Today in Leinster House: December 1, 2011 [updated]

Update, 11.48am

Aside from the completion of some other bills – and the last set of leaders and ministerial questions before the Budget is unveiled – there’s also the teeeeeny matter of the extension of that Bank Guarantee Scheme.

Not much to see here, then(!)…

9:30am – Justice, Defence and Equality – In its fourth meeting of the week (nearly there, folks, hang in there), the Justice committee hears from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and his second-in-command John Twomey to discuss community policing and the resources it requires. Room 3.

10:00am – Public Accounts Committee – In its usual Thursday morning session in Room 1, TDs through their usual probing eye over public spending. This week it’s the FÁS annual report up for scrutiny; joining members will be its director general Paul O’Toole.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – In the usual Thursday morning feature, a government rep takes questions from Éamon Ó Cuív, Mary Lou McDonald and the rostered leader from the technical group. Eamon Gilmore has skipped a summit of EU foreign ministers in Brussels – sending Lucinda Creighton in his place – so he will take the usual questions.

10:30am – Order of Business – Meanwhile, an unusually cluttered day in the Seanad kicks off with its daily 75-minute free-for-all as members try to have their say on prudential matters.

10:51am – Order of Business – The order of business in the Dáil will not only be late, but is pretty much guaranteed to run over time; the opposition parties are certain to complain that the government’s draft agenda will include merely 65 minutes of time to debate the extension of the bank guarantee.

11:30am – Health & Children – Continuing its marathon session of hearings on the marketing of alcohol, members hit Room 2 to be joined by reps from the National Off-Licence Association and the MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society) group.

11:45am – Motion re Extension of Government Bank Guarantee – Whenever the Order of Business is finished, it’s time for the main event – a 65-minute debate on whether to extend the government bank guarantee for a further year, to the end of December 2012. European Commission approval has already been given for an extension to the end of June next year. While the vote will not be a close one, the very fact that the matter is up for a vote will mean some frantic and tense exchanges in the main chamber. Bear in mind, as a political note, that Labour voted against the guarantee when it was first proposed. Today they will vote in its favour.

11:45am – National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2011 (committee and remaining stages) – After spending yesterday passing the second stage of this bill, today’s final stages – rubberstamping a bill which gives Fáilte Ireland a greater role in promoting enterprise – ought not to be too contentious.

12:00pm – Justice, Defence and Equality – Finally, the last of the committee’s five meetings. Well done, David Stanton and company. In room 4, the 14 members conclude a mammoth week by voting to supply supplementary funding to the Courts Service, the Gardaí and the Dept of Justice and Equality to allow for unforeseen expenditure at the start of the week.

12:50pm – Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 (to conclude) – After last night voting through a bill which allows for a ‘cost subsidy’ in health insurance – hoping to address the fact that the VHI’s older population is more expensive to cover – TDs will today discuss any proposed amendments and wrap up their consideration of the bill before sending it upstairs. That bill will take up a full three hours before being wrapped up.

3:00pm – Motion to amend the Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) Scheme 2009 – Assuming that the bank guarantee bill has been approved by the Dáil, Senators will hold an hour-long debate of their own on whether the State should back the assets and debts of its banks for an extra twelve months.

3:42pm – Topical Issues – Four of the day’s burning issues are raised by backbenchers for parliamentary mention.

4:00pm – Irish Film Board (Amendment) Bill 2011 (all stages) – A relatively non-contentious Bill which sailed through the Dáil without hassle, this one raises the legal aggregate limit of the funding that the Irish Film Board can invest in film productions. Currently the Board is barred from investing any more than €200m over the course of its lifetime, this bill raises that limit to €300m.

4:30pm – Questions (Minister for Justice and Equality) – The final act of the day (but not of the week) will be ministerial questions to Alan Shatter; he will face probes on Garda funding for the State visits earlier this year; under-crowding in some prisons, Garda station closures, and plans for developing the women’s prison at Mountjoy.

5:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – Once that Film Board bill has been passed – and it ought not to take long – Senators will discuss miscellaneous matters before calling it a week.

As always, all of the day’s business can be viewed on the streams: