Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 13b, motion re statement of Estimates for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission; No. 14, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law - general approach, back from committee; No. 15 - motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation and Training (Europo) and repealing Decisions 2009/371/JHA and 2005/681/JHA, back from committee; No. a15a - motion re ministerial rota for Parliamentary Questions; No. 15c, motion re membership of committees; No. 15b, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Non-Use of Motor Vehicles (Section 3) Regulations 2013; No. 15a, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, UNDOF, in Syria; No. 23, Electoral, Local Government and Planning and Development Bill 2013 - Committee and Remaining Stages; No. a1, Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013 - amendment from the Seanad; No. 24, Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 25, statements on the report of the Constitutional Convention.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 5.45 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn on the conclusion of Oral Questions; Nos. 13b, 14, 15, a15a, 15c and 15b shall be decided without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; the proceedings in relation to No. 15a shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after one hour and the opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fianna Fáil Party, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the Committee and Remaining Stages of No. 23 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours and 30 minutes by one question which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government; the proceedings on No. a1 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after one hour and any amendments from the Seanad not disposed of shall be decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall, in relation to amendments to the Seanad amendment, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice and Equality; the Report and Final Stages of No. 24 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours by one question which shall be put from the Chair, and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government; the proceedings on No. 25 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two hours and the following arrangements shall apply: the opening statement of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fianna Fáil Party, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and such Members may share their time, the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes and such Members may share their time, a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes, and the order shall resume thereafter with Topical Issues and Oral Questions; and the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 18 September 2013.

There are eight proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil sit later than 5.45 p.m. agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 13b, motion re statement of Estimates for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission; No. 14, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law - general approach, back from committee; No. 15, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training, Europol, and repealing Decisions 2009/371/JHA and 2005/681/JHA, back from committee; No. a15a, motion re: ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 15c, motion re membership of committees; and No. 15b motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Non-Use of Motor Vehicles (Section 3) Regulations 2013, without debate and that any division demanded on No 13b shall be taken forthwith agreed?

Not agreed. I refer to No. 15, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training, Europol, and repealing Decisions 2009/371/JHA and 2005/681/JHA. This proposal deserves debate here. The joint supervisory body of Europol in a published opinion on this decision characterised it as a clearly retrograde step in respect of data protection issues. It is clearly a sensitive issue. We have debated these issues in the Chamber before. I do not believe it should go through on the nod and should be afforded time to be discussed.

It was debated at the committee.

This was referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality and was debated, I believe, yesterday. What we have is what has come back from the committee. It has already been considered and discussed in the committee and to my knowledge no division was called at the committee.

A member gets kicked off a committee for calling a vote.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 13b, No. 14, No. 15, No. a15a, N. 15c and No. 15b be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 15a, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 23, Committee and Remaining Stages of the Electoral, Local Government and Planning and Development Bill 2013 agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. a1, Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013, amendment from the Seanad agreed?

It is not agreed. This is a Bill that would make it easier to repossess the family home - effectively an eviction Bill - that plays into the hands of the banks. I suppose it is consistent with Government policy that leaves control in the hands of the bankers on the resolution of people's personal indebtedness

Deputy Dooley knows all about bankers.

Is Deputy McNamara on the right side today or on the wrong side? Does he know what buttons he is pressing?

Any day I am on a different side from Deputy Dooley.

Perhaps we can get back to dealing with the issue.

The Deputy is back in the pack anyway - he is back in tune with Deputy Stagg.

One more sheep back in the pen.

The bottom line is that we disagree with the way in which it is being rushed through the House and guillotined. We disagree in principle with the Bill.

There is one amendment from the Seanad.

The Tánaiste is all heart.

I believe an hour is plenty of time to debate that amendment. Is there no end to the hard neck of Fianna Fáil?

The Tánaiste is tied to his friends.

First the Deputy gets up and talks about jobs after his party losing 250,000.

The Government is going to evict people from their homes for the banks. Deputy Eamon Gilmore, the bankers' friend.

Now he has the effrontery to get up and talk about banks after what his party did with the blanket bailout and took the-----

The Government took the banker's shilling.

This is about enabling people to get out-----

It is taking the shilling and-----

There is no end to the hard neck and effrontery of Fianna Fáil.

It is evicting people out of their homes.

A period of repentant silence from Fianna Fáil is long overdue.

Did it get the 10%?

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. a1 be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 24, Order for Report, Report and Final Stages of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012, agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 25, statements on the report of the Constitutional Convention, agreed? Agreed.

I finally come to one in which people will be very interested. Is the proposal that the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 agreed? Agreed.

I call Deputy Dooley on the Order of Business.

(Interruptions).

Give Deputy Dooley an opportunity to make his point.

In a break with tradition and custom that was exercised by those on the other side when they occupied these benches-----

(Interruptions).

----- we will not be seeking an extension of this session. We will not be complaining about the length of the Dáil session. However, on a serious point I hope in the course of the next session we have an opportunity to discuss real Dáil reform. It is not about the length of time we sit, but about the way in which we order our business.

