Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 19, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending EU Regulation No. 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (back from committee); No. 20, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council adapting to Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union a number of legal acts in the area of justice providing for the use of the regulatory procedure with scrutiny (back from committee); No. 20a, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 - (Amendment of Schedule) (Annex 19 to Chicago Convention) Order 2013; No. 3, Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013 - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 33, Local Government Bill 2013 - Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 19, 20 and 20a shall be decided without debate.

Tomorrow's fortnightly Friday business shall be Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies)(Repeal) Bill 2013 - Second Stage; and Joint Committee on Transport and Communications report on sponsorship of sports by the alcohol drinks industry.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 19, 20 and 20a, without debate, agreed? Agreed.

The programme for Government commits the Government to address the plight of three specific categories of people, first and foremost being the survivors of the Magdalene laundries. Very considerable credit is due to the Government for the work that has been done in that area, albeit that it took the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, to jump up and down a little bit and make it quite clear to the Taoiseach how important this issue was. Judge Quirke has issued his report and we are told that compensation will issue. I ask the Tánaiste if he can indicate when the victims can expect to receive their compensation. The victims of symphysiotomy were also included in that Government commitment. Professor Walsh has produced a report to the Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, and I believe it is to be considered by Cabinet, after which decisions will be made. Can we be given some indication of the timescale involved? The Tánaiste and members of the Government will be particularly aware of the ageing profile of the people who were involved. We believe compensation should be paid and this should happen sooner rather than later.

There are a mere 32 survivors of the thalidomide drug and the Government, likewise, made commitments in respect of addressing that issue.

This is not a matter for the Order of Business.

It is in the programme for Government.

I ask the Deputy to be brief because we have only 20 minutes.

I simply wish to ask the Tánaiste what is happening in respect of the victims of thalidomide. I very recently heard Dr. Austin O'Carroll, who is the chairman of one of the two representative groups-----

It is a matter for a parliamentary question, really.

It is in the programme for Government.

It may be in the programme for Government but it is not promised legislation.

My understanding is that under the Order of Business we are entitled to raise matters relating to the programme for Government. If the Tánaiste can very quickly tell us what is happening in that area I will be very happy.

The matter of the payments to the survivors of the Magdalene laundries was considered by the Government this week and there is progress on the arrangements for the payments to be made. I expect this will be progressed in the near future. On the issue of the victims of symphysiotomy and thalidomide those are matters which are still being considered by the Minister for Health and he will bring his proposals to the Government when he is in a position to do so.

The Tánaiste will be aware that figures released this week show that the number of people accessing the services of moneylenders has increased since 2007 by 20%.

There are approximately 360,000 people in the State who access either legal or illegal moneylenders. The Tánaiste will also recall that my colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, brought forward a Private Members' Bill to try to cap the interest rates being charged by legal moneylenders. During the debate there was a general consensus on all sides of the House - although the Bill was voted down - that we needed to return to the issue in order to tackle high interest rates. Does the Government plan to publish legislation to tackle the issue of high interest being charged by legal moneylenders?

We do not have legislation on the list for the issue but I agree with Deputy O'Brien in that this is a serious issue. The matter of people finding themselves in trouble with moneylenders requires attention but the area might be usefully addressed by the Oireachtas committee dealing with finance. It could make recommendations for consideration by the Government.

The Tánaiste is aware that during the week there was a broadcast relating to the disappeared. The criminal justice (victims' rights) Bill is promised but when can we expect publication? Will the Tánaiste make available time through the Whips for this matter to be debated in the House as soon as possible? The issue is of major national importance and the House should debate the issue of Tuesday night's broadcast and provide an opportunity for people who may have information within the House to make a statement to the House.

I wish to speak on the same issue.

I do not know what the Deputy is on about. What does he mean by "people within the House"?

Does the Deputy wish to speak on promised legislation?

It is the same issue.

What is the promised legislation?

Deputy O'Donovan has just raised it.

It is the criminal justice (victims' rights) Bill.

The Deputy should be quick and refrain from making statements.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to contribute at this stage. It is necessary for us to have a full debate on the disappeared, which was the issue highlighted by the broadcast during the week. We have seen a very cynical move this week as a smokescreen of tapes-----

That is ridiculous.

-----was used to distract attention from the poor families of the disappeared.

