It is proposed to take No. 9, Criminal Justice Bill 2011- Second Stage (resumed). It is also proposed to take Private Members' business, which shall be No. 25 — motion re Government and Oireachtas reform.
Order of Business
There are no proposals to be put to the House today.
No. 23 on the Order Paper is the Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill 2011. While I welcome the publication of the Government's Bill on corporate donations, it abandons the commitment to a complete ban outlined in the programme for Government.
What a brass neck.
That programme stated that the Government will introduce necessary legal and constitutional provisions to ban corporate donations to political parties. The outline of the Bill that has been published will allow corporate donations to continue and confirms that there will be no constitutional ban put to the people. There will be no complete ban on corporations. In the light of the Taoiseach's previous commitment, would he consider accepting No. 23 on the Order Paper?
Does the Deputy not feel embarrassed raising this?
Not at all.
Will you ignore the side comments?
The Government voted down our Bill.
Ignore the side comments and ask your questions.
How many bankers has the Minister put in jail?
Deputy Kelleher, show some respect for your leader.
I would just like to make one point. Deputy Shatter's party has raised more in corporate donations in the last few years than any other political party in this House. That is a fact. His party has not been subjected to the same scrutiny.
That must break Deputy Martin's heart.
Many of Deputy Rabbitte's people have been doing it as well for a long time.
The Deputy should not put on his Mother Teresa face.
There has been agreement across the House for every party to commit to banning corporate donations. There is a Bill on the Order Paper and will the Taoiseach accept that Bill to give effect to the commitment that he himself made to ban corporate donations?
Did the last Government not stop poor John Gormley when he tried it?
That is not even a brass neck. That is a neck of toughened platinum from which the memory chip has been removed.
The memory chip has been removed in the context of the Moriarty tribunal.
The Bill proposed by the Government will seriously reduce corporate donations. Banning corporate donations outright would invite a serious constitutional challenge. That is the legal advice that I have received. The last Government got the same advice, and whether it was dig outs or tents or whatever, it carried on regardless and now Deputy Martin is in here calling for such donations to be banned outright so that everybody should proceed on an even keel. The Bill will seriously impact on what went on before. It will bring transparency and accountability to this area and will deal with it for once and for all. I do not want to follow the Deputy's advice and see a constitutional challenge which will hold the thing up for years. This will go through very quickly.
No. 23 on the Order Paper deals with the constitutional issue. That is the point.
The Deputy is so used to dig outs that now that he is in a hole, he cannot stop digging.
The Taoiseach is avoiding the issue.
I agree. It is a scandal. Somebody should do something about it.
Deputies, please calm down. I call Deputy Adams.
Tá díospóireacht ar fiacha an Rialtais á lorg agam, i ndiaidh an méid a dúirt an t-Aire, an Teachta Varadkar, agus na hAirí eile. Tá daoine ar fud na háite ag caint faoi fiacha an Rialtais. Tá na dogs on the street ag caint faoi seo, ach níl cead againn díospóireacht a bheith againn faoi.
There has been widespread discussion everywhere about the comments of the Minister, Deputy Vardadkar, that a second bailout will be needed. The Taoiseach's Ministers have been filling out each other's report cards on this issue. Another Minister, Deputy Bruton, said there was no need to go to the markets——
Are we inquiring about legislation here?
We have left Leaders' Questions. We are on the Order of Business.
I am seeking a discussion. I am asking the Taoiseach——
We do not have a discussion on the Order of Business. We have questions.
Then I will ask a question.
It must relate to legislation.
Will the Taoiseach allow for a debate on this issue? Will he allow it this evening? Does he appreciate that a series of Ministers have given totally contradictory messages on the issue of the debt?
That is out of order.
Chuir an Teachta isteach go mór orm agus é ag caint. B'fhéidir go raibh deacrachtaí canúna i gceist. Nuair a labhair sé faoin Aire, an Teachta Varadkar, ní raibh a fhios agam céard go díreach a bhí sé ag caint faoi.
Baineann na deacrachtaí canúna le míniú an fhocail. Tá cead ag an Teachta é seo a ardú tríd an Phríomh-Aoire ag cruinniú na n-Aoirí. Beidh cead aige labhairt amach faoi seo ó thaobh an Bhille Airgeadais atá ag dul tríd na Dála faoi láthair.
Cad faoi inniu?
The order will continue.
With regard to promised legislation, will the Taoiseach agree that since neither Fine Gael, the Labour Party or Fianna Fáil declared any corporate donations in 2010, it is now in order to remove the planned legislation dealing with this from the Order of Business?
