It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Employment Equality Act 1998 (Section 12) (Church of Ireland College of Education) Order 2013; No.10, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the development of a prison in the townland of Rathmore and city of Cork; No. 11, motion to rescind order of referral of the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 to the Select sub-Committee on Social Protection; and No. a19, Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, on the supplementary Order Paper - Committee and Remaining Stages. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn not later than midnight; Nos. 9, 10 and 11 shall be decided without debate; subject to the agreement of No. 11, the Committee and Remaining Stages of No. a19 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at midnight 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 Social Protection; in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members' business, which shall be No. 46, Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 – Second Stage, Standing Order 121(3) shall not apply and Private Members' business shall, if not previously concluded, adjourn after 90 minutes.
Order of Business
Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with items Nos. 9, 10 and 11, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Employment Equality Act 1998 (Section 12) (Church of Ireland College of Education) Order 2013; motion re the development of a prison; and a motion to rescind referral of the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 to the Select sub-Committee on Social Protection, agreed to?
On No. 10, my colleague Deputy Billy Kelleher is very anxious that we get a commitment from the Government that the proposal for the development of a prison in Rathmore, Cork, would come back to the Dáil for a plenary discussion as there is significant concern about the nature of it. It is important that the matter would come back to the House for debate. We are opposing how the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 is being dealt with.
I oppose No. 11, the order to rescind the referral of the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 to the Select sub-Committee on Social Protection. This is an example of how this House is doing its business in the wrong way. Every Bill should go through its proper Stages as laid out in the White Paper, Regulating Better. Both parties in government agreed with this and quoted it on a number of occasions in the House. It laid out that the heads of a Bill would be published first, then debated at the relevant committee, sent back to the Minister and the Cabinet, followed by First Stage with a two week gap to Second Stage and a further two week gap between Second and Committee Stages. The problem is that legislation is being published and then rushed through the House. The most appropriate place to have a considered and informed Committee Stage debate with the Minister and her officials on the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 is the committee rather than on the floor of the House, as proposed today. There are occasions when it is better to have the whole Dáil meet in committee to deal with legislation. As there is no urgency attached to the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, it would be better to refer it to the relevant committee in order that it can analyse, add to or correct it.
On the proposal to construct a new prison in Cork adjacent to the existing prison, development consent for prison development is sought under Part 4 of the Prisons Act 2007, under which major prison developments are subject to a special approval procedure rather than the normal planning process. The main steps involved are written ministerial direction that Part 4 applies, the preparation of an environmental impact assessment, EIA, a public consultation process, a report by a rapporteur on the submissions and observations received, consideration by the Minister, approval by resolution passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and approval confirmed by an Act of the Oireachtas. In June 2012 the Minister for Justice and Equality issued a direction, SI No. 240/2012, that the Part 4 procedures should apply to the new prison in Cork. A detailed EIA was laid before both Houses on 8 November last year and notice was given to the public of the proposed development. A rapporteur, Mr. James Farrelly, prepared a report on the submissions and observations received.
I only wanted to know whether it would be brought back for debate.
The Minister proposes to move a draft Oireachtas resolution under section 26 of the Prisons Act 2007 to give development consent for the proposed new prison in Cork. After the resolution has been approved, it has to be confirmed by an Act of the Oireachtas. The confirmation Bill will be published after the resolution is passed. The Minister is anxious that the resolution be passed by both Houses before the summer recess in order that the tendering process for the construction of the new prison can proceed. There is an urgent need to proceed with this because the situation in Cork Prison is simply not acceptable, with chronic overcrowding and inadequate prison conditions. For that reason, the Minister is anxious that the taking of the resolution be given priority in the ordering of the House’s business. Once it comes back from the committee, I see no problem in having a debate on it.
Therefore, there will there be a full plenary discussion on the development of the prison.
The Minister is anxious that it move to the tendering process as quickly as possible.
Regarding the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, normally the situation is in the reverse that Members want to have it discussed in the House. The Minister for Social Protection is anxious to get the Bill through before the end of the month. For that reason, it will be taken on the floor of the House during plenary session rather than at the committee. I support the Minister’s move to have it taken in the House.
