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 Header Item An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Committee on Procedure: Appointment of Members
 Header Item Regulation of Tenderers Bill 2019: First Stage

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 7

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan] It is proceeding in accordance with the funds available.

Deputy Tom Neville: Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville Page 19 of the programme for Government concerns housing and increasing the supply thereof. I have learned through my own research with Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council that when councils go to draw moneys from the Department for particular housing voids they must do so under various sections and headings. So much of the money is allocated under different headings. These headings provide for insulation, cavity blocks or whatever. In practice, however, the moneys a council actually requires for a specific house may supersede the amount of money given under a certain heading. It is becoming an increasingly bureaucratic process, as opposed to one that determines €20,000 is required to fix a house and enables a council to draw down €20,000. Eradicating that would be a simple solution to get voids back into our housing stock. I ask the Government to take this on board or investigate this issue and come back to me on it.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I will happily pass that on. We have made huge progress in bringing voids back into use, including in Limerick. However, this is clearly an issue if the Deputy is rasing it so I will pass it on and make sure it gets a response.

Deputy Catherine Martin: Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin Ar an 11 Feabhra seo caite, dúirt an Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, go bhfuil sé "go hiomlán míshásúil" go bhfuil pobal na Gaeilge fós ag brath ar Acht teanga nach bhfuil "sách láidir". Tá breis is seacht mbliana caite ó cuireadh tús leis an bpróiseas leasú a dhéanamh ar Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003. Tá sár-obair déanta ag Conradh na Gaeilge, ach go háirithe, moltaí a chur le chéile ar scéim ghinearálta agus ar cheannteidil Bille na dteangacha 2019. Cén uair a bheidh an Bille sin críochnaithe agus curtha chun cinn? An mbuailfidh an tAire le pobal na Gaeilge chun an Bhille a fheabhsú? Is í seo Seachtain na Gaeilge 2019 agus fós tá ríomhairí ag an Státseirbhís nach bhfuil in ann síneadh fada a chur ar ainm duine, fiú i liostaí de chuid an CSO. Tuigim an brú atá ar an Rialtas mar gheall ar an mBreatimeacht. Dúradh leis an Dáil seo nach raibh aon ghá ann Roinn na Gaeilge nó Údarás na Gaeltachta a lua sa reachtaíocht atá á tabhairt isteach chun déileáil leis an mBreatimeacht. Is beag an t-iontas go bhfuil imní ar an gCoimisinéir Teanga go gcaillfidh lucht labhartha na Gaeilge muinín as an bpróiseas reachtaíochta.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta as ucht na ceiste tábhachtaí seo a ardú, go mórmhór i rith Sheachtain na Gaeilge. Tá mé ar an eolas faoi na smaointe atá ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga sa chomhthéacs seo. Aontaím leis go bhfuil frustrachas ar lucht na Gaeilge maidir leis an moill atá ar an mBille atá luaite ag an Teachta. Tá sé ar bharr an liosta sa Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta. Mar is eol don Teachta, bhí a lán oibre le déanamh ag na dréachtóirí in Oifig an Ard-Aighne ar an reachtaíocht atá curtha le chéile i dtaobh an Bhreatimeachta. Cé go bhfuil an próiseas reachtaíochta sin beagnach críochnaithe anois, tá na dréachtóirí ag obair ar na hionstraimí reachtúla faoi láthair. Ina dhiaidh sin, sílim go mbeidh siad ag obair ar a lán Billí cosúil leis an mBille maidir le hAcht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Tá sé ar bharr mo liosta agus ar bharr liosta na Roinne.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins This is a query for the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the expansion of the usage of electric vehicles. It is a big issue on the agenda for tackling climate change. In my constituency in County Limerick there are only four charging stations, in Adare, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale and Foynes. Looking at a map, one sees that the rest of the county, south and east, is bereft of them. What are the Government's plans to roll out significantly more charging stations? If we are to promote the use of these vehicles for good reasons, we need more charging stations.

Has the Minister consulted with his colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government on this issue? A parking requirement is attached to applications for commercial planning permission. Making sure we have more chargers is something we are going to have to look at in this country. If we do not have charging stations, people will not use these vehicles.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I thank the Deputy for raising the issue. Just a couple of months ago I allocated €10 million to ESB, which will be 50% of the cost of extending the electric vehicle charger network. The network the ESB proposes to put in place will support 40,000 vehicles. We currently have about 10,000. We are planning to have headroom, and in the plan I will be looking beyond that.

There is a planning requirement to the effect that by 2025 all employers with more than 20 parking spaces will have to have an electric vehicle charging facility. There are also planning requirements for new builds. I will check the details on that point.

Committee on Procedure: Appointment of Members

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I wish to announce for the information of the House that Deputy Willie Penrose has been appointed to the Committee on Procedure in substitution for Deputy Brendan Ryan.

Regulation of Tenderers Bill 2019: First Stage

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide that abnormally low tender bids for construction works with a contract equal to or above the EU threshold for public works are regulated, and disqualified if their low level is not adequately explained to the relevant authority, and that performance in prior public contracts be grounds for exclusion from participation in a procurement procedure.

  I seek leave to introduce the Regulation of Tenderers Bill 2019. This Bill would regulate for the issue of abnormally low bids for capital projects. Members will be aware of the recent controversy around the national children's hospital. Sinn Féin has looked at low bids which have been submitted for several capital projects. We submitted parliamentary questions to all of the Departments about overruns in their respective areas. In the Department of Justice and Equality, two particular projects had cost overruns of 47% and 39%. In the Department of Education and Skills there is an average overrun of 6% across all capital projects. That may not seem like much, but the combined figures show a significant cost overrun for capital projects. These overruns arise for various reasons. I am not saying it is due to any one particular reason. There were changes to some of the contracts as they were rolled out. However, there is no doubt that there is a growing concern here. There are more and more instances where abnormally low contract bids are an issue.

  This Bill seeks to rectify that. It is based on EU regulations which are already in existence. It identifies what an abnormally low bid would be by providing that where four or more tenders for a public capital works contract are submitted, an abnormally low bid is one that falls 15% below the adjusted average. Whatever the average of the four bids is, if a bid is 15% below that it is considered an abnormally low contract bid.

  There is no onus on the contracting authority to reject that bid automatically. That is not what we are suggesting. We are putting in place a mechanism by which the contracting authority can discuss the tender and examine all of the issues. If there is a valid reason for the bid to be so low, the contracting authority can accept it. We are only proposing that if this is done the bid must be registered with the Office of Government Procurement and the contracting party must state its reasons for accepting an abnormally low bid. In recent weeks a Secretary General actually stated in one of the Oireachtas committees that there is a difficulty around not accepting the lowest bid for fear of litigation and ending up in the Four Courts. By putting this into primary legislation we are providing a mechanism by which we can reject abnormally low contract bids.

  The Bill's other proposal, in section 3, is to introduce a mechanism to examine the past performances of companies which have successfully bid for public works contracts. If a company has consistently been unable to meet the tender price it has originally submitted for capital projects, this can be taken into consideration when the bids are adjudicated.

  This is a system which works in other jurisdictions. It is currently in place in the North. The provisions for abnormally low contracts work very well up there. This primary legislation is based on the European regulations which currently exist to deal with abnormally low contracts.

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