We want more time in the bright evenings.

The way we do our business in this House needs to be reformed. While I will not make an overly political point, it is unfortunate we are dealing with so many items on the last day.

A Cheann Comhairle-----

I would argue we should take a summer break of approximately four weeks, but the other four weeks should be dispersed over the year-----

Deputy Dooley should be careful of what he wishes for.

Is this Deputy Dooley's contribution on the Order of Business?

Sorry, Deputy-----

-----so that we do not have this glut at the end of it.

Is the Deputy raising something on the Order of Business?

I am. I am raising Dáil reform.

Is this on the Order of Business?

In the reform of the Dáil procedures we should reduce the big block of time in summer-----

Deputy Ó Fearghaíl, the man sitting behind Deputy Dooley, is very good at that.

-----and share that time throughout the year in a way that allows us to do our work effectively.

The Deputy should leave it to the experts.

The Deputy has made his point at this stage.

It would also allow the staff of the House to do their work more effectively.

A Cheann Comhairle, is this Deputy Dooley's contribution on the Order of Business?

It would stop this sham throughout the year.

The Deputy has made his point.

What is Deputy Dooley like?

In the lifetime of this Government we have made a number of very significant changes to the way in which the Dáil operates, for example, the amount of time that is spent, the introduction of ways in which Members of the House can introduce legislation, the operation of committees and the legislation the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, has recently introduced to provide for parliamentary inquiries. We have more to do in reforming the House, but it is not just about the procedures, the formal rules and so on. It is also about the way in which Members use the House.

There is a responsibility on every elected Member of Dáil Éireann to make the best possible use of Dáil time, Dáil procedures, committees and so on to raise the issues that matter to people to make the House much more relevant to the lives of people outside the House. That is a responsibility that we all share. Discussion on Dáil reform is an issue to which we can return and I would be very happy to do so after the break.

I call Deputy McDonald.

I am not going to-----

Is this my opportunity to speak on matters on the Order of Business?

On the Order of Business.

Sorry, I misunderstood. I thought this was just a random thing between two guys in the Chamber.

The Deputy should join in.

That is okay. I take back my feelings of utter frustration as I listened to the lads.

Thank you Deputy.

One of the big glaring issues on Dáil reform, leaving aside the technicalities of how we do our business is the gender issue in the Houses of the Oireachtas. We need to address it.

Thank you Deputy.

I wish to raise two substantive issues with the Tánaiste. In May I raised the issue of the need to have Down's syndrome added to the list of low-incidence disabilities to ensure those students and children have adequate educational supports.

Can the Tánaiste tell us when he will bring forward his proposal in that regard? Can he confirm what was for me a welcome announcement yesterday by An Taoiseach to the effect that the issue of the Bethany Home would be discussed at the next week's Cabinet meeting, a decision taken and an announcement made?

Deputy McDonald asked about the gender composition of the Dáil. As she is aware, the Government has introduced legislation.

Yes, but there is a need to remind the House that we have provided an arrangement for the next general election whereby every political party will be required to nominate a minimum of 30% of their candidates of either gender, and that goes up to 40% at the subsequent general election. Any party which does not do so will have half of its State funding cut. It is the first serious attempt made to address the serious gender imbalance that we have in the Chamber.

The Minister for Education and Skills met the deputation Deputy McDonald asked me about to discuss the Down's syndrome issue and the matter is under consideration.

I can confirm that the issue of the Bethany Home is being considered by the Government. I expect that it will be considered probably at our meeting next week.

I wish to ask about two items under the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. The Omagh bomb victims handed a report to the Minister for Justice and Equality tomorrow 12 months ago, that is, 19 July 2012, and they have heard nothing back. I implore the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to try to meet those people to give them a response to that important report. It was an expert report and over 12 months is too long to wait.

My second question is under to the Central Bank (consolidation) Bill and relates to the operations of the Credit Review Office. The office is toothless in dealing with Bank of Ireland and many other banks as well. It is siding with the banks in most reports, it is not getting the true facts from the banks and a true picture is not being given, nor is there a proper opportunity to review cases fairly under that office.

I will make some inquiries about the report of the Omagh bomb victims and I will ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to respond directly to the Deputy. The Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill to which he referred will be later this year. I do not have a date yet for the credit legislation.

When is the independent charities regulatory authority to be set up, in other words, when will we see the full implementation of the Charities Act 2009?

I do not know the answer to that question but I will get it for Deputy Healy-Rae and communicate with him.

My question comes under the Irish human rights and equality commission Bill and follows the announcement by the Minister for Justice and Equality on Garda recruitment. There is great concern among the people who had successfully applied before the Government embargo was imposed in 2009.

That is a separate issue. It is not on the Order of Business. Thank you.

They passed all eligibility levels at interview and examination and they are fully qualified in every way and have been accepted by the Department of Justice and Equality. I would like to see that their positions would be honoured and they would get the first call for any recruitment.

Sorry, Deputy, that is not on the Order of Business. Thank you. Deputy Ellis is next.

Will the Tánaiste ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to look at these immediately?

That is not on the Order of Business. Thank you.

