It is proposed to take No. 12, Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2002 [Seanad] – Financial Resolution; No. 13 Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2002 [Seanad] – instruction to committee; No. 16, statements on Northern Ireland; No. 17, Broadcasting (Major Events Television Coverage) (Amendment) Bill 2003 [Seanad] – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; and No. 18, Local Government Bill 2003 [Seanad] – Second Stage, resumed. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m. Nos. 12 and 13 shall be decided without debate. The proceedings on No. 16 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements of the Taoiseach and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case, members may share time and the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes. Private Notice Questions shall be taken immediately following the conclusion of No. 16. Private Members' Business shall be No. 32, motion re cancer support services, which shall be taken for 90 minutes on the conclusion of Private Notice Questions. Report and Final Stages of No. 17 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. 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 Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.
Order of Business.
Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed?
I wish to discuss Nos. 12 and 13.
We will come to them next. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 12 and 13 without debate agreed?
I have raised matters such as this a number of times previously. We do not appear to receive information about the nature of these matters. What is the financial resolution from the Seanad and what is the instruction to the committee from the Seanad in respect of the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill?
The motions are contingent on major changes to the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill which will be discussed on Committee Stage tomorrow. It is regrettable that a major new licensing system for fishing boats that is to be introduced was not part of the Bill we discussed on Second Stage. It is not good practice. If there is a major proposal, we should discuss it as part of the Bill on Second Stage.
A Cheann Comhairle—
Only one Member from each party may speak on the issue.
I apologise that details of the resolution were not given. The financial resolution requires provision to be made in the Act giving effect to this resolution for the charging in accordance with the Act of certain sea fishing licence application, licence and other fees and of foreshore application and other fees. The motion concerning the instruction to the committee about the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill is being moved to extend the scope of the Bill to provide for the charging of fees for certain licences and applications. I can provide more substantive briefing notes if they are necessary.
Is the proposal agreed?
I do not wish to be disruptive, merely to make the point that the committee members are being given a briefing in committee on substantial changes and are then being asked to take Committee Stage directly afterwards without the opportunity to table amendments. That is not a good way to do business.
Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 16, statements on Northern Ireland, agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the Private Notice Question agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' Business agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 17, Broadcasting (Major Events Television Coverage) (Amendment) Bill 2003: Report and Final Stages, agreed?
It should be noted that this is yet another of the many unnecessary guillotines we have seen. While we will not call a division on the matter, we wish to record our opposition to the use of the guillotine.
It could be deemed to be sharp practice.
It is well oiled.
Is the proposal for dealing with No. 17 agreed? Agreed.
I heard some comments from the Progressive Democrats conference over the weekend. The Tánaiste appeared to be taken up with the issue of competitiveness. It is just a year since the Motor Insurance Advisory Board reported and made its recommendations. We have slipped from fifth in the world in competitiveness in 1996 to 24th. Business is being hit by a range of extra charges and obstacles. One of these is insurance. In light of the Tánaiste's comments, will the Taoiseach expedite the personal injuries assessment board Bill? When will we see that legislation before the House?
The heads of that Bill should be published after Easter for consultation. It is necessary that it be made available in that form so that people can comment on it. It will be available after Easter.
Another ten years.
That measure was ready to go on a pilot basis in May 1997. Is the legislation to establish the minor reform of the personal injuries assessment board the only legislative measure the Government will bring forward to deal with the crisis in the insurance industry?
Is other legislation promised?
There are at least two other Bills. There will be legislation in the justice area to deal with fraudulent claims and in the transport area to deal with the road safety issues that surround this. I hope the personal injuries assessment board legislation will be progressed quickly. I understand it will be published later this year.
When the Taoiseach goes to meet other European Union leaders, he may well be asked about the International Criminal Court Bill given the atrocities in Iraq. What answer will he give to other EU leaders as to when the Bill might be published? Will he ask them to talk to the Bush Administration in America about its involvement with the criminal court?
The content of the Bill cannot be discussed.
The legislation is a priority listing for the next session.
In respect of the Government's anti-inflation legislation, will there be legislation to deal with prices and mark-ups. Food prices in shops are rising by 4% and at factory and farm gates they are falling by 5%.
We cannot discuss the possible content of legislation.
The context is important for the Taoiseach to assess the urgency.
Of course it is, but the Deputy will have to find another way of raising it.
A Cheann Comhairle, you must allow some fair play to Members who wish to raise points.
The Chair will allow fair play and that is the reason I cannot allow the Deputy preference over other Members.
