Order of Business

The Order of Business is No. 8c, Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 — Financial Resolution; and No. 20, Financial Motions by the Minister for Finance 2011, Motion 13 (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and adjourn not later than 10.30 p.m.; that No. 8c shall be decided without debate; that the following arrangements shall apply to No. 20: the speech of the Taoiseach, the Minister and Minister of State and the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case and that the statements of not more than two spokesmen for the Technical Group shall not exceed 30 minutes in total; that the suspension of the sitting under Standing Order 23(1) shall take place at the conclusion of the leaders’ speeches and that the sitting shall be suspended for 60 minutes; that the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case; that Members may share time, and that the sitting shall be suspended at 6.30 p.m. for 30 minutes.

There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8c, Financial Resolution re Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 to be taken without debate, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 20, Financial Motions by the Minister for Finance 2011, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal relating to the suspension of the sitting agreed to? Agreed.

There were conflicting signals emanating from the Dáil yesterday on promised legislation and it seems the Minister for Finance may have brought a definitive conclusion to the issue. Retail Excellence Ireland is outraged by what has happened and has criticised the Minister's decision yesterday which it has described as "the scandalous Government U-turn". It went on to state about upward-only rent reviews that the Government "has lied to every commercial tenant and retail employee in the country". Yesterday the Taoiseach was asked a question on the Order of Business by one of his own Deputies about the landlord and tenants Bill which he replied would come before the House by 15 December. The Minister for Finance said yesterday that despite the exhaustive efforts of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, he was exhausted trying to sort out this issue and that he could not do so.

There were constitutional and legal difficulties that prevented the Bill from being introduced. I know the Taoiseach knows what is going on in government, that he is fullyau fait with everything that is happening.

Did the Deputy know what was going on the whole time he was in government?

Will the Taoiseach confirm that there will be a Bill dealing with upward-only rent reviews and that we will have it before the Christmas recess?

I cannot recall exactly what I said, but the position is that it is not possible to proceed with the legislation dealing with upward-only rent reviews because of legal advice from the Attorney General and advice from counsel on it not being constitutionally possible without compensating landlords.

Why did the Government not admit to this during the general election?

Deputy Michael McGrath yesterday welcomed the fact that, at least, clarity was being brought to the issue. The landlord and tenant Bill is on the A list, but I will have to come back to the Deputy this morning to ensure accuracy on when it will be produced.

Yesterday the Taoiseach said it would be brought forward before Christmas.

There was a lot of banter here yesterday and sometimes it is very hard to pick up clearly what is being said.

The Taoiseach clearly said it would be brought forward. He has been saying this for months. He said it would be brought forward on 15 December.

Perhaps I was referring to the Legal Services Bill which is due to be taken next week.

No, it was the landlord and tenants Bill. The Dublin Central Deputy for Fine Gael, whose name escapes me, asked about it. Deputy Pascal Donohoe raised the issue.

We must check the record.

There was a lot of noise here yesterday.

There was no noise; it was made very clear at the end of the Order of Business.

It was the Legal Services Bill that was being referred to.

I said Second Stage of the Legal Services Bill would be taken next week and that in respect of upward-only rent reviews, after exhaustive work done with the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the issue had run into constitutional difficulties and the legislation would not be proceeded with. This was welcomed by Deputy Michael McGrath.

The Taoiseach is blaming the poor Minister for Justice and Equality for the failure.

I will come back to the Deputy after I leave the House on the landlord and tenant Bill.

Will the Taoiseach publish the advice received? The Labour Party stated it had received solid advice last year. Is it still relying on that advice and will it be published?

We are not having a debate on the issue.

When Fianna Fáil was in control——

Fine Gael stated before the general election that it could do it.

Please, Deputy.

It is always making promises.

We do not need Deputy Michael Healy-Rae to join in the chorus.

In fairness, Deputy Ciarán Lynch made a great career out of it for 12 months.

The Deputy made a great career out of it for 14 years.

Will the Deputy, please, refrain from shouting and roaring?

He swore blind it could be done.

I am not shouting and roaring; I am objecting to this hypocrisy.

The Deputy must resume his seat. I call Deputy Adams and expect him to respect the Chair.

That is an awful comment to make about Deputy Ciarán Lynch and it should be withdrawn. He has been at this issue for 12 months, but the Minister, Deputy Shatter, cannot deliver.

The Deputy should give some leadership.

Or Deputy Mattie McGrath will take over the leadership.

I wish to raise two issues. First, I welcome the Ceann Comhairle's remarks about behaviour in the Chamber.

Unfortunately, some Members are not listening to what the Ceann Comhairle is saying. In light of the Taoiseach's decision to send back the disability payment for review, is the budget equality-proofed in line with the Government's——

That is not in order on the Order of Business.