Please do not answer that. It is out of order.
It is about promised legislation.
This is not an amusement centre. We are trying to run our business.
You will only encourage them, a Cheann Comhairle.
The Dáil will deal with Second Stage of the Criminal Justice Bill 2011 after the Order of Business. There is a shared commitment among all parties of the House to address the issue of white-collar crime through that Bill. However, remarks about the Bill by the Director of Public Prosecutions at the weekend have undermined the commitment of the House with regard to the Anglo Irish Bank investigation. Can the Taoiseach update us on whether the Government considers this investigation a priority? Will he comment on the remarks of the Director of Public Prosecutions?
He cannot comment on the remarks of the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is not in order on the Order of Business.
The Minister, Deputy Shatter, commented on him every day of the week. He was almost the Director of Public Prosecutions in his own right.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is an independent statutory body, as the Deputy is aware, and the Director of Public Prosecutions is entitled to make his point of view known.
Does the Taoiseach agree with it?
The Government has set out its priorities on this. That is why the Minister for Justice and Equality introduced the Bill dealing with white-collar crime——
The Bill of the former Minister, Mr. Dermot Ahern.
——which has been hanging around for a long time and is now going through the House. I do not have any control — nor does anybody else — over comments made by the Director of Public Prosecutions, as he is entitled to comment.
Does the Taoiseach agree with the comments?
As far as we are concerned, we want to see the law of the land apply effectively and swiftly to those to whom it should apply. In that context, the Minister for Justice and Equality has introduced the white collar crime Bill.
In his statement on banking at the end of March, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, said that a decision on whether to impose losses on senior bondholders at Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide would await the final stress test results for those institutions. I understand the Central Bank has published those results today and the figures are unchanged; the total bill is about €35 billion.
Sorry, where are we going here?
This is in order, a Cheann Comhairle, if I may finish. Before the election, the Taoiseach said that Fine Gael in Government——
There is no need to remind us what he said before the election.
——would be committed to forcing bondholders to share the costs——
The Deputy should just ask him about legislation.
This is a commitment——
I will ask the Deputy to sit down.
It is a commitment to bring in business. It is about the taking of business.
No. The Deputy must ask about legislation. He does not have to go over what the Taoiseach said six months ago.
It is promised legislation.
It is promised business.
There is no legislation.
Fine Gael stated that it was committed, in Government, to forcing bondholders to share in the costs of recapitalising covered institutions, including senior debt for institutions such as Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide——
I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.
——that are no longer of any systemic economic importance.
The Deputy will not abuse the House.
When will these proposals come to the House?
When I ask the Deputy to sit down, will he please sit down?
It is crystal clear.
The Deputy is totally out of order. He is entitled to ask about legislation that is promised.
It is promised.
Is legislation promised?
It is perfectly in order.
There is no legislation promised, a Cheann Comhairle. The Central Bank will publish those results this afternoon and the Minister for Finance and the Government will study them, as is appropriate.
Did the Taoiseach know they were to be published?
What about the promise?
Deputy Boyd Barrett.
We will see what is in it.
I ask Deputy Boyd Barrett to do me a favour and remain in order, please. I do not want to keep having to ask him to resume his seat. I ask him to do me a favour for once.
Believe me, a Cheann Comhairle, I am trying my best.
With regard to promised legislation——
Thanks be to God.
That is a good start.
The fiscal responsibility Bill is in the Taoiseach's legislative programme. When will the Bill be introduced? Will it deal with matters which were further——
No. The Deputy has explained now.
I am asking about what it will deal with.
No; you cannot do that. You are straying now.
You are spoiling it all, as they say. Taoiseach, when will this legislation be introduced?
Will this legislation deal with the obscenity, highlighted at the weekend——
——of former Ministers who helped bankrupt this country walking off with pension pots worth millions?
When will the Bill be introduced?
Will the fiscal responsibility Bill deal with that matter?
There is great talk now.
He has cut it short.
I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. When will the legislation come in?
The fiscal responsibility Bill is No. 12 on the list of legislation which was to be published this session. To be truthful, however, it is being shoved back a bit because of the time-limited requirements of the IMF-EU deal with regard to a number of other Bills across a range of sectors. I have referred to these before. To be straight about it, while it is listed at No. 12, it will probably not be published this session because other Bills are listed as conditions of the IMF-EU bailout deal.
I will give credit where it is due. I commend the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, on his honesty and straight talking at the weekend. It is very refreshing.
