It is proposed to take No. b24, motion re referral to the Committees of Protocol relating to the Madrid agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks and Trade Marks (Madrid Protocol) Regulations, 2001 – Draft; No. 9, European Convention on Human Rights Bill, 2001 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 48, Local Government Bill, 2000 – Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. b24 shall be decided without debate, Second Stage of No. 9 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m., the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 48 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m., and questions shall be taken today from 3.30 p.m. until 4.45 p.m. In the event of a Private Notice Question being allowed, it shall be taken at 4.15 p.m. and the order shall not resume thereafter.
Order of Business.
There are four proposals to be put to the House. The first one is the proposal to deal with No. b24.
This side of the House is not in a position to accept any part of the Order of Business this morning because of the volte-face by the Government overnight in relation to the Local Government Bill. This is a major change in the Bill, given that it was referred to by the Minister as the cornerstone of it. Does the Tánaiste agree that this Bill should not be concluded today?
The Deputy is talking about another motion. The motion we are discussing is the motion re referral to Committees of Protocol relating to the Madrid agreement. It has nothing to do with that to which the Deputy is referring.
We cannot agree to any part of the Order of Business today until we are clear about the Government's intention in relation to the Local Government Bill. We will not agree to anything proposed today. We cannot accept an Order of Business without knowing the Government's intention. Has a Government decision been made on the dual mandate aspect of the Local Government Bill?
This motion is not the occasion on which to ask questions. Is the proposal for dealing with No. b24 agreed?
The next proposal is the proposal for dealing with No. 9, the conclusion of Second Stage of the European Convention on Human Rights Bill, 2001. Is that agreed?
We oppose the Order of Business. We want at least the entire day given to—
We are not discussing the Order of Business but a proposal for dealing with a motion re the taking of Second Stage of the European Convention on Human Rights Bill.
Would it be reasonable before we vote on this matter for the Tánaiste to declare the Government's position? Has a Government decision been made about the Local Government Bill? We need to know that before we can make these decisions. Will the Tánaiste tell us the Government's view?
The motion before the House deals with the conclusion of Second Stage of the European Convention on Human Rights Bill, 2001. That is the only matter that can be raised at this point.
The entire day should be given to the overnight volte-face of the Government with regard to the eligibility of councillors to stand for the Dáil.
I want to deal with the European Convention on Human Rights Bill, 2001, which is the issue before the House. Each day this week I asked the Taoiseach if he would agree to separate two issues that are incorporated in that Bill, as the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform indicated some willingness to do recently. We must rectify the deficiencies in the Human Rights Commission Bill to allow the Human Rights Commission that we established under the Good Friday Agreement to function on a proper statutory basis, which it currently cannot do, and separately to deal with the bringing into force in this State of the European Convention on Human Rights, in a manner on which we can build consensus. The proposals contained in the current Bill have been opposed by a number of people, including the President of the Human Rights Commission—
The proposals in the Bill are not under discussion now, but only the arrangements.
Yesterday and the day before the Taoiseach, on the Order of Business, said he would communicate those views to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and see if the two issues could be separated. From the Labour Party perspective, I offered to give full support to all Stages of the simple Bill to rectify the deficiencies in the Human Rights Commission. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, subsequent to the Order of Business yesterday, said that he would get a legal brief for me last night, but I have not yet received that.
In the absence of the Taoiseach, will the Tánaiste please defer this matter and not divide the House on a matter of human rights. Let us give sufficient time without a guillotine to debate issues of fundamental importance, such as how the European Convention on Human Rights can be transposed into domestic law in this State.
I understand that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform considered what Deputy Howlin is suggesting but that it would not have been feasible to get the simple legislation through before the summer. It is encompassed in this Bill, it would not have been possible to get another Bill through in that short time. The Government is giving a commitment to an extended Committee Stage for this legislation which clearly is important.
Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9 agreed to?
There is a question before the House. There cannot be any more discussion or questions.
The Chair is on his feet putting the question.
Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Ardagh, Seán.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.
Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary. Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.de Valera, Síle.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Lawlor, Liam.Lenihan, Conor.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Martin, Micheál.
Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wright, G. V.
