Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2013; No. 10, motion re leave to Introduce Supplementary Estimates -Votes 20 and 24; No. 11, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates - Votes 20 and 24 - to select committee; and No. 4, Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2013 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

Notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, Nos. 9 and 10 shall be decided without debate and, subject to the agreement of No. 10, No. 11, referral to select committee, shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith.

The motion re Government decision on exiting the EU-IMF programme shall be taken tomorrow after Oral Questions, and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, and such 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. Private Members’ business shall be No. 128, motion re youth employment.

Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 9, 10 and 11 - motion re referral to the joint committee of the proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2013, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimates and motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates to the select committee - agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with motion re Government decision on exiting the EU-IMF programme tomorrow agreed to? Agreed.

In communities across the country, there is deep anger and considerable concern and uproar about the EirGrid proposal to erect pylons as high as 50 m. People are concerned that pylons will be put near their homes. There are environmental concerns, and some of these areas are the most scenic in the country, such as the Comeragh Mountains. There has been a huge groundswell of opposition-----

What legislation does this relate to?

The Government is committed to putting EirGrid on a statutory basis through primary legislation. The Minister Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, is ploughing ahead and is determined to ignore the concerns of citizens and to be dismissive of what is being said in communities across country. Some 15,000 people marched in Waterford and there were a thousand meetings in halls up and down the country. At the moment, EirGrid is established by statutory instrument. Is the Taoiseach satisfied that it has the necessary powers to do what it is doing? In the context of the promised Bill, the EirGrid Bill, can the Taoiseach ensure there is a statutory obligation to consult meaningfully with communities across the country?

The legislation is listed for next year. Work has begun on it in terms of EirGrid's statutory responsibilities. I share the view of Deputy Micheál Martin that there must be meaningful and proper consultation by EirGrid and every other entity where a major development is proposed. No one can disagree with that.

The programme for Government commits to greater all-Ireland co-operation to accelerate recovery and the creation of jobs and to identify new areas of North-South co-operation. The Good Friday Agreement underpins this. Last week, the Taoiseach indicated support for the Narrow Water bridge. Since then, there has been a withdrawal of the offer from the special EU programmes board, SEUPB, for the project. That can be quickly and speedily reversed if the Government can work with all of those who want the project to go ahead. An all-party delegation from Counties Louth and Down met the Deputy First Minister yesterday. The group sought an urgent meeting with the Taoiseach, and I ask the Taoiseach, in keeping with the programme for Government commitment, to meet the group as soon as possible.

I do not object to meeting people. The problem is finding an appropriate time to do it. The Deputy is aware of the position in respect of the Narrow Water bridge. There was a discussion about it prior to the North-South Ministerial Council meeting, at the meeting and afterwards. The agreement was to keep alive the principle of providing a bridge across the inlet. The outcome was that officials would do an analysis of scale of the tenders that came in. We did not have control over the SEUPB. The position is that the Executive and the Government here, along with Newry and Mourne District Council and Louth County Council, support the concept. We will follow through in the best way possible but I cannot sign a blank cheque for it.

This is a follow-up question, which could concern road traffic legislation. There have been hurried meetings in the past few days at Louth County Council and at Stormont. The two key people involved are the Taoiseach and the First Minister. The possibility that the Taoiseach, the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister could meet to address the issue of the bridgeable gap in the funding and to bring the most symbolic and iconic project contemplated-----

Thank you, Deputy.

-----as an invaluable peace dividend to the north east and to the country as a whole is too important to let go. The Taoiseach has a personal interest.

Deputy Kirk was in this Chair. He knows the restrictions under which I operate.

With the agreement of the Taoiseach, if he is prepared to hold a meeting urgently, the SEUPB is prepared to put on hold the decision to withdraw funding, assuming other arrangements can be put in place as quickly as possible.

We discussed this. The First Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive has a process of validation and value for money audits for any infrastructure, including this, and the SEUPB has given its analysis that this is a worthwhile prospect. The problem is that I cannot commit to writing a blank cheque. We must follow through on the analysis of the tenders submitted and determine how we can come to an arrangement so that the Narrow Water bridge can become a reality.

Is there a timeframe for the proposed legislation on broadcasting charges to replace the current television licence?

It will be taken next year.

