Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage (Resumed)

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I welcome the Minister to the House. I thank him, the departmental officials and all those involved in the background in the Office of the Attorney General for bringing forward this legislation so rapidly. When this matter was brought before the High Court, it was argued that section 2(2) of the 1977 Act was unconstitutional. The public perception at present is that the Government is solely in charge of legislation and the role of the Oireachtas is too often forgotten. Interestingly, however, if one considers the judgments of both the High Court and the Supreme Court, the provision in the Constitution at Article 15.2 1° sets out clearly that "The sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is hereby vested in the Oireachtas: no other legislative authority has power to make laws for the State." That was the argument used in the court in respect of the section of the 1977 Act and whether the regulation that subsequently came in was in breach of, or not in compliance with, the aforementioned article in the Constitution. I welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal. While I acknowledge the Minister may not like to hear me say that, it is important that the checks and balances are in place. That is the purpose of the structure encompassing the Oireachtas, the Government and the courts and it is only right that Members stay within the Constitution when bringing forward legislation and regulation. I have made this point previously but I recall being involved in 2004 in identifying where a regulation was brought forward in respect of nursing home charges only to find in that case that there was not even appropriate legislation to give power to the Minister to bring forward a regulation. Consequently, for more than 20 years moneys were being deducted from people in nursing homes, which was completely illegal. Therefore, it is important that the checks and balances are in place.

In the case put forward by the State, although Mr. Justice Paul Gilligan held in favour of the State in the High Court, the Court of Appeal held otherwise. Consequently, this legislation is now necessary and while I welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal, I do not welcome the fact that technically, these substances are back on the market legally today and no powers are available to deal with that. Therefore, it is important to pass this legislation.

Section 2 sets out clearly and puts into legislation all of the regulations as set out in Schedule 2. This shows how the whole area has changed in recent years as there are approximately six different lots of regulations and exemption orders that have been brought in since 1977 to deal with this area of substances which are a danger to people. It was only right that they were outlawed. However, it is a question of making sure, when Members try to outlaw something, that they stay within the Constitution. Therefore, this legislation now does this and the Bill deals with all the issues that previously were dealt with under regulation. It now brings them forward in legislative form and therefore, it is important that Members pass the Bill and that it becomes law as soon as possible.

The court decision also raises serious issues regarding other legislation in which regulation was brought in. The question arises as to whether such regulation may not stand up were someone to decide to challenge it. There is now an urgent need, particularly in respect of health and justice issues, for Members to examine these and ascertain whether it is necessary to introduce amending legislation in a number of other areas. Members should not be obliged to wait for the courts to make the decisions in this regard.

I refer to the issue of the court asking whether the secondary legislation in question goes further than simply giving effect to principles and policies that are set out in the primary legislation.

We need to seek further clarification, and the Department should consider whether it should appeal the case to the Supreme Court so that there is a clear definition and interpretation of the words "principles and policies". While this case has decided the definition of the words regarding regulation under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it does not give an overall view. While it is primary to the court decision in Cityview Press v. An Comhairle Oiliúna in 1980, it might be worthwhile for the Department and Government to consider whether we should seek further clarification from the Supreme Court on the matter.

I welcome the legislation. It is important that we pass it through the House today and that it be signed into law at the earliest possible date. I thank the Minister and everybody involved in bringing forward the legislation at such an early date.

I welcome the Minister and the legislation. I am puzzled at the speed with which the Government acted when the Court of Appeal made its views known. Since I came into the House, I have criticised how long it takes to get things done, so in this instance I say "Well done". I question whether we might leave loopholes in legislation when we move too quickly. While I am always in favour of speedy movement in these areas, I am concerned that when we do so, we may not give the Bill enough attention. I hope the President will be able to sign the Bill into law immediately.

I remember when the head shops legislation was introduced and we had to do something with it. It reminded all of us how quickly the area of drug abuse moves. Most of us who have not had much experience of it could not get over the speed with which the head shops turned up, the products that were on sale and the damage they did. If we are going to tackle the drugs scene, we must take action. I imagine this is the action the Minister will be expected to take and I am delighted he will be able to do it. We need to pay attention to and take action on the drug scene very quickly. If we close one door, the people involved will quickly open another. I am delighted the Minister has taken action so quickly. Hopefully, it will solve the problem. Let us have a wider debate on drug use to ensure we do not allow other doors to open in future.

