Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 14, the Powers of Attorney Bill, 1995 — Second Stage (Resumed) and No. 4, the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Bill, 1996 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding the Order of the Dáil of 24 January 1995, and without prejudice to the overall entitlements of the groups as set out in that Order, that Private Members' Business shall be No. 35 — motion re. cattle and beef industry and, on the next available occasion on which Private Members' Business is to be taken, the Progressive Democrats shall have the right to nominate a private Member of that group either to move a motion standing in his or her name or to proceed with a Stage of a Bill.

Is the proposal regarding the taking of Private Members' Business agreed? Agreed.

I wish to raise an important matter. Thousands of civil servants will take strike action tomorrow in protest at the Government's embargo. Social welfare offices and other services will be closed. This is the first time in almost a decade that CPSU members have been forced on to the streets by the same Government as before. What does the Taoiseach intend to do to resolve this dispute? He will appreciate it is difficult for the thousands of CPSU members in the Department of Social Welfare to accept that certain posts cannot be filled because of the embargo when the Minister for Social Welfare has filled his office up to the roof with staff.

The Deputy would try anything.

The Taoiseach is silent; so much for the workers.

May I ask the Taoiseach when the Government intends to publish the family law (divorce) Bill?

This legislation is being prepared. Its introduction was delayed by the outstanding legal action taken in regard to the validity of the appropriate amendment to the Constitution. I assure the Deputy that work is proceeding on the matter. I cannot give a precise time as to its introduction because of the continuing legal uncertainties of which the Deputy is fully aware but I will return to the Deputy with the most precise information I can obtain in due course.

Given that the Government published the details of this legislation before the referendum, I am surprised it is not in a position to publish the Bill. Will the Taoiseach clarify what he has just said? As I understand it, the Government published the details of this Bill before the referendum. Can I take it, therefore, that the Government will now proceed with publication of the Bill?

It is not possible to publish legislation that is contrary to the Constitution. Obviously, the amendment to the Constitution has to be fully in place with all court challenges disposed of before such legislation is published. I have just been informed by the appropriate Minister however, that this Bill will be published as soon as the matter in the courts is cleared up.

The Taoiseach told me a minute ago he was preparing it.

What is the current status of the Misuse of Drugs Bill, 1996? Second Stage of this Bill was passed in this House and referred to the Select Committee on Legislation and Security. The following day the Minister for Justice published a poorly watered down version of Part I of the Misuse of Drugs Bill——

The Deputy had been doing fine.

——namely, the Drug Trafficking Bill, 1996. Will Committee Stage of the Misuse of Drugs Bill be passed by this House or has the Taoiseach's interpretation of transparency broadened to the extent that when he accepts a Bill, he really means he is not accepting it?

It would be more appropriate to use the Government Bill as the vehicle for dealing with these problems. That is the approach the Government will be adopting, while giving due credit and praise to the Deputy for his work.

We want the Bill, not the praise.

That does not adequately answer the question. The Government accepted the Fianna Fáil Misuse of Drugs Bill, 1996, on Second Stage which is now before the appropriate committee. The Government's Bill, however, has not had its Second Reading. There is a clear overlapping and we are entitled to know the status of the Fianna Fáil Bill which is far superior to the Government's Bill.

I would be most disappointed if the Deputy did not express such an opinion. Given that he is the author of the Bill in question, it would be surprising if he did not praise it. The Government is of a slightly different view and believes its own Bill is better. The Government has taken relevant advice from legal advisers to satisfy itself on the Bill's constitutionality and will be using it as the basis for action in this area. It will take into account all amendments proposed by the Opposition as well as drawing on the valuable ideas in the Deputy's Bill for its amendments.

I call Deputy O'Donoghue but we cannot take this issue in detail now.

This is an extremely important matter of precedent for committees of this House. This House passed the Bill, and referred it to the Select Committee on Legislation and Security but the Taoiseach is now telling me that the Bill is to be abandoned. This is no way to run a Government.

I hope the Deputy is not attempting to draw me into the business of the committees of the House.

