Ceisteanna — Questions

Ministerial Appointments

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

1 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the appointments made by him since May 2008 to the State boards or other agencies under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30235/10]

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

2 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if he will list the appointments made by him to State boards or agencies since his election as Taoiseach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35868/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.

The information requested by the Deputies relating to appointments made by me to State boards and agencies since May 2008 is contained in a schedule that I propose to circulate with the Official Report.

In respect of the National Economic and Social Development Office, on 1 April 2010 an order was made under section 34 of the National Economic and Social Development Office Act 2006, which dissolved the National Economic and Social Forum and the National Centre for Partnership and Performance. These bodies have now been absorbed into the National Economic and Social Council.

Ireland Newfoundland Partnership

Appointment

Occupation / Organisation

Date of Appointment

Deputy Billy Kelleher as Chairman of the INP Board

Minister of State Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

June 2009

National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

Appointment

Occupation / Organisation

Date of Appointment

Siobhan Masterson

Senior Policy Executive Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC)

March 2009

Edmond Connolly

Chief Executive Officer Macra na Feirme

March 2009

Tom Parlon

Director General Construction Industry Federation (CIF)

March 2009

Oisin Coghlan

Director Friends of the Earth

May 2009

Pat Smith

General Secretary Irish Farmers Association (IFA)

June 2009

Tony Donohoe

Head of Social and Education Policy Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC)

January 2010

Kevin Cardiff

Secretary General Department of Finance

February 2010

National Economic and Social Forum (NESF)

Appointment

Occupation / Organisation

Date of Appointment

Senator Maria Corrigan Deputy John Curran

Seanad Éireann

September 2008

National Centre for Partnership and Performance

Appointment

Occupation / Organisation

Date of Appointment

Brendan Duffy

Assistant Secretary Department of Finance

10 July 2008

Dermot Curran

Assistant Secretary Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

10 July 2008

Mary Connaughton

Head of Human Resources Development Irish Builders and Employers’ Confederation (IBEC)

10 July 2008

National Statistics Board (NSB)

Appointment

Occupation / Organisation

Date of Appointment

Dr. Patricia O’Hara

Chairperson National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA)

Appointed March, 2009; reappointed October 2010

Professor Philip Lane

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Appointed March, 2009; reappointed October 2010

Mr. Fergal O’Brien

Irish Builders and Employer’s Confederation (IBEC)

Appointed October, 2009; reappointed October 2010

Mr. Paul Sweeney

Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)

Reappointed October 2010

Mr. Ciaran Dolan

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA)

Appointed October, 2010

Mr. Michael J. McGrath

Department of Finance

Reappointed October, 2010

Mr. Gerry O’Hanlon

Director General Central Statistics Office (CSO)

Reappointed October, 2010

This question relates to appointments made by the Taoiseach to State boards or other agencies. The Green Party, however, has taken this practice to a new level with the appointment of persons associated with them, party members or those who have lost their seats, to the Private Residential Tenancies Board, the Disability Authority, An Foras Orgánach, the Film Classification Office and the National Transport Authority. These appointments were made in keeping with the sentiment of the previous Taoiseach that appointments were made on the basis of friendship rather than merit.

The former Taoiseach and the Taoiseach have made the point that it is difficult to get people to serve on State boards. I make the general observation that in the case of one appointment to the board of the national children's hospital, when the former chairman brought issues that were of concern to him to the attention of the Minister, he was asked to resign on the basis that the board was not authorised to look at those issues. It is increasingly difficult to get good people to serve on State boards when situations like this might arise. Would the Taoiseach comment on that? The best people who want to serve on these boards are getting a message that does not augur well if we want people of quality to offer public service.

Specific inquiries about appointments were not contemplated. This is a catch-all question.

I knew the Ceann Comhairle would say that and I addressed it in the first part of my supplementary.

Yes but it is unreasonable to expect the Taoiseach to have answers ready for specific inquiries about particular appointments or resignations.

It is a valid question about service to the State.

There are many good people available for public service. I do not accept the quality of people has deteriorated, it has improved and more people are making themselves available for service. If we are appointing people to State boards they must do their job to the best of their ability but I do not accept that it is difficult to find people who will do public service, that is not my impression.

It might not be the Taiseach's impression but there is now a situation where a person of considerable status accepted a difficult position and while doing the job to the best of his ability, he brought issues of concern to the notice of his Minister and was subsequently asked to resign.