I welcome the Minister. Like other Senators, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. I note the very speedy way it has been brought before us in light of yesterday's Court of Appeal judgment. As the Minister said, the possibility of the outcome of the judgement had been anticipated and the Department had planned for in by preparing the Bill. This is commendable and, as Senator Quinn said, is in contrast with earlier incidents. Many of us will recall the scramble to legislate following the Supreme Court decision in the case of CC v. Ireland in 2006, when the offence of unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor was struck down. The 2006 Act that was brought in had to be amended subsequently. It is not a new phenomenon that a decision would strike down legislation as unconstitutional and have implications for criminal justice legislation. I was involved in some of the cases around the Damache decision, which had a similar effect on aspects of search warrant procedure and the Offences Against the State Act and legislation was required to deal with it.

It is very good that the Bill had been prepared in anticipation of the judgment. There will be no substantive change to the law – pardon the pun. It restores the substances that were previously controlled under statutory instruments and restores the status quo. The judgment of Mr. Justice Hogan in the Stanislav Bederev case in the Court of Appeal, which gave rise to the legislation, is robust and I read it with great interest. As Senator Colm Burke said, it states very robustly the principles in the Cityview case in 1980 in which Chief Justice Tom O’Higgins said it was not permissible to delegate legislative power where it was more than a mere giving effect to principles and policies contained in the primary statute. Mr. Justice Hogan very logically teased out the application of this principle to the misuse of drugs provisions, particularly to the statutory instruments which had purported to list other species of controlled drugs. While the Government is considering whether to take an appeal to the Supreme Court, his judgment points out that the primary Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, says a controlled drug is either one that is listed in the Schedule or declared by the Government.

It does not appear to limit the Government's power to classify drugs by reference to the categories of the drugs in the Schedule, which was one of the arguments the State put forward. Nor does the Long Title of the Act give sufficient guidance or criteria to the Government to allow it to be argued successfully that a statutory instrument was merely giving effect to principles and policies. As Mr. Justice Hogan said, the Long Title, “An Act to prevent the misuse of certain dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs” would, arguably, enable the Government to ban tobacco and alcohol as "dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs". It shows the wide scope of section 2(2) and the extent of policy choices that is left to the Government in passing statutory instruments. This is a matter for further consideration as to whether the judgment will be appealed.

As the Minister said, the consequences the judgment will have for other areas of the law where delegated power is provided for in primary legislation is a matter for consideration. There have been reports on the consequences of the judgment for pending prosecutions. Colleagues will be aware that the consequences of the CC case were limited by the subsequent Supreme Court judgment in A v. The Governor of Arbour Hill Prison. The fallout was limited in the sense that persons whose cases had been concluded were not regarded as capable of taking action on foot of the judgment, even if they had been convicted of the unlawful carnal knowledge offence. One would anticipate similarly limited consequences here for prosecutions which have concluded or persons who have pleaded guilty or been convicted. It has been reported that in the small number of cases pending which involve substances which were controlled under the statutory instruments there was anticipation of a potential outcome in the case and other charges have been brought. As the Minister said, the judgment does not affect the best known and most significant categories of controlled drugs, which are already contained in the Schedule to the 1977 Act. It applies only to the substances added through the statutory instruments such as the psychoactive or so-called head shop substances.

The purpose of the legislation is to restore the status quo and it will receive cross-party support. I would like us, on another day, to review our drug policy. I am no fan of the prohibitionist approach. We need to examine, in a considered and careful fashion, other countries which have adopted different approaches to the regulation of what we call controlled drugs. The justice committee has a particular interest in Portugal's model and models of strategic decriminalisation of certain substances. It has not been a happy experience.

Senator Wilson referred to the head shops which led to the passage of the legislation in 2010 and 2011. A considered review would be a useful exercise. All of us would welcome the Bill.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. Thug an Chúirt Athchomhairc cinneadh inné maidir le halt 2(2) den Acht um Mí-Úsáid Drugaí 1997, ag rá go raibh sé neamhbhailí. Thug an t-alt áirithe úd cead don Rialtas de réir ordaithe substaintí áirithe a ainmniú mar dhrugaí smachtaithe. Beidh an reachtaíocht seo á cur ar ais sa staid a bhí ann sular tugadh an dúshlán ins an gcúirt inné. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh an Bille tríd gan aon mhoill agus go mbeidh sé sínithe ag an Uachtarán chomh maith gan a thuilleadh moille. Tógfaidh an Bille um Mhí-Úsáid Drugaí 2015, a dhéanann leasú ar an mBille a bhí ann ó 1997, in áireamh na substaintí a bhí coscaithe ag an Rialtas ó tugadh i bhfeidhm é i 1977.

