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 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Questions on Proposed Legislation

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 914 No. 2

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Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I understand that the Government Chief Whip has a proposal for a minor amendment to the business for the week.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I propose, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or the Order of the Dáil yesterday, that the Dáil sit later than 10 p.m. tonight and adjourn not later than 11 p.m. and that proceedings on the Estimates of the Department of Justice and Equality, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours and 15 minutes. Second, as the Taoiseach will not be available next week, I propose that there will be no Questions to the Taoiseach next Tuesday or Wednesday.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is that agreed?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin On the first point, in terms of extending the Dáil time, I have no difficulty with it, but it may point to a need to examine the scheduling of today and whether one should have lengthened the day at the other end. We commenced today at 12 noon. I know that the Dáil reform committee has examined the issue, but there is a logic to reviewing it fairly quickly. For example, there is no reason today's sitting could not have commenced at 10.30 a.m., which would have obviated the need to go to 11 p.m. tonight. This is intended as a constructive suggestion. The same would apply to Thursday mornings. I do not see the need to be waiting around. I know the rationale behind it. People felt the committees should be separate from the plenary session and not running in parallel. However, we are cutting ourselves short in terms of available time to do things and, in my view, some of the debates are very short. For example, yesterday's European debate was quite short. I would prefer greater time to debate matters. If that means sitting a little longer during the day, that is fine. I do not have an issue with it.

On the second point and the cancellation of Questions to the Taoiseach next week, which I understand as it is because he will be at the European Council meeting, will the Chief Whip make provision to reschedule them, perhaps on the Thursday of the following week?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The questions will be carried over anyway, but can they be rescheduled for the Thursday?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is another day's work, a Cheann Comhairle, because written answers are being provided and we do not get the opportunity to have a face-to-face debate.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty We can look at the schedule. Given the new schedule, to which we are all working and readjusting, I find it difficult myself to ensure that there is enough time to put legislation through the House that has to go through it. However, the business committee has agreed to review weekly how the new process is working. We are tweaking and adjusting it. If any major changes are to be made to how we have re-ordered the House, we will do it at the end of this session.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The proposals are agreed.

Questions on Proposed Legislation

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We will now proceed to a new element of our work, agreed as part of the Dáil reform process, and deal with questions on proposed legislation. We have 15 minutes for this element. Before I call on the Leaders to put their questions, I note that five other Members have already indicated they wish to speak.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin In terms of the programme for Government, the Tánaiste will be aware that gardaí start on a salary of approximately €23,400. Last week, a number of Deputies across the House as well as Senators attended a presentation by the INTO on the starting salaries of young teachers and all of the difficulties the situation creates. In the programme for Government, there is a commitment to set up a public sector pay commission to examine public sector pay. Will the Tánaiste confirm when this commission will be established and when these issues relating to the pay of young public servants, in particular, will be considered and reviewed?

The programme for Government commits to the transfer of responsibility for criminal legal aid to the Legal Aid Board, which will have new powers to compel criminals to pay a contribution. When will that come before the House? When can we expect it?

On the health (transport support) Bill, the relevant support scheme was cut by the last Government in 2013. At the time, the Government said it would introduce a Bill to place the scheme on a statutory basis. Will the Tánaiste confirm that this Bill will be before the House before the recess?

Finally, will the Tánaiste confirm when the new children's hospital establishment Bill, which is to establish a statutory body to provide paediatric acute services, will be before the House?

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has already confirmed that he is dealing with the Low Pay Commission at present and intends to come before the House in the near future in respect of the matter. On the criminal legal aid board matter, that will be dealt with later in the year. Work has begun on the policy issues.


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