Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 7 — European Financial Stability Facility Bill 2010 — Order for Second Stage, Second and Remaining Stages; and No. 8 — Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage to adjourn after four hours today, if not previously concluded.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. today and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of Question Time tonight which shall be taken for 75 minutes on the adjournment of No. 8, and in the event of a private notice question being allowed, it shall be taken after 45 minutes; and the order shall not resume thereafter; and Second and Remaining Stages of No. 7 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply: the proceedings on the Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 2 p.m. today and the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance.

There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. agreed to?

It is appropriate that the Minister for Finance is taking the Order of Business because we learned today that since 2005 the Department of Finance warned the Minister for Finance and the Government of the dangers of the property bubble created. The Minister has signalled an investigation into the Department and he has also indicated the launch of the further investigation into banking. Will the role of the respective Ministers be included——

The Deputy's remarks should be directed towards the proposal before the House.

——in the terms of the investigation into the Department? Will he clarify for the House——

We cannot allow this to continue.

——if the succession of Ministers for Finance——

If the Deputy is going to stimulate a debate on a matter that is not relevant to the issue——

——Mr. McCreevy, the Taoiseach, Deputy Cowen, and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, and the particular responses to the advices that crossed their desks directed by the Secretary General of the Department since 2005 will be under scrutiny and will it be addressed——

The Deputy is out of order on the Order of Business.

——in the terms of the investigation into the Department?

It is inappropriate to raise this matter at this time.

Will the Minister for Finance clarify that before we determine our position on the Order Paper, as presented?

The Deputy is out of order. I cannot allow such a debate on the Order of Business. I have no difficulty with the Deputy making the point at the appropriate time but not now.

(Interruptions).
I have no difficulty with the Deputy making the point at the appropriate time but not now.

The Minister was willing to clarify it. It is a reasonable question.

It is not. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 7 agreed to?

It is not agreed. This is an important Bill and we are aware of its implications. This is another incidence of the Government Chief Whip proposing a guillotine towards the closing stages of a Dáil session. While I do not want to unduly delay the House by calling a vote, I want to give him a warning that if, for the remaining period of this session, the Government continually makes guillotine proposals, they will be strenuously objected to.

We have had a number of proposals throughout this week to guillotine legislation where it has been perfectly clear that guillotines were not necessary, as the Bills were dealt with in the House in the normal way. This indicates an incompetent handling of Dáil business by the Government. A guillotine should be used sparingly. Generally, it is used to process legislation quickly where there is some urgency or an emergency and it must get through in a quick time or it might be used by government in circumstances where the Opposition was holding up legislation or being obstructive in some way. None of the legislation to which guillotines are being applied has been subject to a lack of co-operation by the Opposition. There is absolutely no need for a guillotine on this legislation. The Labour Party understands why it is necessary to have this Bill in place. We support the EU stabilisation agreement and there is no need whatever to have the legislation guillotined in the way the Government proposes.

I have to object not only to the imposition of a guillotine in regard to this Bill, but I also oppose the Bill entirely. A hugely significant measure is contained within the Bill, yet it is being forced through the House. It will have implications for people across Europe and not only in Ireland. If we look at what has been said about the measures involved, we can take the Greek situation. It is not about the ordinary citizens of Greece. They are being held to pay for the bailout of those who were holding Greek Government debt. This is not the way we believe it should be addressed and we will oppose the legislation. Our spokesperson will explain the reasons in detail. We will neither endorse the approach contained in it nor the guillotine being sought.

I thank Deputies Kenny and Gilmore for the constructive approach they have taken to this legislation. There has been a substantial public debate on it and, with regard to Committee Stage, there is not great scope for the House to amend it because the legislation is international in character. I take on board Deputy Gilmore's comment that his party proposes to take a constructive approach to this legislation and, therefore, it should be possible to deal with it today. I appreciate the general concerns but the fact remains this is urgent legislation from the point of view of the country.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 7 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

I would like to ask four questions. First, with regard to the codes of practice for the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, there is a great deal of comment in today's national newspapers about the relationship between property developers and the agency. As I understand it, it was promised that the codes of practice for NAMA would be published and these would show the interaction between the agency and developers. Why have they not been published? Is there a reason for the continued secrecy of the Department of Finance?