If a committee wishes to do what it wants with the legislation, it can do so. I am stating the Government's opinion which is that it should use the Government's Bill. If the Deputy wishes to raise any matter about this Bill which has been referred to the committee, I suggest he contacts some members of his party who attend that committee.

In view of the urgency of making provision for the adoption of Chinese babies and the fact that the Government has not opposed the Adoption Bill, 1996, No. 33 on today's Order Paper, will the Taoiseach agree to take this Bill in Government time because of the urgent need for legislation in this area?

I suggest the Deputy should advance that Bill in his party's Private Members' time.

Does the Taoiseach not agree that it is a matter of very great urgency? His Ministers have been saying on television they are deeply concerned and anxious to take any action that can be taken. Is he not now prepared to allow this Bill to move quickly through the House? Naturally the Bill would have support on all sides of the House — we now wish to take credit for it. We wish the Bill to be passed as a matter of urgency.

Do not elaborate on it now, Deputy.

I appeal to the Taoiseach to reconsider his position.

I am calling Deputy Martin.

It has been possible to pass urgent legislation on important areas when Members on all sides favour early action. As early and immediate action is necessary in this case will the Taoiseach agree to take this Bill in Government time?

In an effort to be helpful, the Government is working on its adoption Bill which is mainly concerned with dealing with the implications of the Keegan judgement. I expect that Bill will be ready in the first half of this year. Obviously it will take into account any other adoption matters that might arise. It is very important that the Deputy should realise that great care needs to be taken in drafting legislation governing adoption. There have been many controversies and legal difficulties, causing a great deal of trauma for children and parents arising from legislation that may not have been as comprehensive as it ought.

Adoption legislation is not necessarily a good subject in which to produce quick and easy solutions in response to particular events. It is important that this Bill is properly and carefully drafted. The Government is taking account of the concerns which the Deputy has expressed. If the Deputy wishes to advance his own Bill there is nothing stopping him getting his party to agree that the Bill be taken in Private Members' time this evening or any other evening.

The Taoiseach will rubbish it.

Very briefly, Deputy.

The issues involved in the Keegan case are much broader. I am concerned that if it is grouped with the Keegan case, it will not be taken until the autumn but the Taoiseach has made an advance on that. The designation of Chinese babies for adoption is a relatively simple matter. The British Parliament has been able to react quickly and has legislation on the stocks.

They do not have a Constitution.

If the Government wished to amend my Adoption Bill, it is welcome to do so, however I am disappointed that it has been put on the long finger.

I do not wish to engage in a debate with the Deputy but may I remind him Britain does not have a written constitution but that we have?

We must move on. I want to facilitate the other Deputies offering.

Is that an excuse?

It is a necessity to respect the Constitution.

Will the Taoiseach accede to our request that the Minister for Education be made accountable in a proper question and answer session in this House on the major error uncovered in the 1995 leaving certificate examination?

This is not the time for it, Deputy.

We had a farcical situation today.

We cannot proceed with that matter.

I asked specific questions on a very serious issue, but the Minister refused to answer the question tabled this afternoon. That is a disgrace.

If the Deputy has a specific question regarding promised legislation.

The Minister refused to answer questions.

I call Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív. I have a number of Members offering. Let us not erode their time.

On a point of order, Sir, I have made a number of efforts through various mechanisms at my disposal to raise this issue through a Private Notice Question and on the Adjournment but I was refused. Last week the office of the Ceann Comhairle told me it was a past event. Very serious issues are at stake.

I must call Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív.

If the Minister had proper management systems in place, students would have been alerted far earlier than they were and would not be repeating the leaving certificate.

The Deputy has had a good deal of latitude. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív or I will move to another Deputy.

It is a disgrace and the Taoiseach shares the culpability because his Minister is not accountable to this House.

Will the Deputy please allow his colleague to come in? Deputy Martin must desist.

She is hiding behind the Price Waterhouse report and that is disgraceful.

Ar reachtaíocht atá geallta agus ag leanúint den dea-shampla a thug an tAire Leasa Shoisialaigh dúinn an tseachtain seo caite, ba mhaith liom a fhiafraí den Taoiseach cén uair atá sé i gceist an Bille um Oidhreacht Náisiúnta a thabhairt isteach. An bhféadfadh sé a rá linn an bhfuil sé i gceist aige a threorú don Aire Talmhaíochta an treoir atá ann maidir leis na ceantair sin a tharraingt siar go dtí go dtabharfar an píosa reachtaíochta sin os comhair na Dála?

