Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

336 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Defence the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19589/00]

There are currently three separate proposals for legislation under consideration within my Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government.

The first relates to the provision of a hearing loss compensation scheme for members of the Defence Forces. Following the decision of the Supreme Court in the case ofHanley v Minister for Defence on 7 December 1999, my Department has been attempting to establish a suitable mechanism whereby Army hearing loss claims may be removed from the courts. In this regard, on 19 January 2000, the Government gave approval in principle for the preparation of heads of a Bill designed to provide a statutory underpinning for a hearing loss compensation scheme for members of the Defence Forces.
As an alternative to the establishment of a statutory scheme, my Department has also sought to resolve claims by way of direct negotiations with plaintiff's solicitors. The High Court has agreed to adjournments of Army hearing loss claims in order to facilitate this mechanism and, to date, over 600 claims have been settled in this way with considerable savings in legal costs. If the majority of the outstanding claims could be resolved by negotiation, the requirement for a formal compensation scheme may not be necessary. The early settlement scheme will be reviewed by the High Court today and I am hopeful that both sides to the litigation will agree to extend it. The question of instituting a formal scheme of compensation for hearing loss is being kept under review and work has progressed on the preparation of heads of a Bill should a statutory mechanism be required in the future.
The second relates to the updating of Civil Defence legislation. Civil Defence currently operates under the 1939 to 1946 air raid precautions legislation. A draft memorandum for Government on the proposed Bill has been circulated to Departments for their observations and I, on behalf of the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Defence, am proposing at Cabinet today to seek the approval of the Government for the preparation of a Civil Defence Bill, 2000, to update Civil Defence legislation generally.
The third relates to the provision of a statutory authority to manage the Curragh of Kildare and will also consolidate and update existing legislation with regard to the area including The Curragh of Kildare Acts, 1870, 1961 and 1969. Work on this legislation is at a very early stage, however, I hope to be in a position to present a memorandum to Government on the matter in early 2001.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

337 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Defence the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by the Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19604/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

339 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Defence the Acts or sections or other provisions of Acts under the auspices of his Department or for the commencement of which his Department is responsible which have not commenced by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if he has any plans to make such an order in each case; if so, when; the reason for the failure in each case to make such an order to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19634/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 337 and 339 together.

The question does not arise at present in so far as my Department is concerned.