I 2010, tugadh isteach beart in Éirinn chun deireadh a chur le díolachán na "legal highs" seo. Thug an Bille um shubstaintí sícighníomhacha cumhachtaí le horduithe cúirte a lorg chun na siopaí siabhráin, nó "head shops" a dhúnadh. Is cosúil go raibh cuid mhaith fabhtanna ins an reachtaíocht seo freisin, a thug cead do dhaoine a bheith ag díol na ndrugaí seo agus tá grúpaí áirithe ag tarraingt airde ar na ceisteanna seo le roinnt blianta idir an dá linn. Is é an fhabht is mó a bhí ann ná go bhféadfadh lucht déanta na ndrugaí seo díreach an struchtúr ceimiceach a athrú beagán le teacht timpeall ar an dlí. I mí Bealtaine 2010, thógamar isteach reachtaíocht a chur cosc ar níos mó ná 200 de na siabhráin dhleathacha seo, nó "legal highs", a bhí ar díol sna siopaí siabhráin agus ar an Idirlín. Dhún sé sin síos cuid mhaith de na siopaí seo, mar gheall gur chuir sé cosc ar na drugaí siúd.

Chiallaigh sé seo áfach gur méadaíodh an méid a bhí á iompórtáil, an méid easpórtáil, an táirgeacht agus mar sin de, agus an méid daoine a bhí tógtha mar gheall ar an obair seo, ó thaobh na coiriúlachta de. Bhí níos mó ná 4.5 tona drugaí, gur b'fhiú luach na deich mílte de euro iad tógtha as na siopaí siabhráin seo ag na Gardaí fad is a bhí an cosc seo á chur i bheidhm acu ach tá cuid mhaith de na substaintí seo ar fáil ar an Idirlíon agus tá margadh an-luachmhar ar an Idirlíon, ós rud é go bhfuil na siopaí siabhráin seo imithe. Caithfear dul i ngleic leis an bhfadhb seo agus caithfidh an Rialtas rud eicint a dhéanamh faoi.

Go minic, tá na drugaí seo in ainm is a bheith ag déanamh aithris ar na drugaí neamhdhleathacha agus díoltar iad ar an gcaoi sin ach breathnóimid anois ar chuid de na substaintí seo, na drochéifeachtaí atá acu agus na cúiseanna atá ann cosc a chur orthu. Is beag scrúdú a dhéantar orthu ó thaobh caighdeáin de, má dhéantar aon rud. Is furasta iad a chur i gcomhar le substaintí eile agus ní fios cé chomh láidir is atá na substaintí seo nó céard iad na héifeachtaí eile a d'fhéadfadh a bheith acu. Sampla amháin de sin ná salvia, a dhíoltar mar rogha dleathach do eacstais agus a bhíonn fógortha mar "incense" nó "herbal ecstasy". D'fhéadfadh daoine a thógann na drugaí seo a bheith thar a bheith go dona as de bharr chúrsaí meabhairghalair, an galar dubhach, imní agus mar sin de. Tá drugaí áirithe ann atá in ann cásaoid i bhfad níos measa a tharraingt ar dhaoine ar nós scitsifréine chomh maith céanna.