Barnes, Monica.Bell, Michael.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Gilmore, Éamon.Hayes, Brian.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.
Howlin, Brendan.McCormack, Pádraic.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Sullivan, Jan.Perry, John.Rabbitte, Pat.Ring, Michael.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.
The next proposal concerns No. 48, namely, the conclusion of Second Stage of the Local Government Bill, 2000. Is the proposal agreed to?
Will the Tánaiste clarify the Government's position regarding this Bill? Does the Government intend to proceed with, and to conclude, the Bill today? Has it made a decision regarding fundamental amendments to the Bill?
Does the Tánaiste agree it is entirely unsatisfactory and contemptuous of this House for us to conclude Second Stage debate of a Bill—
The proposal before the House concerns the taking of the Bill this evening.
The proposal concerns the guillotining of a Bill after a long discussion—
Deputies should address that question.
That is what I am doing, Sir. That is my concern. It is also a concern for you, Sir, as Ceann Comhairle, that there are only a few hours for Members to contribute to this measure. Many Members have already contributed to a Bill which is to be fundamentally changed. What way is that to treat the House and the Legislature?
There are always amendments.
The Bill is to be gutted and substantially changed. The Minister sponsoring the Bill described it as a core part of his policies. Individual maverick members of Fianna Fáil agree with the gang of four. However, notwithstanding that fact, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, who is sponsoring this Bill, stated that it is a core part of his reform measures. I am asking the Tánaiste not to proceed with the guillotining of this Bill, but to retable an amended Bill so a properly structured debate can begin anew.
The Green Party is opposed to the taking of No. 48 today, not just because the Minister is unwell, due, probably, to the whole debacle—
The Deputy should withdraw that remark.
—but also because the issue of local government reform is now without credibility. The Programme for Better Local Government also looks likely to be suspended. We need to know what, if anything, is left of the Government's reform of local government before we spend valuable time talking about something which has no basis in fact. That is a waste of the House's time. Does the Government propose to introduce a programme for unworkable local government to replace better local government, as that seems the only logical step?
Will the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Cuív, introduce it? He is the only one who could argue to go this way and that way.
The Tánaiste, without interruption.
The Minister for the Envir onment and Local Government indicated in a statement last night that he intends to bring an amendment before Government next week. That has not yet happened so the Government has not supported the making of an amendment to the Local Government Bill.
So much for Cabinet confidentiality.
The issues which Deputy Howlin wishes to debate will be more meaningfully discussed on Committee Stage. For weeks and months the Labour Party, in particular, has been screaming to get this Bill back into the House.
It is important that this Bill is enacted and clearly there will be an interesting debate on Committee Stage. We cannot move to that point until we complete Second Stage.
Is all Second Stage nullified?
It is not all nullified. Bills are frequently amended, otherwise this House would be a rubber stamp for Government Bills.
The Minister described this as a core part of his policies.
The Deputy should cease interrupting. The Tánaiste, without interruption.
In response to Deputy Sargent, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government is ill and I wish him a speedy recovery. It would be wrong to assume this has anything to do with these matters. It has nothing to do with them.
A Cheann Comhairle—
I must put the question.
Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Ardagh, Seán.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Coughlan, Mary.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.de Valera, Síle.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie. Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Lawlor, Liam.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.Martin, Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wright, G. V.
Barnes, Monica.Bell, Michael.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Hayes, Brian.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.
Howlin, Brendan.McCormack, Pádraic.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Sullivan, Jan.Perry, John.Rabbitte, Pat.Ring, Michael.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.
Is the proposal for dealing with questions today agreed to? Agreed. I now take leaders' questions.
Will the Tánaiste clarify what she earlier said about no Government decision having been taken on fundamental amendments to the Local Government Bill, 2000? Was she consulted about last night's statement and does she agree with it?
A report in this morning'sIrish Independent states that the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Dempsey, fought like a lion to hold on to a provision in his Bill. The outcome is more indicative of the fight of a pussy cat.
That is pitiful.
The Minister for the Environment and Local Government stated last night that he intends to bring an amendment to the Cabinet next week. It will recommend the aspect of the Local Government Bill, 2000, which would prevent a dual mandate for Deputies and local authority members is not proceeded with. I was aware he was to make that statement.