Second, I refer the extension of the bank guarantee. It was designed to run until the end of September. The Dáil will rise on 8 July and it is due to return on an unspecified date in September. Given the scale of what is involved in the guarantee, the consequences for the taxpayer and the need for the Dáil to have an opportunity to debate the issue, is it intended to have a debate before the House rises for the summer recess or before the guarantee is extended at the end of September? Given the Minister for Justice and Law Reform stated that it is important that a report be produced on the €200,000 stolen from a bank recently, we need a report on the biggest inside job ever, which was the €22 billion put into Anglo Irish Bank. Is it intended to introduce legislation to extend the guarantee for Anglo Irish Bank?

Third, the Minister said during the debate on NAMA last September that legislation would be introduced to deal with bank resolution issues to ensure the orderly wind up of banks. We have not seen that legislation. When is it expected that it will be produced?

Fourth, there is serious concern about the national vetting bureau Bill. Reports indicate that the concern of parents all over the country that up to 60% of summer camp staff have not been vetted and with schools closing and young children getting involved in various summer camps, this is a serious matter for parents. Deputy Enright produced a Bill in this regard a number of years ago. It is of immediate concern and perhaps the Minister might like to comment on it.

There are no legislative proposals relating to NAMA but the chairman of the agency recently explained that it has begun to engage directly with borrowers and, as the loans are acquired by NAMA, borrowers are being asked to produce business plans, which will set out detailed and credible targets for reducing their debt. The chairman and chief executive officer of the agency drew attention to the importance of realism in these plans in some recent comments on this matter. Where possible, NAMA will work constructively with borrowers to try to achieve the full value of the underlying property to ensure the best return for the taxpayer.

I am also advised that the agency has informed borrowers whose loans have transferred to it that it will be stringent in terms of any management costs allowed to them as part of their business plan. The legislation provides that the agency can borrow up to €5 billion in guaranteed borrowing for purposes other than the purchase of loans from institutions. This could include advances for the work out on properties transferred to NAMA. The quarterly reports will provide details of all advances made by the agency and each NAMA group entity. The first quarterly report is due to be submitted to me in the next week and I will arrange for copies to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The board has also committed to the production of an updated business plan, which it will submit to me by 30 June and which I expect to publish soon thereafter. The business plan is a matter for the board. However, I have been advised by the chief executive officer that the board, when reviewing the business plan, will take account of the data now available to it arising from the transfer of the first tranche of loans.

Deputy Kenny referred to the bank guarantee and legislation. There are no proposals to introduce legislation on this matter.

My Department is also in discussions with the European Commission about the possible extension of the guarantee on deposits until the end of the year. However, I am advised that these matters can be dealt with through secondary legislation. If such secondary legislation is required to be submitted to the Houses before they rise, that will be done.

There are no proposals to give Anglo Irish Bank a guarantee of a different character from that of any other financial institution. This has not been raised as an issue. It is important, in the context of recent comments by the chief executive of the bank, to note that alongside the losses the State will incur on Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, there are substantial gains through the State's investment in Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks, some of which have already been realised, in addition to the payments on foot of the guarantee itself, and further gains for the State and the taxpayer from the National Asset Management Agency, which is doing a tremendous job in the valuation of assets while taking a realistic approach to the discharge of its responsibilities. This is something that Deputy Kenny will have to admit was not fairly acknowledged on his side of the House as being possible when the legislation was introduced.

We have a long way to go yet.

When will we see that profit?

Finally, the issue of vetting legislation was raised. I understand the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Barry Andrews, is working on this legislation and it will be published this year.

I must remind the House that we are on the Order of Business and the Minister is primarily representing the Government rather than speaking in his ministerial capacity.

I am well aware of that.

We are not going to have a question and answer session.

I know that well, and I was asking the Minister, perfectly legitimately, about pieces of legislation.

On the Order of Business, Deputy——

He is speaking both as Minister for Finance and as a representative of the Government — and, if I may say so, he speaks well in that regard.

He could teach the others a thing or two.

The next time the Minister is speaking to the Taoiseach about the bank guarantee, he might tell him that he could have reminded his audience last night, when he was speaking about the Government's capital investment programme——

The Deputy is not in order.

——about the fact that he admitted here, under duress, that the lion's share of the moneys being pumped into Anglo Irish Bank will never be seen again and that the reduction in the capital budget over the next three years of about €11 billion represents a loss of 40,000 jobs.

