Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 28 Oct 2004

Vol. 591 No. 2

Order of Business.

: It is proposed to take No. 3, Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill 2004 — Second Stage (resumed); and No. 4, Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' business shall be No. 33, motion re Tallaght West Childhood Development Initiative (resumed) to be taken immediately after the Order of Business and to conclude after 90 minutes.

In view of the Taoiseach's comments yesterday, will the Minister for Finance comment on the status of the Dublin metro Bill which is proposed to streamline and accelerate certain procedures for metro projects and reduce costs?

Yesterday, the Taoiseach said the Department of Health and Children was committed to the preparation of new legislation to update and clarify the legal framework for eligibility and entitlement in the health services. There is no sign of such a proposal on the Government's legislative programme despite the Taoiseach's contention that it is being prepared in the Department. What is the status of the legislation?

I was not in the House yesterday and cannot comment. My understanding is that the Taoiseach stated the advice of the Attorney General was being sought on certain matters that had arisen recently. We must wait for the outcome of that advice.

I understand the first Bill referred to is scheduled for next year and can say no more about it at the moment.

Will the Minister for Finance speak to the House about the progress of the Northern Ireland talks and state whether the impression that matters are stalled and the anticipated breakthrough is unlikely to happen is correct? Can the Minister make Government time available for a debate or, at least, a Government statement?

I will leave the matter of a statement for the Taoiseach to respond to if asked. The scheduling of a debate is a matter for the Whips.

Yesterday, I made a request to adjourn the House under Standing Order 31 to discuss the state of readiness of the emergency services to deal with the flooding problems that were about to occur. Now that they have——

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

If you let me finish, Ceann Comhairle, I wish to ask about legislation pertinent to this matter. I mentioned it yesterday. In this city——

I do not intend to hear the Deputy on this matter. There is a submission for a Private Notice Question on this matter and if I am to consider it for that, I will not have a debate on it now.

The legislation to which I refer is the building control Bill to stop builders flooding this city.

The Bill concerned seeks to amend and strengthen the powers of local building control authorities under the Building Control Act 1990 and to provide for the registration of the titles of architect, building surveyor and quantity surveyor. The heads of the Bill were approved by Government and it is expected it will be published in the middle of next year.

It is appropriate the Minister for Finance is taking the Order of Business. When this country voted for the Nice treaty we did not, following enlargement, put up any barriers to the inward migration of workers from the new accession states. Given that circumstance, when will the Government legislate to ensure trade union rights and wages will not be undermined by yellow-packing, so to speak, by companies employing new accession state workers?

Has legislation been promised?

In particular, Irish Shipping proposes to de-man its crew. This is a serious matter. Perhaps the Minister will discuss the matter with his colleagues with a view to introducing legislation on it.

I am not aware that specific legislation in this area was promised. I suggest that the central review committee, under the social partnership, would be the appropriate forum to discuss any issues that might arise in that regard.

In light of the death of a 72 year old man who lived 500 yards from Monaghan General Hospital, will the Minister and Government provide time for a debate on the disgraceful state of accident and emergency services?

Unless a debate has already been promised, the matter is one for the Whips.

When will Second Stage of the health and social care professionals Bill be taken?

It is proposed to publish and debate a health Bill before Christmas, at which time Members will have an opportunity to raise any issues they wish under that heading.

Given the reported serious illness of Yasser Arafat, will the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Government contact the Israeli Government to ensure it gives a guarantee of safe passage to medical treatment?

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business.

It is an urgent matter.

It is a pressing matter.

I hope they do not send Yasser Arafat to Monaghan General Hospital.

Two years ago, the Ombudsman directed the Minister for Finance and his Department to pay arrears of blind welfare allowance to people in receipt of pensions. The Department of Health and Children agreed the money was owed.

The Deputy must ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business.

Will the Minister provide the money this year to enable these people to be paid?

The matter does not arise now.

This matter has been ongoing for two years. Would any other section of society have to wait two years to have arrears due to them paid? The health boards and Ombudsman agree these people are due that money.

I call Deputy Finian McGrath.

I would like an answer to my question. These people are disadvantaged and are entitled to their money.

A question to the line Minister would be more appropriate.

The Ombudsman has said they are entitled to the money. If the Ceann Comhairle were due this money, he would not wait for it.

Deputy Ring should resume his seat. He is being disorderly.

These people should get their money.

I assure Deputy Ring that the Independents are alive and well.

The problem is that they are not independent.

Alive but not independent.

The Deputy must ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business.

Deputy Ring knows well that there are plenty of Independents on this side of the House.

The Deputy is welcome to join my party.

Deputy Ring should join the Independents. We are recruiting at present.

When will this House commence a debate on the Disability Bill given 3,000 people with intellectual disability await respite care, day care and residential care?

I was proud to be a Minister when funding in that area was increased to €80 million over a three-year period, given that at that time only €1 million was provided for all emergencies. This Government has done more than any other in that area. However, more needs to be done. The Disability Bill will be debated next week.

What is the position regarding the strategic national infrastructure Bill to deal with fast-tracking major national infrastructure projects? Is that legislation in the slow lane given it has not yet come before the House? Is there a division in the Cabinet on the matter? Is the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, slowing things up?

The strategic national infrastructure Bill will provide for a streamlined development and consent procedure for infrastructural projects of strategic national importance. The draft heads of that Bill are being considered before re-submission to Government next year.

More redirection.

The Minister for Finance said that the Dublin metro Bill is scheduled for next year. Does he believe that Bill will come before the House next year?

That question has already been answered. I call Deputy Durkan.

If this process is to have any meaning, we cannot have the Minister just——

We cannot have repetition on the Order of Business.

It is Members on the Government side who are repeating themselves.

On promised legislation, what is the position of the geological survey of Ireland Bill? Have the heads of that Bill been agreed or discussed by Cabinet? If not, when will they be discussed? Given that previous legislation dealing with this matter was passed in 1845, how long more will it be before that Bill comes to the House?

The year 1845 was a bad one.

No, it was not a particularly good year. However, I am sure the Minister will be more than anxious to update the House on this urgent issue.

The Deputy's party was in office at that time.

Similar to 1845, we have other priorities now.

Notwithstanding those priorities and in the context of promised legislation, what is the precise timescale for the Bill's introduction to the House?

It is not possible to indicate a timescale at this point. However, the dig will continue.

In those circumstances, I believe the Cabinet should hold an emergency meeting to discuss what has happened since 1845 because, given the rate of progress, it could be a long time before that Bill comes to the House.

The last time there was an emergency meeting, a different Administration was in office.

According to reports, there have also been a number of such meetings in the current Administration.

Will the Government provide time to debate the issue of decentralisation? The Minister's colleagues were fairly flaithiúlach with money in the debate last night. Decentralisation will cost a great deal of money and this House should debate that issue.

The matter does not arise on the Order of Business.

The Minister should know something about the matter because his colleagues had a great deal of money to spend last night.