Will legislation be published on the motorised transport and mobility allowance schemes? The HSE is assessing applicants for primary care certificates and there is no scheme in place.

The motorised transport scheme is to come back from the Minister for Health shortly to Cabinet. Did the Deputy ask about primary care centres?

No; I am making the point that the HSE is assessing applications for primary care certificates but there is no scheme.

The Minister will bring a recommendation to Cabinet shortly.

The courts listing system is outdated and extremely costly. Dozens of witnesses hang around for hours and days. Surely it should be reformed. If a case is taken, it should go ahead on a scheduled and orderly basis.

What legislation is the Deputy talking about?

I am asking about it in respect of the courts (consolidation and reform) Bill.

There is no date for publication of the courts (consolidation and reform) Bill, although a great deal of work has been done on it. I will advise the Deputy in due course.

The maritime area and foreshore (amendment) Bill is in section A of the Government legislative programme. When will the Bill come before the House? It is of huge importance to the development of ports, particularly from the point of view of planning, including the port of Foynes, County Limerick.

A draft of the Bill went to the committee for pre-legislative scrutiny this morning. It is part of the process of moving towards taking advice and reflections on Bills from Oireachtas committees. The Chairman will decide how to consult about it.

I thank the Taoiseach for his commitment to the Narrow Water bridge. At all times, the Taoiseach kept his promises.

We are not going there again. We have crossed that bridge a few times.

When can we expect publication of the human tissue Bill? This will meet the key recommendations of the Madden report that no hospital post mortems may be carried out and that no tissue may be retained after post mortems without consent.

It will also address other matters relating to human tissue, including consent arrangements for transplantations and research purposes.

There was a public consultation process and the matter has been concluded. Reflections will take place on the outcome, but no date has been set for publication of the Bill.

When does the Taoiseach envisage the Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill being brought before the House? My interest arises because it is only possible to impose a maximum sentence of six months for a hit-and-run offence and there is only a three hour window for gardaí to test a suspect. I know family members in a case in my constituency in which a young cyclist was tragically killed in a hit-and-run incident in 2011 and the driver had failed to stop. This is important legislation.

The Bill is before the House and the debate will be resumed. The Bill is moving through the process.

The Taoiseach is aware that EirGrid is involved in so-called consultation around the country on plans for new 400 kV lines traversing the land. He is also aware that there are only two such major lines in the country from Moneypoint to the Dublin region.

We have been dealing with that issue.

Both were built approximately 30 years ago. EirGrid seems to be approaching the public and planning process in the way one might have done 30 years ago, which is not satisfactory. When will we see the EirGrid legislation which should give statutory effect to a proper public consultation and assessment process? It could also consider the issue of whether EirGrid should put the lines overground, as well as underground.

I have already indicated that the legislation will be brought forward next year. In its current format EirGrid is obliged to engage in proper and meaningful consultation. The proposition for the grid around the country was made during the term of the previous Government. There is a need in all the circumstances for a rational, meaningful and proper discourse about what we are at. We cannot leave the country stranded and bereft of a power supply in terms of investment in job creation. Unfortunately, it is not possible to transmit power without cables. If we are serious about keeping Ireland in the 21st century, we should be mature enough to have a rational and common-sense discussion about what we must do. EirGrid has an obligation to consult communities meaningfully.

There are two questions, one on the ordering of business and the other on pending legislation. The Taoiseach is aware that local authorities across the State are preparing budgets and organising workshops and there is much anger evident among local authority members because they are doing this work in a vacuum as the local government fund has not been announced. There is a feeling the water services (No. 2) Bill which is to be published in this quarter and needs to be passed through both Houses to transfer assets from local authorities is connected to this issue. Will the Taoiseach confirm when he expects to see full passage of the Bill? Is its passage connected with the announcement which is eagerly awaited by local authority members on the local authority fund? Will the Taoiseach shine some light on when local authorities will know about it, as many managers thought they would have known by now?

There is a change to the Order of Business for tomorrow. I welcome the proposed discussion on the credit line. As I have indicated before, we support the end result in that respect. We need to have an informed discussion. I know that last week the Minister stated in the media that the options being examined by the Cabinet would be published. Will the Taoiseach indicate whether these options will be laid before the House this evening in order that we can have an informed debate tomorrow on why we did not seek a second bailout or credit line?