Tá cuid mhaith oibre déanta ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Teachta Aengus Ó Snodaigh, nuair a bhí sé mar urlabhraí dlí agus cirt Shinn Féin. Chuir sé picéad faoi leith ar na siopaí siabhráin seo, cuid acu in a dháilcheantar féin. Tharla sé seo mar gheall ar fhear óg a fuair bás go thragóideach tar éis muisriúin draíochta a thógáil. Bhí sé ráite ag an bpoínte sin go raibh na "legal highs" seo á fhorbairt ag ráta péire in aghaidh na míosa. Tá ár bpáirtí tar éis a léiriú go láidir le tamall anuas gur chóir Aire Stáit ar a laghad a ainmniú a bheadh cúram cúrsaí drugaí orthu. Tá imní orm mar gheall ar an mbealach atá an Stát ag dul i ngleic leis an dearcadh seo a bhaineann le cúrsaí drugaí. Is é an Rialtas seo an céad Rialtas le 21 bliain anuas nach bhfuil Aire faoi leith aige a bhfuil freagracht orthu ó thaobh drugaí de. Bheadh sé fíorthábhachtach dá gcuirfí Aire ins an ról seo agus bheadh an-fháilte againn roimhe. Táimid ag iarraidh ar an Aire agus ar an Taoiseach soiléiriú an bhfuil sé i gceist acu Aire Stáit a cheapadh le cúraimí faoi leith ó thaobh na ndrugaí seo - faoi scáth na Roinne Sláinte agus an Roinn Dlí agus Cirt agus Comhionnanas, is dócha - agus cén uair a tharlóidh sé seo. Tá socrú déanta ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Teachta Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin, leis an gComhchoiste um Shláinte agus Leanaí le breathnú ar an gceist seo maidir leis na legal highs agus na básanna atá tarlaithe de bharr daoine a bheith ag tógáil na substaintí áirithe seo, ní hamháin in Éirinn ach ar fud na hEorpa.

Tá imní orm freisin maidir leis na contúirtí atá ann inniu, go bhfuil daoine atá os comhair na cúirte ar chúiseanna a bhaineann le bheith ag déileáil drugaí agus mar sin de agus go bhféadfaí na cúiseanna seo a chaitheamh amach as an gcúirt anois. An bhfuil an tAire cinnte go bhfuil na forálacha ins an mBille seo sách maith le cinntiú nach dtarlóidh rud den chineál seo arís? Cuireadh an díospóireacht seo ar bun go han-tobann ach caithfimid mar lucht reachtaíochta agus an Rialtas reatha féachaint ar an dochar a dhéanann drugaí ins an sochaí atá againn. Caithfimid déanamh cinnte go bhfuil reachtaíocht éifeachtach againn agus caithfimid a bheith i gcónaí coiscéim chun cinn ar an dream seo atá ag cur na substaintí marfacha seo ar aghaidh. Cruthaíonn legal highs contúirt an-mhór don sochaí agus tá sé feicthe againn go mbíonn substaintí nua sícighníomhacha cosúil leis seo ag teacht chun cinn gach seachtain. Caithfidh an reachtaíocht a bheith againn le bheith in ann déileáil leis seo agus déanamh cinnte nach dtiocfaidh fabhtanna ins an reachtaíocht agus go dtógfar cásanna den chineál ceann a tógadh inné chun cinn arís. Ní fadhb sna cathracha amháin í seo, is fadhb í ar fud na tíre agus sna ceantair tuaithe chomh maith céanna. Iarraim ar gach duine tacú leis an mBille agus déanamh cinnte go dtiocfaidh sé tríd chomh sciobtha agus is féidir.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. I want to congratulate the Minister for bringing in this legislation so fast to fill a loophole. In particular, I want to acknowledge the work that must have been done in his Department by civil servants burning the midnight oil to write this legislation. It raises some concerns for me that no doubt there are people employed all over the country now looking for loopholes in Government orders to get people out of the various troubles in which they might find themselves.

I compliment the Minister and his colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Reilly, who recently introduced plain packaging for cigarettes. Clearly, there is a determined effort to tackle the drugs problem. Like my colleague, Senator Wilson, I feel the time has come to do something more positive in the area of illegal drugs. I have been listening to task forces and all sorts of initiatives for as long as I can remember, yet the drug problem is increasing at a phenomenal rate. Perhaps it is time we had a Minister with specific responsibility for drug enforcement. I am sure the drug lords out there have no fear of any of us. They have plenty of money to be able to run to the courts. The more of us who speak in favour of what the Minister is doing, the better.

As my colleague has already said, Fianna Fáil will support the Bill. I thank the Minister and the officials in his Department for the information provided for this debate. This most reassuring aspect of his speech is the fact that the Department was aware of the situation and had prepared for this potential finding of the Court of Appeal. However, the whole issue of drugs and addiction in our society has not really hit the radar. We need a proper national conversation about where we should be going in the future. We should have a proper debate in this House. We all know that methadone is very often the only solution provided to heroin addicts. It is time for us to re-evaluate our drugs strategy and assess it to see what is working and what is not working.