I understand there have been communications between the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Office of the Attorney General with regard to legislation to abolish upward-only rent reviews. When can we expect to see that legislation in the Chamber?
That is currently being drafted. I cannot give an accurate date for its introduction, but I assure the Deputy it is being worked on.
He gave me the same thing.
When, approximately, can we expect to see legislation based on the Duffy-Walsh report on joint labour committees and registered employment agreements?
Is the Deputy going to write a bit about it?
At least he would know what to write, unlike the Government.
Ceann Comhairle, I ask you——
Will he get the JLC rate?
I ask the Ceann Comhairle to remind Deputy Rabbitte that I am busy at the moment and I would like to ignore him some other time.
He will get double time for it.
He will get double time on Sunday.
Can we depend on the Government to keep it that way?
I am not sure whether Sunday rates apply to articles written on Thursday or Friday.
Ask Deputy Ross.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is discussing the Duffy-Walsh report with the social partners. He will report back to the Government, which will make a decision.
When the Minister reports back.
By the end of June.
By the end of June.
Will it be in this session, in view of the fact that he says it is so urgent?
The Government expects to make a decision on this by the end of June.
During the course of the discussion of the jobs initiative in the House, the Government indicated that there would be a reallocation of funding within Departments. I have asked this question in the past: when will we have clarity on which programmes will not now go ahead as a result of the reallocation of €106 million of the €136 million in funding that was announced in the initiative? The Taoiseach said in the course of the debate on the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2011 that Ministers attached to relevant Departments would provide that information to the House, but that, unfortunately, did not happen. When does he propose to get the information on projects that will not now go ahead and put it before the House?
The Deputy is aware that, as outlined by the Ministers without Portfolio, the bulk of the money for the jobs initiative comes from the levy on the pension industry. There are no programmes that will not go ahead, although there will be some capital works, which have already been referred to, that cannot go ahead because of insufficient moneys. No programmes are being abandoned. Committee Stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill will allow the Deputy to pursue any other questions he has in this regard.
I ask about the scheduling of a debate which should happen today. Maybe the Ministers need a few hours to come up with their own line, but the debate is urgent. It is about what will happen at the end of next year with regard to the bailout.
Sorry, that is not in order.
The Taoiseach continues to say there is no need for a second bailout in 2012.
Deputy, you are out of order.
The reality is that we are talking about 2013. That is when the money will be needed, and that is as far as we can go. Will this Government schedule a debate on the issue of when——
The Deputy should ask his Whip to arrange for such a debate. That is how he should go about such things.
He is a very capable Whip, too.
It is not promised.
Is it not appropriate in terms of the scheduling of business on the Order of Business?
No, it is not. It is quite clear if you read the Standing Order. I do not want to be always interrupting Deputies. You will have to read the Standing Order. These matters are dealt with through the Whips. Deputies ask their whip to ask for a debate on such and such and we then deal with it. If a commitment is given for a debate then one can ask when it will be held.
On a point of order, I want clarification. Is it not appropriate under the Order of Business to ask about the taking of business or the setting of business?
There are plenty of promises.
It does not say that.
It does. It is quite clear.
It does not.
I refer to the Standing Order. It does not refer to whether it has been promised. The taking of business is a legitimate matter——
It has to be promised.
——to raise on the Order of Business.
I ask you to review that.
Deputies can ask when promised business or legislation will be taken. This is about when things will be taken, not about whether we will have a debate.
That is what I am asking. Can we have a debate on this? There is huge confusion. Yesterday, inaccurate information was given in the media by senior Ministers in this regard.
I suggest with respect that you ask your Whip to look into the matter.
On a separate matter, with regard to promised legislation on political reform, the programme for Government states legislation will be introduced that will give the Ceann Comhairle the authority to ensure a Minister responds directly to a question being asked by a Member of the Opposition. When is it proposed that such legislation will be introduced? Will there be any overseeing mechanisms to ensure the Ceann Comhairle pursues that function in a very equal manner?
I take grave exception to your smart remark and I ask you to withdraw it. I am here to adhere to the rules laid down by Standing Orders and I do not wish you or any other Deputy to be passing smart remarks. I ask you to withdraw that remark.
I have nothing to withdraw. I have asked a very serious question——
Yes, you do. You referred to me——
——on the programme for Government——
——in a derogatory fashion.
No, I did not.
