Today in Leinster House: November 30, 2011 [updated]

The Dáil’s Wednesday is taken up by some hefty debates on significant legislation, while there’s still plenty going on elsewhere.

Here, then, is what’s in store:

9:30am – Jobs, Social Protection and Education – As is now the weekly norm, members get together in Room 2 to begin the Wednesday morning. They will hear submissions on the proposed legislation which would make it an offence to withhold knowledge of a crime involving a child.

9:30am – Justice, Defence and Equality – In Room 3, members will meet for the second time (of five!) this week to hear feedback from Social Justice Ireland on the impact of current economic developments, and of Budget proposals, on the poor.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – The main event of the day will see opposition leaders try to get their last stabs at Enda Kenny before the Budget break.

10:30am – Order of Business – The Seanad kicks off its day with a 75-minute selection of discussions on whatever the members deem discussion-worthy.

10:51am – Order of Business – The relatively straightforward plan of action for the day ought not to create much hassle – but, no doubt, hassle will be had.

11:21am – Statements on pre-European Council meeting of 8th-9th DecemberA relatively last-minute addition to the schedule, leaders get 65 minutes to make statements ahead of next week’s meeting of EU leaders – which hopes to put a final end to the eurozone debt crisis.

11:45am – National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2011 (second stage) – The main item of business in the Seanad this week, being discussed today and finished off tomorrow, gives Fáilte Ireland a greater role in promoting enterprise in its overseas work.

11:45am – Jobs, Education and Innovation (sub-committee) – In a quick meeting, members have an unusual task: voting on reallocating €12m of Enterprise Ireland funding, which hasn’t been spent this year, back elsewhere within the Dept of Jobs budget. Room 3.

12:26pm – Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] (second stage resumed) – The main item of the day will be the debate on the bill which has already cleared the Seanad. To recap, a few months ago the European Court of Justice fined Ireland for its continued failure to deal with septic tanks and wastewater in accordance with EU directives. Here, Phil Hogan will introduce a new piece of legislation which brings Ireland into line with that requirement. The provisions will likely require one-off inspections of hundreds of thousands of private septic tanks around Ireland – likely at a fee.

The legislation is relatively urgent – Ireland faces ongoing fines from the ECJ depending on how long it takes to implement it – so the entire day’s Dáil business is devoted to it.


2:00pm – Justice, Defence and Equality – Meeting 3 of the week sees members head back to Room 2 to discuss new EU legislative proposals, plus another unusual topic: the socio-economic and other implications of the switch to Winter Time.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government) – Phil Hogan is in the Budgetary firing line this week, given that the legislation coming through today – and another one which is due for discussion next week – is likely to result in inspection fees for septic tanks, on top of the motor tax and carbon taxes coming next week. Today he faces questions on plans to increase maximum floor spaces of retail units, building control standards, pyrite damage, homelessness and preventing flooding.

2:30pm – Road Transport Bill 2011 (committee and remaining stages) – The latter stages of a housekeeping bill will see Leo Varadkar deal with procedural amendments to a bill which ensures that secondary legislation is not affected by new incoming EU legislation.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four of the day’s pressing issues are raised by back-benchers and opposition members.

4:00pm – Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform – Brendan Howlin joins members in Room 4 to talk them through the Public Service Reform Plan, which will see the numbers on the public payroll cut to just over 280,000 in a bid to save around €2.5bn from the public payroll.

4:33pm – as 11:21amMore discussion on the Water Services legislation raised earlier today. 

5pm – Private Members’ Business [Fianna Fáil]Fianna Fáil’s senators table a motion condemning the closure of rural hospitals, and bemoaning that details of the 842 beds being closed were leaked through the media and not purposely disclosed in the Oireachtas.

7pm – Matters on the adjournment – Following a vote on that, some more topical issues are mentioned before the lights are turned out for the night.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – The second session of debate on Sinn Féin’s private members’ motion, which is relatively straightforward – either the government accepts its wording, which ensures that child benefit and other welfare payments are not cut in the Budget. The government will no doubt propose an amendment, so a vote will be taken on that at 9pm.

9:00pmas 11:21am – More debate on the government’s Bill to force through the inspections on septic tanks before the debate is brought to a conclusion with a vote at 10:30pm.

All of the day’s business can be viewed on the streams: