Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 5, Public Transport Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 32, statements on the forthcoming White Paper on defence, and the order shall not resume thereafter.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 11 p.m.; and the proceedings on No. 32 shall be taken not later than 9 p.m. and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: the statement of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, and such Members may share their time; the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, and such Members may share their time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply, which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members’ business shall be No. 192, motion re one-parent family payment scheme.

Tomorrow's business after Oral Questions shall be No. a9, Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 – Financial Resolution; No. 9, Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 – motion to instruct the committee; and No. 33, Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. a9 shall be decided without debate; and the proceedings on No. 9 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after one hour and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; and such Members may share their time.

There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 32, statements on the forthcoming White Paper on defence agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a9, Financial Resolution on the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, without debate, tomorrow agreed to?

It is not agreed.

It is not agreed. What the Government is proposing represents a further illustration of the sheer contempt it has for the Dáil. The arrangements for the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill are entirely unacceptable. Our party Whip wrote to the Ceann Comhairle's office some days ago pointing out that we had significant issues with the Government's approach to the Report Stage amendments being introduced to the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014. In particular, the amendments inserting new sections 43 to 47, inclusive, into the Bill are of concern to our party. These involve the insertion into the Bill of amendments to the Water Services Acts 2013 and 2014, regarding payment of water charges, the water conservation grant database and other amendments related to the operation if Irish Water.

Furthermore, our Whip raised Standing Orders 131 and 136. Standing Order 131 allows only amendments that are not in conflict with the principles of the Bill and are relevant to the provisions of the Bill. The series of amendments now introduced by the Government on Report Stage are totally out of sync with the spirit of the Bill as passed on Second Stage. Standing Order 136 provides that no new section or other amendment may be proposed which creates a charge on the public revenue or upon the people. The Government amendment clearly creates a charge on the people in setting out provision for the extraction of water charges on property occupiers. Standing Order 141 sets out that where Bills are to be substantially amended on Committee or Report Stage, an explanatory memorandum should be provided. At the date of that letter, no such memorandum had been provided despite the substantial amendments from the Government side.

In essence it seems the water issue is regarded as toxic. We have had this since the very beginning of Irish Water. The Government has rammed through every piece of legislation related to Irish Water. The manner in which it has managed it and ordered the House to debate Irish Water has caused Dáil walkouts. Here at the eleventh hour we are back to the usual end-of-term jackboot tactics the Government has deployed in recent years, ramming material that may be politically sensitive through the House without adequate debate. The amendments relating to Irish Water are significant, may constitute a Bill in their own right and should not be smuggled in under a wider miscellaneous provisions Bill with a view to trying to avoid a difficult political debate on water charges and the operation of Irish Water. That seems to be the Government's agenda.

One hour has been proposed for the debate on the recommittal. Technically, the Government may be in conformity with the Standing Orders of the House, but in substance and in the spirit of how we operate, this is a very sneaky and underhand way to deal with substantive items pertaining to water charges at the eleventh hour as this session comes to an end. It is not appropriate to ram it through in an hour tomorrow. I believe the entire debate should go back to full Second Stage, given the nature of the amendments the Government has tabled on Report Stage relating to entitlements to the conservation grant and how it is to operate and other matters pertaining to the extraction of water charges and so on.

It is unacceptable and disgraceful behaviour by the Government, which is yet again treating this House with absolute contempt and no regard for democracy. There have been no reforms, no change to how the Dáil does its business and certainly no democratic revolution.

On Friday last I asked that a new explanatory memorandum be prepared. I hope that has been done.

At every opportunity the Government and particularly the Taoiseach repeat the mantra that this Government is doing things differently and that legislation is dealt with openly and transparently and in an accountable way. Maith thú, a Thaoisigh. Yet here, in the very best traditions of Fianna Fáil, the Government is pulling a stroke. We have a series of motions that are designed to facilitate adding the attachment of water charges and related matters to legislation that has nothing to do with the issue of water. It seeks to introduce attachment orders to a house, to impose an obligation on landlords to supply tenants' details to Irish Water and to make tenants liable for unpaid water charges. All of this deserves to be dealt with in separate legislation, allowing for pre-legislative debate with the stakeholders, a Second Stage debate, a full Committee hearing and Report Stage. Instead the Government is seeking to limit any discussion to a one-hour Committee debate. It is proposing to bypass all the mechanisms for proper democratic oversight.

We know the Government can ram it through. It can muster the backbenchers and they will vote whatever way they are whipped to vote, but it is not good enough. Irrespective of the defence the Taoiseach puts up for this and however he tries to force this through, he must know in his heart that it is not good enough.

