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 Header Item Business of Dáil (Continued)
 Header Item Questions on Promised Legislation

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 958 No. 2

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  2 o’clock

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Can I take it that the balance of the Government's proposal in respect of business for the remainder of the week is agreed? Agreed.

Questions on Promised Legislation

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We have 15 minutes for Questions on Promised Legislation and I have a list of 25 Deputies who want to contribute.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Last evening, the House debated the Fianna Fáil Mortgage Arrears Resolution (Family Home) Bill 2017, on which the House, when we vote shortly, will have its say. I know the Government is opposing this Private Members' Bill. There were two notable aspects to last night's debate. The only two speakers on the Government side were Ministers; no Government backbencher contributed. Notable by their absence were Members from the Independent Alliance, who made a great play during last year's negotiations on the issue of mortgage arrears. Also noticeable was that neither Government speaker mentioned the mortgages special court Bill. One could not but reach the conclusion that the Government has abandoned all plans to introduce a dedicated new court to deal with the issue of mortgage arrears. It was not even referenced by either of the Ministers from the Department of Justice and Equality last night when responding to an issue relating to mortgage arrears. The Tánaiste will be familiar with this as she was the line Minister up to a few weeks ago. Does the Government still plan to introduce that Bill and, if so, what is the current position in respect of it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Quite a number of the programme for Government commitments we made have been implemented. There are some constitutional difficulties with the special court that are still being examined.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin There is a promise in the programme for Government regarding the provision of €42 billion in capital investment, including in respect of infrastructure. While this is obviously good news, too many construction workers are being forced into bogus self-employment contracts. In March, a full four months ago, I asked when the report led by the Department of Finance on bogus subcontracting would be published. At the time the then Minister for Social Protection and now Taoiseach said it would be published in a number of weeks. It is now four months later and there is still no action from Government. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions estimates that this practice has cost the State €80 million annually since 2007 - twice the amount lost to the Exchequer from overpayments and social welfare fraud - but we are not seeing the same level of attention from Ministers on that loss of revenue as we are in respect of the others. When will the report be published? When will the Government introduce the necessary legislation? When will Government start to take serious action to protect workers and the taxpayer and drive out bogus subcontracting?

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Minister for Finance will revert to the Deputy on that.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton On the same issue, when I was Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, I commissioned a report on the issue of people in low-paid employment who are being disguised as self-employed. This is not out of any choice of theirs; it is because it is their only way of getting employment. Many people are being exploited across a range of sectors, from the construction sector to the hospitality sector and tourism. This includes at times driving tour buses and delivering other hospitality elements. I am quite sure that this work, which was undertaken in great detail with approximately 23 submissions from the Department of Finance and the Department of Social Protection, is now gathering dust on a shelf somewhere while this issue fails to be resolved.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I thank the Deputy; her time is up.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Second, we also set up the commission to review low pay annually.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We cannot have a debate on the issue.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton That report should have been published last week.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl A question, please.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton This matter now falls within the Tánaiste's remit. When will we move to a living wage-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Deputy, please-----

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton -----which was agreed by the previous Government and which seems to have gone on the back burner? When will the Government publish the report?

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I ask the Minister for Social Protection to respond.

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I assure the Deputy that her report is certainly not gathering dust. Work is being done in the Department on the issue of bogus self-employed people.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton When will the Minister publish the report?

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty When we are ready.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton When the Minister is ready. Does that mean never?

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty We cannot publish it until it is right.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Never.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Please, Deputy-----

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health's report on scrutiny of the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016 was published at 12.30 p.m. yesterday. Before it was published, the Tánaiste's colleague, Deputy Kate O'Connell, appeared on a radio show basically lambasting the Bill. This is not the first time she has lambasted it. It is wholly inappropriate that the Deputy appeared on radio and was severely critical of the Bill before the report was published.


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