Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 20c, motion re Leave to Introduce Supplementary Estimate [Vote 39]; No. 20d, motion re Referral of Supplementary Estimate [Vote 39] to select sub-committee; No. 9a, Water Services Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 5.30 p.m. today and shall adjourn not later than 8 p.m. tonight and there shall be a suspension of sitting after the Order of Business for one hour; No. 20c shall be decided without debate, and subject to the agreement of No. 20c, and No. 20d (referral to select sub-committee) shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; if the proceedings on the Second Stage of the Water Services Bill 2014 do not conclude today, the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of Second Stage; there shall be no Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 26; and the Dáil shall adjourn not later than 8 p.m.; the next fortnightly Friday sitting for the purposes of Standing Orders 21(1)(a) and 28(3) shall be Friday, 23 January 2015 and the business to be taken on that date shall be the items already selected to be taken on Friday, 5 December 2014, and there shall be no further lottery for Friday, 23 January 2015.

There are four proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting and suspension of sitting agreed?

We agree to that.

Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 20c and 20d, motion re leave to introduce and referral of Supplementary Estimates, without debate, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow in the event of the Water Services Bill 2014 not concluding today agreed to?

No. It is not agreed.

No. When the Tánaiste's party was in opposition it promised, among many things, that there would be a democratic revolution in terms of the reform of politics. When people outside these Houses consider how it has attempted to reform politics they see abject failure. They see less accountability of Government here in the Dáil, less accountability of Ministers and less opportunity for people like us to hold the Government to account.

One of the window dressing exercises it engaged in was the introduction of Friday sittings of which there is one this week. The item on the Order Paper-----

-----purports to take business which is being discussed today and should that business conclude tomorrow, a vote will be deferred until the following week. I want clarification from the Tánaiste on the reason the Water Services Bill should conclude tomorrow when a vote will not be taken. This is yet another example of the sham political reform agenda the Government has engaged in and presided over because these Friday sittings have no accountability-----

When did the Deputy bring a Bill here on a Friday?

There is no opportunity to question leaders on Fridays.

How many times has the Deputy been here?

There are no opportunities to call votes. There are no committees sitting. There are no opportunities to question Ministers, and no Order of Business.

The Deputy does not show up on a Friday.

Why does it want to engage in this sham exercise of having business contracted in the Dáil when it will not allow an opportunity-----

(Interruptions).

-----if that business is concluded for there to be a vote?

The Water Services Bill 2014 is as cynical and duplicitous a piece of legislation as ever came before Dáil Éireann. Now we have a Government punch drunk by a revolt of people power against water charges and six years of austerity desperately trying to construct a fig leaf to cover the betrayals of the Labour Party in particular and to get it past the next general election.

The proposal for dealing with the Water Services Bill-----

The tide is rising.

-----is cynical in the extreme. There will be no Order of Business tomorrow so there will be no Taoiseach or no Tánaiste to be called to account.

There is never an Order of Business on a Friday.

How many times has the Deputy been here?

The vote is postponed until Tuesday-----

(Interruptions).

Members, please. Deputy Higgins has the floor.

He is never here on a Friday.

Deputy Higgins has the floor.

Why is the vote postponed until Tuesday? It is because tomorrow is a charade whereby the Government can disappear for the day but then pretend that it is not repeating the disastrous handling of the first water charges legislation.

This morning the Labour Party is teetering over the precipice of annihilation but it is still not prepared to listen to what the people are saying. Its members are full of self-delusion but I can assure them they are not fooling the people outside this House.

There is no need for concern, Joe.

A brief contribution, Deputy.

A mass mobilisation on 10 December-----

The Trotskyites are going to take over.

-----and a mass boycott of the water charges in April will make sure of that.

Will you pay your bin charge?

I ask the Government to cut through the charade and abolish these water charges forthwith.

You have made the point, Deputy.

If the debate is not finished and there are speakers offering at 8 p.m. tomorrow, assuming that this goes through, will the Tánaiste indicate when the debate on the Bill will be resumed?

It nearly went to Christmas Day last year.

