It is proposed to take No. 21, motion re Protocol amending the 1950 Consular Convention between Ireland and the United States of America; No. 5, Roads (Amendment) Bill, 1997, Amendment from the Seanad; No. 24a, Urban Renewal Bill, 1998, Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; and No. 1, Parental Leave Bill, 1998 [Seanad], Second Stage. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; No. 21 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 5, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to conclusion after 30 minutes; the Report and Final Stages of No. 24a shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. today 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 the Environment and Local Government; and the proceedings on the Second Stage of No. 1, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. tonight. Private Members' Business shall be No. 36 — Broadcasting and other Media (Public Right of Access and Diversity of Ownership) Bill, 1998 — Second Stage (Resumed).
Order of Business.
There are five proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 21 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 5 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 24a agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 1 agreed? Agreed.
Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for Public Enterprise to come into the House and make a statement on the situation concerning TEAM and FLS as we have read in the newspapers today that FLS is threatening to pull out of the offer to buy TEAM? We do not seem to have heard anything in this House about that. We have to read about it in the newspapers.
That is not a matter for the Order of Business.
My constituents and the Taoiseach's are concerned about this matter. I am asking for time in the House to debate this matter.
That is not a matter for the Order of Business either.
A request to allow time for a debate in the House has always been allowed on the Order of Business. Will the Taoiseach talk to the Minister and find out what is happening about the sale of TEAM?
I repeat that is not a matter for the Order of Business. I call Deputy Stagg.
Will the Taoiseach make time available today to discuss the situation arising from a statement by the Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise on radio this morning? He said STAD residents had no case and that there was no legal basis for their case.
That is a disgrace.
That matter is not in order on the Order of Business.
Can time be allocated to discuss this matter today? Will the Taoiseach indicate if time could be made available for a debate this week or next week because the House has been misled?
This matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
A statement should be made by the Minister of State in the House because of the confidentiality agreement between the residents and himself. The Taoiseach has often indicated that the Whips could examine the matter of a debate. That has arisen regularly.
I have ruled this matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business. I call Deputy Joe Higgins.
Surely there is a precedent for the Taoiseach to indicate that the Whips could discuss the matter with his approval. That has happened regularly. This is a crisis. Money has been promised in this case and not a brass farthing has been paid over despite taxpayers' money being made available.
I have ruled this is not a matter for the Order of Business.
Will the Taoiseach indicate——
On a point of order, the Chair seems to be giving Deputy Stagg far more leniency than he gave me on a matter that involved the same request.
I have ruled on that matter. That accusation is unworthy of the Deputy. Will Deputy Stagg resume his seat and allow Deputy Joe Higgins to raise his matter?
Will the Taoiseach indicate——
I have ruled this matter is not in order. The Deputy may have an opportunity to raise it during the day and he should use another such opportunity to do so.
There are no other opportunities to request time to discuss this matter. The House was seriously misled. I believe the Taoiseach wants to respond.
(Dublin West): It is the prerogative of the Taoiseach to recall the Dáil when it is in recess to deal with matters of urgency. Will he give a commitment that, in the event of a disastrous decision to close TEAM Aer Lingus in a fortnight — as has been hinted — if the workers do not give in to blackmail, he will recall the Dáil——
That question is not in order on the Order of Business. The Deputy can raise it another way during the day.
Will the Taoiseach indicate when item 23 of promised legislation, the Posting of Workers (Directive) Bill, will be brought before the House? This Bill provides for the implementation of a European Union directive which Ireland is obliged to implement following a decision of the member states. It protects the workers of this and other member states when travelling and working within the Union.
The directive must be implemented by 16 December 1999. The Department is currently drafting the heads of the Bill so it is in the early stage of preparation. I do not have a definite date but it must be passed next year.
(Mayo): The High Court recently found that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is in breach of the Firearms Act, 1925, and that the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands is in breach of the Wildlife Act, 1976. This has led to the cancellation of thousands of visits to this country by hunting sports people and has caused chaos in hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts. Is amending legislation required or planned to address this serious situation? Will new legislation be brought before the Dáil before the recess?
I am sure the Deputy meant to say "successive Ministers for Justice" since all Ministers for Justice followed that legislation. The High Court made a ruling which requires a legislative response and the legislation must be passed before the Dáil's business this session is finalised. It will be dealt with next week. As the Deputy correctly pointed out, the ruling would have a huge effect on turnover in the tourism industry during the summer months.