Does the Government have any intention to equality-proof the budget?

No. We are talking about promised legislation.

We will put a machine up in the office and run it through it.

I raised the other issue yesterday. The Taoiseach is to attend a European Council summit meeting this week. He refused to have discussions before he left and refused to distribute the Van Rompuy report to the Opposition even thought the Government has had it since yesterday. Where is the reform in this institution when we need to read about these reports in the newspapers and when other parliamentarians can have discussions——

The Deputy is straying again.

He is beginning to meander — he is getting old. Would he make some sense? This is total raiméis.

I am asking about political reform. Can the Taoiseach make it clear as he was invited to do earlier that he will veto? I note——

He cannot make it clear at this moment. This is about promised legislation.

With respect, he can because he has information——

We will debate the budget after the Order of Business, when all these issues can be raised.

I am talking about the euro. The Taoiseach is withholding information from the Opposition on what he says will be one of the most important summits.

That is a very serious allegation.

It is not suitable for the Order of Business. The Deputy can make his contribution on these issues when the time comes and we have the debate after the Order of Business. This is about promised legislation, full stop. Taoiseach, is there promised legislation in any sense, shape of form?

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his indulgence. The Deputy asked about reform. Last week we had a discussion about the forthcoming European Council meeting. The first reform is that we have those discussions before every meeting and after them — we will have a debate next week on the outcome and conclusions of this meeting. As the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, reminded the Deputy, he seems to have a view that there is a machine somewhere and we could run the budget through it to determine whether it is equality-proofed. Budgets in government are about people and obviously the Government has responded to a particular situation that is of great sensitivity to a particular cohort of people and it is only right and proper that we should do that. Nobody here is the ultimate repository of wisdom and correctness. We need to clear up an economic mess to give our people an opportunity to live, work and have careers here.

Is the Taoiseach in favour of equality?

The Deputy will have his opportunity to speak on the budget now.

In response to Deputy Martin, who is gone, when I mentioned 15 December in yesterday's reply, that was in respect of the Legal Services Regulation Bill.

I call the corner forward, Deputy Healy-Rae.

(Interruptions).

I also ask about the promised legislation on upward-only rent reviews. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, has lost the respect of Ireland's largest industry.

The Deputy is totally out of order.

We expected legislation.

The Deputy should ask about promised legislation.

It has been promised for nine months.

The retail industry relied on the Government to introduce legislation.

I have pointed out why the legislation cannot be produced.

Is the Taoiseach blaming the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter?

We have clear legal advice from the Attorney General in respect of upward-only rent reviews.

In fairness to the Minister, Deputy Shatter, it is not his fault and he is trying his best. The Taoiseach should not blame him. He worked hard on it. Hanging out a Cabinet colleague is disgraceful.

We have gained considerable respect for provisions in yesterday's budget to move the construction industry forward including commercial properties, mortgage interest and so on. That is a great deal of support and a lot of work will come from that.

The Christmas pantomime would not have so many characters.

I call Deputy Mattie McGrath on promised legislation.

Will the Government introduce legislation to deal with the banks we are bailing out?

Hold on for a second.

Bank of Ireland Finance had marauding thugs calling to houses in the middle of the night in my county. Deputy Tom Hayes knows all about it.

The Deputy may not raise that on the Order of Business.

The Minister for Justice and Equality is in the House. To seize property with the cover of the Garda as well is a disgraceful action.

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

We need to introduce legislation to deal with the issue.

The Deputy should table a parliamentary question.

He should table another one then.

I will, and I might raise it as a Topical Debate matter.

The Deputy should table it and I will consider it.

The programme for Government commits to introduce legislation to change from criminal sanctions to administrative sanctions for fishermen. When will the Government introduce that?

It is part of the programme and work is proceeding on it. I cannot give a date as to when it will be published, but I will revert to the Deputy.

Six months ago the Taoiseach gave the same answer. When can I get an answer on that?

I will let the Deputy know when I find out.

I have asked a number of times about the promised legislation on the strategic investment bank. Surely most of the aspirations in yesterday's budget about any recovery in the domestic economy are dependent on the availability of funding for small and medium-sized businesses. Without a strategic investment bank it will be very hard to reassure the business community about that.

Is the Deputy looking for a loan?

Is there promised legislation?

Yes, it is part of the programme for Government. While I do not have a timeline on it, Deputy Wallace will be aware that having restructured the banks which ended the dysfunction that applied there, the two main pillar banks have advised that this year they will reach their target of €3 billion in lending, which will increase to €3.5 billion each next year and €4 billion the following year.

There will be no rise. They will be structured loans.

