Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 11a, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 19, Housing (Amendment) Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 20, Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2012 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 21, Further Education and Training Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m.; that No. 11a shall be decided without debate; and, in the event that a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members' business, which shall be No. 46, Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 - Second Stage (resumed), Standing Order 121(3) shall not apply and Private Members' business shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes.

There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and adjourn at 10 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11a agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed.

There was a commitment in the programme for Government to introduce child care legislation and to prioritise child care services and the inspection of such services. I want the Taoiseach to indicate to me when the Children First legislation will be published, given that the HSE has confirmed that funding for childminding officers is no longer in place in most areas. This is a service that was created ten years ago with 30 staff.

We read reports recently about senior advice to the Government not to increase the pupil-teacher ratio in early child care settings and not to cut back on allowances to child care providers. In light of the disturbing revelations on crèches and child care, it is extremely important the legislation is accelerated. I ask the Taoiseach for the timeframe for the Children First legislation and the child and family agency legislation. Perhaps the Taoiseach can provide a timeframe for the introduction and delivery of legislative proposals.

Work on the child and family agency legislation has progressed well and it is expected to be taken this session. The child care Bill, Children First, is also listed for this session but the committee produced a 700-page report which must be taken into consideration by the Minister in the preparation of the legislation. It was a detailed, comprehensive and extensive report. The legislation is listed for this session and I hope it can make it through but there is a great deal of work involved in the consideration of the committee's report.

Ba mhaith liom ceist a chur faoi reachtaíocht atá forógraithe, ach sular leanann mé ar aghaidh le sin, ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá faoin Iar Theachta Dála, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh a fuair bás an mhí seo fosta. Before I come to promised legislation, with the indulgence of the Ceann Comhairle I would like to mark the death of a former Deputy who died recently. Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. Rory would not appreciate his name being mentioned in this institution but, at the same time, this institution should not ignore the fact that he was elected as a Deputy for Longford-Westmeath while in prison. He was one of four Sinn Féin Deputies elected in 1957. I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to place this on record and extend the sympathy of Sinn Féin, and I hope of the Dáil, to his wife Patsy and to his family and friends. Go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.

Regarding promised legislation, the programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation to address all aspects of domestic violence, threatened violence and intimidation in a manner that protects the victims. Women's Aid showed that threats, intimidation and violence are a daily reality for thousands of women and children across the State and across the island. The organisation has called for round-the-clock access to legal protection for vulnerable women and children and that a court be available for women to seek interim barring orders outside of normal court hours. When will the Government bring forward legislation to provide 24-7 protection for vulnerable women and children?

Some work has been done on this but I cannot provide an accurate date. Recently, I attended the launch of the ManUp programme, which is to deal with the so-called macho men who beat up women and children. I was happy to be associated with the strategy that has been worked out. I will come back to the Deputy with a more accurate fix on the work that has been done and when it is likely to come together in the form of the heads of the Bill.

We had a discussion earlier on Leaders' Questions on the protection of life during pregnancy Bill. What is the timescale for its passage, which the Taoiseach said would involve the Bill going back to the committee, through the House? With regard to the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, the Minister made an announcement last week that had a devastating effect in south Tipperary. While the rental allowance rates went down in north Tipperary, which I welcome, they went drastically down in south Tipperary. Clonmel is hugely affected, as are other towns. I do not know the criteria being used.

This sounds like a parliamentary question.

I will ask them as well but this is a pressing issue. The Minister had a presentation while we were here but hopefully the anomalies will be straightened out.

I understand the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill passed the Dáil last night and will go to the Seanad tomorrow. With regard to the protection of life during pregnancy Bill, the Government is considering it today. It will then be published and will come before the Dáil.

When will it be published?

We will publish it as soon as we finalise the wording of the Bill. It will probably be today or tomorrow. It will come before the Dáil and it is an issue I do not want to rush so that we give everyone the opportunity to have their say on it. We will deal with it in the normal way as normal business-----

It will be guillotined again. That is the normal way.

Deputy Mattie McGrath asked questions and he should let the Taoiseach give replies.

This is an issue not to be flippant about.

I am not being flippant.

The Bill will receive proper and thorough consideration from Members of the Oireachtas.

With regard to promised legislation, when is it proposed to bring before the House the legislation to provide for the disestablishment of the HSE board, the funding of the HSE through the Vote of the Minister for Health and the establishment of the new statutory financial accountability framework for the HSE? This is to come in on 1 January under the health (amendment) (No. 2) Bill. Have the heads of the Bill been cleared and will it be possible to indicate when the Bill will pass through the House?