The relevant Minister, Deputy Phil Hogan, has already indicated that the water services (No. 2) Bill will be brought before the Cabinet on 26 November which means that it will not be long before councils are properly informed about their remit.

With regard to tomorrow's discussion, as the Deputy is aware, the Minister for Finance will take Question Time in the morning when a number of questions related specifically to this issue will be taken. I answered questions from Deputy Micheál Martin in this regard also. The background to the exit strategy has already been published on the websites of the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund. Ireland did not make an application for a formal precautionary credit line based on the information, comments, observations and advice of a range of independent entities such as the Central Bank and the National Treasury Management Agency, elements of the troika and political leaders, as well as other parties. The Government has made a very clear and decisive move to exit without a credit line. The Minister for Finance will give any other detail available tomorrow morning.

The Deputy referred to a comment made by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, on some information that he wanted to publish. It will be published. There is nothing to stop that happening.

Will it be published before the debate takes place tomorrow? It is welcome that it will be published.

Ireland did not apply for a credit line. The exit strategy conditions for any country are published on the websites of the ESM and the IMF. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, indicated that he wished to publish some information and he is quite free to do so. I cannot speak for him now, but I expect that he will make the information available. The Minister for Finance will answer parliamentary questions in the morning before the debate takes place and I am sure the Deputy will have the opportunity to put any question he wishes to him.

I have two issues to raise. I welcome the Taoiseach's comments on the human tissue Bill and ask that it be fast-tracked or expedited as quickly as possible. I know a significant amount of work has already been done on it. I welcome the Cabinet's decision on the public health (standardised packaging of tobacco) Bill, the heads of which were agreed to by the Cabinet this morning. When is that legislation expected to be brought before the House?

Public consultation has finished on the human tissue Bill. The submissions are being reflected on and we do not yet have a date for publication. We will follow through on the legislation.

The Deputy asked about the Bill dealing with the packaging of tobacco products. The Bill was brought before the Cabinet this morning and approved. The draft heads will go before the relevant Oireachtas committee for pre-legislative hearings, as is the proper process.

To what degree has the children's hospital development board Bill been advanced? Have the heads been improved on and when is it expected the Bill might be brought before the House in preparation for the logistical process of progressing the development?

The heads of the Bill have not yet been approved. I met the hospital development board and other associates and the strategy is now in place. It will be published shortly in order that there will be clarity about the timelines involved and the work done to date in the preparation of the legislation.

There are many outstanding issues regarding the regulation of vehicle clamping and towing. When will the regulation of vehicle immobilisation Bill be brought before the House?

That is locked away until next year and I cannot give an exact date. It is to be clamped until 2014.

Perhaps it might be unclamped.

When will we see legislation to put in place a new tenant purchase scheme? Many local authority tenants do not have the option of buying their houses and have been in limbo for a while. In some cases, if they were to buy the house, the monthly mortgage payment would be lower than the rent being paid to local authorities.

That is an issue the Government has considered and it will form part of the housing Bill. The legislation may come before the Cabinet before the end of the year. The Minister of State responsible for housing, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, is concerned about this issue and anxious to have this and a number of other elements put in place as a package to deal with the problems arising in different locations.

What is the current status of the long-promised monuments Bill? Have the heads been considered by the Cabinet?

The heads were approved and published a long time ago.

The Bill is static but is expected some time next year.

In early December the Health Insurance Authority is to publish a detailed report on the state of the health insurance market in this country, but we are due to have a debate on the Health (Amendment) Bill which will be before the Dáil this week. Would it be possible to shelve that debate until such time as we have had a detailed discussion on foot of the analysis by the Health Insurance Authority because of the fragility of the health insurance market? More than 6,000 people a month are leaving the private health insurance market. We would, therefore, be discussing the Bill in a vacuum. Will the Taoiseach consider parking it, given that he is in such a good mood for clamping?

No, the Bill is on the Order Paper for debate this week and the debate has to be finished before the end of the session.

It does not. The legislation will only come into effect in March.

Asking the Minister to park the Bill is not a solution. The House will have to deal with it.

The Bill will not come into effect until March. We could have the debate in February following a full detailed analysis to be carried out by the HIA.

That completes the Order of Business. I am sorry, but we are not having a debate on the issue.

During the course of the debate the Deputy will get all of the detail he wishes to have. Sometimes it can be too much.

It is not forthcoming.