Dáil Éireann - Volume 582 - 11 March, 2004

Order of Business.

  Mr. M. Smith:The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 9b, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of Customs and Excise (Mutual Assistance) Act 2001 (section 8) (Protection of Manual Data) Regulations 2004; No. 18a, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2004 — Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 1, Equality Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 9b shall be decided without debate; the Report and Final Stages of No. 18a shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Social and Family [256] Affairs. The Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 23 March 2004.

  An Ceann Comhairle:There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9b agreed?

  Mr. G. Mitchell:No. I asked a question yesterday about the number of births to foreign persons in Irish hospitals and I was told in a written reply that the information was not available. This refers to the compilation data. If such basic data is not available how can the country be put to a referendum? It is appalling.

  An Ceann Comhairle:We are dealing with the proposal on the customs and excise regulations.

  Mr. G. Mitchell:The information on children being born in this county was not available.

  An Ceann Comhairle:We are dealing with the proposal on the customs and excise regulations.

  Mr. G. Mitchell:However, there is to be a referendum. It is only a gimmick.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 9b be agreed to,” put and declared carried.

  An Ceann Comhairle:Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18a agreed?

  Mr. Kenny:I have made the case already. We are opposed to the guillotine propositions. The social welfare (consolidation) Bill promised would provide an opportunity for the Government to reverse the inequitable cut imposed on widows and single parents by the withdrawal of their entitlement to disability and unemployment benefit, even though they pay PRSI. This is a matter of considerable importance to many people. Therefore, I am opposed to the Bill being guillotined. Deputy Ring will deal with the matter later.

  Ms McManus:We also oppose the guillotine. It is unacceptable that such a major Bill would be guillotined. Thirty amendments have been tabled, some of which will not be reached. There is also the issue which Deputy Kenny has raised, that of iniquitous cuts that hurt people.There is a further issue that is unacceptable to us. An amendment is being introduced on Report Stage that will take away rights of gay people that have been gained as a result of a landmark decision by the Equality Authority. This amendment has only been published today. It was introduced after Committee Stage was concluded. It will deny people rights they have gained as citizens of this country. We are extremely concerned about it and ask that the guillotine be lifted and that we have a proper debate in a proper manner appropriate to this Parliament.

  Mr. Gormley:We have always said we are opposed to the repeated use of the guillotine. On [257] the issue raised by Deputy McManus, this is yet another last minute amendment on a very serious issue, which overturns the rights of gay partners to free travel. It is totally unacceptable so far as the Green Party is concerned to introduce this amendment at the last minute. It goes back to the lack of consultation. Yesterday we saw another example of lack of consultation on the question of holding this referendum. It is cynicism of the highest order and that is why we are opposed to it.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:I also wish to register the Sinn Féin opposition to the guillotine of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. Given the volume of amendments, tabled by the various Opposition spokespersons, they will not be addressed in any substantive manner, with the guillotine applying by 3.30 p.m. and one question being put to the House. The issue raised by Deputies McManus and Gormley is one of concern also to my party. It concerns the introduction of amendments following Committee Stage that are designed to wrong-foot everybody regarding real and substantive address. This is a serious issue where rights gained are being taken away. That is not acceptable. Therefore, we will oppose this proposition vehemently.

  Mr. Boyle:May I raise a point of order on the points raised? The amendment referred to is No. 19. I seek the Chair’s guidance because it is unlikely this amendment will be discussed. Perhaps the Clerk could advise the Chair. Is it possible that an amendment will be made to a Bill that was not discussed on Second, Committee or Report Stages?

  An Ceann Comhairle:We will wait and see if we arrive at it.

  Mr. Boyle:It is unlikely to be discussed because of the guillotine.

  An Ceann Comhairle:If we spend all morning on the Order of Business we certainly will not arrive at it.

  Ms O’Sullivan:My understanding is that Report Stage amendments must arise out of Committee Stage.

  Mr. Durkan:That is correct.

  An Ceann Comhairle:During Report Stage a Bill can be recommitted to Committee Stage in respect of a new amendment.