Fourteen bills have been promised in respect of justice-----

We will not go through the 14 Bills.

I decided to refrain from naming the 14 Bills in deference to the patience of the Taoiseach and the Ceann Comhairle. In view of the reports of the Law Reform Commission, with reference to mandatory sentencing in the past few days and previously in respect of the proposed court of civil appeal, would it be prudent to introduce a consolidated Bill that would incorporate many of the segments mentioned in specific legislation in an effort to overcome the long backlog the Minister inherited from the previous Administration? Is it possible, particularly with regard to bail and criminal activity, to introduce as a matter of urgency a consolidated Bill that would deal with the most pertinent issues?

There is no date for the publication of the bail Bill. The Minister for Justice and Equality has done some work on it and I will ask him to communicate directly with the Deputy.

With regard to the disestablishment of the HSE, the heads of the Bill have not been cleared by the Government. I expect the Bill will be produced before the end of the year. It is not due to come into the House until early next year.

On promised legislation, there is an urgent need to strengthen the regulatory framework for social housing to provide for a new tenant purchase scheme for existing local authority houses, along with incremental purchase lines, the right of household members to succeed to the local authority tenancy of a deceased household member, and the refinement of the housing assistance payment. I am referring to the housing (miscellaneous provisions) (No. 2) Bill.

Following a programme on TV3 that highlighted illegal puppy farming in this country, what proposals does the Government have to deal with and regulate the sector? It is disturbing. I commend the people who made the programme and I compliment Kerry SPCA, which deals with this problem on a day-to-day basis.

The Housing (Amendment) Bill 2013 is going through the House and will be followed by another general housing Bill, in which the Minister of State, Deputy O'Sullivan, hopes to include a tenant purchase scheme. It will be taken shortly in the Dáil.

The Animal Health and Welfare Bill was signed into law in May.

That referred to and dealt with puppy farms and the microchipping of pups and dogs. I did not see the programme last night, but I will ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine or the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to advise the Deputy.

When can we expect the publication of the adoption (tracing and information) Bill which is to provide for an information and tracing service to applicants seeking information about adoption?

The heads of the Bill have not yet been cleared but the Bill is due to be published this year.

I have a similar question to that of Deputy Healy-Rae, but it relates to the tenant purchase scheme. People are in a dilemma. The current scheme is due to conclude at the end of June. People are under the impression that a better scheme is due to be introduced and they do not know whether to opt for the present scheme or the new scheme. It is urgent that a new scheme is put in place and that the terms are outlined.

On a second issue, the motorised transport scheme and mobility allowance, when will legislation on that scheme be brought to the House?

With regard to the current scheme, people would have to have applied for it by now for it to take effect by the end of June. In the next general housing Bill the Minister of State, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, hopes to include a new tenant purchase scheme. The current scheme concludes at the end of June so people will have to have applied by now to avail of it.

The Government decided yesterday on the mobility allowance question. The moneys are in place but the scheme was deemed to be illegal. The Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, is moving on this. What is required is a framework to allow payments to continue to recipients and also to define a new structure for a new scheme which will have to take account of where responsibility actually lies for this. That work is being undertaken now by the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch.

The programme for Government commits to enhancing the democratic process by involving public representatives at an earlier stage in the legislative process. It also refers to the over-use of the guillotine with regard to legislation. Under the last Government, 74% of all the legislation was scheduled for the guillotine. Last night there was a guillotine and we did not get to discuss all of the Bill. I am sure the Taoiseach is aware of that and is not comfortable with it. This issue was raised yesterday but I did not hear any commitment to the programme for Government's intent to deal with the heavy over-use of the guillotine or that there will be a more normal approach to dealing with business. Is that commitment still in place? What measures will be put in place to deal with the over-use of the guillotine?

The second item I wish to raise relates to a motion I tabled. I do not wish to have a situation where I and other Members must try to raise things on the Order of Business and I am sure that is not the Taoiseach's intention. Could a change be made to Standing Orders to permit one Member of the Technical Group to speak at the time business is ordered?

That is not a matter for the Order of Business.

Can time be provided? The Whips have said they will not permit that change. We are a third of the Opposition and this is not right. If we are to do our jobs, please permit us to have time to deal with that.

That is a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

I am sure it is a glitch, but it must be changed.

