Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 10, motion re withdrawal of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2013, which, I understand, is Deputy Michael McGrath's Bill; No. 11, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the development of a prison in the townland of Rathmore and city of Cork (back from committee); and No. 19, Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013 - Second Stage (Resumed).

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.; Nos. 9 and 10 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings in relation to No. 11 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 25 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, and who may share their time, shall not exceed five minutes in each case, and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members' business shall be No. 113 – motion re trade union movement and workers' rights.

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 not later than 10 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with items Nos. 9 and 10, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions and motion re withdrawal of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2013, respectively, without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the development of a prison in the townland of Rathmore and city of Cork (back from committee), agreed to? Agreed.

Under the programme for Government, there are four clear commitments to the elderly. The programme states:

Care of Older People and Community Care

Investment in the supply of more and better care for older people in the community and in residential settings will be a priority of this Government.

Additional funding will be provided each year for the care of older people.

This funding will go to more residential places, more home care packages and the delivery of more home help and other professional community care services.

The Fair Deal system of financing nursing home care will be reviewed [in order to create additional supports to enable] people to stay in their own homes.

Will the Minister outline when those commitments will be followed-up and fulfilled? Instead of additional funding for home helps, there have been 1 million home help hours cut. There has been less funding for residential places and fewer home care packages. The fair deal is being reviewed, but only with a view to increasing the charge on estates, from 15% to 22.5%. As Age Action Ireland stated, that is a clear attempt by the Government to take more value from the estates of older persons and it will hit their families harder. Also, the contribution on the nursing home support scheme is increasing, from 5% to 7.5%.

When will the Health (Amendment) Bill, which encompasses those two changes, come to this House? Will the Minister indicate if the Government is prepared to row back on the provisions of the Bill and fulfil the commitments outlined in the programme for Government on the care of older people and community care? Will he indicate when the integrated care agency will be established by the Minister for Health?

The Health (Amendment) Bill is on Second Stage in the Seanad and will come to this House when it is concluded in the Seanad. The process is under way. The second issue relates to an integrated care agency and I will get the Minister to revert to the Deputy.

What about the commitments in the programme for Government relating to older people?

There is a series of commitments in the programme for Government but the Deputy is this afternoon asking about the Health (Amendment) Bill. We are only half way through our term in Government.

The Government is going backwards.

The commitments on the care of the elderly will need to be judged at the end of our term and we are not resiling from any of them.

The Government has done so already.

We should be judged at the end of the term.

The Government has been judged.

There have been a number of announcements recently from the Minister for Social Protection, but having looked through the legislative programme, I cannot find any indication of where the next social welfare Bill is coming from to deal with her promise of doubling the State pension or increasing the minimum wage. Both of those would be welcome and if they were contained in the legislative programme. I encourage the Minister to fast-track those policies. Will they be included in a new legislative programme?

The previous Government and this Government have promised major legislation to deal with pensions and the pensions industry. Such a Bill does not seem to be contained in the legislative programme and I wonder when we will be able to get the heads of such a Bill at least. The gender recognition Bill was promised for earlier this year and it is now scheduled for next year. There was an indication to the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection that the heads of the Bill would be published and available for discussion in July this year. Will the Minister indicate when the heads of the Bill will be available for discussion in the committee?

Much fanfare accompanied last year's decision to locate the national paediatric hospital in the St. James's Hospital campus. When will the national paediatric hospital development board establishment order (amendment) Bill be published in order that we can have some certainty around plans to locate that hospital in the campus? As of yet, there is no board, planning permission or funding in place to proceed with that development or the possible development of a national maternity hospital on the site.

My understanding is that the heads of the national paediatric hospital Bill are being worked on and it will be published later this year. The heads of the gender recognition Bill are currently being drafted and although I cannot give an exact date for the legislation, I expect we will see it this year. There is no Bill listed relating to pensions but my understanding is that the Minister, Deputy Burton, is working on legislation relating to pensions. The Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill has finished in this House and is going to the Seanad tomorrow, so there will be an opportunity for the Deputy's party colleagues to raise questions on the Bill if they wish to do so.

There is a widespread belief in the public that we need radical democratic reform, which was promised by the Government. I will repeat the question I asked earlier of how the Government can tally a commitment to radical democratic reform of these Houses and democracy in the country with the imposition of a guillotine on the Bill dealing with the abolition of the Seanad, which is being debated this week. It will be guillotined and pushed through in just one week while we need a wide-ranging and thorough debate on democratic reform in the country. Will the Minister explain this?

We are all aware of the need in this country to shift to renewable energies very quickly for environmental and other reasons. The Minister may have noted significant coverage of the issue of applications for big wind energy projects. Given the questions on the environmental aspects, the economic benefit to the State, the efficiency of wind energy and the many other concerns of people, when will the foreshore and marine area development Bill be brought forward? When will the promised offshore renewable energy development plan be published? The Minister knows that there are several very controversial and large wind energy projects, not least the plan for 145 turbines in Dublin Bay. We need to know the legislative framework in which these applications will be assessed with the participation of the public.

I agree with the Deputy on the need for radical reform of how our democracy operates and this Government is determined to carry that out. We have already done a number of things, including ending corporate donations, introducing gender quotas and a proposal to abolish the Seanad and change the function of the Dáil to make it more efficient and downsize it. We have significantly reduced the cost of running this House and the Government in general, including ministerial expenses and so on. That effort will continue through the life of this Government, and a major part of it is the proposal to have a referendum asking the people for their verdict on whether we need two Houses in this Parliament. In my view, we do not. My understanding is that no guillotine is proposed on that legislation until Thursday, so we should see how the debate goes between now and then and how many speakers wish to contribute. There is no decision to close the debate until Thursday at the earliest and we are sitting late this evening to facilitate as many speakers as possible.

We have some really ambitious thinking in Ireland with regard to wind projects, not only in how we produce renewable energy for our own grid but also in an ambition to export large volumes of green energy into the UK, which will pay for that energy. There is already a memorandum of understanding in place for the UK to import green energy from Ireland, which can be subsidised and come from projects in various parts of Ireland that have been through a robust foreshore process. I and many others are excited by that project and we strongly support it.

I understand we will see the foreshore and marine Bill this summer and we will see offshore renewable energy legislation before the end of the year.

With regard to the Garda Síochána (compensation for malicious injuries) Bill, the Garda Síochána has been much maligned by the current Government and I would like to know when the Bill will come before the House.

Where is the Deputy getting that from?

How is it maligned?

We did not ask for fellows to be allowed to drive cars while drunk, like the Deputy's brother.

Is the Deputy the new Ceann Comhairle?

The Deputy has some cheek in saying the Garda Síochána is maligned.

I will not rise to the bait and this Government has the utmost respect for the Garda Síochána and its work.

Stick to when the Bill will be published.

The legislation will be seen before the end of the year.

What is the current position of the criminal justice (victims rights) Bill and when is it likely to come before the House? There is a proposed EU directive in the area.

I also inquire about the promised probation service Bill, which is also affected by an EU directive.

The probation service Bill will be published next year. There is no date as yet for the publication of criminal justice (victims rights) Bill but I will ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to reply to the Deputy directly on that matter.