The Deputy must pursue this through a different channel.

What message does that send out to other people of status, integrity and ability who might want to assist the State by giving of their experience to a State board? If they bring issues of concern to the Minister involved, they may be asked to resign. That is not the message we want to send out.

I do not want to go through the list of our absent friends from the House, but it is incredible and was done strictly on the basis of party political membership or friendship, as distinct from any ability the people involved might have. The Government must address this. Fine Gael proposed that for people to be appointed to the more important State boards, they should appear before the relevant Oireachtas committee to indicate their ability to fill the post.

Fine Gael will introduce this proposition in Government so that people can state in public their qualifications and what it is they have to offer State boards as distinct from how the Taoiseach's predecessor did it, appointing people on the basis of friendship. I am concerned by the message sent out when a chairman of a board who brings to the notice of his Minister issues of serious concern about value for money, waste and so on is asked to resign as a consequence.

I do not think that is a proper characterisation of that particular situation. I do not want to go over it again; it is not within the remit of the questions. I was asked what were my appointments under my Department and I have set out that information. The purpose of parliamentary questions is to obtain information.

The situation clearly is that there was a remit as far as the Minister was concerned regarding the building of a hospital on a site. As I understand it, the former chairman subsequently looked at another site. That was outside the remit of the board. If there is a difference of opinion like that, what happens is the person resigns and another appointment is made. It does not take away from the board.

He was asked to resign.

From time to time, that can occur where there is a difference of opinion, but the purpose of the board is to implement Government policy. Government policy is to proceed with the building of a hospital on that site as a result of a lot of independent reports that were conducted and is in line with world trends where paediatric hospitals are built on the same sites as or adjacent to adult hospitals.

Some of those trends have been found to be incorrect.

Twenty-four of the last 25 that have been built worldwide have been that way.

There is €600 million involved.

As I said yesterday to Deputy Gilmore, the funding arrangements are the same now as they were when the project was first announced. There is no change in that.

Except the Government is spending €100 million digging a hole for a carpark.

I am sorry, but I will not get into it. If Deputy Kenny has a line question for the Minister for Health and Children for further detail, that is the place to put it.

She never answers questions.

Of course she answers questions. She answers any question that is put to her.

We wait six weeks for answers from the dysfunctional HSE.

Either we are going to have a serious discussion or we are not.

The revised programme for Government, which was published last year, states by way of a Government commitment:

We will introduce on a legislative basis a more open and transparent system for appointments to public bodies. The legislation will outline a procedure for the publication of all vacancies likely to occur, invite applications from the general public and from the responses. . .

I advise the Deputy that this is Question Time.

I am only reading from my notes. To continue, it states:

. . .create a panel of suitable persons for consideration of appointment. The legislation will also specify numbers of persons to be appointed by a Minister. . .

The Labour Party would be inclined to support such legislation were it introduced in the House by the Government. I have been looking through the legislative programme, which contains 91 Bills, but I cannot see this legislation anywhere on the programme. At what stage of preparation is the legislation and when are we likely to see it? If it is in the programme for Government, I presume this approach to the making of public appointments is Government policy. Why is the Government not implementing such an arrangement?

The period between the dissolution of a Dáil and the formation of a subsequent Government has tended to be a busy time for the appointment of people to State bodies.

I recall the fall of Deputy Gilmore's Government.

Will the Taoiseach give a commitment that no appointments will be made to State bodies after the Dáil is dissolved until the formation of a new Government?

The only commitment I would like to give Deputy Gilmore in that regard is that we will certainly not repeat something that happened on the demise of a Government in which he was a Minister of State. It purported to appoint people to health boards on dates when I was the Minister for Health and Children. We had a situation in which there was an effort made by an outgoing Government to appoint people to——

The Government has plenty practice of doing that.

——health boards in respect of vacancies which——

There is no chance of that happening again. The health boards are gone.

It is an interesting principle.

It has never been proven.

They were approved by a Government of which Deputy Gilmore was a member.

That is irrelevant. The Taoiseach should look to his own Government. Will he answer?

I will of course.

He has had plenty of time.

I am answering. I can give the commitment that that will certainly not happen.

The Government will not appoint anyone to any board.

No. An effort will be made——

The Government will not appoint any more people. Is that a promise?

I had to listen in silence.

Deputies, unless we can have some order in the House, the speaker cannot be heard.

Do they not hate this stuff?

