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Order of Business.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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[901]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No.7, Motion re Referral to Select Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Convention of the Treaty on European Union on the fight against corruption, the Convention on Combating Bribery and the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption; No. 8, Motion re Referral to Select Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Anti-Doping Convention; No. 9, Motion re Referral to Joint Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Bovine Diseases (Levies) Regulations, 2002; No. 10, Motion re Standing Order 114; No.11, Motion re Leave to Introduce Supplementary Estimate [Vote 35]; No. 12, Motion re Referral of Supplementary Estimate [Vote 35] to Select Committee; No. 25, National Development Finance Agency Bill, 2002 – Second Stage (resumed); No. 26, Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 2002 – Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and, subject to the agreement of No. 11, No. 12 (referral to Select Committee) shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded on Nos. 11 and 12 shall be taken forthwith; (2) the proceedings on No. 25 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. and any division demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Thursday; and (3) Private Members' Business shall be No. 37 Motion re Community Employment Schemes which shall also take place tomorrow at 12 noon, and shall be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes and any divisions demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Thursday.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 without debate agreed to?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent Regarding No. 9, it is important that we not deal with this matter without debate because of the need to address the serious issue of BSE and the disposal of slaughtered animals. Technology is moving on and the rules are not keeping up with the technology. For example, there is no need for incineration in this regard. We need a debate on this matter to bring everyone up to date and to expose the vested interests which are preventing progress in this area.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The proposal is to refer the matter to a select committee.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent The whole House has an interest in this matter. The issue is not merely an agricultural one.

[902]Question, “That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 without debate be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Is the proposal for dealing with No. 25 agreed to?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte It seems early in the life of the Government to impose a guillotine on a Bill on Second Stage, especially given the general paucity of legislation this term. Is this Bill the instrument that will be used to refurbish the 400 schools my colleague, Deputy O'Sullivan, raised and which were promised in advance of the general election by the Taoiseach and by his Ministers and backbenchers throughout the country, and for which promises we now find there was no basis?

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 25 be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with Private Members' Business this week be agreed to” put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Last Thursday a ruling was sought on the use of scripts in the House. Having considered the matter the position is as follows:

Under a long standing ruling of the Chair dating from the 8th Dáil in the early 1930s “a Member is not entitled to read a speech but he may consult notes. A Minister, according to precedent, is allowed to read important statements of policy or fact and on this basis is allowed to circulate a script”.

That position is unchanged and while the rule has been applied in more recent years the Chair has taken the view that Members in consulting notes may do so from extended notes.

The Committee on Procedure and Privileges touched on this matter when finalising the protocol on decorum in the House recently and the issue can be revisited if thought necessary.

It is also important to point out that the Dáil itself saw the need for more spontaneity in debate by bringing in a new Standing Order 47 in 1996. The use of scripts runs contrary to the spirit of these changes and, ideally, should not be allowed. I realise the issue may not be straightforward for all Members and can be revisited by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges if Members wish.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins What about a Government with no serious policies?

On the Order of Business, I am given to understand that the Minister for Agriculture and Food is about to sign a statutory instrument categorising some veterinary medicines as prescription-only medicines. Could the Taoiseach use his influence and hold off this measure until the veterinary medicines Bill is brought before the House?

[903]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The Deputy should find another way of raising that matter.

(Interruptions).