Is the proposal for dealing with No. a19 agreed to?
It is not agreed. Yesterday we received the first report card on Ministers. It will be recalled that the Taoiseach promised this some time ago on “The Late Late Show”. The report cards came in the unlikely form of a statement by the Minister of State, Deputy Paul Kehoe, the Chef Whip, when he spoke recently on Dáil reform, the guillotining of debate on legislation and the failure of Ministers to appear before the House to deal with three out of every four Topical Issue matters raised.
That is shameful.
In fairness to the Chief Whip, he accepted the appearance rate of the relevant senior Ministers was unacceptably low and unsatisfactory, saying, “I would be first to say that it is deplorable that some Ministers are calling for Dáil reform and, at the same time, do not co-operate with reform.” That is hard-hitting stuff from the Chief Whip.
It is solid. Fair play to him. I see the new Minister of State, Deputy Tom Hayes, sitting next to the Chief Whip, worried if he will receive a good report.
The programme for Government states the Government will “tackle the huge over-use of guillotines to ram through non-emergency legislation”. It continues:
While recognising that there may be exceptional circumstances in which debate may need to be concluded by a given deadline, we will restrict the use of guillotine motions and other procedural devices that prevent Bills from being fully debated, so that guillotining is not a matter of routine as it has become at present, particularly at the end of a session.
We will also deal with the related problem of legislation being shunted through at high speed and will ensure that Dáil Standing Orders provide a minimum of two weeks between each Stage of a Bill, except in exceptional circumstances.
There is a lot of shunting now.
Lo and behold, we discover, courtesy of a forensic article in The Irish Times yesterday, that the debates on 52 of 92 Bills, or 57%, introduced by the Government have been guillotined.
That was because we could not get speakers from the other side of the House.
Contrary to the democratic revolution promised, this is arrogance and cynicism on a breath-taking scale. We are talking about serious legislation such as the property tax and the social welfare Bill before Christmas. We could not even get amendments discussed on the cutting of the respite care grant or child benefit. It was the same with the property tax legislation, with no debate on any exemption. Most recently, we had the debate guillotined on legislation that dealt with cuts to public service pay and pensions. The pensioners were not consulted on the Haddington Road agreement with no one to represent them. Again, the legislation was rammed through the House to cut their pensions without debate.
We cannot have a debate on this matter.
The Taoiseach wants to abolish the Seanad.
I am sorry, Deputy, but we are not doing that just yet. We are dealing with how we will take the social welfare Bill.
This is the kind of Executive diktat that the Taoiseach wants to become the order of the day.
So did Fianna Fáil.
Fianna Fáil wanted to abolish the Seanad, too.
The commitments made in the programme for Government have been breached. These are commitments the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine made, with the Taoiseach and the Labour Party.
The Government received a mandate for it. Do they remember that?
There is meant to be a gap of two weeks between every Stage. The Government has some neck.
What happens then?
The property tax legislation was dealt with in 24 hours and the social welfare Bill in 48.
I am sorry, but only a brief comment is allowed. The Deputy should not abuse the freedom we have given him.
The Government has clearly ignored or abandoned the programme for Government.
The Deputy has made his point.
That is why we are opposing the guillotining of the debate on the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. It is not in compliance with the programme for Government and is unnecessarily restricting debate, contrary to all the commitments and promises the Government made at the outset of this Dáil session.
I too want to oppose the proposal to have a guillotine on the debate on this legislation which has only been published and to which even up to yesterday the Minister was publishing amendments. This Government since it came to power would put the French Revolution's Committee of Public Safety and its use of guillotines in the tuppence ha'penny place, as it would Fianna Fáil Governments in the past because they had-----
Do not go there. Do not bring up the past.
Both parties in Government used to be on this side of the House and they criticised the then Fianna Fáil Government for the exact same policy, of which Deputy Dooley and his colleagues were guilty in the past.
When it comes to the guillotining of Bills that has been done on the opposite side of the House.
