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Order of Business (Continued)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 804 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien] When will a decision be made on the proposals being considered by the Minister for Social Protection? Can the Tánaiste give a commitment that, prior to the making of a decision, the Mangan report can be discussed by the House, time permitting, before the summer recess?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There is social welfare legislation before the House next week. While it does not deal with the matters raised by Deputy O'Brien, I see no difficulty with the Mangan report being discussed at the appropriate select committee.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea We discussed it already.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I am sure the Minister for Social Protection would be glad to facilitate that. The issues raised by the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Quinn, are highly appropriate. The cost of child care is very high in Ireland and many families are bearing the burden of it. There is significant value in additional pre-school education, which, as the Minister said, is an issue that must be discussed and explored further. I am glad the Minister has put it on the agenda.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath On the local government Bill, I am dizzy from the spin and rumours from Government backbenchers to the effect that they have the actual document of the so-called independent commission. We have been told what the constituencies will be and who will be fixed up and sorted out all by way of leaks from Big Phil, the Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sorry.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Minister, Deputy Hogan.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn They are only winding Deputy McGrath up.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Be careful of the Kilkenny lads.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is the local government Bill what the Deputy is looking for?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Yes. I also want to ask about the Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012. The Taoiseach was in Brussels yesterday doing a good job, but I was surprised that agriculture was not on the agenda. Taxation was on it and other issues but not the plight of the farming community and Ireland in general on foot of the fodder crisis which is ongoing into next year now. I am surprised nothing has been done to raise this at European level.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Thank you. Two pieces of legislation, Tánaiste.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I advise Deputy McGrath to be careful about Members of the House winding him up about the local government Bill. The heads of the local government Bill are being drafted and it is expected that it will be published during the current session. The Animal Health and Welfare Bill has finished in the Seanad and is going for signature. As regards raising the fodder crisis and the great difficulties farmers face, I confess that I am surprised Deputy McGrath did not raise the matter on Leaders' Questions this morning.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I raised it last week.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen It was raised a month ago.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan The Construction Contracts Bill 2010 originated in the Seanad and has been referred to select committee. When is it expected that the Bill will come before the House for final consideration and when is it expected that it will be signed into law? Similarly, the Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill is on the Seanad Order Paper. When does the Tánaiste expect it to appear before the House for final consideration? The pyrite levy Bill deals with an issue which has occupied the minds of many Members and people outside the House for a long time. Can the Tánaiste set out the current anticipated timeline for its passage?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Construction Contracts Bill is on Committee Stage and the matter is in the hands of the House itself. The Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill is on Committee Stage in the Seanad. The heads of the pyrite levy Bill were approved by Government a couple of weeks ago and I expect that we will see its publication shortly.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon There is a great deal of public interest across the midlands on the topic of wind energy and wind turbines. It is a highly controversial issue as the Tánaiste may know from the media. There has been very little public consultation with communities on the issue. Will the EirGrid Bill that is coming before the House deal with these issues? My colleague, Deputy Penrose, is bringing forward a Bill on wind turbines. When can we expect to see these two Bills come before the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We cannot deal with a possible Private Members' Bill, whatever about the Government Bill. When is the latter Bill due?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The initial preparatory work is under way on the EirGrid Bill and it is expected that it will be published next year. The Environment and Public Health (Wind Turbines) Bill 2012 is a Private Members' Bill which presumably will be scheduled as part of our Friday sittings.

Deputy Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan When will the licensing of healthcare facilities Bill be published?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I do not have a date for the publication of the Bill.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall Approximately 200,000 workers are in defined-benefit pensions schemes but little or no protection exists for them in the event of insolvency. Legislation to provide protection for them has been long promised and it was expected that it would be contained in the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill which was published yesterday. Unfortunately, no provisions in this regard were included in the Bill. Can the Tánaiste tell the House when legislation will be published to provide protection for workers in the event of insolvency in a pensions scheme or of a company for which they work?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The concerns of people in defined-benefit pension schemes is an issue the Government is taking very seriously, in particular the Minister for Social Protection. The European Court of Justice recently gave judgment in a case which relates to this issue and that case must now revert to the High Court. We must await the outcome of these proceedings before we can address the legislative implications of any final decision.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy In light of the disturbing reports on child care facilities raised by my party leader this morning, can the Tánaiste provide the House with a guarantee that the long-overdue priority legislation on the Children First guidelines and the child and family support agency will be dealt with in the current session? We have been promised on a number of occasions that this would be dealt with in 2012 and, then, during the first session of 2013. Last week, we asked when the matter would be dealt with and were told it would be during this session. However, the Taoiseach let it slip last week that the Children First guidelines might not be dealt with until after the summer recess. Can the Tánaiste provide a cast-iron guarantee that these two important legislative matters will be dealt with during this session as promised repeatedly by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There are policy issues which are being considered in relation to both Bills. In the case of the Children First Bill, the views of the joint committee on significant policy, operational and legal issues are being formulated.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy That was last June.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore My information is that both Bills are to be dealt with this session.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Tánaiste cannot give a guarantee.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I can only give the Deputy the information I have. My book says that these Bills-----

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy It said that in your book last year.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley He is right. The Tánaiste is the Deputy Prime Minister.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore No. The Minister of Children and Youth Affairs is dealing with these issues in a very competent and serious way as the Deputy well knows. The information I have is that these two Bills are down for this session.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The Minister for Justice and Equality has indicated his intention to table amendments to the Personal Insolvency Act in the forthcoming Courts Bill. We have raised continually the fact that the Insolvency Service will publish on the Internet the name, address and year of birth of any person who avails of an arrangement under the service. There is a better way to do that through the credit register, which would be private. When will the Courts Bill be brought forward and will the Tánaiste consider an amendment along those lines?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Courts Bill is on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Many subcontractors are finding it extremely difficult to get paid by main contractors. Deputy Durkan raised the matter of the Construction Contracts Bill, which is one of the slowest Bills ever to make its way through the Houses of the Oireachtas. It has left people in the lurch for a long time and is very important.


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