This issue is a cause for great concern. I read about the incident in Kilfinane and I am aware of the difficulties subcontractors face, about which there is no doubt. They are coming to me also. Owing to the interest in the Bill, the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brian Hayes, is working with the Attorney General on a number of amendments which arose during the course of the discussions in the Seanad and this House. The Bill is projected to be ready for Committee Stage early in the new year. I am not sure whether the amendments can be completed in time to deal with the Bill prior to the Christmas recess. I will investigate that matter, but I am aware of the importance of the issue, which is why the Bill is being brought forward in this way. Serious work is ongoing on amendments and I will inform the House further on progress made.
In regard to the report of the expert group on the A, B and C case, legal certainty is obviously required, as are security and understanding, for women in particular, in respect of the standards that apply in maternity hospitals. The report has been published and I circulated copies to Deputy Micheál Martin and others one hour before its publication in order that Opposition leaders and spokespersons on health could read it. We will discuss it in the House on Tuesday, with the agreement of the Whips. I will provide as much time as Members desire. Prior to the recess at the end of the year, the Government will make its view known, arising from these discussions and our own views, on which option it has decided to pursue in order that legal certainty can be given where needed. Early in the new year and before the Dáil resumes in January the Joint Committee on Health and Children will hold public hearings on whatever option is chosen by the Government. Deputies will be aware that we changed the rules for committees to allow them to hold public hearings without having to make recommendations on matters of public interest. It is only appropriate that, for example, the masters of the maternity hospitals should be able to address the joint committee to point to the grey areas which need to be investigated by constitutional and legal people. The issues arising from the comments made yesterday by Dr. McCarthy, a perinatal psychiatrist, can also be addressed. These issues should be considered in the public interest.
As to when the Dáil will see legislation, following on from the option chosen by the Government and the public hearings of the joint committee, the legislative options will be followed through by the Government.