These points can be made later on when the debate commences.

Perhaps the Minister will reconsider the situation in view of the fact that this party never said that Anglo Irish Bank should be wound down immediately, but that — in the context of sharing some of the consequences — there could be a serious saving for our economy and the protection of thousands of extra jobs. I understand the Taoiseach must defend his position and set out the programme as it is, but it could be so much stronger if he only realised that his words here some time ago that the Irish taxpayer would not be liable for the consequences of the bank guarantee were incorrect. The Irish taxpayer will now be liable for the vast majority of that money which, in the words of Mr. Aynsley, will never be seen again. The future of our young generations has been mortgaged.

Yesterday, I asked the Tánaiste if she could tell the House the date of the budget and she was not able to do so. Can I ask the Minister to give the House even an indicative date for the 2011 budget?

I also asked the Tánaiste about the date of the resumption of the Dáil after the end of the summer recess and she said the Government had not made any decision about when the Dáil would resume. I listened to the Minister's reply to the question put by Deputy Kenny about the arrangements for dealing with any extension of the bank guarantee, in which he said he did not feel that legislation would be required but that some rolling over may have to be done. "Rolling over" is the operative term as it describes the Government's relationship with the banks. He suggested that it might be done by way of secondary legislation.

In whatever form it is done, the extension of the bank guarantee is a matter that should be brought before the House before any commitments are made. This is a major issue. I do not know whether the Minister is intending to communicate that an item of secondary legislation to extend the bank guarantee will be prepared during the summer recess and that the House will not have an opportunity of debating it until it is all done and dusted. If the Government is intending to extend the bank guarantee in any way, the proposal should be brought before the House. Therefore, we need to know the sitting arrangements for the summer. We now know the House will rise on 8 July. It appears from what the Minister has said that he does not intend to introduce any proposal on the bank guarantee before 8 July. We do not know when the House will resume. The guarantee will run out on 30 September. We need some clarity on this.

On St. Patrick's Day 2009, in an interview with theFinancial Times, the Minister promised new legislation to crack down on crony capitalism in Ireland. He said he would be proposing these measures to the Cabinet the following week. What has happened to that legislation?

The Labour Party has been conducting a review of the various cutbacks that are taking place in all kinds of services, often in ways that do not get newspaper headlines. There have been cutbacks in medical cards, supplementary welfare allowance, jobseeker's benefit, jobseeker's allowance, home help allowance, the home care package and so on.

This would be more appropriate to a parliamentary question.

We have been compiling these with a view to presenting a comprehensive case to the Minister. We were somewhat surprised yesterday that one of the Ministers of State jumped the gun and accused the Minister for Finance of wielding an axe in an indiscriminate manner.

The Deputy knows the requirements for order on the Order of Business.

I ask the Minister if there is any chance he could lay down the axe for a while, if only in the interests of health and safety among members of the Government.

I call Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

Does the Minister reply to Deputy Gilmore, or will I just proceed?

Deputy Gilmore was imparting information.

I asked a number of questions.

I see. I do not know if that is a fair interpretation, a Cheann Comhairle.

It affects stability.

Gabh mo leithscéal, a Theachta. The Minister might reply.

I should have mentioned the bank resolution legislation to Deputy Kenny. I did not deal with that. The Central Bank is to publish a discussion paper on that matter and the Bill will be ready early next year. It is important legislation. There is also considerable debate among EU members about bank resolution legislation. Clearly, reflection on that discussion will be important in the formulation of our own legislation.

When does the Minister see it being published?

We will see publication early next year.

No date has been fixed for the budget by the Government. The budget will be announced in early December, as is the usual practice——

That is very reassuring.

——but no precise date has been fixed.

We will look forward to that.

Cheer up — the budget is coming.

Considerable scepticism has been expressed about whether there would be an additional budget this year. There will be no additional budget this year; the budget will be in December.

One will be enough.

Questions were asked about the date of resumption of Dáil Éireann after the summer recess and any arrangements that might be required with regard to the guarantee of banking liabilities. The Government has made no decision on an appropriate date for the resumption of the Dáil, but it will of course make a decision before the Dáil rises.