We are not having a debate.

There is a promised Bill on victim support and work is under way in the Department of Justice and Equality in that regard. There is no date for its publication. The second matter raised by the two Deputies would be considered by the Whips.

The final Stages of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2013 are taking place in the Seanad and a report on the self-employed will come before the Oireachtas-----

Does this concern promised legislation?

The Bill is going through the Seanad.

I wish to speak about the self-employed.

You cannot do so on the Order of Business. You may put down a question.

I will finish by saying that the Minister, Deputy Burton, has done great work for self-employed people.

That is grand.

She is wonder woman.

Will legislation be brought to the Houses for self-employed people who need social welfare entitlements?

Is there promised legislation in the area?

I agree that the Minister, Deputy Burton, has done outstanding work in the area.

Yes, she has done more than a Minister in any other Government.

That is right.

She is wonder woman all right.

As an independent.

She even managed to take some people off boards.

Deputies are losing time.

Some 80% of self-employed people who have sought social protection have been looked after by the Minister, which is more than Fianna Fáil, the Green Party or Independents have done.

She has taken a few of them off boards as well.

We only have ten minutes left and a number of Deputies wish to ask questions. Please be fair, as there should not be a debate on the Order of Business.

The Deputy is right and the Minister has vindicated her position on the social welfare system in a way that is in marked contrast to the neglect of that issue under Fianna Fáil in Government.

When she has completed her work on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, I have no doubt she will return to the larger issue.

In the recent budget we witnessed an unfair targeting of separated parents with the abolition of single parent tax credit. Legislation in the form of a housing (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is due to come before the House and would preclude separated applicants whose names remain on a family from applying for social housing. Applicants have had to move from a family home due to domestic abuse or marital breakdown, or a family home might not be sold because a mortgage is in arrears or negative equity. Will the Tánaiste commit to prioritising the housing (miscellaneous provisions) Bill that is to come before the House so the inequity can be dealt with?

Last week we witnessed the intervention by the policy director of An Taisce with regard to the site of the national children's hospital.

We are not going there.

Will the Tánaiste confirm that this critical piece of infrastructure-----

Be fair to others.

-----will proceed on time for the children who need it?

That is not related to the Order of Business.

The housing Bill is due early next year.

In the general health care area, what is the position in identifying cross-Border synergies between hospitals in the north east and immediately north of the Border, for example? Are there exchanges between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the corresponding bodies in the North with regard to developing possibilities, particularly in the context of potential savings for the Department of Health? Is the Narrow Water bridge project going ahead or is support available for it?

Is that in the programme for Government?

There has been considerable co-operation on a North-South basis in the health area, including the radiotherapy services at Altnagelvin Area Hospital and work being done to care for children. As it happens, there is a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council tomorrow and I expect the issue will be addressed again. With regard to the Narrow Water bridge, the estimate was significantly higher than that which was proposed originally, and the issue is currently being examined. I expect we will have an opportunity tomorrow to discuss it with colleagues north of the Border.

We are also meeting as part of the North-South Interparliamentary Association tomorrow.

Indeed, and I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on the work he has done with his counterpart, the Speaker, William Hay, MLA, in getting that up and running.

Not at all. I am not looking for praise but it is a very worthwhile organisation.

I look forward to joining the Ceann Comhairle as a substitute at that meeting.

Contain your excitement.

We can have a chat about what will be raised.

Will the Deputy be smoking grass?

That is a silly comment.

What are we on about here?

The Deputy asked, across the Chamber, if I would be smoking grass. He should withdraw the remark.

Will he withdraw the remark? I resent it.

I withdraw it.

It has been withdrawn.

Thank you. I wish to raise a road traffic Bill, as a very serious issue has arisen with people's driving licences. It particularly affects farmers and people involved in agriculture.

It is a serious issue but it is not related to legislation.

There is a deadline tomorrow evening for people to update their licences where categories were omitted. Will the Tánaiste ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to extend the deadline for a few weeks as these categories have been omitted through no fault of the people affected or the officials involved? There is legislation to establish EirGrid in primary legislation but we must do something as it will have the country destroyed before the Bill is brought in.

That is a different issue altogether. That matter could be dealt with at committee level.

The road transport and EirGrid Bills are due next year.