When will the Local Government (Planning and Development) (No. 2) Bill be published? The Bill is due to be introduced following a comprehensive review. Has that review been completed?
It is the Local Government Planning (No. 2) Development Bill. The consultation Bill has 40 heads and is expected to be ready in the middle of next year.
And the review?
It covers the comprehensive review.
Could today's Order of Business with regard to item 24a be amended? It is due to conclude at 1.30 p.m. Can that time be altered to 12.30 p.m. to facilitate an hour's debate on the Team Aer Lingus and STAD issues?
The House has already agreed the Order of Business.
I am asking if agreement can be secured to amend the Order of Business to hold an hour long debate on TEAM Aer Lingus and STAD. That would solve the problem.
An amendment to the Order of Business is not possible at this stage.
The Taoiseach can ask the Whips to agree.
It is not possible at this stage.
It is if the House agrees to an hour less on other items. That can be done now on the Order of Business in an orderly fashion.
An amendment is not in order. It would not make sense if every day the House agreed the Order of Business——
It can be done if the House agrees and I am asking the Taoiseach if he will agree. There is agreement about it on this side of the House——
The Roads (Amendment) Bill will take five minutes.
The Taoiseach cannot agree because the question is totally out of order. I call Deputy Kenny.
It is not out of order. The debate on the Order of Business has not been concluded.
On a point of order, it is not my place to suggest a method of dealing with this but if the Chair consults precedent he will discover many occasions when the House, in the middle of its business, was approached by the Government with a suggestion that the Standing Order for the day be altered. That is what Deputy Barrett is suggesting. If the Taoiseach agrees, it would be in keeping with the practice of the House.
I will not allow discussion of this matter. It is the Taoiseach's prerogative to do that.
That is why I made my request.
However, it is not in order for anybody else to propose it.
It is in order to ask the Leader of the House to do that.
There have been many instances when the Taoiseach said he would ask the Whips to consult after the Order of Business to see if an amendment to the Order of Business could be made.
Obviously that is not the position in this case.
Deputy Barrett's suggestion is appropriate given that the Urban Renewal Bill and the Roads (Amendment) Bill can be concluded quickly.
The House has agreed the Order of Business and it is not in order to change it.
I accept that the Chair is correct but there is precedent if the Taoiseach so wishes.
The Taoiseach has not offered to do that so that is the end of the matter.
It is not the case that he did not offer. He is so respectful of the Chair's authority that he did not deign to suggest that he might offer. If the Chair asked, the Taoiseach might offer to comment on this matter——
Look in his direction.
He has taken a vow of silence.
——since it is the Government's prerogative to change the Order of Business. I ask the Chair to allow the Taoiseach to indicate if he wishes to so offer.
Does the Taoiseach wish to comment?
We have just completed the Order of Business but if the Opposition Whip wishes to raise a matter with the Government Whip, he can do so. I will not agree to a change in the Order of Business without knowing if the Minister is available at that time. If the Opposition Whip wishes to consult the Government Whip in the normal way, they can discuss the matter.
Given that the British Government agreed in the British-Irish Agreement to eight subparagraphs which promote the Irish language, when does Ireland intend to sign the European charter for minority and regional languages? Will a protocol be introduced in the agreement to protect the Irish language's constitutional position?
All the matters we must conclude as a result of the agreement are under consideration. We are committed to implementing them and we have put a work programme in place with the participation of all Departments. There in an interdepartmental group working on all aspects of the agreement. I do not have a date but the Deputy can be assured that every matter in the agreement is being co-ordinated by the working group.
When does the Government intend to introduce legislation providing for the establishment of an ombudsman for children as promised?
The Children Bill will be sent to a committee. The ombudsman for children is not included in that legislation but will be provided for in legislation to be introduced by the Minister in due course.
Does the Taoiseach's intervention mean that the Whips will meet immediately after the Order of Business? With regard to promised legislation, will provision be made in the Radiological Protection (Amendment) Bill for payment of moneys promised by the Government to the Dundalk residents' group?
The House cannot discuss the content of Bills on the Order of Business. It is not in order.
It is not in the Bill but I am suggesting that it be included. Under a resolution of the House it was agreed to provide funding for the group but no moneys have yet been paid.
It is still not in order to discuss the content of Bills.
Section 27 of the Employment Equality Bill, which deals with the height requirement for entry to the Garda Síochána and the Prison Service, contains a subsection which permits a height differentiation between males and females so a greater proportion of females are not precluded from entry. In view of this provision, will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister for Defence to change the height requirement for entry of females to the Defence Forces in the forthcoming defence legislation?