More than 50% of the legislation that has been produced by this House has been guillotined and that has prevented debate. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, said when she was on this side of the House that the dependence on guillotines was patently and blatantly unfair, was an insult to the work of the House, was wrong practice and procedure and asked whether the then Government was effectively ruling by guillotine, which was the same as ruling by decree. She also said "it is important to allow sufficient time and respect for the House rather than simply having a guillotine and a jackboot approach to finishing off the legislation in the manner proposed". That is what the Minister who is behind this legislation said. She has not demonstrated one iota the reason for the rush to have this legislation passed by today. It is not time sensitive. We are not at the end but in the middle of a session. It was blatantly wrong for Taoiseach to say as he said a moment ago that legislation has to be passed by the end of this month. The House will not rise at the end of this month. The legislation is not time sensitive. The Taoiseach should lift the guillotine and look at his proposals in his programme for Government, his party's manifesto and on the record as to what he and other members of his Government said when they were on this side of the House.
I would first say that if the Deputy checked the record he would find that in the past 12 months at least 12 to 16 Bills collapsed in this House because there were no speakers from the Opposition.
A guillotine was not required.
They were not guillotined and the debate was allowed.
That is the idea - the debate was allowed-----
Deputy Kelleher might suddenly come to life and say this is not true but it is true. I can produce the list.
-----and that is as it should be.
Can I have some quiet?
There were not sufficient speakers from the Opposition to fill the time. That is the first point.
Deputy Martin mentioned the matter of the abolition of the Seanad. I would love to see a situation where we could have a position where the Government would send the heads of Bills to committees.
I am not talking about heads of Bills; I am talking about the guillotining that the Taoiseach has been doing since he came into office. Stop the nonsense and the blather.
Will the Deputy allow the Taoiseach to reply without interruption?
We have had two and a half years of him going on about this.
The Deputy never listens.
Act out what you preach.
You never listen.
Deputy Martin, please.
A Cheann Comhairle, it is a bit much.
I protected the Deputy in terms of his right to make his point and I will equally protect the Taoiseach in making his reply to the Deputy.
The Deputy might listen to what he voted for, if he wants some of his own medicine back here.
No. Any legislation I brought into the House was dealt with properly.
I welcomed debate on amendments.
Of course you did. The Deputy supported a position when a former Member, Mary O'Rourke, whom I heard on the radio recently, brought in a report about the Seanad. The Deputy could have implemented all those reforms if he had wanted to do so. He and a former Tánaiste, Michael McDowell, had three years to do that but they did nothing about it. Second, he put in place a system where he attempted to buy off all the committee chairmen, the committee vice-chairmen and the convenors and he had 20 such committees and 20 Ministers of State. He supported all of those, including having more politicians in here. He wanted 180 politicians in this House not 166 or fewer.
Answer the point.
The Fianna Fáil working group that the Deputy voted for and supported wanted 15 minutes for the Order of Business, two hours advance notice of Leaders' Questions and holidays from mid-July to mid-September.
Put down the script and answer the question.
Deputy Martin was centrally involved in the discussions with the former Minister, John Gormley, and the former Minister, Tony Killeen, about the position in so far as the abolition of Seanad Éireann was concerned, but when he had the opportunity he did not deal with it.
What are you talking about?
I am talking about the Deputy and the abolition of the Seanad.
Answer the question about the guillotining of the debate on this Bill.
In fairness Deputy Martin, the best comment I heard about this came from Deputy McGrath-----
He did not ask the Taoiseach the question.
-----à la Winston Churchill, when the Deputy said we will fight this on the beaches, on the streets, in the constituencies, in the House and around the country. Deputy McGrath will be welcome in all parts of the country to deal with his proposition.
I also listened to Deputy Ó Snodaigh talking about the same thing and I recall Deputy Doherty, in his strident comments, saying that he had used the opportunity in the Seanad to further the causes and the politics of his party. He said some people might find that hypocritical. He went in there, he said, to use the system but at the same time he called for its abolition. Deputy Ó Snodaigh should not come in here and preach something different.
I want to be clear on this, I will deal with the question of guillotines. We have had at least 16 Bills where the Opposition failed to provide sufficient speakers. We are going to move to a position very shortly-----
If the Members are not prepared to listen, I am going to put the question.