I am at a loss to know how the Taoiseach persistently makes a mess of issues such as this, especially the unfair tax on water being imposed on householders.

Without much hope he will accept what I am saying, I ask him to review this issue and bring forward separate legislation with all of the related protocols attached to it.

It is incredible, especially in view of the democratic revolution that was promised, that the Taoiseach, instead of having a full Second Stage debate, is attempting to ram through important provisions on water charges and including them in a completely separate Bill to save having to hold a debate in this House. There are important aspects to what is being proposed that require consideration by a committee. For example, there is no provision to deal with the threat to deduct charges from tenants' deposits, nor is there provision, which was threatened, to take water charges from the incomes of ordinary people. There are, however, important provisions in the Bill which an attempt to scare tenants, a very vulnerable group in our society, into paying water charges, threaten them with eviction and shift more than €500 million from the property tax which people have paid at huge sacrifice into a fund for Irish Water. All of these matters need much more examination. What the Taoiseach has proposed is totally undemocratic. It is one of the most hated austerity measures and the Taoiseach is attempting to avoid a Second Stage debate by guillotining the debate in a one-hour discussion tomorrow. It is disgraceful and a continuation of the way the Government has treated people from the start on the issue of water charges. I would love to hear the payment figures because the Government is obviously very worried if it is ramming this measure through to scare those in the private rental sector into paying water charges, but it will not work. I will be calling a division on the Order of Business.

Democratic revolution or no, if a Bill is on Report Stage and amendments are proposed outside its scope, there is always a separate discussion on them. That is what the proposal to have an hour’s discussion in the morning is about. When it is concluded, the amendments will form part of the longer discussion on Report Stage of the Bill. The Dáil will sit late on Wednesday and Thursday to deal with the issue in order that the debate on the Bill can be concluded. The House is aware that the Government decided to build on the foundation of the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission in respect of civil debt and that people should not be sent to jail for committing very small offences. That is why the amendments will be discussed separately for an hour in the morning, as is the normal process. The House will then have the opportunity to discuss Report Stage of the Bill all day Wednesday and Thursday.

On a point of order-----

I have to put the question.

This is a very serious matter.

It is a very serious question. The Deputy has had his say.

The Taoiseach is wrong.

It is a point of order.

The Deputy can have that dispute afterwards. I am putting the question.

With the greatest respect, on a point of order-----

This is the Order of Business. Will the Deputy please resume his seat and respect the Chair?

I am respecting the Chair, but I have a point of order that I wish to raise.

It is not a point of order.

I can raise a point of order.

On what? The Deputy cannot raise a point of order on the Order of Business where I allow a short debate on a proposal from the Taoiseach.

I want to invoke Standing Orders 131 and 136.

What does that do?

Standing Order 131 only allows amendments not in conflict with the principle of the Bill to be discussed.

This has nothing to do with amendments to the Bill. This is the Order of Business.

I am saying what the Taoiseach has done is out of order.

The Deputy can debate that issue tomorrow, but it is not one for the Order of Business.

As has been said, €540 million will be transferred from the property tax to Irish Water without debate. A one-hour debate is not acceptable. These are substantive first-time amendments, but the Government thinks it can deal with them on Report Stage and that a one-hour debate will suffice. It is a disgrace.

That may be so, but it is a different issue.

The point on Standing Order 136-----

This is a technical issue related to the Order of Business and it has nothing to do-----

I am invoking Standing Orders.

The Deputy is not invoking any Standing Order on this issue.

The Taoiseach is riding roughshod over the procedures of the House. Standing Order 136 states, "...no new section or other amendment may be proposed which creates a charge on the public revenue-----

Is the proposal for dealing with No. a9 agreed to?

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. a9 be agreed to."The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 43.TáNílBreen, Pat.The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 43.TáNílBreen, Pat.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 43.

  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Conaghan, Michael
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Walsh, Brian.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9 tomorrow agreed to?

It is not agreed. Again, we object to the manner in which the Government is ramming this through the House. In particular, as I outlined earlier, the substance of the issue has to do with Irish Water and the method of extracting charges from people and also, essentially, the transfer of €540 million from property taxes to Irish Water. I object to the idea the Government would only allow an hour for the discussion of amendments that have been brought in for the first time. These are very substantive measures in themselves that relate to registration and, in some instances, could potentially criminalise citizens in terms of the whole water registration process. There are many people who are confused in regard to that entire issue and they are getting advice left, right and centre.