There is a long established and clear precedent in the House for giving the context of requests for the early production of legislation. If the Taoiseach does not believe the rip-off of consumers—
Deputy Bruton, you are out of order.
—in the shops is not important, I would like to know what the Government has to say.
The Deputy should submit a question to the appropriate Minister.
The Taoiseach wants to answer.
I call Deputy Gilmore.
Is there legislation? The Government has not indicated?
Is legislation promised?
Yes, it should be.
There is no answer.
I understand the Government has decided to break up Dúchas, the national heritage service. Under which of the two promised heritage Bills is it intended to bring that measure before the House? Is it intended to come under the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Powers and Functions) Bill or under the National Monuments Bill or is it intended to introduce separate legislation to give effect to the extraordinary decision by the Government to break up Dúchas?
The Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Cullen, has just made an announcement on this. Deputies should table or ask a question in one of the ways they can whereby he can make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach does not know.
It was cleared at Cabinet today and the Minister would be glad to make a statement on it.
I call Deputy Ó Caoláin.
My question related to legislation. This should not be a difficult question for the Taoiseach to answer. If a decision was made today, he ought to be able to remember under which Bill this will be brought in. In which of the two promised Bills on heritage—
The Deputy has made his point.
—is this to be included?
To the best of my knowledge, but I may be incorrect, I understand the Minister does not need to introduce it under either of these Bills. He can do this on an administrative basis.
Maybe I am wrong.
The Minister cannot do so. It would be a breach of principle.
We cannot have a debate on the issue. I call Deputy Ó Caoláin.
No. 62 on the list of promised legislation is the Redundancy (Payments) Bill to update legislation as agreed by the redundancy review group. Is it correct that this Bill will be published in the next few days? Will it be introduced through the Seanad or the Dáil? Will it be prioritised in the schedule of legislation the Government intends to press as it is sorely needed by workers who are—
The Deputy has made his point.
—being given derisory redundancy rates?
Will it be retrospective?
On the same issue—
There cannot be another question on the same issue because it concerns legislation. We will hear the Taoiseach.
The legislation is a priority and will be published this month and must be enacted before June.
When will the Government announce the decentralisation of Departments?
That was dealt with in a question to the Minister for Finance last week. It does not arise at this stage.
The Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, wants it, as does the Tánaiste. She told me that it would be—
Has the Deputy another question appropriate to the Order of Business?
What could be more appropriate?
This is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
It has been announced several times but there is a row within the Cabinet. They do not know where to send Departments to. I assume if the Progressive Democrats want decentralisation, they will get it. They are punching above their weight.
The Deputy has made his point. If he has a question on legislation I will call him again.
I have a second question—
I will hear the Deputy's question, but not now.
I hope I will be more successful with my second question.
There is an ongoing dispute between the agricultural officers in the Department of Agriculture and Food. Its consequences are very serious for the farming community but now also for the consumer. Are there any plans to intervene to negotiate a settlement in this dispute?
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
In regard to the proposed break-up of Dúchas, does the Taoiseach intend to kill it off altogether?
That does not arise on the Order of Business. Deputy Crawford.
When will the Taoiseach or the Minister for the Environment and Local Government introduce the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Powers and Functions) Bill? Is the Taoiseach pushing this legislation forward to dilute the functions of the National Monuments Bill, which is already in place?
I will allow a comment on when the Bill is to come before the House, not on what it might contain.
The powers and functions Bill is to clarify the extent of the Minister's powers and functions in relation to by-laws and regulations relating to properties in the care or ownership of the Minister. The heads of that Bill have been approved and legislation is being drafted but it is unlikely to be available until next year.
Will there be anything left for Dúchas when the Taoiseach is finished with it?
In light of the closure of Lissadell Towels, the Redundancy (Payments) Bill is extremely important. The Taoiseach promised that—
A question has already been asked on that Bill by Deputy Ó Caoláin.
In light of the fact that farmers are not getting paid now, is there any chance that the charities Bill will be brought before the House?
The Bill will not be circulated until next year.
Today's Order Paper refers to the Vote for the Department of Health and Children. In view of the report in today's paper that 1,600 jobs are to go in the health service, will the Taoiseach clarify for those of us who are numerically challenged if these jobs are in addition to the jobs lost at the time of the budget—
We cannot discuss the content of the Estimate here. We can only discuss when it will come before the House.
I think the question is appropriate to the 1,600 people who will lose their jobs.
The Estimate will come before the committee in the normal way but it will not be until after Easter.
