I refer to three issues regarding legislation. First, does the Minister for Finance intend to make regulations under a statutory instrument relating to the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012? Section 20(6) permits the Minister to make regulations to allow local authorities to reduce or increase the local property tax by a 15% margin. Will he make such a regulation in order that local authorities can carry this out and notify Revenue of the change before the deadline at the end of September?
Second, agreement on a direct recapitalisation instrument at European level was announced yesterday. Member states will have to give effect to their own national procedures. What is proposed for Ireland? Must the Government introduce legislation to allow for the bailing out of banks when they fall into trouble and provide for the use of the direct recapitalisation instrument? Given that the instrument has been agreed at that level, have negotiations formally started on its retroactive application in order that we can get our money back?
The third issue is political reform. As a member of the banking inquiry team, I am deeply disappointed by what is happening in the Seanad. It will put the inquiry back by a number of months. An intervention is needed to stop the squabbling and bickering. Sinn Féin is excluded from all of the committees which are dealing with the issue, including the Committee of Selection and the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. The public wants this to stop and the committee to be up and running as quickly as possible.
On political reform, it was announced when the Government took office that it would facilitate the answering of parliamentary questions during the recess. This is probably more important now, given that we have moved to a budgetary cycle in line with the European semester when the budget is announced in October. Members and political parties try to prepare for the budget and usually need the summer months, particularly August and early September, to do so, but during these months they cannot receive answers from the Government. Will the Government give effect during its lifetime to this commitment to answer parliamentary questions?