  Ms McManus:If that amendment is not reached it cannot be recommitted.

  Mr. Howlin:It would be out of order.

  Ms McManus:This is an important issue in terms of how legislation is dealt with in this [258] House. If, as Deputy Boyle has stated, it is unlikely to be reached, how can it be recommitted?

  An Ceann Comhairle:Deputy O’Sullivan asked whether Report Stage amendments must arise from Committee Stage proceedings. I wish to point out to Deputy O’Sullivan that an amendment can be recommitted on Report Stage. Deputy McManus has asked a different question.

  Ms McManus:I have not.

  An Ceann Comhairle:Deputy McManus asked whether the amendment can be reached. It is a matter for the House to decide now whether it wants to proceed in accordance with the proposal. I will hear the Minister for Defence.

  Mr. Durkan:This is through the backdoor.

  Ms McManus:I wish to raise a point of order. The point of order is not whether we agree to have a guillotine but whether it is legal and proper if we end up in a situation where an amendment that was not introduced on Committee Stage, requires to be recommitted on Report Stage and that procedure is not proceeded with because time runs out as a result of the guillotine.

  An Ceann Comhairle:The Deputy has made her point.

  Mr. Gormley:May we have an answer?

  Mr. Durkan:On a point of order. We require clarification on that issue. The understanding and the practice has always been that the introduction of an amendment on Report Stage needs to have been heralded previously, in other words, indicated during the course of that debate.

  Mr. Howlin:Yes.

  Mr. Durkan:That did not happen in this case.

  Mary Coughlan:It did.

  Mr. Durkan:We are not aware of that.

  Mr. Treacy:Deputies are confused.

  Mary Coughlan:Deputy Ring was there.

  An Ceann Comhairle:We cannot have a debate on what took place on Committee Stage.

  Mr. Durkan:We need clarification.

  An Ceann Comhairle:The simple issue is one of clarification.

  Mr. Ring:It was indicated that an amendment would be forthcoming.

[259]   Mr. Durkan:It now appears it was indicated that a further amendment would be forthcoming——

  Mary Coughlan:Deputies Ryan and Penrose were there.

  Mr. Durkan:——but the nature or text of that amendment was not indicated.

  A Deputy:It was.

  An Ceann Comhairle:On the question raised by Deputy McManus, when the question is put to the House at 3.30 p.m. or before, a proposal will come before the House and at that stage it will be up to the House to decide what it wishes to do.

  Mr. Boyle:It will not be reached.

  Mr. M. Smith:There is a long-standing practice in the House whereby on Committee Stage a Member may indicate if he or she intends to table [260] amendments on Report Stage. This was done and it was explained.

  Mr. Boyle:This will not be debated.

  An Ceann Comhairle:Allow the Minister to speak without interruption.

11 o’clock

  Mr. M. Smith:It appears to me, and I am sure there are many who would agree, that we spend a long time debating why we cannot have an opportunity to debate something which, if we stopped doing that, we would have an opportunity to discuss in the four and a half hours available to debate this legislation. There is a time limit on this legislation. On 1 April, benefits, including child benefit, have to be paid and Deputies are well aware of that. There is a time limit on it.

  Mr. Gormley:Why do we not come into the House next week?

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 18a be agreed.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 40.

    Andrews, Barry.

    Brady, Martin.

    Brennan, Seamus.

    Callanan, Joe.

    Callely, Ivor.

    Carey, Pat.

    Carty, John.

    Collins, Michael.

    Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

    Coughlan, Mary.

    Cregan, John.

    Cullen, Martin.

    Curran, John.

    Davern, Noel.

    Dempsey, Tony.

    Dennehy, John.

    Devins, Jimmy.

    Ellis, John.

    Fahey, Frank.

    Finneran, Michael.

    Fitzpatrick, Dermot.

    Fleming, Seán.

    Fox, Mildred.

    Gallagher, Pat The Cope.

    Glennon, Jim.

    Grealish, Noel.

    Hanafin, Mary.

    Jacob, Joe.