I hate it, too.

Deputy Gilmore did it. He was a member of a Government that approved appointments to boards in respect of vacancies that arose during the time of a subsequent Government.

That was as good a trick as I ever came across. Members of Deputy Gilmore's party took up or sought to take up positions on that basis.

The current Government is the one that will be making the appointments.

Those members threatened legal proceedings afterwards in public commentary, that they would go to the highest court in the land to protect their reputations.

The Taoiseach is making me cry.

I never got a civil bill about it, but it was an interesting bit of bluster that went on at the time from members of Deputy Gilmore's party——

That is something with which Government Members are familiar.

——or the party of which he was about to become a member, to go back over his school day recollections just to make sure we got it right.

The Taoiseach can get it right the next time.

The point is that vacancies arise and need to be filled. The continuity of boards requires it. The one commitment I will give unequivocally is that I will not try that trick.

That leaves a wide scope. The Government often did it.

Let us try the questions again. First, what has happened to the legislation promised in the programme for Government? Has it been dropped entirely? Will there be legislation on public appointments? Second, why is the Government not implementing this policy if it is Government policy? Third, I asked for a commitment from the Taoiseach that no appointments of any kind would be made from the date on which the Dáil dissolves until the election of a new Government.

Regarding the first matter, I am sorry for getting distracted for a moment.

It was not for the first time.

The Taoiseach is easily distracted.

I just wanted to put it on the record because I know it was important. There is only so much mock indignation one can take. Regarding the first point, these are commitments in the programme for Government and must be progressed during the tenure of the Government. I am sure that will be done. Second, it would constitute Government policy to implement that legislation. It is a commitment in the programme. Third, regarding vacancies that arise during the tenures of Governments, I would expect them to be dealt with in the appropriate way, where people with the requisite qualifications would be appointed. If Deputy Gilmore has any specific issue in mind, such as I recalled in the case I have just mentioned, I will take it up.

A final, short supplemental question. I have a number of other people offering.

The Taoiseach stated the legislation was being progressed. Which Minister has responsibility for introducing the legislation to the House?

It is a matter of course, since it is a commitment in the programme for Government. The matter will be progressed.

"Will be". I cannot give the Deputy the details about where it is at, but I can come back to him on the matter.

Which Minister has responsibility?

I would have to check for the Deputy, but I would presume it is the Minister for Finance or the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

It is more than two years since the abuses among executives and board members of FÁS were exposed, yet the same appointments regime is in place despite repeated calls by this Deputy and others over many years for a system to which Deputy Gilmore has referred in the context of the new revised programme for Government, which comes under the heading "Enhancing Our Democracy and Public Services". That is exactly the set of arguments I had been putting year on year, so I welcome its inclusion. Apart from the points already alluded to, it also indicates appropriate appointments via Oireachtas committees. Committees would have the potential to nominate to a panel for consideration for appointment to various boards, which is something I would also welcome.

The critical point is the drafting of the promised legislation. The Taoiseach is very vague and uncertain this morning. Has he any idea whether the drafting of that Bill has even commenced? Is it only an aspiration in the revised programme or is it a serious intent? In general, appointments to boards happen in groupings at different times. Can we be certain that before the next tranche of appointments is proceeded with this legislation will be in place and we will be able to access the best, most available and willing among our citizenry to offer of their services to State boards into the future? That is the critical point. Is the legislation being drafted in order that it can be passed through the Houses, where the Taoiseach can anticipate little, if any, opposition? That will depend on the detail but concerning the principle I indicate my support and I expect the other Opposition voices will do likewise. Would the Taoiseach be prepared to ensure the legislation is in situ before a further tranche of appointees to State boards is made?

As I said, these questions relate to appointments I have made to agencies or boards under my own aegis and I provided that information. I am now being asked about the position of particular legislation. If a question has been drafted I can deal with it. However, regardless of the drafting of a question, when supplementary questions are raised I will get the information and forward it to the Deputies asking the questions.

This is not a national issue. Approximately €350 million is paid out in allowances to private landlords or their tenants. I understand that last year the Government decided to transfer responsibility from the HSE to the Department of Social Protection in respect of this payment but this is being held up by an industrial dispute internal to the Department.

I do not believe this matter is contemplated in this group of questions.

It is about legislation. If the Ceann Comhairle bears with me, every Member in the House will be interested and I shall take only 20 seconds.