The content of legislation cannot be discussed on the Order of Business.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss TEAM Aer Lingus and the STAD case if the Whips agree to such a debate. Will the tragic fire in the Department of Education and Science last night have any impact on its legislative programme? What resources will be made available by the Government to help the Department——
That matter does not arise on the Order of Business.
What does the Government intend to do about the provision of shipping facilities for live cattle exports to the Continent? This will be a huge issue two months hence when the Dáil will be in recess. What, if anything, is the Government doing about it?
The Deputy should put down a parliamentary question on that issue.
The Taoiseach never answers any questions about agriculture. He is running away from the issue.
The Deputy should put down a parliamentary question.
It is interesting that the Chair invites Deputies to use the parliamentary question route. I tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister for the Environment and Local Government asking whether the threat to Ireland by the British nuclear industry was on the agenda at the pan-European environment conference under way in Aarhus in Denmark but it was transferred to the Minister for Public Enterprise who obviously knows nothing about the conference.
We cannot discuss questions on the Order of Business.
How can I find out whether this issue is on the agenda at the Aarhus conference since the question was transferred by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to the Minister for Public Enterprise who knows nothing about the conference?
The matter cannot be discussed on the Order of Business.
An inaccurate and disgraceful statement was made by Deputy Stagg, who quoted a comment of mine about the STAD residents' case, which must be corrected. I have never commented on the merits or demerits of their case. The advice to this Government, the Government of which Deputy Stagg's party was part, and previous Governments, is and was that there is no scientific evidence to take a case.
The Minister of State rubbished, undermined and sabotaged their case. He did so deliberately.
The Government of which Deputy Stagg's party was part did not take a case.
Order, please. Deputy Stagg should please resume his seat.
On a point of order, Deputy Yates was thrown out of the House yesterday when he attempted to raise this issue.
That is not a point of order.
Why is the Minister of State not being thrown out?
The Minister of State or any other Deputy is entitled to make a personal statement.
On the Order of Business?
My question relates to the unfair allocation of responsibilities within Government. Are the Progressive Democrats so overburdened that they have stopped attending the Order of Business?
That is not a matter for the Order of Business.
I hope the Taoiseach will have good news for me because we will not take it any more in the west. When exactly will the Western Development Commission Bill be introduced? I do not want the Taoiseach to tell me that it will be introduced in the autumn. We are prepared to return in August, if necessary.
The Bill will be published during the summer.
That is not good enough.
In view of your description, a Cheann Comhairle, of the intervention by the Minister of State as a personal statement, may I take it that when the Whips meet the Government they will make time available to discuss this contentious matter?
It has already been decided that the Whips will meet to discuss the matter.
One cannot leave a fallacy on the record.
The Government Whip will require an instruction from the Taoiseach. The Minister of State is available and was animated enough to come into the House to make what you described, a Cheann Comhairle, as a personal statement——
The matter will be dealt with by the Whips.
I am responding to what the Taoiseach said but the Government Whip will require an instruction from him. The Taoiseach was not aware of the availability of the Minister of State——
The Deputy has already made that point.
Will the Taoiseach indicate whether he will direct and authorise the Government Whip to make time available for a debate on the issue?
The matter has been dealt with. I am not prepared to allow further discussion. The Deputy should please resume his seat. The matter has been referred to the Whips.
With respect, the Taoiseach indicated the matter would be dealt with by the Whips, subject to the availability of the Minister of State. Will he now indicate whether he will direct the Government Whip to make time available for a debate on the issue?
A meeting of the Whips is to be arranged.
I would like to know what attitude the Government will adopt.
Further discussion is not in order. There is much business to be transacted by the House. I intend to proceed to deal with it within the next few minutes.
Will the Taoiseach respond?
I seek your assistance and guidance, a Cheann Comhairle, on what I regard as a disturbing trend. I have no wish to question your judgment or decisions in the matter but there has been a sharp increase in the number of parliamentary questions refused on the basis that various Ministers——
This matter is not one for the Order of Business.
I seek your guidance——
The Deputy should contact my office.
I have done so without success. May I cite——
No, the matter is not one for the Order of Business.
It will become a matter for the Order of Business at a later stage if Members are precluded from asking questions about matters which are the direct responsibility of various Ministers. We will have tribunals of inquiry afterwards.
I am proceeding to the Business of the House.
I appeal to you to protect Members by ensuring they are allowed to ask questions.