Generally speaking, billions have been spent to prevent drug addiction and the drugs trade, but it is not working. We have to look at the whole drug situation and have a national conversation to see where we go in future.

I welcome the Minister to the House. It is good to see the Oireachtas and the Department were ready for this issue and got there to shut the stable doors before the horse has entirely bolted. I put it to the Minister, however, that the national drugs strategy is not working. There is widespread availability of all the substances we are seeking to outlaw. I am not from a great metropolis, but I have seen around my own area the availability of class A drugs in the form of MDMA, ecstasy, and cocaine - you name it - every other weekend. It is widespread in every other town and village across the country. It has got to a stage where lads are going out to take a line with friends in front of people. It is almost becoming acceptable and as if they were going out to smoke a cigarette. It is a massive problem and one with which we are failing to deal. If one walks around Dublin any day of the week, one will be met with zombies coming against one who are under the influence of an opiate of some type.

I do not know that a total outlawing of every substance like this works. The issue has been investigated at the very highest levels. Former Presidents of the USA and leaders of South American nations have all fed into the notion that the war on drugs is being lost and cannot be won. What should we do in that case? Going down the road of complete criminalisation of everything has only played into the hands of the major criminal organisations which operate in our cities and towns. I know many young lads who are under a self-imposed exile in the Balearic Islands and England because of moneys owed to these criminal organisations. We do not have the necessary Garda resources to tackle them.

I may be seen as coming out of left field with this one, but it may be that a piloted programme in a small area where the Government has total responsibility for issuing substances in a responsible manner to certain people is a useful idea. We all live in the real world. People are going to use recreational drugs anyway. The fact that they are illegal can make them more attractive. If there is something they are not supposed to do, people may get the idea that there might be something in doing it. The issue of limited and controlled legalisation according to a liberal interpretation has not been tried. It is mooted in a lot of different areas, including in certain places in South America where it is at a very advanced stage. While all these drugs remain illegal, the profits from their sale and supply go to criminal organisations and spawn every sort of social ill that one can imagine. It may be time for democratically elected governments to get control of that. I see how the issue of alcohol is dealt with in Nordic countries where the sale is conducted by state-owned off-licences, which system works very well. Perhaps, it is an idea that can be trashed out here.

It must come from the Department of Health if a dedicated ministerial officeholder with full responsibility for drugs is to be appointed to take soundings from everywhere, including health professionals, drug users, those on the front line of our policing service who try to combat this multimillion euro business, and families affected by the misuse of drugs. Let us have that debate instead of sticking our heads in the sand and pretending drug misuse and the availability of illicit drugs is not an issue in our society. It certainly is.

I welcome the Minister to the Chamber. I am very glad to be able to stand here today to support the legislation. I am also glad to see the Department has pre-empted what might have come from yesterday's judgment and shown prescience in constructing the Bill at such short notice.

While a debate on national drug policy and how we might confront the illicit drug trade is a very important one for us to have, today's Bill is very specific in its application with regard to repairing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. I got into considerable trouble in the Chamber last week when I suggested during a debate that Members might confine themselves to dealing with the legislation that was actually in front of them rather than to go off on tangents to talk about things that might not have been immediately relevant. As legislators, we are bound to do so. Mr. Justice Hogan's ruling yesterday points to the importance of legislators confining themselves to what is actually before them for discussion and focusing entirely on the legislative proposals with which they are dealing. It is also important to note that Mr. Justice Hogan points to the massive interconnectivity between different Acts, citing the 1939 Act, the case of the quaintly named Pigs Marketing Board and the application of the Cityview Press test to legislation. Who would have thought when Deputy Joan Collins was taking her challenge to the Supreme Court over the Government's authority to recapitalise the banks that her case would be cited to undermine the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977? However, we find exactly that as a consideration in Mr. Justice Hogan's ruling.

I do not want to take up much of the Seanad's time today other than to say "Well done, Minister" on moving so promptly to tidy up and reconstruct this important legislative and public policy area.

I add my support for the legislation and compliment the Minister and the Department for pre-empting the decision of the Court of Appeal and for having been so well prepared to close off those loopholes as quickly as possible. The Minister appreciates that the people involved in the illicit drug trade are very unscrupulous and the sooner the Bill can be enacted the better it will be. I applaud the Minister for the speed with which he has taken the matter in hand.

