Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. a10, Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2013 – motion to instruct the committee; No. 17, Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 2, Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on No. a10 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 60 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or a Minister of State and the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group who shall be called upon in that order and may share their time shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case. Private Members’ business shall be No. 104, motion re Ireland and the eurozone (resumed), to conclude at 9 p.m., if not previously concluded.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. a10 agreed to? Agreed.

First, when can we expect the legislation to implement a public sector wage deal to be brought before the House? Is it imminent?

Second, with regard to the commitment in the programme for Government to universal primary and free GP care, we know this has been delayed or postponed. We are two and a half years in and there is no sign of the legislation. There is a clear commitment in the programme for Government that a universal primary care (amendment) Bill will be published. Will the Tánaiste update me on the progress of that Bill and when can we expect the legislation to provide for free GP care?

The legislation in regard to the discussions that have taken place with the public service trade unions on pay will be published tomorrow and I expect it will be in the House next week. It is welcome that the discussions have made such good progress.

With regard to the health legislation, the Minister of State, Deputy Alex White, is due to bring proposals to the Government on the matter. I expect he will do so in the near future.

With regard to the Government's strategy on suicide prevention and the mental health strategy, I do not know if the Tánaiste saw the report from the 3Ts charity which again put the focus on suicide. Somewhere in the region of 1,000 citizens across the island have lost their lives through suicide and, in my own constituency, 16 people died through suicide in 2011. One statistic really disturbs me - one child under 18 years dies by suicide every 18 days. I have raised this issue consistently with the Taoiseach. First, promises were made about 414 mental health service positions, but, to the best of my knowledge, they have still not been filed. Second, given the all-island nature of this national crisis, can some progress be made in terms of having an all-island strategy to deal with this matter? There are more people losing their lives through suicide than are now, thankfully, being lost on the roads. The approach used in that regard in terms of education and informing people would work well in suicide prevention.

I join the Deputy in welcoming the publication on Monday of the "Suicide in Ireland" survey, a helpful and meaningful contribution to the discussion on how to improve suicide prevention measures. As the Deputy knows, a number of measures have been progressed by the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, while the National Office for Suicide Prevention has implemented many of the recommendations of the strategy. A special programme of measures to further advance suicide prevention is being developed and I expect that the Minister of State will be glad to share them with the Deputy and the House at the appropriate time.

With regard to the Deputy's suggestion that we might deal with this issue on a North-South basis, I am very keen that we do so.

As the Deputy is aware, there has been quite a degree of co-operation on a North-South basis in health. This is one area that could be developed on a North-South basis and I am sure it is something that the Minister for Health will discuss with the Northern Ireland Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill was published today. As one can see, the central purpose of the Bill is to amend the Pensions Act 1990 to change the current rules for the distribution of assets in the winding up of defined benefit pension schemes. There are no such rules in the Bill, which ignores the problem which is stated to be the central purpose of the Bill.

We cannot discuss the contents.

Is the Government still committed to changing the priority order and, if so, when can we see the appropriate legislation? Why is it not included in this legislation, as was signalled?

The Bill is being published today. My understanding is that it will be in the House next week and I have no doubt Deputy O'Dea will have plenty of opportunities to probe and explore those issues when the Bill is in the House.

The revelations about Apple this week have brought tax justice back into sharp focus and public debate. Does the Government intend to bring in legislation to support a financial transactions tax which it continues to oppose at European level despite the outstanding work of MEPs like Nessa Childers to push this agenda?

Is legislation promised in this area?

No legislation is promised in this area.

The Housing Act 1966 is extremely outdated, for example, with regard to the impediment on housing authorities when dealing with tenants of homes they had previously purchased and now want to sell on. Has the Government any plans to bring in new legislation to update the 1966 Act?

The Taoiseach is at a Heads of Government meeting today. He should surely demand that EU leaders recognise that there is a national fodder crisis. As leader of the EU group, he should seek and demand funding from the EU solidarity fund.

Hold on a minute. The Deputy is really hopping the ball at this stage. He had better talk to the Taoiseach when he comes back. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. He knows as well as I do that he cannot raise the matter on the Order of Business because I am sick and tired of telling him every day.

The Government knows there is a fodder crisis and it is nothing to laugh at.

Are there proposals to amend the Housing Act?

There are three housing Bills. The Housing (Amendment) Bill 2013 was published on 25 April and is before the select committee today. The heads of the housing (miscellaneous provisions) (No. 1) Bill are expected shortly and it will be published this year. The housing (miscellaneous provisions) (No. 2) Bill will be published next year.

And the fodder crisis.

When does the Tánaiste expect the publication of the family law Bill, which is to make provision for pension adjustments in the context of separation agreements and certain other reforms in family law, and the criminal procedure Bill, which is to provide for the reform of pre-trial processes?

Two pieces of legislation.

