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 Header Item European Council Meetings (Continued)
 Header Item Order of Business

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] Following the ratification of the Lisbon treaty, one cannot have a European budget without the approval, imprimatur and consent of the European Parliament. As the elections will be held next year, this is clearly an issue for sectors, groups and individuals who want to make their cases. That is why it is important to get the MFF through during the current Presidency. If the matter is left outstanding into the post-summer period, people will begin to focus on the European elections next year. People sometimes play games with issues involving these serious matters. We made the point at the meeting in Brussels last night that the democratic legitimacy and accountability that Deputies Dara Murphy and Eric Byrne heard about today are crucial. That is what the people decided in respect of the Lisbon treaty. The European Council can no longer make its own decision on the budget. It must rightly be the subject of consent by the elected representatives of the peoples of Europe, which means there is room for discussion on own resources and flexibility and a review period between 2014 and 2020. While no one knows in what shape the economies will be in 2017 or 2018, there is room for discussion about it. We hope during our Presidency to reflect what the European Parliament is saying, which is that there should be some scope for analysis.

  There was a committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas previously which dealt with European decisions. It was a small sub-committee of what was then the Joint Committee on European Affairs, and it was required to deal with a flood of decisions, directives and regulations every week. They became a torrent and the sub-committee was in a position to scrutinise only small numbers of serious decisions. It had to hope for the best in terms of covering the issues of real importance and hope that the process undertaken by our permanent representation in Brussels and by negotiating Ministers and Ministers of State ensured everything else was in order. Deputy Dara Murphy will be only too aware that in times gone by Ireland tended to implement regulations and directives to the nth degree in their first year while other countries took their time to see what effect they might have over a period. We seemed to do it all in one, which sometimes caused problems, including with the soil directive. These things work themselves out over a period.

  In the coming period, democratic legitimacy and accountability will be critical both here and from a European point of view. In the course of discussions about where we are headed, the views of Members will be more than welcome in committees or here in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The time for Taoiseach's questions has expired.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It has been filibustered.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Order of Business

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is proposed to take No. 6, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 7, motion re proposal that Dáil Éireann adopt the "EU Scrutiny Work Programme 2013, Joint Committees' Priorities"; No. 8, motion re Standing Orders 28, 39 and 102A; No. 9, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of the euro and other currencies against counterfeiting by criminal law, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2000/383/JHA (back from committee); No. 17, Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 18, Housing (Amendment) Bill 2013 - Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 shall be decided without debate. It is further proposed that the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. tomorrow. Private Members' business shall be No. 102, motion re the fodder crisis.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9, inclusive, without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal that on its rising today the Dáil shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. tomorrow agreed to? Agreed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin According to the latest figures from the Health Service Executive, more than 5,600 patients in Limerick have been waiting for four years or more for an outpatient appointment. Of those, more than 4,000 have been waiting four years or more for appointments at the orthopaedic hospital in Croom, while 1,400 have been waiting for appointments at the nearby Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle. Nationally, more than 105,000 patients have been waiting for more than a year for a first outpatient appointment with a consultant. There appear to be a lot of issues with information systems on the waiting times for elective and outpatient appointments. Can the Taoiseach confirm when the health information Bill will be brought before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin has raised an important point, the details of which I will not go into. In October last year, the orthopaedic outpatient service in Limerick had a waiting list of 10,900 people. In the six months since then, the evolution of the National Treatment Purchase Fund into the special delivery unit has reduced the waiting list by almost 33%, and it now stands at 7,477. To be fair, Deputy Martin should note that we must validate the figures. Some of these people have been waiting for a very long time and some may well have had treatment elsewhere. I expect the validated figures to be available for everybody towards the end of the month.

The health information Bill is not due until early next year.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin When is the gas regulation Bill due, given the Bord Gáis Energy sale?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is due this year. I congratulate Bord Gáis Energy's new chief executive, who took up office today.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Tá cúpla ceist agam faoi reachtaíocht atá forógraithe. Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an méid a dúirt an Taoiseach faoi conas is féidir ceisteanna chun an Taoisigh a dhéanamh níos fearr as seo amach. I listened intently to what the Taoiseach said about trying to rearrange Question Time. Today's session was the most frustrating I have spent in the Dáil. It was a complete waste of time from the perspective of a person representing an oppositional point of view. I was advised there would be a certain number of questions, of which I had tabled 26. We did not get past any of them, nor did we get any sense in response to those questions that were answered. As he reviews how we do our business, I ask the Taoiseach to consider this. He sat in opposition for long enough to know what it is like to be bamboozled and filibustered. I ask him to take that on board.

On the Order of Business, I am advised that the Minister for Health has had the report of Professor John Higgins on the establishment of hospital groups for some time. It will have a significant impact and has already started to cause concern on foot of rumours and leaks. Has the report been discussed by Government, when will it be published and when will it be discussed in the Dáil?

Can the Taoiseach set out when Report and Final Stages of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill will be taken in the Dáil? Will all Stages have been completed before the summer recess?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny When I entered the House in the 1970s, the Minister of the day, as the Ceann Comhairle will recall, could be in situ answering questions for six months. As a case in point, the Minister for Agriculture could start answering questions when the Dáil resumed at the end of October after a summer recess and still be doing so the following March. Deputy Adams talks about frustration. We have tried different approaches over the years and I am as amenable as anyone to improving matters. It does not mean coming in on Wednesdays-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach keeps saying that, but he is not.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin asks the questions and I try to answer them. Everybody else asks questions. Deputy Boyd Barrett is on his austerity rant all the time, and so on.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett And the Taoiseach is peddling his myths at length.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We will discuss this matter again.

  We are waiting for Report Stage of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill in the House. It is part of dealing with the legislation problem that we have.

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