With regard to the bank guarantee, what I said was that I do not anticipate that any legislation will be required. Discussions with the European Commission are at an advanced stage and if a statutory instrument is required, one will be adopted. My understanding is that were such a statutory instrument necessary, it would require approval in the Houses and the necessary approval will be sought. However, that matter has not been finalised with the European Commission at this stage.

With regard to the promised legislation on the directors of financial institutions, that matter will be dealt with in the next Central Bank Bill, which will be published later this year.

In regard to the other matter, it is important to stress that the Minister of State in question made it clear that he was speaking in a jocose sense.

That is a dangerous practice.

It is very unfair for the Minister for Finance to describe any Minister of State as a joke.

We are tempted to say he always does so. In any event, as Deputy Brian Lenihan is not the Minister for Finance here this morning, I ask the occupant of the Taoiseach's chair if he knows whether the Minister for Finance has set the terms for the external investigation into the Department of Finance and whether those terms will include an examination of the advices received and decisions taken by a succession of Ministers for Finance regarding quite particularly the property bubble and all that led to the serious economic decline that has beset the economy over the past 18 months to two years. Will the Minister indicate if this investigation will have access to all the advices that were received by the succession of Ministers for Finance, Mr. McCreevy, the Taoiseach, Deputy Cowen, and the current occupant, the Minister himself? Will the documentation, the advices, be part of a published report resulting from this external investigation?

Many of the matters referred to, for example, in the newspaper report this morning, were contained in budget documentation at the time so the Deputy's own researcher can establish the existence of various warnings through a simple examination of previous budgetary documentation.

The documents in question set out warnings published in budgets, which were read by all Members of this House, of an over-dependence on the property market. Indeed, the Taoiseach's budget in December 2005 warned of the high proportion of economic activity and employment accounted for by construction and implies economic vulnerability to shock. Those were the words of the Taoiseach in December 2005.

The review of the Department of Finance will look at the work of the Department and the advice it gave to Government. It is very important when risks are identified, as occurred in previous budgets, that these risks are quantified, brought fully into policy decision-making process and their interaction with each other properly assessed.

During his meeting with the Committee of Public Accounts on Thursday 6 May 2010, the Secretary General at the Department acknowledged the Department must review its performance as there are significant lessons to be learned.

Is the Minister suggesting that there is no new information in respect of the reports this morning that the Secretary General and others within the Department of Finance had proffered advices——

This is not Question Time, Deputy.

——cautioning a succession of Ministers and the Government about an inflated property bubble——

A parliamentary question would be a more appropriate way of seeking information.

——and the consequences of the collapse of that particular sector?

The Deputy is out of order.

Is the Minister suggesting there is nothing new, that the investigation will not uncover anything that has not already been in the public domain? Could the Minister clarify exactly what he is saying here? Is he rejecting the notion that advices were given other than we have already been advised of over the past period of time? As I have already asked, will——

The Deputy is out of order on the Order of Business. He should not be speaking a second time on the same issue on the Order of Business.

——the Minister's stewardship and his predecessors' stewardship and how they responded to advices given be part of the external investigation into the affairs of the Department of Finance going back some time?

The Deputy is out of order. We have to move on.

I am suggesting there is nothing new in the report.

The Minister promised the House on Committee and Report Stages of the NAMA legislation and indicated his intention to introduce legislation to assist householders who were running into arrears with their mortgages. Since then in the House we have ascertained that discussions have taken place between the financial institutions and the Minister's Department. What progress has there been on the production of that legislation which is eagerly awaited by many people throughout this country who have difficulty with arrears of mortgage?

The Government recognises that with the rise in unemployment and the fall in house prices there are those with serious mortgage difficulties. A range of measures has already been put in place which I do not intend to list on the Order of Business. The Government has taken a large number of steps in this area already. The Government set up a review group to examine the solutions to the longer term problems. The group has an independent chair and experts from different areas. It is due to produce an interim report to the Government before the summer. If legislation is recommended in that interim report, I can assure the House that this legislation will be enacted promptly. That legislation does not technically fall within the description of promised legislation for the purposes of the Order of Business because I am still awaiting the proposals. I understand they will be made before the summer.

I thank the Minister and I wish to reassure him that it does fall within the order of promised legislation which he knows quite well. I thank him for his extensive reply.

It has not been promised yet.