-----where this Dáil will have to work far more effectively, have to use the hours we are in here far better in terms of both the legislation and the work that we have to do.
Does that mean that the Taoiseach does not want to answer the question about the use of the guillotine?
I give Deputy Martin my assurance that I would like to see a position where-----
Is the Taoiseach going to guillotine more Bills?
Bills were guillotined previously. Time after time the Opposition has failed to provide sufficient speakers for the debate to extend to even the time that was proposed for a guillotine.
That is nonsense.
In the case of the property tax we had speakers queueing up to speak on amendments to it.
- Bannon, James.
- Barry, Tom.
- Burton, Joan.
- Butler, Ray.
- Buttimer, Jerry.
- Byrne, Catherine.
- Byrne, Eric.
- Cannon, Ciarán.
- Carey, Joe.
- Coffey, Paudie.
- Collins, Áine.
- Conaghan, Michael.
- Conlan, Seán.
- Connaughton, Paul J.
- Conway, Ciara.
- Coonan, Noel.
- Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
- Coveney, Simon.
- Creed, Michael.
- Daly, Jim.
- Deasy, John.
- Deenihan, Jimmy.
- Deering, Pat.
- Doherty, Regina.
- Donohoe, Paschal.
- Dowds, Robert.
- Doyle, Andrew.
- Durkan, Bernard J.
- English, Damien.
- Farrell, Alan.
- Feighan, Frank.
- Ferris, Anne.
- Fitzgerald, Frances.
- Fitzpatrick, Peter.
- Flanagan, Terence.
- Griffin, Brendan.
- Hannigan, Dominic.
- Harrington, Noel.
- Harris, Simon.
- Hayes, Tom.
- Hogan, Phil.
- Humphreys, Heather.
- Humphreys, Kevin.
- Keating, Derek.
- Kehoe, Paul.
- Kenny, Enda.
- Kenny, Seán.
- Kyne, Seán.
- Lawlor, Anthony.
- Lynch, Kathleen.
- Lyons, John.
- McCarthy, Michael.
- McEntee, Helen.
- McGinley, Dinny.
- McHugh, Joe.
- McNamara, Michael.
- Maloney, Eamonn.
- Mathews, Peter.
- Mitchell, Olivia.
- Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
- Mulherin, Michelle.
- Murphy, Dara.
- Nash, Gerald.
- Neville, Dan.
- Nolan, Derek.
- Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
- O'Donnell, Kieran.
- O'Donovan, Patrick.
- O'Mahony, John.
- O'Sullivan, Jan.
- Penrose, Willie.
- Phelan, Ann.
- Phelan, John Paul.
- Rabbitte, Pat.
- Ring, Michael.
- Shatter, Alan.
- Sherlock, Sean.
- Stagg, Emmet.
- Stanton, David.
- Tuffy, Joanna.
- Twomey, Liam.
- Varadkar, Leo.
- Walsh, Brian.
- Boyd Barrett, Richard.
- Broughan, Thomas P.
- Calleary, Dara.
- Collins, Joan.
- Colreavy, Michael.
- Cowen, Barry.
- Crowe, Seán.
- Doherty, Pearse.
- Donnelly, Stephen S.
- Dooley, Timmy.
- Ellis, Dessie.
- Ferris, Martin.
- Flanagan, Luke 'Ming'.
- Fleming, Sean.
- Fleming, Tom.
- Grealish, Noel.
- Healy-Rae, Michael.
- Higgins, Joe.
- Kelleher, Billy.
- Kirk, Seamus.
- Kitt, Michael P.
- Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
- McConalogue, Charlie.
- McDonald, Mary Lou.
- McGrath, Finian.
- McGrath, Mattie.
- McGrath, Michael.
- McGuinness, John.
- McLellan, Sandra.
- Martin, Micheál.
- Moynihan, Michael.
- Murphy, Catherine.
- Naughten, Denis.
- Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
- Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
- O'Brien, Jonathan.
- O'Dea, Willie.
- Ross, Shane.
- Shortall, Róisín.
- Smith, Brendan.
- Stanley, Brian.
- Tóibín, Peadar.
- Troy, Robert.
Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed.