Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 1, Education and Training Boards Bill 2012 - Amendments from the Seanad; No. 20, Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) (Amendment) Bill 2012 [Seanad] - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 4, Housing (Amendment) Bill 2013 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that in relation to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Second Stage of which shall be considered tomorrow, the following arrangements shall apply: the opening speech of Deputy Thomas Pringle and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and of 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 their time; a Minister or Minister of State, who may speak twice, shall be called upon no later than 1 p.m. to make a speech which shall not exceed 15 minutes; and Deputy Thomas Pringle shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed 15 minutes.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Second Stage of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2013 tomorrow agreed to? Agreed.

It is fair to say that, over the last 25 years, there has been a transformation of attitudes to entrepreneurial endeavour. Many more people today will contemplate establishing a company compared to a generation ago. City and county enterprise boards have played a significant role in encouraging, influencing and supporting people to take that step to set up their own businesses. Small to medium-sized companies are the backbone of the economy, so I wish to ask the Tánaiste two questions. I know the Government is proposing to get rid of the enterprise boards, so when is the county enterprise boards (dissolution) Bill expected to come before the House?

The Government talks about creating jobs, but no one can understand why thousands of jobs are being held up because of the decision to freeze funding that has already been allocated to a multitude of projects across the country under the aegis of Leader and partnership groups. Perhaps the Tánaiste can indicate when the relevant legislation will come before the House because it is tied up with the Leader programme being subsumed into the county councils. When will that funding be released?

We are dealing with legislation here.

People are at their wits' end in communities across the country over the failure to release that funding which has been allocated in the Estimates and matched to projects. It has not been released because of some review that the Minister, Deputy Hogan, has dragged out and is delaying unnecessarily.

Is there promised legislation, Tánaiste?

The legislation concerning county enterprise boards will be published this session. As regards the funding, my understanding is that €90 million of funding was released last week.

I welcome the Government's publication of the heads of the protection of life during pregnancy Bill. I look forward to seeing the legislation on the Statute Book as we rise for the summer.

I wish to raise two matters with the Tánaiste, the first of which concerns the Bethany Home. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, and the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, have met with the survivors. What occurred in that home is well known to many Members of the Oireachtas, as is the fact that those victims have been excluded from any form of redress. At various junctures, the Government has given commitments to consider the Bethany Home issue and to come forward with a proposal on how the victims might be acknowledged. Can the Tánaiste tell us what that proposal might be and the current status of those considerations?

My second question is about Mr. Justice Quirke's work on the redress scheme for the Magdalen survivors. As the Tánaiste knows, Summerhill in Wexford was inexplicably excluded from that redress scheme.

We cannot go into detail on the Order of Business.

Both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have told me that the Cabinet is considering the inclusion of Summerhill in Wexford. Has the Cabinet reached a conclusion and a decision on that matter?

As the Deputy said, the Minister, Deputy Shatter, and the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, have met with the survivors of the Bethany Home. They are considering the approach to be taken on that issue. Similarly, the Summerhill issue is also under consideration. The Government will consider those issues when the Minister and the Minister of State have completed their consideration of them.

The Government's strategic infrastructure sub-committee always meets in time of crisis, including flooding and other emergencies. Will that sub-committee be convened to deal with the fodder crisis? I know that we have sunshine and a bit of heat now, but this major infrastructural problem will continue into the autumn, winter and next spring. Figures released last night confirm that there has been an increase of between 20% and 40% of dead animals in some regions. No farmer wants to lose livestock.

For the Deputy's information, I have granted a Topical Issue to Deputy Tom Fleming on this subject, so it will be raised this afternoon.

I am delighted. Last night's figures have shown an increase of up to 61% in dead animals in some areas. It is a big issue.

I appreciate that.

I do not think it is being grasped. The Government has a strategic infrastructure sub-committee, including the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. We are depending on agriculture for our economy to recover, yet it is getting a hammering. The situation is very serious indeed.

I also wish to ask about the reform of criminal justice legislation. When will we see reform of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to allow for transparency and accountability? We should know the reasoning behind decisions to prosecute or not in some areas. The bewildered public deserve some explanation concerning the actions, or inaction sometimes, of the DPP.

Is there promised legislation in this area?

I am sorry but there is no promised legislation in this area, so I cannot help the Deputy on that matter.

When will a provision be introduced for the exchange of criminal records information with other EU member states? I am referring to the criminal records (information system) Bill.

When is the heritage (amendment) Bill likely to come before the House? Have any preliminary discussions taken place on the heads of that Bill?

The adoption (tracing and information) Bill has been promised for some time. Have the heads of that legislation been discussed and when is it likely to come before the House?

The criminal records (information system) Bill will be published later this year. The heads of the heritage (amendment) Bill have not yet been cleared by the Government.

What was the third Bill raised?

The adoption (tracing and information) Bill.

That will be published this year.

There is a commitment in the programme for Government to publish legislation to provide for a statutory right to collective bargaining. No date has yet been given for the publication of that legislation. Can the Tánaiste enlighten Members as to when this Bill, which is a core element of the programme for Government, will be published?

Commitments in the programme for Government will be fulfilled. I do not have a date for the publication.

No date for the present. I call Deputy Broughan.

What is the precise status of the workplace relations Bill at present? I understand the Ceann Comhairle is considering a Topical Issues debate-----

It is granted.

Okay, that is good. As the Tánaiste is aware, Bus Éireann workers are facing significant cuts in their pay and conditions. Many of them believe they cannot accept the Labour Court recommendations.

The Deputy will have a chance to discuss this later.

Can the Tánaiste, as a member of the Government, ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, to address this matter urgently to avoid a withdrawal of the Bus Éireann fleet or obliging workers to resort to strike action?

The workplace relations Bill is due to be published this session. On the second matter, there is a Labour Court recommendation. The Labour Court has adjudicated on that matter.

Most Deputies receive complaints about waste management or waste collection companies across the State every week. In January of this year, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, stated he was considering the bringing forward of legislation to introduce a regulator for the sector. Can the Tánaiste provide an update regarding progress in bringing forward a regulator for the waste management industry?

The heads of an environment Bill addressing waste management issues were approved by the Cabinet this week. I do not have a date for the Bill's publication but I will revert to the Deputy in this regard.

When is publication of the road traffic Bill expected? I seek the inclusion of a provision that in locations in which there is no public lighting and on rural roads and in rural areas, high visibility jackets and armbands be compulsory with the use of on-the-spot fines and discretion. This is a huge issue.

Yes, it is a big issue.

The road traffic Bill is due to be published this session.