The Taoiseach has indicated that delays in finalising details of the bank guarantee scheme are due to the Government's concern to ensure the State did not taken any inordinate risks.

Brian Cowen told the Dáil that the scheme would have to take account of the views of the European Commission and of developments in other jurisdictions particularly the UK.

He was responding to Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, who claimed delays in bringing forward the scheme were 'creating uncertainty' and that in the meantime Ireland seemed to have an open-ended guarantee.

On top of framing the Budget for next year, the Government is also trying to finalise details of the €400bn scheme to guarantee deposits and loans in Irish banks.

The Department of Finance, the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator are still working on the details of the scheme. It had been hoped the Dáil could approve it this week, but that time scale is looking increasingly ambitious.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen had promised that details of that plan would be before the Dáil by now.

But this morning Mr Cowen conceded it would be next week before TDs got sight of details like how much banks would pay for guarantees, and who would be finally admitted to the scheme.

Labour criticises Govt on jobless figures

Last night the Labour Party criticised the Government in the Dáil over rising unemployment figures.

Speaking during a Labour motion Labour Party Spokesman on Enterprise, Trade & Employment Willie Penrose said the economic boom had allowed the Government to ignore problems with the labour market which have now re-emerged.

Saying Ireland is now almost wholly dependent on foreign-owned industries to generate exports, Mr Penrose said there was a need to bring about more sustainable jobs in local communities.

Sinn Féin's Arthur Morgan said it would be morally reprehensible for the Government not to put the same amount of effort into finding solutions for the unemployed as it did last week to secure the banking sector.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Mary Coughlan defended the Government's record and pointed to FÁS and other bodies which provide services for those who have lost their jobs.

She acknowledged that there has been an increase in redundancies among those working in construction and said FÁS has been instructed to focus particularly on those who are no longer working in the building sector for re-training.