Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. a10, motion re presentation and circulation of Revised Estimates 2014; No. 20, statements on pre-European Council meeting of 19 and 20 December; No. 5, Appropriation Bill 2013 - Order for Second Stage and Second and Subsequent Stages; No. 19, Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage; No. a1, Pyrite Resolution Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that in the event that a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members' business, which shall be No. 42, Planning and Development (Transparency and Consumer Confidence) Bill 2013, the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and Private Members’ business shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes; No. a10 shall be decided without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; No. 20 shall be taken immediately following No. a10 and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 65 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements shall be made by the Taoiseach and the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group who shall be called upon in that order and may share their time and shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; a Minister or a Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; and the order shall resume thereafter with the Topical Issue debate; No. 5 shall be taken today and Second and Subsequent Stages shall be decided without debate by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform; the proceedings on Report and Final Stages of No. 19 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 5 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Social Protection; the proceedings on Second Stage of No. a1 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7.30 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: the opening speech of a Minister or a Minister of State and the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group who shall be called upon in that order and who may share time shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon who may share time shall not exceed ten minutes, and a Minister or a Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; the following business shall be taken tomorrow after Question Time: Water Services (No. 2) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second Stage on which the proceedings shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 2 p.m. tomorrow and the following arrangements shall apply: the opening speech of a Minister or a Minister of State and the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group who shall be called upon in that order and may share time shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon who may share time shall not exceed ten minutes, and a Minister or a Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes.

There are seven proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a10 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 20 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 5 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19 agreed to?

It is not agreed.

Aengus agreed to it.

The debate on the Bill is being guillotined. The discussion on the issue that has been led for Sinn Féin by Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh shows that when there is co-operation, the House can work very well. Many of the details are highly technical. They are also very important for pensioners. Accordingly, more time is needed to discuss the Bill.

Will the Taoiseach allow for more time for these technical issues to be discussed and for the Opposition to work in co-operation with the Government to ensure pensioners' interests are protected?

There is very little time left in this. I expect, in normal circumstances, that this would finish before the appointed time.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 19 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. a1 agreed to?

No, it is not agreed. It is technically the same point. This Bill, dealing with the significant issue of pyrite, which is important to citizens, is being rushed through. There is no real reason for rushing this Bill through.

This is an issue of grave concern to people in houses affected by pyrite, and a resolution is needed. This matter has been around for a long time but no one did anything about it. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has introduced the Pyrite Resolution Bill to move the matter on and show the people affected that the Government is actually acting in their interest. It has all been said on so many other occasions. Accordingly, I do not believe Deputy Adams should be attempting to hold up legislation as important as this.

Gerry does not care.

So long as it is done properly.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. a1 be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 7 agreed to?

It is not agreed. I find it extraordinary that the Government proposes to allow only two hours of debate for Second Stage for the Water Services (No. 2) Bill tomorrow, with Committee and Report Stages to be given an hour and a half on the same day. It is an unprecedented level of guillotining of an important and substantial Bill.

This Bill has been significantly changed from the original one published by the Minister. It is significant in the sense that the prohibition on the privatisation of Irish Water and any reference to the Minister are removed from the legislation. This confirms our worst fears that the establishment of Irish Water was the beginning of the road to the privatisation of water provision.

It was Fianna Fáil's idea in the first place

Deputies

Hear, hear.

In addition to that-----

We are only dealing with time element.

-----a provision relating to an independent assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency has also been removed.

Sorry, Deputy Martin; we are only dealing with the amount of time allocated. The Deputy is raising Second Stage stuff.

I am just making the point that it is a substantive Bill that demands serious consideration by the House. We are being allocated only two hours for Second Stage and one hour and 40 minutes for Committee Stage.

It is all Deputy Martin's party's fault.

We had a meeting this morning with the Taoiseach about Seanad reform. We were promised a whole lot of stuff about Dáil reform, accountability and meaningful consultation but it all counts for nothing when Bills such as this - it is controversial from the Government’s perspective because it brings in a mechanism for water charges - are rushed through. How come Bills dealing with social welfare, property tax------

The Deputy has made his point. We are only having a short discussion on the time allocation on the Order of Business.

-----and water charges are just rammed through the Dáil in three hours? Where is the room for amendments there? Why can the Taoiseach not put Committee Stage back to January or February? Why is it being rushed through?

Is Deputy Martin a gospel preacher?

Thank you, Deputy.

Deputies opposite are laughing. If that is their concept of democracy in the House, then fine. They cannot go on pretending they are achieving a democratic revolution, because they are not. This flies in the face of any commitment by the Government to meaningful Dáil reform.

We have brought in real Dáil reform.

I remind Deputies that the rule is that Opposition Leaders can only ask why sufficient time is not given to a Bill. We do not debate Bills’ contents on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Adams.