There is no provision in the local government Bill for the retention of the title of mayors of towns. Could an amendment be made to the Bill to allow the chairpersons of municipal districts have the title of mayor?

The Bill is going through the Houses.

It is an important issue.

The Deputy could make a contribution to the Bill.

The provision is not in the Bill. I am asking whether the Tánaiste is taking the point. A chairperson of a municipal district-----

That can be raised in the debate on Second Stage.

-----could have the title of mayor of a town.

The Deputy has made his point. I call Deputy Ellis.

On Saturday I visited Glen Ding estate in Blessington which was built six years ago on a flood plain, with a river flowing underground through it. Planners in Wicklow County Council gave permission for it. The proposed planning Bill will contain measures based on recommendations by the Mahon tribunal. We must get to grips with all these planning permissions.

Does the question relate to the planning Bill?

When is the planning Bill due?

Planning permissions have been given on flood plains. I have seen several of them.

A parliamentary question is more in order.

There must be some accountability in that regard.

The Deputy should ask a parliamentary question. Is the planning Bill due?

There is no date for its publication. Deputy Ellis is correct. Housing estates and developments were built and it was not just the planners that were at fault.

It is terrible.

Some of the builders were also at fault. Deputy Ellis probably knows some of them.

I do not know about that.

One person every hour suffers from a stroke in this country. I raised with the Taoiseach in connection with secondary legislation on 25 September the fact that there are seven telestroke machines in cardboard boxes in a warehouse in Cork that could save the HSE €55 million. In the UK they are used for the diagnosis of burns, in urology and for orthopaedic patients.

To what legislation does the Deputy refer?

The Minister for Health was to explain why the machines are still in cardboard boxes, why they have not been rolled out across the country and why they are not saving money.

Perhaps Deputy Naughten could table a question about the cardboard boxes.

Would someone revert to me and let me know what is going on?

Not on the Order of Business.

My question is on secondary legislation, the Health (Amendment) Act 2013.

The question is on secondary legislation relating to the Health (Amendment) Act.

I will ask the Minister for Health to respond to Deputy Naughten on the matter.

He could put it in writing like the promises on Roscommon Hospital.

Shannon Airport has recorded a fifth successive month of passenger growth. When will the Shannon aviation services and miscellaneous provisions Bill come to the House for debate? It is the final piece in the jigsaw in the restructuring of Shannon Airport.

Deputy Carey is correct. Shannon Airport is experiencing growth. I was there two weeks ago and saw the situation at first hand. The Shannon aviation services and miscellaneous provisions Bill is due this session.

Deputy Troy mentioned Roscommon Hospital. I will bring him by the hand to it and show him a really good hospital if he wants to see it. When is the inspection of places of detention Bill due? The prison inspectorate must be ramped up. The Bill will also address visiting committees.

I do not have a date yet for the inspection of places of detention Bill.

Given the sad experiences we have had in this country arising from uncontrolled lobbying in the past 20 years, could I ask the Tánaiste the progress to date in the preparation of the control of lobbying Bill, whether it has been discussed in Cabinet, if the heads of the Bill have been approved and when it is likely to come before the House? Similarly, I wish to inquire about that old friend of mine, the bail Bill, which has been hanging around longer than some of the Members sitting on the benches opposite, and in their time as well. Could I ask the extent to which final agreement has been reached on the heads of the Bill and when it is likely to come before the House?

Deputy Durkan inquired about two pieces of legislation.

The heads of the regulation of lobbying Bill have been approved by Government and the Bill is expected to be published early in the new year. The draft heads of the bail Bill are at an advanced stage and it is not possible to indicate when it will be published.

I thank the Tánaiste.

When is publication expected of the radiological protection (amendment) Bill to provide for the merger of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, RPII, and the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA? When will the convention on the physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities arising from the legislation be ratified by this country?

The radiological protection Bill is expected next year. I do not have a date for the ratification of the convention.

We must take State asset stripping off the agenda and try to give a firm commitment that power stations, the fishing industry and minerals-----

That is very interesting.

-----keep working for people in this country.

I am sure that will be the case.

When will the mineral developments Bill come before the House?

What about the big houses in Longford?

We had hoped the minerals development Bill would be ready this session but it now looks like it will come before the House early next year.