A transfer of services and assets will have to take place to Irish Water from local authorities throughout the country. This will include resources such as storage facilities and tanks, local authority equipment, infrastructure and man power. It will require legislation. Will the Tánaiste outline when this legislation will be introduced or when we are proposing to bring it in? We have had to bring in legislation to access the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

Is there promised legislation?

There is, yes. There have been discussions between the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and Irish Water with the local authorities and the trade unions representing staff in the local authorities. Those discussions have concluded. A water services Bill, the heads of which were approved by Government approximately two weeks ago is emerging and it is expected to be published later this year.

I wish to raise two items of legislation promised for some time. One is the criminal procedure Bill which is to reform the pre-trial process and hopefully speed it up and identify the issues that cause delays. Has this come to Cabinet, have the heads been discussed or approved and when is it likely to come before the House?

Another important tranche of legislation promised is the data sharing Bill which relates to sharing of data between specified Government agencies on the regulation of business to ensure the elimination of potential area for conflict.

Deputy Durkan asked about two tranches of legislation. I do not have a date for the publication of either.

We will try again.

Is there any proposed legislation on the issue of diversity of media ownership, including mergers and acquisitions? I get a sense form the Tánaiste that it is not a priority or that it might be an issue the Government is shying away from. Can the Tánaiste enlighten us? Does he intend to deal with the issue?

No, we are not shying away from it at all. There is a consumer and competition Bill and the issue of media mergers is to be addressed in that. There is work being done on that. The Bill is at an advanced stage.

What is the delay?

The issues are being considered jointly by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Preparation of the Bill is ongoing.

Is it a priority?

The time has expired but some other Deputies wish to speak and, seeing as it is the last day, I will ask them-----

I did not get an answer.

Not on Garda recruitment. There is a Topical Issue debate on that today. Deputies Tuffy, Ó Cuív, Lowry and Kitt have indicated. If you put your questions, we will get the Tánaiste to reply.

My question relates to a matter mentioned by the Tánaiste. Members make the best of facilities in the House. Members are particularly able to make an input in committees. At this stage, they have a more meaningful input in committees than here in the Chamber. The problem in the Chamber is that everything centres around set pieces such as Leaders' Questions and the rest of the Deputies are asked to come along by the Whips, but we can have no input whatsoever. In other parliaments Deputies like us are allowed to participate and we used to be allowed in this House. Leaders' Questions is a new phenomenon. It only goes back ten or 15 years and did not exist before then. Leaders should not be given priority in the House because we are all equal. When Dáil reform proposals come up there should be proposals to allow backbenches to have an input into the ordering of the business of the Dáil.

A total of 27 Bills were promised on the A list. How many of those have been published to date?

That is a parliamentary question, Deputy. This is the Order of Business. We are asking about when legislation is being taken. We are over time and there is a lot of business here today.

How many will be published before the end of the session? In particular, when will the consumer and competition Bill, which was promised by An Taoiseach in the House before the end of this session, be published? I am looking for total numbers of Bills published.

No, you cannot get that. That is a parliamentary question.

My question relates to the housing (miscellaneous provisions)(No. 2) Bill. Will the Tánaiste inform the House whether the serious difficulties that have arisen with the shared ownership scheme will be legislated for within that Bill? The shared ownership scheme was brought in to assist and support low-income families to buy a house.

That is fine, Deputy, thank you. We cannot debate it.

At the moment thousands of families are trapped in the scheme. The scheme has been stood down but we need redress for those who are in the scheme at the moment.

May I ask the Tánaiste what is the position on the new tenant purchase scheme and whether families in voluntary housing schemes could be allowed to purchases their houses in the same way as other tenants.

When Members broke for the recess in 2011 on this day two years ago, the Taoiseach gave a commitment that parliamentary questions would be allowed over recesses. Nothing has been pursued in this regard and, again, no Deputy will have the ability to question Departments between now and the middle of September. Has there been progress in this regard or are there plans to do anything about it?

First, on the issue raised by Deputy Tuffy, when responding to this issue earlier I had in mind the performance of the Opposition rather than the performance of Members on the Government side. However, I did not wish to be unduly adversarial in my response.

When did that ever stop the Tánaiste?

I agree that on the issue of the involvement of all Members of the House, the principle of equality of treatment of all Members of the House must govern the manner in which Dáil reform is considered. In response to Deputy Ó Cuív on the number of Bills, 12 Bills have been published thus far. Four Bills have been approved by the Cabinet and are awaiting publication and five Bills that were not on the A list have been published thus far. I answered in respect of the consumer and competition Bill earlier but the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel provided revised drafts of the Bill on 28 June relating to the amalgamation of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority. Some legal issues are being examined and, as I mentioned earlier on the issue of media mergers, a number of detailed questions are being considered jointly by the two Departments concerned. Preparation of the Bill is at an advanced stage. As for the housing Bill, which was raised by Deputy Lowry and to which Deputy Kitt's question also relates, the Bill in question is due to be published next year. In response to the issue regarding replies to Dáil questions, this issue must be considered in the context of wider Dáil reform.