The commitment in respect of the guillotine stands. As I said yesterday, on a significant number of occasions there were no speakers where debates on Bills were listed to be shortened. I would be most willing to have a structure in the House whereby there would be breaks between Second, Committee and Report Stages and, if the people decide to abolish the Seanad later this year, there would also be a pre-enactment stage and a break between Report Stage and that stage. Other parliaments publish a full list of legislation for the year, but that would create many difficulties here because of the way things actually happen.

However, the Chief Whip will shortly bring forward a number of recommendations which will hopefully improve how the Dáil does its work. The Ceann Comhairle has many years of experience here and he had a number of very practical suggestions about this also. Many things have been tried over the years. Some have been good for a while but have then changed and not been as effective as people would have thought. The commitment in respect of having a more effective structure for dealing with legislation stands. The Chief Whip will bring forward a proposal on that in the not too distant future.

We have all received complaints regarding unruly and noisy residents and the lack of power the Garda and other enforcement agencies have to tackle this. The noise nuisance Bill that is due to be published should allow for fines and mediation between neighbours. It is embarrassing that the gardaí are obliged to call to these houses and use peer pressure to get people to turn down the noise. When will this Bill be brought forward? It is extremely important.

Also, will the Taxi Regulation Bill be back before the House before the summer recess?

No, it is not listed for before the recess. Some work has been done on it but I cannot give the Deputy an accurate outline on it now. The Deputy has raised it on a number of occasions and I will ask the Minister to respond to him with a timeline.

What about the noise nuisance Bill?

I am talking about that Bill.

The Dáil recently unanimously facilitated the passage through Second Stage of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013. It is designed to facilitate access to the courts for all victims of symphysiotomy, a significant number of whom are currently unable to progress their cases because of the Statute of Limitations. This is a cohort of very elderly women. When will Committee Stage be facilitated in the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality? It was signalled for two weeks ago but it was deferred because it was indicated that the Minister would be out of the country. As it happened, he was not. As the mover of the legislation I have received no clear indication of how quickly it will be facilitated, although I am advised that the committee is anxious to accommodate Committee Stage. Mindful that the clock is ticking for so many of these unfortunate women, will the Taoiseach help to ensure the earliest facilitation of Committee Stage, with the hope of concluding the Bill's passage through the Houses before the summer recess?

That is a Private Members' Bill. I cannot answer the Deputy's question now, but I will advise him later.

There is promised legislation on valuations for businesses in the commercial sector. This has been an ongoing issue for a number of years, including under the previous Administration. At what stage is the legislation and when can we expect the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to bring forward a new valuation Bill? As the Taoiseach knows, businesses throughout the country regularly ask us when the legislation will be before the House.

That Bill is currently before the Seanad. I cannot say when it will deal with the Bill but the Bill will come to this House as part of the normal progress of legislation. I will ask the Minister to respond to the Deputy as to when it is expected to come from the Seanad to the Dáil.

I have questions about legislation in two areas. First, in the justice area, there is the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and the legislation to amend and strengthen the Criminal Assets Bureau in respect of tackling the proceeds of crime. These two measures are urgently required, given that communities continue to be threatened by criminal gangs. The gangs come into the communities, particularly those in isolated areas, and carry out a sequence of robberies in a single night. It is urgent to bring forward both legislative measures in this context.

On a different area, many of our subcontractors have had a very bad experience in the aftermath of the Celtic tiger economy and have been the victims of larger contractors. In that context, when will the Construction Contracts Bill be coming before the House to be passed and enacted?

Deputy O'Reilly has expressed an interest in the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill and the criminal justice (proceeds of crime) Bill on previous occasions, as has Deputy Bernard Durkan. Both Bills are listed for later this year but the criminal justice (proceeds of crime) Bill is still being discussed with the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB.

The Construction Contracts Bill is on Committee Stage and obviously it is a matter for the members of the committee as to when they conclude their deliberations, at which point the Bill will come back to this House for Report and Final Stages.

There is enormous concern that our national monuments and heritage are being vandalised and, in some cases, stolen. There was an incident recently in Lake Garadice in County Leitrim, where a 600 year old church window was stolen. Thankfully, it has been found again, due to the vigilance of the local people. In that context, when will the monuments Bill be published?

The Bill is not due until the middle of next year but given the Deputy's keen interest in the matter, I will ask the relevant Minister to update him on whether it can be expedited.

When is publication expected of the trusts Bill, to reform and consolidate the general law relating to trustees so as to deal better with and protect trust assets?

That Bill is due for publication later this year and I assume it will be considered in the session beginning in September.