    Keaveney, Cecilia.

    Kelleher, Billy.

    Kelly, Peter.

    Killeen, Tony.

    Kirk, Seamus.

    Lenihan, Conor.

    McCreevy, Charlie.

    McGuinness, John.

    Moloney, John.

    Moynihan, Donal.

    Moynihan, Michael.

    Mulcahy, Michael.

    Nolan, M. J.

    Ó Cuív, Éamon.

    Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.

    O’Dea, Willie.

    O’Donnell, Liz.

    O’Donovan, Denis.

    O’Keeffe, Batt.

    O’Malley, Fiona.

    O’Malley, Tim.

    Parlon, Tom.

    Power, Seán.

    Ryan, Eoin.

    Sexton, Mae.

    Smith, Brendan.

    Smith, Michael.

    Treacy, Noel.

    Wallace, Dan.

    Woods, Michael.

    Wright, G. V.

Níl

    Boyle, Dan.

    Broughan, Thomas P.

    Bruton, John.

    Bruton, Richard.

    Burton, Joan.

    Connaughton, Paul.

    Cuffe, Ciarán.

    Deenihan, Jimmy.

    Durkan, Bernard J.

    Enright, Olwyn.

    Ferris, Martin.

    Gilmore, Eamon.

    Gormley, John.

    Harkin, Marian.

    Healy, Seamus.

    Howlin, Brendan.

    Kehoe, Paul.

    Kenny, Enda.

    Lynch, Kathleen.

    McCormack, Padraic.

    McGinley, Dinny.

    McHugh, Paddy.

    McManus, Liz.

    Mitchell, Olivia.

    [261] Morgan, Arthur.

    Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.

    Murphy, Gerard.

    Naughten, Denis.

    Neville, Dan.

    Noonan, Michael.

    Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

    O’Keeffe, Jim.

    O’Sullivan, Jan.

    Pattison, Seamus.

    Penrose, Willie.

    Perry, John.

    Ring, Michael.

    Ryan, Seán.

    Shortall, Róisín.

    Upton, Mary.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Broughan.

Question declared carried.

[262]   An Ceann Comhairle:Is No. 3, the proposal for the adjournment of the Dáil, agreed?

  Ms McManus:We oppose the proposal that the Dáil should adjourn until 23 March, which is almost 12 days away. A pattern has been set by the Government wherein the Dáil only sits when it suits the Government, and that is unacceptable. We should be attending to important business and everyone else in the country will be working all next week, apart from the annual holiday of 17 March. Major legislation is proposed by the Government within a very restricted timeframe and it is important we have an opportunity to do our work and to ensure proper scrutiny of legislation and other Government proposals. We oppose this proposal and we will be seeking a vote on it.

  Mr. Gormley:For quite some time we have been calling for more sitting days but our calls have gone unheeded. We are now trying to get through more and more legislation, such as legislation on electronic voting and the new referendum Bill, by cramming it into less and less time. That is why we do not have enough time to discuss legislation and why the guillotine is used. That rushed legislation will inevitably be bad legislation and that is why we oppose this proposal.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:I am not prepared to accept No. 3, the proposal that the Dáil should adjourn until 23 March, particularly as last night the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform announced details of a proposed referendum that would seek to take citizenship away from Irish-born children. That move has serious implications for the Good Friday Agreement and will unleash an untold tide of bigotry and racism.

  An Ceann Comhairle:Sorry, Deputy, we cannot have a debate on promised legislation. We are discussing the adjournment of the Dáil.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:We are not talking about promised legislation. We are talking about the right of the House to address a very important issue.

  An Ceann Comhairle:Yes, Deputy, we can have a brief comment but we cannot have a detailed statement.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:If the Chair will allow me for one day to speak without interruption, I ask that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform——

  An Ceann Comhairle:The Chair does not interrupt, the Chair intervenes.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:——or the Taoiseach should come to the House and allow a full debate on the implications of the Minister’s proposals. This is the man who proclaimed himself last night to be a great republican, but one of the tenets of real republicanism is citizenship and the Minister clearly has no understanding of that. He must come to the House as this is a very important issue. If this is to be the backdrop to the local and European elections on 11 June we face a difficult and disgraceful period in the lead-up to those elections. Every platform will be turned into a tirade of bigotry and racism, creating inter-communal strife which is already apparent in different parts of the island. This will only fuel the worst excesses within the Irish body politic. It needs to be stopped now.