For over two months, I have asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to supply information on the number of community gardaí allocated to police stations in the Dublin area. Will the Garda inspectorate Bill, the crimes Bill or any justice legislation give the public the right to know? Will the Minister answer my legitimate question about the number of community gardaí—
Deputy Burton, I would like to point out that if your question relates to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, you should submit a question to him.
The public wants to know.
The Taoiseach will answer a question on promised legislation.
Will the information I seek be included in the legislation?
Report Stage of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2002 will be taken tomorrow.
Following the new partnership deal, Sustaining Progress, the Government promised to legislate for the new redundancy package that was agreed. Will that legislation come before the House before the summer?
That question on the redundancy legislation has already been asked by Deputy Ó Caoláin.
The answer is "Yes".
The Government listed 17 Bills as priority Bills in the general legislative programme presented to the Members on 27 January. To date, nine of those Bills have not yet been published, which is more than half of them. Is it the Government's intention that all 17 Bills will be published by the end of this session?
A number of Bills are to be published during April. I cannot confirm that this will include all 17 priority Bills but I will check it for the Deputy if he wishes. Most of them will be published.
In light of the continuing concern among trade unions in the construction industry about deaths and accidents on building sites and the conflicting views of different Ministers on the Government's intention regarding a corporate manslaughter Bill, does the Government intend to proceed to introduce such a Bill?
Is legislation promised?
No legislation is listed at this stage.
It was announced by a Minister of State.
Given that we are speaking about the building industry, are there signs of subsid ence in respect of the building control Bill, which has been promised many times? The delay is causing severe concern outside the House.
The Bill is due in the middle of this year.
Some 31 Bills pertaining to justice, equality and law reform are either promised or are before the House on various Stages. Is it proposed that the House will sit on Christmas Day? At the present rate of progress, it will be at least Christmas Day 2005 before even a rudimentary examination of the Bills in question will have been carried out.
When I last asked about the International Criminal Court Bill, which is necessary following the constitutional referendum of 2001, I was told by the Taoiseach that it was on its fourth draft. Does the Taoiseach anticipate further drafts? When will the legislation come before the House?
I answered that question a short time ago. The Bill is to be published over the next few weeks.
Given the continuing difficulties associated with accidents on sites and that there were indications at conferences over the weekend that the Progressive Democrats are punching above their weight and that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is getting giddy—
The Deputy should ask a question on the Order of Business. We want to move on.
When will the safety and health in the workplace Bill be introduced?
When the honey runs dry, the bees—
The Bill is due this summer. The heads have been approved at the Government meeting in the past week or so.
When the recommendations on the health services are made, which are due to be presented, will legislation be needed to implement any proposal?
That is not relevant to promised legislation.
Where was the Minister for Agriculture and Food since the dispute started at the DVO offices around the country?
The Deputy is being disorderly. Unless he has a question appropriate to the Order of Business—
He is the only one that could not be found for the past fortnight.
I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. If he has a question on legislation he may ask it.
What will the Government do about it and will the issue drag on for months? Is the Minister aware of the havoc that this problem is creating for farmers? It is all right for Deputy McDowell to smile. He has nothing to do with it.
He has an opinion on it.
Deputy Parlon is our only hope.
I cannot hear the Ceann Comhairle.
Allow the Deputy to speak, without interruption.
When will we see the veterinary medicines Bill? Has the Taoiseach any concerns that food safety might be compromised by the current failure of the Minister for Agriculture and Food to ensure that the necessary paperwork with regard to the slaughtering of animals is being processed due to the ongoing dispute? I am concerned about food safety.
The heads of the veterinary medicines Bill, which is to update existing legislation regarding the veterinary profession and related activities, have been approved quite some time ago. The Bill is currently being drafted and will hopefully be circulated by the middle of the year.
Does the Taoiseach have any concern about food safety?
Is there legislation promised, Taoiseach?
I do not think there is any particular legislation promised. There is already legislation on the Statute Book.
What about the failure of the Minister for Agriculture and Food to—
Please allow Deputy Broughan to speak without interruption.
It was the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who asked his party to be radical or redundant. Given the chaos on our streets and the upsurge in joyriding, is it not time that he was made redundant?
The Minister, Deputy Parlon, might take him on.
He will get two weeks per year of service under the new Act.
In view of the fact that Leinster rugby fans will be charged €45 for a prime rugby ticket while fans in Toulouse will be charged €18 for similar tickets, when will we see the ticket touts Bill?
There is no legislation promised.
It was promised.