The Government is tomorrow bringing in substantial and lengthy amendments on the water conservation grant database, the amendment at section 5 of the Water Services Act 2014, the payment of charge on sale of property, the registration with Irish Water, and so on. The Taoiseach said that debate was being recommitted for one hour and that would be sufficient to deal with the substance of all of this. It is treating the House in farcical manner to be going about one's business this way. I cannot understand why from the outset everything to do with Irish Water has been rammed through the House, from 2012 onwards and without debate. It ends up causing the Government more difficulty and trouble than if it had gone about it in a more transparent, open and upfront manner. Essentially, very serious issues to do with Irish Water and the extraction of water charges are being smuggled through on Report Stage of an Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill tomorrow in about an hour, and that is essentially what is being put before the House. I object to that.

I am advised by those who have been here longer than me that coming towards the end of every session there is a rush to get matters rammed through.

They are only codding the Deputy.

I am just trying, for the benefit of an Teachta Rabbitte, to spread the blame to both the last Government and this one.

The point is well made that these matters require separate legislation. As I said previously, they require a full pre-legislative debate with stakeholders, a Second Stage debate, a full Committee Stage and Report Stage. The whole controversy about Irish Water and the water charge has been dogged by incompetence on the part of the Government. Leaving aside the issue that it is a totally unfair and unnecessary tax, the Government has sought to use its clout on a compliant bunch of backbenchers to press it through.

A Deputy

Not like Deputy Adams's military discipline.

What is the Government attaching this issue to? It is being attached to issues like Killarney Park and dog licences. Flann O'Brien could not write this script. Dog breeding is another issue to which it is being attached. We are supposed to be a mature Dáil and Parliament and not to sit here and meekly accept the Government playing fast and loose. Democratic revolution my arse.

Shame on the Deputy.

(Interruptions).

I am quoting Flann O'Brien.

Shame on the Deputy.

That language is not acceptable in the Chamber, nor would it be acceptable in the Northern Ireland Assembly, where I had the pleasure of being last Friday. I ask the Deputy to withdraw the remark. It is not acceptable.

Shame on the Deputy.

(Interruptions).

This is a parliamentary assembly, where we are supposed to lead by example.

What the Taoiseach and the Government are proposing here is a gross abuse of parliamentary procedure. They are attempting to introduce substantial measures, for example, on motor taxation, waste management and water charges and related issues but instead of having separate Bills for each issue, with a proper Second Stage for each, they are attempting to roll the whole lot together in one Bill and to ram it through. We know that Deputy Alan Kelly, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, fancies himself as "The Terminator" of the 31st Dáil and thinks he can bludgeon his way through the elected Members, the Opposition in particular.

Unusually, the private meeting of the banking committee finished early today, in anticipation of an all-day meeting tomorrow and Thursday. One of the reasons many Deputies are, unfortunately, imprisoned for days on end in regard to the issues is because Governments did not listen to the voices of the Opposition in regard to the speculation and the profiteering that was going on by bankers and developers, etc.

In regard to Irish Water issues in particular-----

We are not having a debate on Irish Water. We are debating the proposal.

I will not have that debate, but it is true that the Government did not have the neck to give landlords the power to take the water charges from people's deposits because it was afraid to do so. It did not have the neck to give the power to employers or Revenue to take them from people's wages or social welfare and Revenue is not involved. However, it is still trying to produce some measures that will make tenants in particular feel vulnerable, even though tenants can overcome that by standing with the campaign.

We are talking about the arrangements here.

It is not permissible that the Government can ram through the Second Stage of three major procedures in one hour tomorrow morning. Therefore, anybody who has any respect for parliamentary democracy and for an airing of these issues, which would educate Government Members and backbenchers, in particular, on the serious issues involved, should vote against the Government on this issue.

For clarification for Members, the Government decided to adopt and build on the foundation of work done by the Law Reform Commission in respect of civil debt, that people should not end up in prison for relatively small fines.

That is not in this Bill.

The issue is that this Bill is at Report Stage and the amendments mentioned are outside the scope of the Bill. Standing Order 177 is very clear, that where issues like this arise, as they have arisen in the past, a 60-minute debate takes place on those amendments so that they become part of the Bill.

The Standing Order provides for no less than 60 minutes.

A 60-minute debate takes place on those amendments so that they can become part of the Bill. Then, when we get to those amendments on Report Stage, any Member can ask for the amendment to be recommitted to Committee Stage and have a full debate. That debate will go on all day on Wednesday and Thursday.

Therefore, it is not a case of attempting to ram these amendments through in one hour. It is strictly in accordance with Standing Order 177 to allow for a debate of 60 minutes so that those amendments can become part of the Bill and then be debated fully during the course of Report Stage on Wednesday and on Thursday. I hope this clarifies the matter for Members.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 9 tomorrow be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 42.

  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Walsh, Brian.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig,
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.
Question declared carried.