Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 31 Mar 1992

Vol. 417 No. 9

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 9. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings in Committee on No. 9 up to and including section 79, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only amendments set down by the Minister for the Environment. Private Members' Business shall be No. 33, motion 49.

Are the proposals for dealing with No. 9, Environmental Protection Agency Bill, 1990, agreed?

There may be one problem in relation to the form of words used. In the likelihood of all sections not being debated in the House, the Minister has indicated that there may be amendments set down by Members of the Opposition which would be acceptable to her. Could the proposal be amended as follows: "in relation to amendments, include only amendments accepted by the Minister for the Environment". Will that be acceptable to the Taoiseach because there are amendments which may not be reached, accepted by the Minister but which cannot then be taken?

Very well.

I observe the Taoiseach's assent to the amendment. Therefore, we are seeking the deletion of "set down" and "accepted" substituted therefor. Is that agreed? Agreed, subject to agreement between the Whips.

Will the Taoiseach agree that it would be useful for the House to have a debate at an early stage on the Delors II package as it is a crucial requirement that it is agreed if compensation of any kind is to be available to Irish farmers and if funding is to be available for the Structural Funds? In so far as possible there should be a considered Irish position on this very important matter by the House at an early stage.

I am concerned as to whether a matter of this kind is strictly relevant to the Order of Business. If the Deputy could indicate legislation in this regard it would help matters.

Is the Taoiseach aware that the Government will be obliged to establish some form of regional structure to facilitate Ireland's participation in the committee of regions which will be involved in spending the Structural Funds? In the context of such legislative requirements it would be very useful if we could have a general discussion on how we intend to use the Structural Funds and indeed whether Structural Funds will be available, which leads us straight into the discussion on the Delors II package.

I am not sure if legislation has been promised in this area.

One has to admire Deputy John Bruton's use of the word "legislative". The debate to which he referred could become part of the debate on the White Paper, which is not too far away.

In relation to promised legislation, do the Government intend to bring the Family Planning (Amendment) Bill before this House or does the Minister for Health intend to change the Bill as published?

That matter will be considered in due course.

This century?

Yes, with a bit of luck.

Will the Taoiseach give the House a clear and specific response to an issue which I raised a number of times? Will he confirm, no later than the end of this week, that the draft terms of reference for the foreign affairs committee will be made available to Fine Gael and indeed to the other parties in this House so that it can get underway, particularly bearing in mind the broader issues of Maastricht and the other issues confronting us in the area of foreign affairs?

I have allowed this question so often.

I hope this is the last time the Deputy will have to ask it because the terms of reference will certainly be available next week, maybe by the end of this week.

Will the Taoiseach indicate whether the Government have yet decided on the legislation they must bring in arising from the Supreme Court decision in Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution?

For the information of the House, legislation has not been promised in this regard. The implications of the Supreme Court decision are being studied by a number of Ministers and Departments and when their deliberations are complete the Government will make their decision in relation to it.

I am sure the Taoiseach is conscious of the urgency of dealing with this matter by way of legislation. How soon does he expect the consultations to which he referred will be completed so that the Government will consider the matter?

We are all aware of the complexities of a small issue to which so much time is being devoted to try to find the correct approach and procedure for it. The Government's position has not changed. We are looking at the legislative options, constitutional implications and options or maybe a combination of both, whatever is required. However, the Deputy should not expect an early decision on this very complex matter because nobody in the House, as far as I know, wants to rush madly into it and maybe make a mess of it.

Deputy Jim Higgins is offering.

Deputy De Rossa rose.

I have called Deputy Higgins.

In the absence of action in relation to this matter, we could have a similar tragedy.

That may be so but I had called another Deputy.

Will the Taoiseach state whether it is proposed to introduce amending legislation to the Companies (Amendment) Act, 1990, in view of the fact that it failed its most recent test because millions of pounds in cheques issued under the examinership are still bouncing leaving farmers, hauliers and suppliers unpaid?

No such legislation has been promised. The matter to which Deputy Higgins referred was raised with me by a recent deputation of the ICMSA and we have arranged that that organisation and the farmers interests will have a meeting with the Minister for Industry and Commerce to explore their complaints in relation to the issue of cheques by the examiner.

I seek the assistance of the Chair on a matter which I raised unsuccessfully before, the whole question of the terms of reference of the Select Committee on Crime and the inadequacy of such a committee. Since you ruled me out of order on the Order of Business last week I attempted to raise the matter by way of a question to the Taoiseach but that was also ruled out of order. I again attempted to raise the matter through your office by way of a question on the Adjournment but that also was ruled out of order. How may I raise this matter which was highlighted in correspondence from the chairperson of that committee as far back as last November?

Had the Deputy given me notice of his intention to advert to this matter, I might well have had a considered reply for him. My office will be in touch with the Deputy. I want to bring the Order of Business to finality. We have important business to conduct.

May I ask the Taoiseach when Mr. Glackin is likely to report on the Telecom Affair? How much is Mr. Glackin likely to cost us per day? Is the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy O'Malley, hounding him for his report as he hounded Mr. Foley and Mr. Barry?

Let us have regard to the Order of Business.

It is costing us a lot of money; we have no idea how much; and we would like to know when he is likely to have completed his report.

If you ask a question, the price will go up.

Will it be another six months before the report is ready?

Is there legislation in this area?

The Deputy should put down a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and he will get this information.

Will the Taoiseach indicate when legislation to provide for maternity leave for adoptive mothers will be published?

Is legislation promised?

It is in the early stages of preparation.

The previous Minister for Health promised to amend the Health Act to restructure and extend the responsibilities of the Eastern Health Board. Will the Taoiseach indicate if it is still the Government's intention to introduce such legislation?

I have already replied to that question a few minutes ago, when I responded to Deputy Spring.

That was in connection with family planning legislation.

The legislation is promised and will be coming forward in due course.

My question refers to the Eastern Health Board, not family planning.

Has the Taoiseach family planning on the brain?

I will try again.

Family planning is no longer fashionable.

This matter could be equally contentious. Is the Taoiseach aware that the previous Minister for Health, Deputy O'Hanlon, promised to introduce legislation to amend the Health Act to restructure and extend the responsibilities of the Eastern Health Board? Is it still the Government's intention to proceed with that promised legislation?

It is still the intention of the present Government to proceed along those lines and the legislation is in the very early stages of preparation.

This abolishes all bypasses.

Is it the intention to take the Housing Bill, which was published last week, before the Easter recess in view of the urgency of its enactment?

It is most unlikely that it can be taken before the Easter recess, but the Whips will have a look at the Deputy's suggestion.