When that transfer is made will the Taoiseach legislate to ensure that the code of behaviour which applies to the behaviour of tenants will apply also to this scheme? There is a code of behaviour that applies to local authority tenants but not to the tenants of private landlords who receive public moneys. Will the Taoiseach legislate to correct that?

The Deputy should table a parliamentary question to the line Minister.

I did so but did not receive a proper answer. Why does the Ceann Comhairle think I am asking the question?

I understand a review of the residential tenancies board is taking place to which I believe that situation applies. A review of relevant legislation may be able to accommodate the amendment the Deputy suggests, if it is required.

What is expected of appointees to State boards? In the event of an appointed member having a strong opinion that a procedure is not in the interest of the public or of taxpayers, what is expected? Is the person expected to resign or is he or she fired? Is there a standard procedure in those circumstances?

If there is a person on a board who is not happy with Government policy he or she has the option to resign from the board and a replacement can be found. The purpose, as is usual in this instance, is to implement the policy of the Government and if, for any reason, good, bad or indifferent, a person has a different point of view he or she has that option. The option is not such that where persons find themselves in opposition the Government is expected to change the policy to accommodate them.

I have a quick supplementary question.

It must be very quick.

This is fundamental to the question of appointments. I will be very brief. On the appointment of a chairman or a board member, is it made clear to the appointees that they must adhere at all times to Government policy, regardless?

In regard to agencies and boards appointed there is a relationship with the line Department which usually sets the overall policy framework. The operational responsibilities of providing the service, if that is what the agency does, or of the making of commercial decisions in a commercial semi-State body, for example, are made by the actual company. If there are major strategic issues they wish to address these are addressed by the board and the chairman of the board will inform the Minister accordingly and presumably ensure that anything being contemplated would be broadly in line with overall Government objectives. That is the slight difference between such a company and a private company.

The shenanigans, as I term them, at FÁS were referred to. Earlier this year I asked the Taoiseach whether any progress was being made on the request from the Committee of Public Accounts to strengthen its role by looking at the situation vis-à-vis the Data Protection Act.

The Deputy is broadening the range of the two questions.

Every other Member has had a question answered. Why is the Ceann Comhairle picking on me?

I know but it is inappropriate.

My question is reasonable. We asked the Government——

It must be asked at a reasonable time by submitting a parliamentary question to the line Minister. It might be more appropriate.

They do not answer.

There are many other delays, a Cheann Comhairle. I am merely asking a reasonable question that I believe to be relevant.

Code of Conduct for Officeholders

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

3 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach his plans to amend the code of conduct for officeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30237/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

4 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach his plans to amend the code of conduct for officeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32341/10]

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

5 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach his plans to amend the code of vonduct for officeholders; if he is satisfied with the operation of the code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35869/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, together.

The code of conduct for officeholders was drawn up by the Government pursuant to section 10(2) of the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001, following consultation with the Standards in Public Office Commission, and was published in July 2003. A review of the code and its operation will be carried out, in consultation with the Standards in Public Office Commission, after the Ethics in Public Office (Amendment) Bill 2007 has been enacted.

I call on An Teachta Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

Question No. 3 was mine.

Tá go maith. I will take them in order.

The microphone is now switched on. I note the Taoiseach's predecessor appeared in a television advertisement in which he appeared to be sitting in a cupboard, publicising his——

Just a moment.

It refers to the code of conduct.

This is about Deputy Bertie Ahern publicising his career as a football commentator. I remember standing in Mount Street on the night — the Taoiseach probably remembers it too — Desmond O'Malley was expelled from the Fianna Fáil Party for what was termed "conduct unbecoming". This is a person who was given the honour and esteem of——

There are times for that line but not now.

Hold on, a Cheann Comhairle. The person I am referring to was elected as the Taoiseach of this country on three occasions, an honour that is almost unique. He is still in receipt of public moneys for his service as a public representative. Does the Taoiseach believe, in respect of the code of conduct for current and former officeholders, that to have this apparition on the national television screens in what appeared to be a cupboard is conduct becoming? Did Deputy Bertie Ahern consult with the Taoiseach before he did something like this? It brings the Taoiseach's office into disrepute.

The Deputy knows this matter does not fall under the general heading under consideration. There are other ways, if the Deputy wishes to pursue the matter but perhaps not——

Does the Taoiseach plan to amend the code of conduct for officeholders and will he make a statement on the matter? The former Taoiseach is in receipt of privileges, as a former officeholder. This is not conduct becoming for somebody who has held that service and I wish to hear the Taoiseach's view on it.