I mí na Samhna.

An bhfuil sé i gceist ag an Taoiseach na rialacha atá i bhfeidhm ag an Roinn Talmhaíochta maidir leis na ceantair oidhreachta a tharraingt siar go dtí go dtabharfar isteach an píosa reachtaíochta sin os comhair na Dála? Tá sé as bealach ar fad na rialacha atá curtha i bhfeidhm ag an Roinn Talmhaíochta i dtaobh na gceantar sin. Ba cheart iad a tharraingt siar go dtí go mbeidh reachtáiocht ós comhair na Dála. Tá sibh ag iarraidh ar dhaoine sighneáil nach gcuirfidh siad in aghaidh na gceantar sin.

Tá an cheist ró fháda.

Sin ceist eile. Níl sé in ord anois.

(Cur isteach.)

I am calling Deputy O'Dea.

Let me explain it to the Taoiseach in a language he will understand, the mother tongue.

The Deputy should have been here last week when Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn spoke.

The Taoiseach has informed us that the national heritage Bill will not be introduced until November. Is it his intention, therefore, to instruct the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry to rescind the ruling that those who refuse to give an undertaking not to appeal against something that does not exist will not be paid under the REPS?

I have informed the Deputy that the national parks Bill will be introduced in November.

Exactly. That Bill, No. 5 on the list of promised legislation, will also deal with national heritage areas. A penalty will be imposed on those farmers who refuse to give an undertaking not to appeal against something that does not exist. That is an utter disgrace.

As I informed the Deputy in Irish, this question is not in order on the Order of Business, it should be addressed at another time.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to improve the provision for the victims of crime. Does the Taoiseach propose to reintroduce compensation for pain and suffering? A judge of the Supreme Court has publicly called on the Government to do so. That is a simple question to which I would like a simple yes or no answer, preferably in English.

No such legislation is promised.

I cannot understand your decision, a Cheann Comhairle, to rule out of order a private notice question about the Butler Engineering group of companies, Portarlington, County Laois.

I sympathise with the Deputy, but he may not challenge my ruling in this fashion.

I do not plan to do so——

The Deputy should please desist.

——but I find your decision extraordinary in view of the fact that more than 200 people are directly or indirectly affected.

If the Deputy requires any elucidation, my office is at his disposal. I will be glad to assist him at a more appropriate time.

In view of the seriousness of the matter I find your ruling extraordinary. May I seek your guidance?

The Deputy may not.

I always appreciate your guidance in all matters, although many others may not.

I will accept that in the spirit in which it was intended and ask the Deputy to please resume his seat. He has made his point.

May I raise this matter on the Adjournment? It should be given priority.

My office is at the Deputy's disposal. There are procedures for dealing with such matters.

In view of the seriousness of the matter will you not help me out? The workforce and their families are seriously concerned.

The Deputy has made his point.

They expect your guidance and that of others in bringing the matter to a successful conclusion.

As the Deputy is well aware, I am sympathetic in such matters.

May I raise it on the Adjournment? Will the Chair rule it out?

The matter will be raised on the Adjournment, but, unfortunately, not in the Deputy's name.

Will you allow me some injury time?

I suggest that the Deputy speak with the Deputy in possession. I call Deputy Ned O'Keeffe.

Now for something serious.

Will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister for Enterprise and Employment to publish the report of the task force on the employment position in the Cobh area as a matter of urgency? I await the publication of the Irish Steel Bill——

Does this refer to legislation?

It is a matter for the Minister for Enterprise and Employment. As the Taoiseach is the man in charge, I ask him to ensure the report is published as soon as possible.

The Deputy should raise that matter in a more appropriate manner.

When my colleague, Deputy Connolly, concluded the Tánaiste remarked, "now for something serious". That comment will be remembered by the people of Portarlington. Will the Taoiseach indicate when it is intended to introduce the Bord na gCon Bill?

I expect that legislation will be ready in June or July.