It is proposed to take: No. 6, Taxes Consolidation Bill, 1997, Second Stage (resumed), and No. 1, Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Bill, 1997, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' Business shall be No. 13, motion on legal case of the Louth Residents Group against British Nuclear Fuels (resumed).
Order of Business.
Can we take it from the remarks of the Minister of State, Deputy Joe Jacob, last night that the Government is now funding in toto the legal costs of the Louth residents in relation to their case? Will the Government reconsider setting up a Cabinet subcommittee for the management of this, as did the previous Government?
This matter will be debated in the House this evening for another one and a half hours.
I realise the matter is before the House, but some clarification would be helpful to all Members, especially the Independent Members.
It is unclear what the Government's intentions are other than it is intended to meet the residents group again. Can we have a commitment in principle that the legal, health research and other related costs will be met by the Government as promised?
There will be an opportunity to debate it tonight.
The Minister of State, Deputy Jacob, has often been wheeled out to deal with this issue. Perhaps the Taoiseach would endorse the commitment he made.
It is not in order to deal with the matter on the Order of Business. There will be ample opportunity to raise it during Private Members' time.
Is there a total or partial U-turn?
Will the Taoiseach endorse the commitment he made?
On the related issue of the Cabinet subcommittee, from what has emerged in recent days, the Minister of State should be kept fully aware of Cabinet decisions and not placed in an invidious position. Will the Taoiseach accept that we should show our determination by having a member of the Cabinet chair the sub-committee?
The matter will be debated during Private Members' time.
I stated in the House two weeks ago that the idea of a Cabinet subcommittee which the relevant Minister could attend was worthy of consideration. It is not part of the motion.
When does the Taoiseach intend to bring forward the Bretton Woods Agreement (Amendment) Bill?
I answered this question last week. As soon as the findings of the IMF studies are presented we will proceed with the legislation.
How soon can we expect the legislation? Will it be introduced before the Christmas recess?
I understand it is unlikely to be prepared before then.
Will the Tánaiste report to the House on her discussions in Brussels on incentives for Irish industry and in particular the appropriate rate of corporation profits tax which will be applied after 2010?
Discussions on this matter will continue for several months. The Deputy can table a question to the Tánaiste at any time.
Will the Taoiseach confirm it is no longer the Government's intention to press for a corporation profits tax rate of 10 per cent and it is negotiating on the basis that the rate will be 12.5 per cent?
The Deputy should table a question.
That matter does not arise on the Order of Business.
Has the flag been lowered?
Is the Government negotiating on the basis that the rate will be 12.5 per cent? The answer is either "yes" or "no".
The Deputy should table a parliamentary question.
The Deputy writes his own rules.
Is it true the Tánaiste has been offered a rate of 15 per cent and is moving backwards? She has reopened the can of worms and is stuck with it.
Is there a fourchette?
Will Deputy Noonan, please, give way to Deputy Gilmore? It is not in order to raise this matter on the Order of Business.
We are trying to tidy up the mess the Deputy's party left behind.
We might need a tribunal to find out what is going on here.
Is it still the Government's intention to publish the Education (No. 2) Bill before Christmas in view of the Minister for Education's announcement yesterday that there will be two further rounds of consultations prior to publication?
We hope to publish the Bill in November.
Will the Taoiseach clarify his remarks about the Cabinet subcommittee on Sellafield? It is more than two weeks since he mentioned it and I would expect a decision to be taken thereon if it is considered at all urgent by the Government.
Is legislation pending to require vitamin supplements and other preventative health care products necessitating a prescription? The Big Issues has declared the legislation is already in place, yet as far as I am aware it has not been introduced?
That matter will be considered by a Cabinet subcommittee, normally comprised of Ministers only but, in this instance, the Minister of State has to be involved. There is legislation pending in that area to be introduced by the Department of Agriculture and Food.
(Dublin West): Will the Taoiseach say whether it is the intention of the Government to endlessly shelve the implementation of the Refugee Act given that the Minister of State at the Department of Justice in the course of an Adjournment Debate last evening disgracefully prejudged the position of applicants for asylum here by stating that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of them are economic refugees? Is the Government now denying applicants a fair hearing? Will the Taoiseach state when the provisions of that Act will be implemented since he is aware of its urgency?
The Deputy may or may not know there is a case pending in the courts which is delaying the implementation of several sections of that Act. Nonetheless it is urgent legislation we should like to deal with.