I am pleased to see that the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Pat Carey, is in the House this morning because I wish to raise the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill which the Minister took in the Seanad yesterday. It is vital that this Bill comes to this House as quickly as possible. In my own constituency, 30 young people have been brought to hospital because of a drug called Whack.

The Deputy is anticipating the debate when it arises in the House.

There needs to be a public health warning issued about this drug and it needs to be taken off the shelves immediately. The senior clinician in emergency medicine in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital has expressed serious concern about——

As the Deputy rightly said, the Bill is in the Seanad and it is expected in this House shortly.

Lives will be put in danger if this drug is not taken off the shelves immediately. Some kind of warning needs to be issued by Government in advance even of this Bill being brought to the House.

I advise the Deputy to leave the best part of her contribution for the Bill when it comes to the House.

Will the Bill be coming to the House next week if completed in the Seanad?

I wish to raise two points of order with the Ceann Comhairle and ask for his guidance on two matters. The first is to do with the disallowing of parliamentary questions. I have written to the Ceann Comhairle on this matter. A question of mine was disallowed recently although an identical question had been allowed two months previously from another colleague. I ask for some guidance as to how his office arrives at the decision to disallow questions.

I advise the Deputy he will have to call to my office to discuss it.

I have done that, Sir, and I am awaiting a response.

The second matter is more serious. Yesterday, I received notice at 12.53 p.m. that a parliamentary questions rota had been decided. However, by the time we received notice of that decision, the deadline for submitting questions for oral answer had passed. I ask the Ceann Comhairle how this was allowed and how the matter can be resolved.

The Deputy will have to call to my office and we will discuss all those issues. We always provide a sympathetic ear.

The issue is quite serious. I have been trying to get some kind of positive Dáil reform for quite some time but it seems to be going the other way. The rights of Members are being trodden on. The notice of the change yesterday was given to us after the deadline and now we cannot submit questions. That is muzzling Members in a big way.

I wanted to raise the issue yesterday of 300 children who are——

The Deputy is completely out of order on the Order of Business. I have dealt with the Deputy's original matter and now he is moving on the agenda.

I am raising a point of order. I wanted to put down a question yesterday about 300 children who have intellectual disabilities and for whom there are no inspections and no protection. The Minister told me yesterday that——

Deputy, the Adjournment and Special Notice Questions are some of the many other ways in which to raise matters. My office is always sympathetic. If the Deputy submits a matter for the Adjournment it can be considered.

This is a matter of order in the House.

I ask the Deputy to please make contact with my secretary about any misunderstandings that appear to have arisen and we can discuss the matter.

On that same issue, I agree with Deputy Stanton. I had a parliamentary question asking the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to calculate the information on a matter. I always understood that a reply to a parliamentary question was always given to the Member first. However, when the Department collected the information and before I received the reply, it was put up on the departmental website for the media. That is not acceptable. We have order in this House or we do not have order. It is the Ceann Comhairle's job to protect us as Members of the House. I ask him to protect us. If I put down a Dáil question, I expect to get the information first.

It should not be up on the website first and for me to get it four days later. The Ceann Comhairle may inform the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government that during the summer recess I will prepare 600 questions for it that will keep it busy throughout next winter.

On the privacy Bill, will the Minister, on behalf of the Government, ensure that records kept by religious bodies relating to women kept in Magdalene laundries will be made available?

The Deputy is long enough in the House to know this is not in order.

This is very relevant.

It may well be relevant, but it is more appropriate to raise it at another time.

No, this relates to legislation. Women who worked in these laundries — I use this term loosely — are now being refused their old age contributory pension, despite the fact they worked ——

This is a serious matter that would merit a parliamentary question.

No. I am being very calm about this.

I know, but I would appreciate the Deputy's co-operation.

An amendment to the privacy legislation is the only way that I can see to enable this to happen, because the argument being used is that if the records were released, this would impinge or impugn the privacy of the people whose records are held.

We will inquire whether there is legislation that would be relevant to this inquiry. Is there legislation promised?

This is very relevant. Will we have an amendment that will ensure these records will be released and will there be an amendment to ensure the records are retained?

Is legislation promised in this area?

The Government shares the concerns of Deputy Lynch in this regard. However, the privacy Bill to which she referred does not include this type of matter within its scope. The Bill proposes the amendment of the civil law relating to privacy and would not apply to this area. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and other Ministers met with various groups representing survivors of residential institutions on 15 April and aspects of this specific issue were raised. The Taoiseach, on behalf of the Government, stated that the Departments and Government agencies would be willing to help with further inquiries relating to those persons sent to Magdalene laundries, including, where available, access to files to the greatest extent possible.