Yes, you did and I ask you please——
Let me be very clear on this——
Let me be very clear with you. I ask you to resume your seat. I will not tolerate smart remarks from you. I apply the rules as stated in Standing Orders. I call Deputy Mac Lochlainn and if he is not prepared to speak, I will call somebody else.
I will take my chance, no problem.
The Deputy knows what he can ask. It is about promised legislation.
Absolutely. You have to get your p's and q's right when you are in here.
You are correct.
My question is on promised legislation in the programme for Government, if that is permissible.
If it is promised.
Yes, it is promised. It is in the programme for Government.
Matters in the programme for Government are not promised legislation.
With regard to hello money and rural Ireland's fishing and farming communities, there were huge protests at the gates last week and farmers spoke about practices in the retail sector. The programme for Government promises legislation to deal with hello money and the abuse in the retail sector of the farming community.
Is there promised legislation here?
The programme for Government also promises to deal with replacing criminal sanctions with administrative sanctions for minor offences in the fishing community.
The Deputy will get an answer. There is no need to expand.
These are two huge issues for the rural community. May we see some priority from the Government, not in the next round but immediate priority? Will the Taoiseach answer these questions?
It is now 5.05 p.m. and we have other legislation to deal with.
We have been in office for ten weeks. Do you think we can enact the entire programme for Government in ten weeks?
Let us have an answer. Maybe the Minister will start answering questions instead of lecturing us on democracy. That would really help.
I do not have an accurate date for the legislation on hello money. It is part of the programme for Government which will run for five years. It also provides, as the Deputy will be aware, that we will replace the criminal sanction system for minor fisheries offences with an administrative sanctions system which will bring Ireland into line with other European jurisdictions. This was raised by Deputy Harrington and a number of other Deputies in the past few weeks——
And by me on three occasions.
It is not on the list for publication in this session but it is something that will come into focus when we deal with the timeline legislation we are required to deal with under the IMF-EU deal.
Fianna Fáil wants a referendum on hello money.
We are more radical than you guys.
The issue of personal debt continues to be a cause of huge stress for many people and a very destabilising force on our economy.
Is the Deputy referring to the Minister, Deputy Varadkar?
Is the Deputy's microphone on?
Move to the left.
That is what you guys have been trying to do unsuccessfully.
I have no space here.
Watch this space.
My question on promised legislation is that we have indicated a commitment on the reform of bankruptcy law and personal insolvency procedures. Will the Taoiseach inform the House when this legislation will come before it?
The major Bill on personal insolvency will be published in the new year. It is serious legislation. There will also be a number of other minor amendments published in the civil law (miscellaneous provisions) Bill which is being drafted at present.
When can we expect the Murphy commission report on the diocese of Cloyne to be published? Unlike some of the other promises made by the Government during the election, can we expect it to stand by its commitment to extend the Murphy commission to all other Catholic dioceses throughout the country?
There are ongoing discussions about the process of redaction of some elements of the report. The Minister for Justice and Equality informs me we expect it to be completed possibly in the next three weeks which would allow the Government to consider its publication.
May we have a private briefing in advance?
I call Deputy Crowe.
With regard to jobs and the national vetting bureau Bill, I do not know whether it will impact on the internship proposals but at present it can take up to six months for anyone dealing with children or vulnerable adults to be cleared. Someone in a job dealing with young people must reapply and it can take up to six months. This is a crazy situation which affects people's livelihoods and their potential to get a job. I know of crèches which are closed at present because of the wait for this Bill. I presume the Taoiseach will state that publication is expected, but when? It needs to be prioritised.
I agree that the vetting process takes too long at present. The Minister for Justice and Equality has done some work on this and is well aware of this fact. We hope, through a process, to get extra assistance in the vetting office. It does not take very long to train competent people in the vetting process and work is being done on this. I expect the national vetting bureau Bill to be published by October.
That completes the Order of Business——
I have had my hand up for the past ten minutes.
You were up already. Is your question on promised legislation?
It is on a promised debate.
What is it, then?
On a few occasions, the Taoiseach was asked whether he was open to having a debate on the McCarthy report and he indicated he was. However, there is still no sign of that debate. Given the proximity of the next EU-IMF quarterly review, will we have a chance to discuss the McCarthy report in the House before the Taoiseach tells them what he will sell off?
I assume that as this is a major priority for Deputy Boyd Barrett's he will have Deputy Catherine Murphy raise it at the Whips' meeting——
It has been raised continuously.
——and he can be assured the Chief Whip will be flathúlach in his response.
He has not been so far.
Deputy Boyd Barrett did not ask in the right way.