On the Order of Business yesterday I asked the Taoiseach whether he was satisfied that the presidential election and referendum regulations 1997 signed by the Minister for the Environment are in order which he said was a matter for that Minister. Has the Taoiseach had an opportunity to discuss this matter with the Attorney General? Can he confirm to the House that the matters I raised in writing to the Minister are in order?
They are in order. If the Deputy requires a written reply I will certainly give him one.
Following the Taoiseach's meeting last evening with the chief executive officer of the Western Development Board and some of its members, will he inform the House of its outcome and what proposals his Government has for western development?
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
When will we be afforded an opportunity in Government time to be given some indication of what the Taoiseach said——
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
It certainly arises in the case of the people of the west. Will we be given Government time and an opportunity to speak on the matters raised as I understand the Taoiseach proposed that there be a poll taken among Fianna Fáil Deputies? Is that correct as I understand that was the lifeline he gave the west last evening?
The Taoiseach said yesterday that no decision had been taken on the local elections. When will such a decision be taken?
Before Christmas or afterwards?
(Mayo): Since the House is debating the very welcome Taxes Consolidation Bill, 1997 largely prepared by the previous Government and given that road traffic is governed by eight different Acts, will the Taoiseach state whether the Government has any intention of introducing road traffic consolidation legislation?
There are no proposals for that, although I agree with consolidation legislation which was why I began the process on this Taxes Consolidation Bill back in 1992.
Notwithstanding the case before the courts the Taoiseach told the House last week he was awaiting proposals from the Minister for Justice in respect of the implementation of the provisions of the Refugee Act. Has he yet received those proposals?
What is at issue is a High Court case pending which is delaying the implementation of those sections which can be implemented as soon as that case has been concluded.
Will the Taoiseach say whether the Government intends introducing legislation following the EU directive on parental leave?
Legislation will be introduced — and is at an early stage of preparation — to implement that directive which also forms part of the commitments contained in the Partnership 2000 agreement with the social partners.
Is it proposed to make any changes in the implementation of the Habitats Directive, as has been mentioned in the papers, that would change the force of the directive as signed? Will the Taoiseach indicate when the related Wildlife Bill will be published?
Is that promised legislation?
Legislation already exists and I do not propose to make any changes to that. The Deputy may put down a question relating to any proposed changes but the legislation that was prepared is still in existence.
May I clarify the matter? The problem arises in relation to the Habitats Directive in so far as it was suggested that this instrument, which was signed by me on behalf of the last Government, had become a matter of negotiation with Independent Members of this House on the formation of the Government as it referred to Wicklow. In relation to the second matter, the Wildlife Bill was ready for publication before I left office. I was frequently asked when it would be introduced as it was major legislation dealing with directives for compliance with the European Union. I find it inexplicable that we do not have a date for the publication of the Bill.
Why did the Deputy not publish it if it was ready?
The Minister should ask his colleagues.
Why did the Minister not implement the Fisheries Bill?
As the question is in order, the Wildlife Bill will be published in January.
Now that the Minister for Education and Science has arrived in the Chamber, may I ask the Taoiseach when the school attendance Bill will be introduced? On a more serious note, the Taoiseach will be aware that in certain areas of the city we do not have a proper service for supporting school attendance. This legislation is of some urgency and I ask the Taoiseach to indicate when it will be available and if he will expedite it.
I am well aware of the difficulties. The Bill will be published in early 1998.
May I ask the Taoiseach when will the commission on a minimum wage report? Does he have any proposals to broaden the membership of that commission? Will the Taoiseach bring forward any proposals on a minimum wage in time for the debate on the Finance Bill?
The commission is due to complete its work by December. The commission is representative of the social partners and I believe that is satisfactory. We hope to have the commission's report before Christmas.
Is the Taoiseach satisfied that there is sufficient trade union membership on the commission?
I believe there is. The commission is chaired by the chairperson of the Labour Court. Various people have made submissions on the issue so I believe the commission is well represented.
Will the Taoiseach comment on any contact he may have made in the past few days with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Blair, on the proposed parades legislation due to be published later this week which may include reference to the GAA and other organisations and on which widespread concern has been expressed?
Strictly speaking, that matter does not arise on the Order of Business but if the Taoiseach wishes to comment——
I understand the Taoiseach may wish to confirm he has made contact.
The Deputy should raise the matter during Question Time.
I raised this matter with the British Prime Minister and the Secretary of State. The British Government is well aware of the views of everybody in this House that if it were to include GAA matches in this legislation as a quid pro quo for some other proposals, that would be entirely inappropriate and unacceptable.