It is inevitable that there should be a broader discussion on the drugs issue as a result of this particular development. The Minister has many pressing issues on his agenda within the extensive portfolio he has taken on, but the impact of the drugs trade on families and communities, and on young people in particular, amounts to a major national crisis. I would very much welcome a comprehensive debate and discussion with the Minister in this House on how these issues can be tackled. Senator Heffernan put forward some very interesting ideas today which I, however, probably would not support. I am conscious of the devastation being wrought by drug abuse in small towns and villages the length and breadth of the country. We must redouble our efforts to ensure gardaí and customs staff are sufficiently resourced to put the people involved in the illicit drugs trade out of business. It is a major challenge. The Minister will be well aware of the number of hospital beds that are taken up and the proportion of accident and emergency unit time and resources given over to people presenting with drug overdoses or who have injured themselves as a result of the use of drugs, as well as those who have been injured by persons misusing drugs. This represents a major cost to the Exchequer.

There has been some discussion as to whether there should be a dedicated Minister of State with responsibility for drugs. I was a member some years ago of a drugs task force at a time when we had a Minister of State with precisely that responsibility. I am not sure whether we made the amount of progress we would have liked to make. We must continue to give attention to the issue. I hope the Minister will be back in the near future for a wide-ranging discussion on these critical matters. For today, I am pleased this legislation has the support of Members of all parties and none. It will ensure that a significant loophole which might be exploited by unscrupulous operators is closed as a matter of urgency.

I thank Senators for their contributions to the debate and their support for this important legislation. On the broader issue of drugs policy, I would not like the impression to go out that this issue has in some way been deprioritised by the Government. That certainly is not the case. In 2015, for the first time in several years, there has been no further cut to the budgets of local drugs task forces and of the Oversight Forum on Drugs, OFD, which I chair. Even though we have had only a very modest increase in the budget for the Health Service Executive for this year, €2.1 million of that allocation is being given to increase spending on drug treatment and prevention. This means more detox beds at Merchant's Quay and Coolmine in 2015, more needle exchanges across the country and more investment in mental health support staff, which is particularly important. Also this year I will commence the naloxone demonstration project, making naloxone available to several hundred addicts, users, care workers, staff, family members and the Prison Service, if it agrees to be part of the project, to ensure overdoses can be treated quickly on the scene, which will result in a further reduction in drug-related deaths in 2015. The existing drugs strategy is due to expire in 2016 and work on the development of a new strategy will begin soon. While Garda operational issues are a matter for the Commissioner, I would welcome a broader debate in the Seanad which might encompass a review of the current strategy and a discussion on what should be included in the new one.

Several Senators called for a shift to a health-focused and addiction-focused approach to drugs rather than concentrating primarily on the criminal justice and enforcement aspect. My own instincts are in the same direction, but it requires careful consideration and public buy-in.

On the suggestion that there be a dedicated Minister of State with responsibility for drugs, that is a matter for the Taoiseach and Tánaiste. I always welcome extra help and have learned to delegate much better in this job than I did in the past. I certainly am not trying to hoard responsibilities, but I am currently able to manage the many responsibilities of the role with the assistance of the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch. We have had dedicated Ministers of State in the past but I am not sure it always works well. By their very nature, Ministers of State do not have the type of clout senior Ministers do because they are not at the Cabinet table. However, if that approach is taken, the new role should be created as a dedicated position rather than being added on to an existing Ministry of State, it should be cross-departmental, because drugs issues span the areas of health, justice, education and youth affairs, and it should have a designated budget.

I would like to correct a reference I made earlier. I can now confirm that magic mushrooms are not plants but fungi, and fungi are neither plants nor animals. I apologise to the mushroom-growing community for any offence that might have been caused.

Finally, I take this opportunity to record my thanks to the civil servants in my Department, particularly Eugene Lennon and Siobhán Kennan, who did all the preparation for this emergency legislation. I was just briefed as things proceeded; they ensured the legislation was ready to go right away as soon as I got the text at 11 a.m. yesterday to say we had lost the case. I also pay tribute to the Attorney General's office and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for their assistance in recent weeks.

Question put and declared carried.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?