  An Ceann Comhairle:The Deputy cannot debate the issue now.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:This referendum should not proceed and I demand that the Minister and the Taoiseach come before the House today.

  An Ceann Comhairle:A brief comment is allowed on the issue. I ask the Minister to respond to the issue before the House.

  Mr. M. Smith:We on this side of the House will not be lectured on who fuels excesses, on democracy or on allowing people to have a full debate.

  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:The Minister might learn something.

  Mr. M. Smith:Deputies were made fully aware of the timescale which was laid out for sittings of the Dáil. That was done in the most professional [263] way ever used in the House and it was agreed by the Whips a long time ago.

  Ms Burton:When was that agreed?

  Mr. M. Smith:We sat on two Fridays to give the House the time that would be lost next week——

  Mr. Ring:Not many Ministers were there.

[264]   Mr. M. Smith:——and a number of committees will meet next Friday. The time will be fully utilised by Ministers in different parts of the world to promote trade and so on for Ireland.

  Mr. Ring:They are junkets.

Question put: “That the Dáil, on rising today, shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 23 March 2004.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 34.

    Andrews, Barry.

    Brady, Martin.

    Brennan, Seamus.

    Callanan, Joe.

    Callely, Ivor.

    Carey, Pat.

    Carty, John.

    Collins, Michael.

    Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

    Coughlan, Mary.

    Cregan, John.

    Cullen, Martin.

    Davern, Noel.

    Devins, Jimmy.

    Ellis, John.

    Fahey, Frank.

    Finneran, Michael.

    Fitzpatrick, Dermot.

    Fox, Mildred.

    Gallagher, Pat The Cope.

    Glennon, Jim.

    Grealish, Noel.

    Hanafin, Mary.

    Jacob, Joe.

    Keaveney, Cecilia.

    Kelleher, Billy.

    Killeen, Tony.

    Kirk, Seamus.

    Lenihan, Conor.

    McCreevy, Charlie.

    McGuinness, John.

    Moloney, John.

    Moynihan, Donal.

    Moynihan, Michael.

    Mulcahy, Michael.

    Nolan, M.J.

    Ó Cuív, Éamon.

    Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.

    O’Dea, Willie.

    O’Donnell, Liz.

    O’Donovan, Denis.

    O’Keeffe, Batt.

    O’Malley, Fiona.

    Parlon, Tom.

    Power, Seán.

    Ryan, Eoin.

    Sexton, Mae.

    Smith, Brendan.

    Smith, Michael.

    Treacy, Noel.

    Woods, Michael.

    Wright, G.V.

Níl

    Broughan, Thomas P.

    Bruton, John.

    Burton, Joan.

    Cuffe, Ciarán.

    Durkan, Bernard J.

    Enright, Olwyn.

    Ferris, Martin.

    Gilmore, Eamon.

    Gormley, John.

    Harkin, Marian.

    Higgins, Michael D.

    Howlin, Brendan.

    Kehoe, Paul.

    Kenny, Enda.

    Lynch, Kathleen.

    McCormack, Padraic.

    McGinley, Dinny.

    McManus, Liz.

    Mitchell, Gay.

    Mitchell, Olivia.

    Morgan, Arthur.

    Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.

    Murphy, Gerard.

    Naughten, Denis.

    Neville, Dan.

    Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

    O’Keeffe, Jim.

    O’Sullivan, Jan.

    Penrose, Willie.

    Quinn, Ruairi.

    Ring, Michael.

    Ryan, Seán.

    Shortall, Róisín.

    Upton, Mary.

Tellers: Tá Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl: Deputies Durkan and Broughan.

Question declared carried.