The family law Bill is expected to be published this year. Preliminary work is being done on the criminal law Bill. I do not have a date for its publication.

When is the publication of the consumer and competition Bill expected? It has been reported in the media that motorists in Ireland may have been paying too much for petrol for the past decade as the EU probes a potential European-wide price rigging scam.

We can talk about it when it is published.

Many Deputies have asked whether a regulator should be appointed to look at fuel prices in this country.

That is a very good suggestion.

It is a significant issue because multinationals rule the market.

It is ideal for a Second Stage debate.

The consumer and competition Bill is due this session.

When the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 was announced, we were promised that there would be local employment and work for businesses. Nobody can seem to get any-----

That is not on the Order of Business.

It is part of the Act that local contractors would be employed.

Which part of the Act?

They are now setting high thresholds that contractors cannot meet. That is Labour's way. I ask whether the Tánaiste will look after those people because they are unemployed businesspeople.

The Deputy cannot make speeches on the Order of Business.

In respect of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill, there is no Garda clearance and it is now taking up-----

Which Bill is the Deputy talking about?

The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill. I welcome the Ceann Comhairle back. I am glad to have him back. I hope he had a good time overseas with my colleague.

No, I was working very hard.

I know he was and I appreciate that. It is taking four months for community groups to get Garda clearance for participants on community employment schemes and any project in the community. Heretofore, it would only be when someone was working with children but now any participant must get clearance so it is taking four months to get Garda clearance. Something is seriously wrong.

The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill is awaiting Report Stage. In respect of the waiting period for clearance, I understand that additional staff have been approved to help with that.

That is very good.

The national paediatric hospital development board establishment order (amendment) Bill has been promised to provide for an amendment to the functions and membership of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. Have the heads of the Bill been cleared by Government and when is it likely to come before the House for Second Stage? When is the gambling control Bill likely to come before the House and have the heads been approved by the Cabinet?

The heads of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board establishment order (amendment) Bill have not yet been cleared by Government. It is expected to be published this year. I expect that the gambling control Bill will be discussed by Government in the relatively near future.

Given that many thousands of people across the country volunteer, when is it proposed to amend the Red Cross Act to bring in a new legal framework for the Irish Red Cross?

The Red Cross (amendment) Bill is expected next year.

Yesterday, many legal professionals at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children raised a major issue of concern at the slow progress of the mental capacity and guardianship Bill. Will the Tánaiste advise the House when this Bill will be brought before the House? Are we any further on with regard to bringing the child and family support agency Bill before the House?

Both of those Bills are due this session.

Is there any proposed legislation, policy, commitment or mechanism by which the Government and the Labour Party might honour its commitment to abolish upward-only rent reviews, as were instigated on Grafton Street in January 2011?

Is there promised legislation?

That issue was dealt with previously in the House. If the Deputy has any positive suggestions for Government that are workable, we will be glad to consider them.

Yesterday, Neil Pakey was appointed as the new CEO of Shannon Airport. Given his very successful track record at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, it is undoubtedly very good news for Shannon. When will new legislation establishing the new company at Shannon be published and brought forward in the House?

That legislation is due this year.

We are all aware of the ongoing problem of the sale of cheap alcohol, the result of which is clogging up our accident and emergency and casualty units at weekends. When can we expect to see the sale of alcohol Bill brought before the House because it is long overdue?

I do not have a date for the publication of that Bill but the Minister of State with responsibility for primary care is developing proposals in that area which I expect will be before Government in the near future.

As the Tánaiste is aware, there is a considerable backlog in justice legislation. Some of the Bills that are running a year and a half behind schedule are very important Bills like the legal services regulation Bill. When will the Government clear up the resource issue in the Office of the Attorney General that has been blamed for this backlog? When will it apply resources and help to clear this backlog?

It is not really relevant but if the Tánaiste has information that could be of assistance to the Deputy I will not object to it being given.

Amendments to the Legal Services Bill are being drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel. The Bill is on Committee Stage.

I ask about the issue of resources in the Attorney General's office.

That is a separate issue.

That is the reason for the backlog.

Perhaps the Deputy could put down a parliamentary question on the matter and it would be dealt with.

It is a question of volume.

Has the Government any intention of extending and increasing the transport scheme for bringing fodder into the country? It is a serious issue. The shortage continues while cattle are deteriorating in many areas with some being put down. A subsidised scheme is badly needed in order to bring in adequate fodder.

I know this is a very serious issue-----

It is a serious issue of animal welfare under the Animal Welfare Bill.

The Animal Welfare Bill is in the Seanad this week. As Deputy Ferris well knows, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is dealing with the fodder crisis which is a very real problem.

It is inadequate.

It is one of the Minister's highest priorities. Deputy Ferris knows well that arrangements have been made in respect of the transport of fodder into the country.

It is totally inadequate.