Taoiseach, this is not really appropriate.

Come on. It is a question.

Is the Ceann Comhairle ruling it out?

We are talking about the code of conduct for officeholders.

The former Taoiseach is not a current officeholder.

Can he do anything he likes? Can he stand on his head?

I am sure the Taoiseach, Deputy Cowen, has views on this although he might not wish to express them in the Chamber. I have asked the question but it appears he does not wish to answer it.

The Cabinet handbook 2007 states that applications for the use of ministerial air transport should be submitted to the Taoiseach in respect of every mission, to include destination, route, timing, passenger details and purpose of travel. The justifying need to use the service should be set out in every application and the relative cost of ministerial air transport to possible alternatives should always be borne in mind in preparing travel plans. The relative cost of ministerial air transport services to possible alternatives should be always borne in mind in preparing travel plans. I note that the Minister for Transport travelled to Glenties during the summer and part of that journey was made in the Government jet. Does the Taoiseach recall getting a request from the Minister for Transport for that? Given that he travelled by jet meant the PSNI had to be put on security notice, a garda driver had to go ahead of the Minister and the cost involved was around €100,000.

That matter has been dealt with under freedom of information arrangements, and obviously it was in compliance with requirements. I understand the Minister was heading on to other official engagements the following morning.

My question was whether the Taoiseach recalled getting a request from the Minister for Transport in accordance with the Cabinet 2007 handbook, which stipulates a request must be made to the Taoiseach in such matters. Given that the car was going there and the PSNI had to be instructed as regards security, perhaps the Taoiseach might like to comment on that.

Just before Deputy Gilmore comes in, the Taoiseach will be aware that the Cabinet handbook needs amendment because it has been breached on a number of occasions by members of the Government. The use of the Government jet has to be cleared by the Taoiseach, and clearly in a number of cases something peculiar happened. I have asked questions before as regards how the Government jet arrived in Las Vegas. Some confused meteorological conditions were indicated as the reason it was there overnight. The Minister of Defence was caught out charging the taxpayer €46,000 over several years to pay Fianna Fáil activists to deliver leaflets across the constituency. Has the Taoiseach tightened up on this regime, and in that sense is it made perfectly clear on a regular basis to his colleagues in Government that there are rules and regulations in the Government handbook that should be strictly adhered to, and if not that he, as Taoiseach, will ensure infringements are punished accordingly?

I do not accept the veracity of what the Deputy has alleged. He has a very detailed response from me given in a previous Question Time regarding the circumstances in which the Government jet was used, with reference to the locations to which he referred. Full verification was provided to him and yet he continues to suggest he got some confused meteorological——

Meteorological conditions.

Let us not be ridiculous. We should take matters seriously and not carry on with facetious nonsense like that. Otherwise, we are wasting our time.

It is like former Deputy Gerry Collins's reply to the late Deputy Oliver Flanagan here one day, when the convent in Mountmellick was robbed, and he produced meteorological reports to that effect.

Deputy Kenny did not cite the most appropriate section of the code of conduct, where it states that officeholders are required to "conscientiously and prudently apply the resources of their office in furtherance of the public interest, and to ensure that the use of officially provided facilities are designed to give the public value for money". Does the Taoiseach agree with me that the code of conduct was certainly breached in the use of the Government jet by Deputy Noel Dempsey, Minister for Transport, to fly to the MacGill summer school and his ministerial car was driven to Derry to meet him when he arrived by air from Baldonnel to take him to Glenties? The whole thing is ridiculous. He actually had another garda-driven car taken from his home in Navan to Baldonnel Airport while his ministerial car was heading up the country to Derry to meet him on his arrival. The whole thing is bizarre. Against all that has unfolded in the past couple of years, in particular, this was a most cavalier action, at the very least——-

I remind the Deputy that this is Question Time.

——wholly inappropriate and in breach of the code of conduct. Will the Taoiseach not be quite specific and state clearly that he recognises that this action was not only inappropriate but in breach of the code of conduct, in line with what I have directly cited from it?

Could we please have a question?

That is my question. I am asking the Taoiseach whether he accepts that the actions of the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, were in breach of the code of conduct in that instance, and will he again outline what steps he is taking to ensure there will be no repetition of what is clearly a patent abuse?