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins When will the veterinary medicines Bill be published?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Deputy Timmins was totally out of order in raising an issue that should be raised in another way.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The veterinary medicines Bill, which is to replace the existing legislation regulating the veterinary profession and related activities, is currently being drafted and is expected early next year.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore During Question Time on Thursday, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, following his return from the public launch of the national spatial strategy, confirmed to the House that legislation would be required to give effect to certain aspects of the strategy. Will the Taoiseach inform the House regarding the specific legislation that will be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I have no list from the Minister as yet. I suggest that a parliamentary question be put down and I am sure the Minister will answer fully on the national spatial strategy.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I am surprised at this—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison I suggest that Deputy Gilmore puts down a parliamentary question.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government has been discussing this for five years—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The Deputy is out of order.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore It is not a difficult question regarding legislation. The Government has not even—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Deputy, I suggest you submit a parliamentary question.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton When will we see the health and social care professionals regulatory Bill? Are there plans to fast-track the provisions to reform the law on personal injuries given the major issue of insurance? When the Taoiseach spoke earlier about regulating the advertising of alcohol, did he mean the Government is considering or planning legislation in that regard?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The heads of the health and social care professionals regulatory Bill have been approved. Legislation is being drafted and is expected in the middle of next year. The health insurance Bill, a short Bill, will be available next year. The other matters on the broader insurance agenda were outlined by the Minister for [904] Enterprise, Trade and Employment recently, based on her efforts to set up the new regulatory body. The Minister for Health and Children has not listed any legislation regarding the advertising of alcohol but he has outlined his proposals. He intends to move away from the code that exists and I understand that will mean legislation.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins I welcome the Ceann Comhairle's call for more spontaneity. As it happens, a few spontaneous questions to the Taoiseach have just occurred to me. Will the Ceann Comhairle indulge me?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Within the Standing Orders, we would be delighted to facilitate the Deputy.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins A Cheann Comhairle, you will have to sort out the conflict between spontaneity and the rigid interpretation of this rule, so I will confine myself to asking the Taoiseach when the employment permits Bill is due.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I assume the Deputy means the work permits Bill. The heads have been approved. The legislation is being drafted and it is expected shortly.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Based on the Supplementary Estimates introduced regarding humanitarian aid last week, will the Taoiseach please intervene with the Minister responsible to ensure that—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison That does not arise.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch —administering of the humanitarian aid—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison That does not arise. The Deputy knows the Standing Order.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell Despite the fact that the health service is virtually falling apart, there is only one item of health legislation promised by the Minister in this session – the opticians (amendment) Bill. Is there any chance we will see it in the next eight days or that we will be given anything at all to do in the health area?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The opticians (amendment) Bill will be dealt with in this session.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle Zoom on Dan Boyle On the Order of Business under “Documents laid before the Dáil” there are a number of documents under the Prompt Payment of Accounts Act for State bodies. Two Departments have tabled a review of payment practices – the Departments of Education and Science and Foreign Affairs. Will all Departments be tabling reviews and will they be laid before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I will bring what the Deputy has stated to the attention of the Ministers.

[905]Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan Zoom on Seán Ryan Has the Taoiseach any proposals to bring forward the amendment of the Waste Management Act, 1996, or any other legislation to deal with the Supreme Court decision regarding the collection of refuse?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I do not think there is any legislation in that regard.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe Does the Taoiseach intend to prioritise giving effect in domestic law to the Rome Statute, which we signed about five years ago? We had a referendum a year and a half ago. We are trying to get a judge into the court at this stage and we hope she will be successful. Would it not be proper to give effect in domestic law to that statute? Utter incompetence has been shown in our signing up to the statute and ratifying it, but not implementing it. It renders us a laughing stock in international terms.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I replied to the Deputy quite recently on that matter.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The heads of the Bill have been approved by Government. I understand there are 103 heads in the Bill and it is hoped that it will be ready early in 2003.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe I will keep up the pressure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh Mindful of the fact that, on average, a woman will be assaulted by a partner 35 times before she goes to the police, has the Government got its legal advice on the issue of interim barring orders and will we see promised legislation on this issue before Christmas?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The domestic violence (amendment) Bill is to respond to the recent Supreme Court decision that the provision in the Domestic Violence Acts permitting the making of interim barring orders ex parte is unconstitutional. The heads of the Bill are expected this week. The considerations are now completed and the legislation should be ready early in 2003. Legislation is urgent and it has received priority.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus Zoom on Liz McManus There appears to be a difference in policy between the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil on the drugs payment scheme. The pharmacy Bill was promised for this year. However, since there now appears to be two policies, will we have two pharmacy Bills to ensure that both policies can be delivered on?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The pharmacy Bill is to update and rationalise the Pharmacy Acts, 1875 to 1977. The Bill should be out some time next year. There is ongoing discussion with the pharmaceutical industry regarding the heads of the Bill.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen Zoom on Bernard Allen In view of the new charges being forced on local authorities because of a shortfall [906] in local government funding, when will the local government rates (consolidation) Bill be introduced? The charges are about the equivalent of a 2% increase in income tax—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison I would not like to spoil the Deputy's opportunity on the Adjournment tonight to deal with the same issue.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The heads of the local government rates Bill are expected before Christmas and the Bill is expected to be published next year.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Will the Taoiseach indicate when the promised Bill dealing with improved redundancy payments will be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The redundancy amendment Bill has been referred to by the Tánaiste and Minster for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. On 15 October the Government approved the drafting of the heads of the Bill. This has been done and outstanding issues are at present the subject of negotiations between IBEC, the Government and ICTU.


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