The Deputy will be aware that in yesterday's budget the Government presented its case for a micro-finance agency for small businesses and partial loan credit guarantee for small businesses and a host of other things that will improve the position to allow small businesses to be able to employ extra people, expand their businesses and help the economy generally. I do not have a timeline for the strategic investment bank.

Some legislation has been promised for some time, including legislation to amend the bail laws. It was promised over many years by the party now in opposition when it was on this side of the House and it now falls to this Government to do it. What progress if any has been made in the preparation of the Bill? When might it be likely to come before the House? Similarly the provision of a DNA database could be very helpful to the memories of Members of the Opposition——

(Interruptions).

There is no need for the preliminaries.

——who seem to have a particular deficiency in that area. Setting up the database would be very helpful in the future because they would be able to remember who presided over the upward-only rent reviews when they were set up.

Thank you. I will get the Deputy an answer about the legislation.

Do Opposition Deputies remember that?

Some 12 months before and after.

I am told those will be next year. I do not have actual dates for them. I would be interested to have the DNA Bill to find particular political fingerprints on what went on in recent years.

Going back to 1921.

The Taoiseach announced this morning changes to promised legislation with regard to disability allowances for young disabled persons. When will we be furnished with details of these amendments? Will he extend the review he mentioned to cover the cuts in educational allowances for the disabled which will be cut by 20% also.

The Deputy should ask about promised legislation.

Will the Taoiseach extend the review he mentioned?

No. The Deputy asked when the change will be made. It will be made when the review is completed by Ms Ita Mangan and reported to the Minister for Social Protection, and the Government reflects on it. I cannot give an actual date, but it will not be part of tomorrow's Bill.

What about the second issue of the 20% cut to educational allowances for the disabled?

No, it will not be extended to that.

It is not to be extended. The cut remains.

Is any explanation available for the significant discrepancy in the full-year yield arising from the cuts affecting the Department of Health in yesterday's budget as highlighted by Deputy Pearse Doherty?

About what legislation is the Deputy speaking?

Will any explanation be provided for that significant discrepancy.

During the discussion of the financial resolution to increase the excise duty on home heating oil, it was indicated that it might not impact until May in the coming year.

The Deputy is way out of order.

However, the clarification is very important.

The Deputy is out of order.

The resolution indicated it would kick in as of midnight last night.

The Deputy can make all these points during the budget debate.

Now today we are being told in respect of those young people——

I ask the Deputy to respect the Chair and resume his seat.

——who are to be affected by measures regarding disability payments that there is a review.

Deputy, please resume your seat.

The Social Welfare Bill is to be published this morning, for address in the House during the next couple of days. What is the status of that Bill in terms of the signalled cuts in disability payments?

The Deputy cannot discuss the content of the Bill now.

Has the Bill been amended? If the review upholds the motion to proceed, will a supplementary be introduced?

Deputy, please resume your seat.

I am asking about legislation.

The Deputy is out of order and he knows it.

The Deputy has not yet mentioned legislation.

I have been asking about the Social Welfare Bill. With respect, I do not expect the Minister was listening, which is the reason he is making so many errors in his Department's deliberations. I am asking——

Is the Deputy's question on promised legislation?

——what is reflected in the Social Welfare Bill in terms of young people on disability allowance——

That question has already been answered.

——and if the Government proposes introducing a supplementary Bill in order to proceed with these outrageous proposals?

Is a second Social Welfare Bill promised?

No. I have already clarified that for Deputy Ó Caoláin.

There are a number of questions that require answer.

I call Deputy O'Dea.

There is currently in force a directive in respect of agency workers despite that no legislation has yet been produced. According to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation that directive came into force last Monday. Therefore, the people operating it are working in the dark. When will the relevant legislation be brought before us?

Also, when will legislation to reform joint labour committees be introduced, which legislation has been promised for the past two months?

That Bill will come before Cabinet next week. Obviously, it will not then be published until the new year.

The Bill relating to the agency directive.

I call Deputy Kelleher.

This morning, a neighbour of mine, along with his retired wife, opened his post——

That is interesting. Did he find any promised legislation in it?

He found many U-turns in it.

I am only interested in promised legislation.

There was no legislation just many bills and U-turns. The man discovered that private health insurance for himself and his wife is to increase by €1,000.

That is a matter for parliamentary question.

In view of the announcements made in recent days with regard to the changes in private health insurance and the billing of private beds in public hospitals, when will legislation be brought forward to ensure that we do not have mass escalation of private health insurance premia during the next six to eight months?

Thank you, Deputy.

There is absolute fear among half the population who currently pay for private health care and they are concerned about this. When will legislation to deal in a constructive manner with this matter be introduced?

The Ceann Comhairle deservesdix points for his torpedo to Deputy Kelleher.

My neighbour got a bill for €1,000.

That legislation will be published during the first half of next year.