I make the point again to Deputy Ó Caoláin that the Minister for Transport had to make that attendance and be in London the next morning. I have not the detail before me, but that was the basis of the matter. It was not a question of simply going to Glenties. Rather, it was a question of doing Glenties and being in London the following morning. He was therefore seeking to attend two functions, one after the other and he had to ensure he reached London by a certain time. Those are the circumstances.

As regards the use of the PSNI, regardless of the ministerial mode of transport going into the Northern Ireland jurisdiction, PSNI security clearance is required. Those are the circumstances in which that occurred.

I do not accept that is the full story. Whether the Minister had an appointment next day in no way excuses the transport arrangements he put in place for that journey to Glenties. I am surprised at the Taoiseach's response given that the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, stated at a subsequent Ógra Fianna Fáil event——

I might just advise the Deputy for a moment. If Members wish to make charges against other Members of the House, there is a recognised procedure for doing this.

I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, but we are dealing with questions on the codes of conduct.

The Deputy is pursuing the matter, however, by way of supplementaries.

It does not matter how uncomfortable people are about this, we have a responsibility to ask the appropriate questions. I am making the point to the effect that the Taoiseach's response is very surprising, given that the Minister for Transport stated at a subsequent Ógra Fianna Fáil event that he was wrong to have used the jet to fly to Derry, facilitating his access to the Glenties event on that day. Those were the Minister's words, in effect, subsequently and the Taoiseach seems to be at variance with that view in defending Deputy Dempsey's use of the jet. The Minister is fully cognisant of the fact that he had to go to London next day.

The Deputy is imparting information, not asking questions.

It is not as if this was a single incident. Finally, does the Taoiseach believe the use of the Government jet to fly back the Minister of State, Deputy Dara Calleary, to participate in a vote to prevent the moving of the writ for the Donegal South-West by-election, was suitable in that particular instance? He was flying back from Brussels, by the way.

As regards the first part of the Deputy's question, he is misrepresenting the context in which Deputy Dempsey took the flight to Glenties. He suggested in his first question that he simply took a flight to Glenties, when he could have just taken a car. The Minister had another appointment in London the following morning, to which he flew, from Derry. That was the context. The Deputy then sought to use negatively Deputy Dempsey's acknowledgement that he would seek, in furtherance of the code of conduct, to ensure such a situation does not again arise. It is very hard to satisfy the Deputy.

In relation to his second point, the Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, was on official business in Brussels. He completed his business there and was required back here in the House. Is there a presumption to the effect that he should have thumbed home?

How many thousands did flying back for a vote to prevent the moving of a writ cost?

The Taoiseach in reply to the question about the code of conduct for officeholders, told us that a review will be carried out in consultation with the Standards in Public Office Commission after the Ethics in Public Office (Amendment) Bill has been enacted. The Ethics in Public Office (Amendment) Bill has been around for a long time. The Taoiseach will recall that this Bill was first promised on 10 October 2006 by the then Tánaiste, former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Michael McDowell, in response to information that had come into the public domain to the effect that the then Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, had received dig-out money.

The purpose of the Bill was that where an officeholder got a gift from a friend for personal purposes, he or she would seek advice from the Standards in Public Office Commission as to whether it was all right to accept the gift. The Bill in question was passed in the Seanad in 2007, and we have had neither sight nor light of it since. It has never come into this House. I have asked the Taoiseach about this before because I cannot understand why this is the case. There have been days here with little enough in the way of legislation from the Government to occupy the time. There have been occasions on which the House was adjourned due to a lack of legislative business, including yesterday.

An inquiry to the Whips as to whether they have been dealing with it might help.

According to the Taoiseach, the review of the code of conduct cannot take place until the Ethics in Public Office (Amendment) Bill has been passed. I want to know when he will bring it to the House so it can be passed.

That is a matter for the Whips to consider at any time. There is no reason to review the code of conduct at present as I am not aware of any aspects that have been criticised or with which there is a problem. When that Bill is enacted, we can review the code of conduct to ensure it takes cognisance of the new legislation.

That answer surprises me because I understand the Standards in Public Office Commission has made a series of recommendations for changes in the code of conduct and the purpose of a review was to take account of those recommendations. The Taoiseach stated in his reply to the original question that the review would be done when the Ethics in Public Office (Amendment) Bill was passed, yet he is now saying there is no reason to review the code of conduct. If there is no reason to review it there are clearly no grounds for all these consultations with the SIPO Commission.

