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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Visit of UPC Delegation
 Header Item Supplementary Estimate for Public Services 2013: Message from Select Sub-Committee
 Header Item Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013: Referral to Select Committee
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2013
 Header Item Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments)(Amendment) Bill 2013: Instruction to Committee (resumed)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 824 No. 3

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Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Deputy McGrath has done a bit of jumping himself.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath A small bit. I am in the ha'penny place compared to him.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Deputy Donnelly will be waiting for Deputy McGrath.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I do not see any legislation that will prevent aeroplanes from falling out of the sky.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath What about the metal Bill?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is a Private Members' Bill. It cannot be dealt with here.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There is not any metal Bill.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Minister promised to introduce his own Bill to deal with scrap metal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I do not know about that. The Deputy had better ask the Minister.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I know there will be a great deal of scrap after the next general election.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I advise the Deputy to table a question to the Minister.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe He should keep looking up at the sky to make sure it does not fall on him.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin I would like to ask the Tánaiste, in the context of the common arrangements for gas Bill, whether he will give his personal attention to the Shannon liquified natural gas project.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is not in order on the Order of Business.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin In the context of the Bill I have mentioned, could I express my disappointment about the failure to select this matter for discussion during Topical Issues this afternoon even though it has been raised by five Deputies?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Would you please resume your seat?

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin Some 700 jobs and a €1 billion investment are in jeopardy in County Kerry. I appeal to the Ceann Comhairle to select this matter on Tuesday.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No. You are not doing your case any good by being so smart and standing up on the Order of Business. It has nothing to do with the Order of Business.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin This is an issue of urgent importance for the county and the region.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Perhaps you could have contacted my office and been told the reason, instead of trying to make a play here in the Chamber.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin I did contact your office but I was not given a reason.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The common arrangements for gas Bill, which will amend the Electricity Regulation (Act) 1999 and allow for arrangements to be put in place to facilitate the development of an all-island gas market, is due for publication next year.

Deputy Dan Neville: Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville When will the promised amendment to the Mental Health Act 2001 be introduced?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I understand the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, is carrying out a review of this whole area. She will come back to the Government with her proposals when they are ready.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan When is the National Economic and Social Development Office Bill, which will place the National Economic and Social Council on a statutory basis, likely to come before the House? I seem to recall that a debate on the Smithwick report was promised in the House in the past couple of weeks. Has any time been allocated for such a debate? Is it envisaged that it will take place before Christmas?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The National Economic and Social Development Office (amendment) Bill is due to be published next year. It is intended that a debate on the report of the Smithwick tribunal, which has been submitted to the House, will take place in the new year.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Can the Tánaiste enlighten the Dáil on when we can expect the housing Bill to be introduced to address the housing crisis that exists in Dublin and throughout the country? We have been waiting for three years for this Government to introduce legislation to deal with the lack of available funding for schemes and programmes.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The heads of the housing (miscellaneous provisions) Bill are expected shortly. The Bill is due to be published next year. As the Deputy is aware-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Everything is next year.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin We are in mid-December of this year.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen What part of next year are we talking about?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The heads of the Bill are expected shortly, as I have said. It will be published after it has been drafted. The intention is to publish it next year. We are not waiting for legislation. In the meantime, the Minister of State with responsibility for housing has announced a €100 million housing programme for next year.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen That will not build much.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin It will build more than the Deputy's party built.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen We used to have that done by January.

Deputy Eamonn Maloney: Information on Eamonn Maloney Zoom on Eamonn Maloney What is the timeframe in the coming year for the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Bill in question is still at Committee Stage. I understand that some amendments to that Bill are to be made. I understand the Minister for Justice and Equality will circulate those amendments in the near future.

Visit of UPC Delegation

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I welcome to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery Mr. Magnus Ternsjö, who is the chief executive officer of UPC, our partners in public service broadcasting. He is very welcome.

Supplementary Estimate for Public Services 2013: Message from Select Sub-Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Select Sub-Committee on Health has completed its consideration of the following Supplementary Estimate for Public Services for the service of the year ending on 31 December 2013 - Vote 39.

Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013: Referral to Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We completed Second Stage of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 yesterday. It has been requested that the Bill be referred to the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move:

That the Bill be referred to the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality pursuant to Standing Orders 82A(3)(a) and (6)(a) and 126(1) of the Standing Orders relative to Public Business and paragraph (8) of the Orders of Reference of Select Committees.

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2013

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move the following Supplementary Estimate:

Vote 39 - Health Service Executive (Supplementary)

That a supplementary sum not exceeding €219,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of the Health Service Executive and certain other services administered by the Executive, including miscellaneous grants.

  Vote put and agreed to.

Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments)(Amendment) Bill 2013: Instruction to Committee (resumed)

The following motion was moved by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin) today:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 177, Standing Order 131 is modified to permit an instruction to the committee on the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) (Amendment) Bill 2013, that it has power to make provision in the Bill for a new Part 7A in relation to sick leave remuneration, empowering the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to make regulations concerning the payment of remuneration to public servants during sick leave, and to make necessary consequential amendments to the Long Title.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I believe the objective of making savings in this area is shared across the board. While I presume it remains the view among workers and unions that those savings could have been achieved by means of more active control of the current system, the binding Labour Court recommendation must be enforced. As I said earlier, I am concerned about the critical illness protocol. While I appreciate that pregnant workers are covered by other legal mechanisms and forms of legislation, any regulation dealing with this matter must acknowledge the circumstances, which are fortunately not common, in which such a worker may find herself needing long-term sick leave. That might not happen on a once-off basis. It is unfortunate that this matter was not fully ironed out before we were asked to consider this legislation. There will be an appearance in the Labour Court on 16 December next. Ideally, the regulations would be completed, the discussions between employers and workers would be concluded and agreement would be reached before we would be asked to pass this ground-breaking legislation. During today's debate, the Minister might put my mind, and more importantly, the minds of public servants, to rest on that issue.

I would like to speak about the issue of retrospection, which was raised earlier. I tabled some questions on this matter to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which kindly supplied me with answers. I asked whether these regulations will include a provision to retrospectively apply the new certified sick leave arrangements. In its response, the Department recounted the necessity to give public service employees advance notice of the new scheme and make provision for a transitional period, etc., and informed me that access to the new reduced limits of sick leave is not being applied retrospectively. I thought that was fairly clearcut until I read the rest of the response. The Department went on to explain that individual sick leave records will remain unchanged following this legislation and will continue to be used to determine whether an individual has access to paid sick leave and at what rate. It pointed out that when an individual is absent from work due to sick leave, his or her record over the previous four-year rolling period will be examined to see if the sick leave limits have been exhausted. The Department claims that this is in line with the Labour Court recommendation.


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