Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 12, motion regarding membership of committee; No. 13, motion regarding proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Sustainable Energy Act 2002 (Section 8(2) - Conferral of Additional Functions - Renewable Energy) Order 2012 (back from committee); No. 14, motion regarding referral to Joint Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Council Decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the use and transfer of Passenger Name Records to the United States Department of Homeland Security; No. 5, Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill 2012 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn on the conclusion of No. 55, motion regarding Domiciliary Care Allowance, which shall take place on the conclusion of the opening speeches on No. 5 or at 7.30 p.m., whichever is the later and shall if not previously concluded adjourn after 90 minutes and that Nos. 12, 13 and 14 shall be decided without debate.

There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil sit later than 9 p.m. tonight agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 12, 13 and 14 agreed? Agreed.

In the context of commitments given in the programme for Government, when will the legislation facilitating the holding of the children's rights referendum be published and brought before the House? The referendum on children's rights is a serious issue, in respect of which legislation has been promised for some time. I would appreciate if the Taoiseach could give an expected legislative timeframe in that regard.

Also, is the legislation dealing with abolition of the Seanad, as per the Taoiseach and Government's commitment in the programme for Government, likely to be introduced in 2012?

Our experience last year of holding two referenda on the same day as the Presidential election, raised issues around the availability of information to allow people understand the issues at hand. Like everyone else, I, too, am concerned about child protection. As Deputy Martin will be aware, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, is doing a great deal of work on the mandatory requirement to report, the incorporation into legislation of the children first guidelines and on the proposed referendum on children's rights. My preference would be to hold this referendum in the autumn. However, the Bill is not yet ready owing to the complexity of work involved. I will keep the House updated on this matter. I do not believe it would be possible to hold the referendum on children's rights alongside another referendum. It should be held on its own. There is only room for the holding of one referendum in the autumn and, if one is to be held, it will be the referendum on children's rights.

On the abolition of the Seanad, I have done a great deal of work on this issue and will bring that legislation before the House in due course, at which time a decision will be taken, which will have taken the views of all Members into account, on when that referendum should be held.

Will it remain or be abolished?

In my view if a referendum is to be held in the autumn, it should be the referendum on child protection, in respect of which work is ongoing. When that work has been completed, I will update the House on the matter.

The previous Government published legislation on the children's rights referendum. I am not aware of the degree to which this legislation varies from that of the previous Government. This is an urgent issue given all that has happened in more recent times, in particular the past week. We need clarity around what is being proposed. There was an exhaustive process on this issue during the past number of years under the previous Oireachtas. The Taoiseach stated it is hoped to hold that referendum in the autumn. Is that his expected timetable or could it be 2013 before it is held?

My preference is to hold that referendum this autumn. I expect the legislation to be dealt with prior to the summer recess. Every time I query the current position I find more complications have arisen. I expect this referendum to be held in the autumn and will keep the House fully updated as progress is made.

When will the Government introduce legislation to deal with the concentration of ownership in the media sector? In this regard, the Taoiseach will have noted the manoeuvrings in the board rooms of independent news and media, including by some people with links to the Taoiseach's party. This is an important issue. I am interested to hear from the Taoiseach when this legislation will be brought forward.

Work on that legislation is proceeding in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. I have noted some comment in regard to the introduction in that legislation of provisions dealing with cross ownership of media. That matter has not been considered by Government. Work on the legislation is receiving priority within the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and is expected to be published in the latter part of the summer. Government has not yet considered anything other than completion of that work.

When will the Personal Insolvency Bill 2012, which many struggling families view as a life-line, be introduced? The Wind Turbines Bill, Second Stage of which was introduced in the Seanad on 22 February by Senator John Kelly, was not opposed by Government. Does the Government propose to introduce an alternative wind turbines Bill? What was proposed by Senator Kelly would have had major implications for the future of wind farming in Ireland. I would welcome the Taoiseach's views on that matter.

The Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 is expected to be ready by end June. A great deal of time and detailed discussion has been devoted to that issue. The Wind Turbines Bill to which Deputy Healy-Rae referred is a Private Members' Bill, which has not been adopted by Government. The Government does not propose to introduce such a Bill.

There is no alternative proposal by Government?

Not to my knowledge.

The Deputy might consider tabling a parliamentary question on the matter.

Is it intended to amend the Broadcasting Act in light of the publication of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's report, the discussions which the Minister concerned had with the board of RTE today and Government's subsequent Cabinet meeting today around the issues that have arisen in the past few days?

The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, met with the board this morning for more than two hours. This was an appalling case, one from which the board members did not resile.

The report itself, while short, was very direct and clear about a litany of incompetence and issues that should not have happened. As I understand it, the board will respond to the Minister in seven days in writing in respect of its proposals to deal with the recommendations arising from the report. Deputy Dooley will be aware that significant changes have been made already in that the programme no longer runs and the team dealing with it is no longerin situ and that the director general was not in place when this happened. The Government considered the matter this morning and the board will respond to the Minister within seven days in writing and the Government will reflect on that when it comes in.

Is the Minister happy that a body of legislation is available to him to deal with the event that took place or-----

That is a separate matter.

-----any subsequent matter.

I can confirm to Deputy Dooley that the Minister is reviewing that legislation as well.

While it is recognised that considerable progress has been made on the companies Bill, given the urgency of the situation and the need to modernise company law in line with today's requirements, is continued progress being made to bring the Bill before the House at the earliest opportunity?

This Bill contains 1,300 sections. I can confirm that work is proceeding on it. Slow and torturous progress is being made. It is an enormous Bill and it will occupy Deputies from all sides for a considerable period of time when it eventually appears here. They will stagger under the weight of amendments to the Bill.

I ask the Taoiseach again - this is about the sixth time I have done so along with others, notably Deputy Ó Cuív, who is not here - when will the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, announce the guidelines in regard to the Water Services Act and septic tanks? We have water services and a household tax but this is a slow burner and it will not go away.

I think he has an answer for you.

He has failed to give it in spite of it being promised several times.

I note the Minister, Deputy Hogan, wrote to Deputy McGrath on 26 April in regard to the regulations for domestic waste water treatment. He said 165 submissions were received, that these were being assessed by the Department and that when they were assessed, he would finalise regulations which will give legal effect to the standards. He went on to say that he did not want to give the Deputy a specific date and said he expected to be in a position to finalise the regulations shortly and that at that stage, the relevant statutory instrument will be laid before each House of the Oireachtas in accordance with section 18 of the Water Services Act 2007.

I will ask him for Deputy McGrath.

Has the Taoiseach sent him on holidays? He is missing.

I know Deputy McGrath is very concerned about this.

In light of the reduction in the rent allowance administered by the HSE to force landlords to reduce rents, when can we expect the landlord and tenant Bill to be introduced to consolidate and reform the general law on landlords and tenants?

At the current state of play, it will be early next year.