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 Header Item Order of Business
 Header Item Ministerial Rota for Parliamentary Questions: Motion
 Header Item Pre-European Council Meeting: Statements

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 791 No. 2

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Order of Business

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is proposed to take No. a10, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 26, statements on pre-European Council meeting of 7 and 8 February; No. 25, National Lottery Bill 2012 - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 1, Water Services Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. a10 shall be decided without debate and that the proceedings in respect of No. 26 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 65 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements shall be made by the Taoiseach and by the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time and shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes, and, in the event the statements have not concluded by 1.30 p.m., the suspension of sitting under Standing Order 23 shall take place on the conclusion of the statements until 2.30 p.m.

  Private Members’ business shall be No. 90, motion re promissory notes (resumed), to conclude at 9 p.m. if not previously concluded.

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 No. a10, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 26, statements on pre-European Council meeting of 7 and 8 February, agreed to? Agreed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I refer to promised legislation in the context of the traceability of horses. As the Taoiseach is aware, a major scandal is unfolding with deeply profound consequences for the food industry and the beef industry in particular because of the contamination of beef products with horsemeat and with all the consequences this entails. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has belatedly given a commitment to introduce legislation to ensure full traceability for horses as is in place for cattle, sheep and pigs. There is an absence of such traceability at present and yesterday I asked the Taoiseach how one could be certain that horsemeat, either legally or illegally, is not getting into the food chain. This is a very serious issue and one cannot say that with certainty. Moreover, a number of television documentaries have been broadcast and The Sunday Times has covered a number of reports in this regard. Can the Taoiseach indicate when this legislation to ensure traceability of horses will be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is not on any list at present. It is a matter of considerable importance. The Minister is receiving a briefing today from the Garda and from the special investigation unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Obviously, he will report to the House and I will see to it that he refers to the current status of the preparation of such legislation.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I wish to ask the Taoiseach about two commitments made in the programme for Government, the first of which is the commitment to allow access to primary care without fees to claimants of free drugs under the long-term illness scheme. The second commitment concerns access to primary care without fees to claimants of free drugs under the high-tech drugs scheme. These two commitments were to be delivered in years one and two of the Government's term. As the second anniversary of the Taoiseach's election to government approaches, can he provide Members with an update as to when the legislation to give effect to these promises will come before the Dáil?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I do not believe it is too far away. The Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy White, is dealing with that matter. He reported in the recent bilateral meeting I had with him on the stage of preparation. I will have the Minister of State, Deputy White, provide Deputy McDonald with an update.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I wish to ask the Taoiseach about the status of the Central Bank (consolidation) Bill because there is considerable uncertainty about what is happening within the Central Bank. I had a meeting with senior Central Bank officials last week and am very worried, to say the least, as to what views and developments are percolating down from there to the lending banks, particularly regarding the code of conduct for the lending banks.

Second, I wish to raise the courts (consolidation and reform) Bill, the purpose of which is to provide for the implementation of recommendations of the Law Reform Commission. Many things are happening, particularly before the commercial courts, that are extremely worrying and disconcerting. Again, lending institutions are acting under the impression that they have court orders - sometimes they have and sometimes they have not - and are not obeying the laws of the land. They actually are bullying families and individuals.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Mattie McGrath has raised two items of legislation. I dealt yesterday with the position regarding the Central Bank (consolidation) Bill. It cannot proceed until the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill has been dealt with. It has gone through Second Stage and awaits Committee Stage in this House. Consequently, that will move through and thereafter, the preparation of the Central Bank (consolidation) Bill can take place. The Deputy referred to the courts Bill, which is due this session.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Will the health information Bill ensure the Government's commitment that the money will follow the patient will be met?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Will it follow the Minister?

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy In light of this, I ask the Taoiseach what is the reason Mullingar hospital has suffered a cut of 2.5%-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I think a parliamentary question is coming upon me.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy -----considering that its activity has increased by 4%? The Taoiseach might confirm what is the reason performing hospitals have been penalised in their allocation of funding by the HSE-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am afraid that is a matter for another day.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy -----and will this be addressed? I merely ask because this is a very important issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I appreciate that.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Services are to be removed from a hospital that has been performing. In light of the health information Bill, will this issue be addressed because I consider it to be a great anomaly?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Taoiseach, on the health information Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny There has been a change in the way in which budgets are being prepared for hospitals. The health information Bill is due later this year. On Deputy Troy's comment in respect of the money-follows-the-patient exercise, the Minister has had approval for a paper on that. It will be published as a Green Paper, in conjunction with a paper to be published very shortly on universal health insurance, which it is the intention of the Government to introduce at the end of its period of office.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Are there times for the publication of those papers?

Ministerial Rota for Parliamentary Questions: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in the Order of the Dáil of 9 March 2011, setting out the rota in which Questions to members of the Government are to be asked, Questions for oral answer, following those next set down to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, shall be set down to Ministers in the following temporary sequence:
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Minister for Education and Skills

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

Minister for Finance
whereupon the sequence established by the Order of 9 March 2011 shall continue with Questions to the Minister for Social Protection.

  Question put and agreed to.

Pre-European Council Meeting: Statements

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The European Council will have its first meeting of 2013 in Brussels on Thursday and Friday of this week. The main issue for discussion is agreement on the Union's future budget, which is called the multiannual financial framework, MFF. That work will start tomorrow and I expect discussions to continue late into the night. As Members will recall, negotiations on the MFF have been under way since the European Commission put forward its proposals in June 2011. They have been, and remain, both highly technically complex and highly political as by assigning resources, we are effectively prioritising our common actions, making hard choices and difficult decisions on the European Union's actions right up to 2020.

The amounts of money involved may sound very large and the Commission originally proposed expenditure of approximately €1,000 billion over seven years. In reality, however, for a European Union of 560 million citizens, this represents just 1% of European Union gross national income, GNI. If one puts it another way, it represents just 2% of total public expenditure in the European Union. At a time when we look to the Union to assume many more tasks, this seems modest. However, the negotiations this week will not merely focus on spending.


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