The proposition is very flawed for a Bill that has such import in terms of how it will impact on families and individuals throughout the length and breadth of this State. We are talking about providing for speaking time tomorrow. This is huge legislation and people are watching this with great interest. It is a fact of life that the Friday sittings will only apply to those who are actually scheduled to speak. We will not have a ministerial audience beyond whatever limited number the Government provides in order to hear the contributions. The contributions of Members who will speak here tomorrow are very important, and a great number of Members will not be here tomorrow if they are not actually scheduled to participate. That is not the case on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday because even if we are not in the Chamber we are following what is taking place, but that will not happen when those who are not required to be here are in their constituencies. It is unacceptable. The Friday sittings provide an opportunity to address legislation that is, by comparison, more minuscule in terms of its impact. This is seismic. There can be nobody under any doubt about it, and then the Government seeks to go on to Committee and Report Stages on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

The reality is that legislation of this consequence should have the normal provision of the period of time that applies, at least a couple of weeks, from its publication. This Bill was only presented on Tuesday evening and within a week the Government will have it pressed through the House because of its number of Deputies. As other speakers have said, the consequences will be severe on people but make no mistake, they will also be severe on the Members opposite in political life. I believe that will be demonstrated very clearly once again next Wednesday outside the gates of this institution when people will muster in huge numbers.

I say to the Tánaiste that she should draw breath on this. There is only one decision that has to be taken and that is to withdraw this legislation and not proceed with the water charges as proposed, which are unacceptable. I believe what the Government is doing and the approach it is taking is wholly unacceptable.

This is the Second Stage debate on the Water Services Bill and 17 hours have been provided for that. Yesterday, by way of example, the Social Welfare Bill to effect the budget changes such as increasing child benefit and the other changes that are providing additionality took place. I see some of the people who were here yesterday but at no stage were there more than five to eight people in the Chamber. Deputy Ó Snodaigh, Deputy O'Dea, Deputy Shortall, Deputy Daly, Deputy Wallace and a number of others were here.

And Deputy Mattie McGrath.

(Interruptions).

As the Deputy knows well, that was a Wednesday and the people who were in the Chamber, by and large, were the party spokespersons on the issue. A full day has been set aside tomorrow for debate and any Deputy who wishes to speak on Second Stage will be facilitated. There is no guillotine. If Members want to come in on Monday or stay later on Tuesday, that can be facilitated. In terms of the timetable, 17 hours have been provided so far for the Second Stage debate.

What about the vote?

Should that prove inadequate-----

Deputy Cowen wants to guillotine it.

If it is concluded.

----for all the Deputies who want to contribute on Second Stage, that can be accommodated.

The water is rising-----

The Water Services Bill will provide Ireland with €10 billion of investment in badly needed improvements in water and sewerage services at a modest cost, given all the changes which have been introduced.

What about Article 9.4 and the exemption?

I recognise that it is difficult for people to accommodate the changes that have been taking place, but it will provide for the provision of safe and clean drinking water, the conservation of water and the provision of water for industry, as well as dealing with the raw sewage being dumped in 42 rivers and harbours.

Last year the Tánaiste was blaming those with septic tanks for it.

The Bill will be seen to be in the interests of the people, notwithstanding the fact that they have a democratic right to protest against it. This is good for people's health, employment and the development of the economy. Members can have as much time as they wish. At such short notice, I cannot arrange a sitting on Saturday and Sunday, but if more time is needed, it will be available. The debate will not be guillotined.

I will put the question.

On a point of order, the Tánaiste has not addressed the question raised by Deputy Niall Collins, which effectively was to ask whether we could have a vote, as we should have, if Second Stage concluded on Friday.

No, in accordance with the order of the Dáil yesterday, the vote will take place on Tuesday.

We can vote again today.

That matter was dealt with.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with the sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow in the event that the Water Services Bill 2014 does not conclude today be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 64; Níl, 37.

  • Breen, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Simon Harris and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Question declared carried.

Deputies

Deputy Joe Higgins did not even vote.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 4, the sitting of the Dáil on Friday, 23 January 2015, agreed to? Agreed.

On a point of order, the conduct of the proceedings over the past half an hour has been bewildering. Where is parliamentary democracy?

It has been hijacked.

What is the Deputy’s point of order?

The point of order is that his Bill has been hijacked by the Government.

The Tánaiste said the Government had generously provided 17 hours of debate for the Water Services Bill 2014. On 19 December 2013, nearly a year ago to the day, there was a walk-out by the Opposition when the Water Services (No. 2) Bill was first presented.

We are dealing with the proposal on fortnightly sittings.

Deputies

What is the Deputy’s point of order?

The point of order is that a Bill that was selected by lottery for a two-hour debate tomorrow has now been shunted into the new year, to be debated on 23 January 2016. That will provide 166 Members with 43 seconds each to determine their responsibilities as parliamentary representatives of the whole people of Ireland.

(Interruptions).

They were pathetically talking about water services affecting everyone in Ireland. Yes, they do, and so will the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas) Bill 2014. Yet the Government is giving 43 seconds per Member of Parliament. They should be ashamed of themselves.

(Interruptions).