Before I ask a supplementary question, can I ask if the Tánaiste agrees with the statement?
I warn the Deputy that is not allowed.
I would like to see an end to the dual mandate. However, it was not a provision in the programme for Government. It was not sought by the Progressive Democrats in the programme for Government or in the revised programme for Government.
There are four Independent Deputies, with little or nothing to say here, dictating to the rest of the House.
Are we being asked to vote on Second Stage of the Local Government Bill, 2000, without the Government's mind being clear on it and before a Government decision has been taken? Is it possible the Government tried to con the four Fianna Fáil independents?
The Government's mind is clear on this matter.
It is a capitulation and the beginning of the end.
Why did the Deputy's party not do it?
We will do it after the next election.
Yesterday Mr. Justice Flood issued a communication to the Members of this House. The request laid before the House is of the utmost importance in ensuring public confidence in public administration. What is the attitude of the Government to that and will an amending order be brought before the House to accede to the request for additional members to add to the sole member of the Flood tribunal? When can we expect to see such proposals and will the Government consult opposition parties before making a final decision?
Will the Tánaiste confirm that the request by Mr. Justice Flood is unprecedented and, in the circumstances, that there should be consultation at the highest level between the parties on this matter? Can I take it the Government will be amenable to the request made by the distinguished judge? If so, when will an order be brought before the House?
Clearly the Government has not yet had the opportunity to discuss Mr. Justice Flood's letter but I can give the Deputy my opinion. We would be sympathetic to the request as we should be. Even if the judge gets the two extra members he requests in his correspondence to this House the tribunal will take two further years and if he does not it will take considerably longer.
It is in everybody's interest, particularly in the public interest, that the tribunal be brought to an end as quickly as possible. It is doing very good work but the burden of it is such that two further members are required. As the House knows the two further members do not have to be judges. While we have always appointed judges as chairpersons of tribunals, given the pressures on the judiciary it may well be that the new members will come from elsewhere. It is important that we respond to the request in a sympathetic and favourable fashion and the matter should be discussed with the other parties in this House.
Can the Tánaiste rephrase her response to my initial question? I do not think she meant to say the tribunal should be brought to an end as soon as possible. Rather it should be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. There are many who would like to bring it to an end but that might not be in the best interests of those who want to discover the full truth. In relation to the important answer she gave regarding additional members of the tribunal, it is likely this House will agree they need not necessarily be judges. The High Court could not spare two additional judges for that length of time. I ask that a commitment now be given to the House that, in considering any individual for membership of this tribunal, cross-party consultation would take place before a name is in the public domain.
Of course I meant a satisfactory conclusion and I was not suggesting that the tribunal be closed down. I thank the Deputy for drawing that to my attention in case there was any misunderstanding.
It would be right that the parties in opposition be consulted about the new members to be appointed as it is this House that established the tribunal. It can be taken that will happen.
That concludes leaders' questions and we now come to the other relevant questions on the Order of Business.
The Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Hanafin, gave misleading information to the House in reply to a Parliamentary Question. I do not suggest it was deliberate but in case she thinks—
Only relevant questions, relating to promised legislation, are permitted. Other matters cannot be raised.
I would like the record to be corrected. I have not gone away.
On the question of promised legislation, the Taoiseach indicated yesterday that an instrument would be brought forward to create an agency to support women in crisis pregnancies. Is it intended to lay that before the House and, if so, will that be done before the recess? Yesterday we passed the Health Estimates and there was no provision in those for funding such an agency. Fine Gael will facilitate a Supplementary Estimate to properly fund such an agency if the Minister will bring that instrument forward as soon as possible.
Funding has been provided for crisis pregnancy in this year's Estimates and the intention is to establish that agency this autumn. The matter will be discussed in the House.
Has the Attorney General advised the Government or has the Government sought his advice regarding the Women on Waves ship, which is due to dock in an Irish port today?
That is not a relevant question on the Order of Business.
It is relevant to many Irish people.
Not on the Order of Business.
Will the Tánaiste clarify two matters? First, regarding the amendment to the Local Government Bill, which the Minister for the Environment and Local Government proposes to bring to Government next Tuesday, will the Tánaiste clarify whether it is open to the Government not to accept that amendment? Second, can she clarify what we are to decide at 3.30 p.m.? Is the version of the Local Government Bill which will be decided upon at 3.30 p.m. the version of the Local Government Bill the Government intends to proceed with? Before 3.30 p.m. can we have the text of the amendment the Minister for the Environment and Local Government proposes to bring to Government next Tuesday?
I do not think it would be possible to have the text of the amendment the Minister intends to bring to Government before he brings that amendment to Government next Tuesday. Every Bill is amended in the House and frequently Government Ministers bring forward amendments to the House but that does not mean one withdraws the Bill on Second Stage. The Second Stage vote is a vote in principle on the broad thrust of the legislation while Committee Stage provides an opportunity to discuss all the details.
Every Member has equal status. As I understand it the four Independent Deputies have been aware of the amendment which the Minister proposes to bring to Government next Tuesday. Every Member should be put in possession of that information before we consider the Local Government Bill this evening.
It is procedurally important.
We are constitutionally entitled to that information. If some Members have been given that information in order to persuade them to vote for the Bill, then every Member is entitled to have that information. Four Members have been given information—
The Deputy cannot dwell on this any further.
—in order to influence their vote and every Member is entitled to the same information.
Hear, hear, as Deputy Treacy says.
I am not aware that any amendment has been drafted but the whole country is aware of the thrust of an amendment the Minister intends to bring forward.
We need to be fully informed. We should not fly blind.
Amendments are a matter for Committee Stage, not Second Stage.
We should not fly blind. What Bill are we voting on?
Amendments are a matter for Committee Stage.
Given the impending resignations as Ministers of Deputies Dempsey and Ó Cuív—
A relevant question.
I am interested in their welfare. When are we likely to see the Pensions Bill, given those resignations?
William Hague junior.
The Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs informs me that he hopes to have it published before the end of the session. It is too early to pension them off.
(Dublin West): When will legislation be brought to the Dáil to effect the shameful Government decision to sell yet another publicly owned asset, the Irish National Petroleum Corporation? It would also be helpful if the Tánaiste would clarify which Government policies are made in Cabinet and which in Kilgarvan.
That is not relevant to the Order of Business.
The privatisation of the INPC legislation will be before the House next week.
(Dublin West): Is it intended to conclude the Bill's passage before the summer recess? Is the Government that anxious to sell off our national assets?
The Tánaiste's party is responsible for housing policy. How can she stand over a situation where the Tenants Bill will be deferred? A bedsit in Dublin costs £100 per week and there are queues of 30 or 40 people looking for each. Standards are deplorable—
A question, please.
—and people can be put out at a week's notice. That legislation should be brought in to bring some sort of order into housing policy in the city. The Tánaiste's party controls that brief but she seems willing to allow it to slide.
The Minister of State, Deputy Molloy, was awaiting the outcome of the rent review and the legislation is being drafted. He hopes to bring the heads of the Bill to Government later this year.
I congratulate the Chair and the staff for greatly shortening the Order of Business since bringing in those changes. Is the mergers and monopolies legislation ready yet? The Tánaiste promised to distribute the scheme of the Bill before the end of last month but that has not been done or at least I do not have a copy of it.
What I said was it was distributed to Departments for observations and that is a fact. It will be after the summer before the legislation is published; it will be September or October before the Bill is published.
Is legislation required for the foundation of a new university in Kiltimagh? An announcement was made on RTE yesterday.
The Deputy could pursue that by way of parliamentary question.
It was announced on RTE yesterday but Waterford was first in line, going back nine years. The Progressive Democrats candidate in Waterford will not forgive the Tánaiste very easily if Kiltimagh gets a university and Waterford does not.
The Deputy should put down a parliamentary question.
We are shortly to embark on Second Stage of the European Convention on Human Rights Bill. As I indicated earlier, there was a promise given that some briefing would be provided to me in advance of Second Stage. Before we embark on it, will that briefing be provided?
The briefing will be provided after the conclusion of Second Stage.
That concludes the Order of Business.