When Sinn Féin objects to some proposals on the Order of Business, it is not because we are trying to hold it up but to ensure proper scrutiny. On this particular Bill, which is highly controversial and technical, there is no reason the Taoiseach cannot extend the legislative deadline. There are issues with regard to the transfer of assets from local government to Irish Water, as well as implications for staff pension liabilities and services. It is being rushed through so it can become law in the new year. Why can we simply not extend it to make sure it is dealt with properly?

May I object as well?

No, you may not.

This is a Bill providing for a new draconian tax on ordinary householders, not just for their water in but for their wastewater out.

Please resume your seat, Deputy Higgins.

It is quite incredible that the Government is lashing this Bill through.

Please resume your seat, Deputy Higgins. I have called the Taoiseach.

The reason the Bill is going through is that it is necessary to transfer the assets and the liabilities to Irish Water by 1 January 2014. I remind Deputy Martin-----

-----that while his party might have favoured privatisation for several reasons, it is specifically written into this legislation that it would require a change of government policy and would have to be approved by the Oireachtas.

It is about privatisation.

The Government has deleted the key section in this regard.

There will be other Bills dealing with elements of water services which will be introduced by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. This Bill deals with the transfer of assets and liabilities------

The Seanad had more time to debate this Bill than the Dáil. It is an insult to Members.

It is necessary that the Bill be approved by 1 January 2014. I am sure Deputy Ó Snodaigh does not want to be here next week or the week after.

The Taoiseach obviously has no problem being here next Wednesday.

It can be dealt with in January. This proposal is a joke.

That is old bluff.

Will we bring Santy in with us?

Why not change the deadline to 31 January 2014?

They must be transferred by 1 January 2014 and that is why we are dealing with the Bill this week.

This is shameful.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 7 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 50.

  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke 'Ming'.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.
Question declared carried.

It is extraordinary that the Taoiseach has published the health service plan today and has deliberately avoided any opportunity for the House in plenary session to debate what by any measure is a substantial Estimate which illustrates how the books were cooked on budget day and how we were deliberately given false figures which did not last a couple of weeks and which went through some verification process. Now we have some figures which, again, are unspecified in the health service plan. My real concern is the impact it will have on people working on the front line across the country.

We are not debating the health service plan.

Will the Taoiseach undertake to give time tomorrow in the House to debate the health service plan at plenary session? Why did he so cynically choreograph business to avoid any meaningful debate on a set of Estimates on health that have been proved to be bogus from the outset when they were presented to the House on budget day?

This is an extensive service plan dealing with an expenditure of over €13 billion and it is important that everybody understands the full range of opportunity and challenge set out in the health service plan. Last week the Oireachtas committee on health decided it would do a full analysis of this at its first meeting in January. Following that if Deputy Martin still wishes to have a plenary debate here in the House having digested all the elements of the plan, I will be happy to oblige him.

There should be a plenary session on the false Estimates.

Tá ceist agam maidir le reachtaíocht atá forógraithe. The Protected Disclosures Bill went through the Seanad last month but has yet to come before the Dáil. The very serious allegations on NAMA underline the importance of legal protection for whistleblowers. The programme for Government commits to the introduction of whistleblower legislation and there is some concern that it will not be brought before the Dáil in the new year. Will the Taoiseach give a commitment that the Protected Disclosures Bill will be brought before the Dáil as early in January as possible?

The Committee of Public Accounts has been in contact with NAMA and NAMA is willing and wishes to engage with that committee, which is important. This legislation has gone through the Seanad and is awaiting Second Stage, which will be taken early in the next session. The Whips will make arrangements for that.

Last night, RTE's "Prime Time Investigates" broadcast a dramatic documentary on the questionable activities of a charity, Victory Outreach, which has potentially far-reaching consequences in that a liability may accrue to the State on foot of the State's probation services referring people to these charities. In light of what is going on with that charity and other activities which are coming to light in the charity sector, when will we have the charities regulation Bill before the House?

The Charities Act was enacted in 2009. It provides for a system of registration and regulation of the charities sector in the country. As part of that an independent charities regulator authority is to be established. That authority will be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a public register of charities. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence has indicated that this will be early in the next session but I will confirm that to Deputy Niall Collins.

I am afraid the time has expired for the Order of Business. We will have to wait until tomorrow.

On a point of order, is there an assurance that those who want to speak on the Order of Business tomorrow will have the opportunity?

There is no assurance whatsoever.

Will it be the exact same?

If there is a vote on the Order of Business I cannot give an assurance. I do not know.

Should there be a policy that there be no votes on the Order of Business?

Maybe so, but I suggest Deputy Timmins put that to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. I only apply the rules, as Deputy Timmins knows.