to me.

Deputy Buttimer is getting too much for the rest of us.

In the city of Cork, many people cannot obtain insurance due to flooding or subsidence-----

It is the fault of Fine Gael.

It sounds like a Topical Issue matter to me.

Has the Government a plan? I wrote to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform on this issue.

Is this about promised legislation?

It is a pitch for a chairmanship.

I am being heckled but it is a serious matter. There are people in the city of Cork who do not have house insurance or whose house insurance has increased by 150%-----

The Deputy should raise it some other way, not on the Order of Business.

Can the Government, through European or other means, introduce legislation regarding that point?

The point raised by Deputy Buttimer is a serious one for those so concerned.

What legislation is that?

Very partisan.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Minister for Finance are attempting to work out a solution in respect of which money has been made available.