Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 5, Europol Bill 2012 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that in regard to the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill 2012, the Second Stage of which shall be considered tomorrow, the following arrangements shall apply: the opening speech of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Technical Group and a Minister or Minister of State, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes and such Members may share time; a Minister or Minister of State, who may speak twice, shall be called upon not later than 1 p.m. to make a speech which shall not exceed 15 minutes; and the main spokesperson for Fianna Fáil shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed 15 minutes.

There is one proposal to put the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill 2012 tomorrow agreed to? Agreed.

I must remark on this week's lack of business. I have asked the Taoiseach on a number of occasions if he could schedule an urgent debate on the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council report, which is almost four weeks old. It goes to the heart of some of the significant economic challenges we face and it voices significant concerns. I would have thought we could have had the debate yesterday or today, so important is that report as an independent, objective assessment of where we are fiscally and so on.

I refer to forthcoming legislation relating to children. People are worried about what they are reading and about the leaks concerning significant reductions in child benefit payments down to €100 with a scheme of top-ups. Will the Tánaiste confirm when the Children First Bill is coming on stream? Will he confirm whether there will be reductions in child benefit in the forthcoming budget?

That is not in order on the Order of Business.

With regard to the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council report, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012 will be in the House next week and that will give Members an opportunity to debate the report and it is also intended to hold a debate reasonably soon on the economic situation- it is a matter for the Whips to agree the timing of it - and this can obviously include the report.

The Taoiseach undertook that there would be a debate specifically on the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council report, not the Bill. There are concerns in that report and issues that need airing and articulation. The goalposts are changing.

There is quite a degree of latitude when Second Stage of a Bill is debated. The Fiscal Responsibility Bill will be in the House next week. It would be extraordinary if that debate did not include reference and discussion of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council report but, in any event, it is our intention that there will be a wider debate on the economy, which will obviously include the report.

The Deputy asked me about child benefit-----

We are on the Order of Business and we do not deal with such matters.

It is amazing what a period in opposition will do for one's amnesia.

There are many comedians in the House today.

Deputy Gilmore has forgotten about his past.

The issue of child benefit and how it might be structured goes back to when Mary Hanafin was Minister, followed by Deputy Ó Cuív.

I am referring to the recent report.

The issue of child benefit will be considered in the context of the budget. The children first Bill will be taken this session.

I refer to promised legislation on upward only rent review. The matter is under review and there are some complications. The rental arrangements people have with the State and State agencies must be addressed.

Regarding the Keane report, the Tánaiste spoke of his concern for people in mortgage distress. What is coming forward from the recommendations by way of legislation? I refer to the Dolphin report, which has not yet been published, on the location of the children's hospital. There is heightened anxiety about where it might be located given the jiggery-pokery we saw on primary health care centres. It is essential that any decision on this development is absolutely transparent. When will the report be published and when will the Government take a decision on the location, given the need for transparency?

The Minister for Finance addressed upward only rent reviews in his Budget Statement last December. He set out the position and referred to the advice received from the Attorney General.

Does that mean nothing is happening?

We cannot have a debate on it on the Order of Business.

I want an answer, not a debate.

He set out the position. There is a constitutional issue related to it, which the Minister for Finance addressed. The Government accepted the recommendations of the Keane report and we had a debate in the House in which we set out, in great detail, the action taken by the Government on foot of the report. The key item of legislation arising from the report is the Personal Insolvency Bill. The Bill has passed Committee Stage and is due to come into the House for Report Stage.

The Dolphin report on the children's hospital is with the Minister for Health and when he is in a position to bring it to Government, he will do so. When the Government has considered the matter, an announcement will be made.

The N86 road between Dingle and Tralee is being improved.

That is good news.

I heard about the Dolphin report and people will be able to see Fungi in Dingle much quicker as a result. There is a major problem and I will get to the roads (amendment) Bill-----

We do not deal with bends on roads or bad surfaces on the Order of Business. If there is legislation, we will deal with it.

A number of local contractors and a subcontractor are working on the road and have not been paid by the main contractor. This is leading to major difficulties.

Not on the Order of Business. There are other ways to raise the issue.

It is appropriate because I want to ask the Tánaiste if the forthcoming roads (amendment) Bill will include a provision to ensure contractors are paid on time and if there will be increased penalties for contractors who do not pay smaller subcontractors and local contractors. This is a major issue because people are expending money and they want to put bread on the table for their families. They cannot do so because they are not being paid by the big operators.

There are numerous ways to raise these matters.

That is enough audio for local radio. Deputy Griffin is covered.

I also ask that provision be made to make contracts more accessible to local contractors.

No, Deputy Griffin cannot raise that. Is legislation due? Deputy Griffin can raise this point in many other ways. He should stick to what is allowed on the Order of Business.

The roads (amendment) Bill is due next year.

When will the Personal Insolvency Bill return to the House? Many people would like to know in light of the fact that AIB has increased mortgage rates.

The House is dealing with the Fiscal Responsibility Bill next week and it is intended that the Personal Insolvency Bill will be dealt with as quickly as arrangements can be made with the Whips.

In view of recent concerns about credit reporting, when is it expected to bring the credit reporting Bill into the House, with a view to addressing the issues that have become apparent? That would cover some of the banking procedures, including lending procedures.

Similarly, in respect of company law, it appears from casual observation that company law is not being observed in the letter and the spirit of the law in numerous instances over the past four or five years. Two items of company legislation are proposed, the companies Bill and a consolidation Bill. Is it possible to bring these legislative measures before the House earlier than had been anticipated, with a view to addressing ongoing issues?

The companies legislation is due this session and the credit reporting Bill was published last Friday. It is a matter of scheduling with the Whips when it is brought before the House. I expect it to be in the House shortly.

What is the position in respect of convening the constitutional convention? We raised the matter on the Order of Business last week and we understood we would be given an advice note on the matter. That has not happened. The challenge is to select the 66 members of the public, which is a daunting task. I also asked for consultation with Opposition parties in respect of the independent chair but there has been no update on this point. Does it look rather unlikely that the pet project of the Government will be launched this side of the budget?

It is intended to have the constitutional convention launched this side of the budget. We are making arrangements to have it announced and launched. With regard to consultation on its composition, there have already been discussions with Opposition parties. We do not have any difficulty with further discussion on it. We would like to see it done in a manner to which we can subscribe rather than in a partisan way. I have no difficulty with further discussion with Opposition parties.

In light of welcome developments in the taxi industry yesterday, when will the taxi regulation Bill be passed by the House and in operation?

It is intended to have the Bill in the House this session.