I ask the Taoiseach to be clear. Is he saying there will be no review of the code of conduct? If he is saying that, fair enough. It is a straight answer. However, in his reply he said it would be reviewed in consultation with the SIPO Commission after the long-awaited Ethics in Public Office (Amendment) Bill had been dealt with.

The review of the code and its operation will be carried out after the enactment of the Ethics in Public Office (Amendment) Bill. That is what the reply states. When that is done, we can undertake the review. If there are other issues that need to be dealt with, presumably that is when it will be done.

When will we do that?

As soon as the legislation is enacted, so whenever that happens.

When will the Bill come to the House?

Whenever the Whips can arrange it. I do not have a date for it.

What is delaying it?

I do not have a date for it.

I asked the Taoiseach before.

We can bring it in next week. There is no problem with that.

Is the Taoiseach blocking it?

We will move on.

The Minister, Deputy Gormley is blocking it.

Next week it is. I thank the Taoiseach.

I thought the Deputy would have got over his conspiracy theories at this stage of his life.

The Taoiseach knows of a few conspiracies himself.

We should not go there.

The Lost Revolution — is that what it is called? Has he read it?

I would like to have been a fly on the wall at his meeting with the Anglo Irish Bank directors.

The Deputy need not worry about that. I have no worries about it.

He has not told us much about it.

It is part of the old——

He has been very coy.

That is the oldest Sticky trick in the book.

(Interruptions).

What were they talking about?

Could we bring the House to order?

It is the oldest Sticky trick in the book.

What were they talking about?

I ask for the Deputies' co-operation.

I understand Deputy Quinn met them too when he was a Minister, but the Deputy does not have a problem with that, does he?

Tribunals of Inquiry

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

6 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the costs which have accrued to date to his Department in respect of the Tribunal Into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30240/10]

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

7 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach the total cost accrued to date by his Department arising from the Tribunal Into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters at the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32320/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

8 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach the total cost to his Department of the Tribunal Into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32348/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, together.

The total expenditure by my Department from the establishment of the Moriarty tribunal to the end of September 2010 was €40.63 million.

We had some discussions about this previously and I am aware that a joint letter was sent to the sole member of the tribunal. Mr. Justice Moriarty has formally stated that his preference is to publish a single final report. Does the Taoiseach have any information from the tribunal on when the judge might be in a position to publish the final report?

I do not think I have had any correspondence since the last time we discussed this here.

Does the Taoiseach have an indication of the cost to the State of the tribunal in 2010? It was €4.1 million in 2008, and my reckoning is that it will be approximately €4 million this year. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General last year indicated that the final cost, including third-party costs, could be in the region of €100 million. Does the Taoiseach have an assessment of the final cost?

No. The Moriarty tribunal has not yet considered the question of third-party costs and the sole member has indicated he will not do so until after the tribunal has completed its final report. This is to avoid conjecture and the drawing of inferences on the possible findings of the tribunal. Even after the sole member has made a determination of the costs, the process by which they are recovered is lengthy and unlikely to be completed this year.

There have been newspaper reports that the final witness the tribunal wants to question, Mr. Andersen, is to appear before it next week. Is the Taoiseach aware of this, or has it been confirmed to him? Does he have any indication of how long the taking of evidence from that witness will take? Can he tell us whether that witness sought an indemnity from the Government in respect of his appearance at the tribunal? Can he confirm, as has been reported, that the Government refused such an indemnity? Does he have any knowledge of reports that a prominent business person, who has also been a witness at the tribunal, has provided an indemnity for that witness?

The Deputy's questions have gone somewhat beyond the scope of the original question.

The tribunal is independent of my office, and any correspondence between the tribunal and the witness is a matter for the tribunal. As the Deputy said, no indemnity has been provided by the State in respect of these matters.

This morning there was an indication of tribunal judges' salaries of the order of €177,554, plus expenses, and that there are particular conditions with regard to travel expenses for trips of more than six miles. Can the Taoiseach clarify the details of the entitlements of tribunal judges, not only in terms of their salaries, but with a breakdown of the terms and conditions of their expenses? Do these travel expense allowances apply to the Moriarty tribunal and, if so, is the Taoiseach in a position to outline how much has been involved over its duration?

I am not aware that is an issue that arises with regard to the Moriarty tribunal, to which these questions pertain.