If the privacy legislation is not the legislation to deal with the issue, is it intended to introduce legislation to ensure access will happen? In light of the Taoiseach's statement, is there a promise to introduce additional legislation.

I suggest the Deputy should pursue the matter by way of a parliamentary question.

I would like an answer.

This is a serious issue about which the Deputy feels strongly. She should submit a parliamentary question on it.

The Ceann Comhairle made a ruling some months ago which I took very seriously. He said that we could ask about anything promised inside or outside the House. If the privacy legislation does not deal with the situation I have raised, additional legislation is clearly needed. The Taoiseach said he will do whatever is necessary.

Yes, but this debate is broadening out the issue. We do not have promised legislation, so the Deputy should submit a parliamentary question.

Arising from what Deputy Lynch has said and the Minister's response that the Government not only apologised but said it would assist in whatever way it could with regard to the records ——

We cannot prolong this debate. It is inappropriate and is out of order on the Order of Business.

It has come to my attention that the Government is charging survivors of these homes and schools for freedom of information requests. Will the Minister for Finance waive the fee for applications from survivors?

My second question relates to debate in the House. A European Council meeting was held last week at which some important decisions regarding the Europe 2020 strategy were made. The Government has signed off on this and it will now be the framework on which the European Union and Ireland will develop economically over the next 20 years. It is normal practice that following the Council meetings, we have a debate on the issue in the House on the following Wednesday, which was yesterday. No debate has taken place and the Taoiseach did not come to the House to discuss the issue either before he went to the meeting to sign off on the matter or afterwards.

The Deputy should have a word with his party Whip to ensure he raises the matter at the regular Whips' meeting.

This concerns a debate, a matter that can be raised on the Order of Business. We always have a debate on this on the Wednesday following a Council meeting.

Has a debate been promised? No.

A debate has been promised since 1972, since we joined the European Union.

The Deputy is pushing the frontiers on the Order of Business.

It is an important matter.

It is an important matter, but there are various other avenues open to the Deputy to pursue it.

Am I not entitled, on the Order of Business, to pursue the issue of a promised debate?

Is there a debate promised on this?

There is no promised debate, but I understand the matter has been discussed between the Whips and a debate will take place on the Saville report next week. The Government is open to a debate on the other subject at a later stage.

Last February-March, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food introduced a compensation scheme for farmers who had suffered severe losses of crops, particularly vegetable crops, following frost and flooding. Recently, following assessments, the Minister reduced the compensation figure by 50%.

Despite my sympathy for this issue, it is out of order on the Order of Business.

I know there are not many applicants for compensation in the Minister's constituency. Having reduced the compensation figure by 50% where insurance was not available, the Minister has now opted to reduce it by a further 50%.

The Deputy is not doing the matter any justice by being out of order on the Order of Business.

As a result, most people have lost a substantial amount. The Ceann Comhairle will be aware that farming incomes have reduced by 30% across the board.

The Deputy should submit a parliamentary question or a matter for the Adjournment.

Will the Minister ask his colleague to arrange an urgent debate on agriculture and the loss of income suffered by our farmers?

The Deputy's observation has been noted.

I put a parliamentary question to the Minister on the issue of the dental treatment services scheme asking what constituted an emergency in terms of who could benefit. In her reply, the Minister stated an emergency is determined by the treating clinician, the contracted general dental practitioner, in agreement with the local HSE. Dentists throughout the country are trying to provide emergency treatment under this scheme for people with severe disabilities and people with other conditions, such as a person with Alzheimer's disease in a case of which I am aware.

As a well behaved Member of the House, the Deputy should know he is out of order and that it is inappropriate to raise this matter.

What will the Minister do to ensure vulnerable people will be able to avail of those dental treatment services? I call for a statement from the Minister or a debate in the House so that we can ensure these services are provided for vulnerable people.

The Deputy should submit the matter for consideration on the Adjournment.

The Minister said in her response that there is provision for emergency treatment, but this treatment is not being approved at local level by the HSE.

The Deputy should submit the matter for the Adjournment. We need to move on as we have important legislation to deal with.