The Order of Business is No. 7, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the draft Commission of Investigation (Ronan MacLochlainn) Order 2014; and No. 20, Court of Appeal Bill 2014 - Committee and Remaining 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 11 p.m.; that No. 7 shall be decided without debate; and that in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members' business, which shall be No. 154, motion re people with disabilities, Standing Order 121(3) shall not apply and Private Members’ business shall adjourn after 90 minutes. Tomorrow’s business after Oral Questions shall be No. 21, Freedom of Information Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.
Order of Business
There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 7, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval of the draft Commission of Investigation (Ronan MacLochlainn) Order 2014, without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed.
I would like to raise three matters. On 4 July, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government produced a statutory instrument, No. 296, in respect of the local property tax. Does the Taoiseach accept that the restrictions imposed by this set of regulations are so excessive that they will make it virtually impossible for local authorities to give effect in the current year to the legislative provision whereby they may increase or decrease the property tax by 15%?
We learned this morning that Irish Water intends to collect people's personal public service numbers to allow it to introduce the free allowance and to enable children to have free water. Will this initiative require any legislative underpinning? I raise it particularly in the context of the possibility that Irish Water, as a semi-State body, might be privatised at some future stage, which would give rise to a situation in which private companies would have possession of people's personal public service numbers.
I do not want to raise the Garth Brooks issue again as it was well ventilated at a committee meeting this morning. In light of the concerns expressed by the Taoiseach, the suggestion at this morning's meeting that the planning system is very autocratic and the fact that our planning legislation has not been the subject of any radical change since 2000, when the country was in the midst of a boom, does the Taoiseach believe planning legislation might need to be amended? Does he consider that the planning legislation we have is serving the public interest?
I think that is a separate issue.
Is the Deputy asking about planning legislation as it applies to concerts?
I am asking about planning legislation in general. Obviously, there is an issue with the planning of concerts. Is the general planning regime serving the public interest?
Is there promised legislation in that area?
There is planning legislation pending. It will be produced fairly soon. I suppose one could say that this particular issue is played out at this stage.
I have two tickets. I want my money back.
It is necessary to change the process that was put in place here many years ago because it is not satisfactory and it caused this difficulty. No appeals system was built into it when it was brought forward by Deputy Ó Fearghaíl's party many years ago. It needs to be changed and will be changed.
It is necessary for personal public service numbers to be available to Irish Water so that it can tell how many children are in families on the basis of the amount of child benefit they are receiving, as is their right. It needs this information so it can ensure families get their proper services and the proper amount of water to which they are entitled.
Clearly, the principle that has been established with regard to the property tax is that no local authority will be worse off. Provision has been made for 80% of the receipts to be retained within the local authority area. Some other elements of this matter still have to be decided on by the Government. Counties that have a surplus will be entitled to legislation for a reduction if they wish to do so. There is some work going on around that remaining element of the decision here.
Tá dhá cheist agam. I want to ask the Taoiseach about the proposed low pay commission. The hourly minimum wage, which is €6 for those under the age of 18 and €8.65 for experienced adult workers, has not increased since 2007. Over 300,000 workers are earning less than the living wage of €11.45 an hour. When does the Taoiseach expect the necessary legislation to be published? When does he expect the low pay commission to be established? Does the Government support the creation of a living wage for workers?
Last week, the Taoiseach promised to write to me on an issue I had raised regarding the status of the Palestinian mission and the need for it to be accorded embassy status under the 1961 Vienna Convention. The Taoiseach has not written to me at all on this matter. Can he tell me whether the Government is prepared to give the Palestinian mission the embassy status it warrants under the Vienna Convention?
I am afraid that is not really a matter for the Order of Business.
The Government has decided to set up a low pay commission. There is a structure and a process to be followed here. There will have to be consultation, terms of reference will have to be set out and a determination will have to be made on how the commission will do its job. This is important. It used to be the case that the Government of the day would receive a recommendation from those involved in the social partnership process about a figure, arbitrary or otherwise. It is important that there is proper and comprehensive analysis, discussion, negotiation and transparency in this regard. I cannot give the Deputy a date for when it will be up and running and when it will actually report. It will be driven by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Minister of State with responsibility for business and employment. The Bill will eventually be taken through the House by the Minister of State, Deputy Nash. I would like to make it clear in response to the Deputy's question about a living wage that we want to create more jobs that pay people enough money to show the difference between working and not working. The fact that 70,000 jobs have been created in the last 12 months speaks for itself.
I will write to Deputy Adams about the Palestinian convention.
Go raibh maith agat.
Can I ask whether any work has been done on the legislation that has been promised to provide for the continuing regulation and supervision of the carrying out of insurance and reinsurance business by undertakings that are excluded under the second solvency directive on insurance, which is due to be transposed by 31 March next? When is the Bill in question, which is No. 90 on the Government's legislative programme, likely to come before the House? Will that happen before the end of the current year?
Similarly, has work been undertaken on No. 96, the Bill to provide a scheme to make individual payments to people with severe disabilities as a contribution towards their transport costs where they cannot access public transport? Have the heads been cleared, and will it be brought to the House before the end of the year?
Regarding No. 98, we do not have a date for that. I think it will be next year before that Bill comes in. A good deal of work has been done in respect of No. 96 dealing with the mobility allowance. The heads of the Bill have not been cleared by Government yet but it will be published before the end of this year.
I want to raise three items. First, where is the legislation to deal with the problem of upward-only rents? Second, with regard to the recent debacle over the concert that was to be held in Dublin, Ministers have said that legislation is promised to deal with concerts held in the future. When will that legislation come before the House? Is work being done on it? Third, referring to the programme for Government, any person who needed to stay overnight in an acute hospital will have seen the massive numbers of people waiting on trolleys in the accident and emergency department. Where are the Government's proposals to deal with that very serious problem? The staff are working in a tremendously pressurised environment trying to deal with patients lying on trolleys overnight. That is wrong. The Government promised in the programme for Government that it would bring an end to that. What is it doing about it? What will the new Minister for Health do about it? I ask the Taoiseach to clarify that very important issue.
That is not really a matter for the Order of Business but the other two-----
It is in the programme for Government.
In respect of the upward-only rent review, we had constitutional advice that it was impossible to legislate for that. I have said that on many occasions in the House.
Regarding the position about the concert events, the Minister, Deputy Kelly, has made known his intention to change the law to put a proper system in place to ensure that what happened-----
Two days ago he said he would sort it out.
-----should not happen in the future. At the same time we do not want to do down the right to hold smaller events around the country in terms of them being too restricted. As the Minister pointed out on many occasions, the reduction in trolley waiting times is always an issue in every hospital, as Deputy Healy-Rae is aware. These situations flare up at different times. Nobody wants to see elderly people in particular lying on trolleys. The Minister can give an update at any time in respect of the figures that occur any day.
Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeachas a dhéanamh leis na hAirí agus na hAirí Stáit ar fad a ceapadh le seachtain anuas. I ask the Taoiseach if it is intended to have a debate on the appointment of the Ministers of State, particularly in view of the concern raised in Irish language circles that as far as people understand, neither the Minister nor the Minister of State, who are fine people, are capable of conducting comfortably their daily business through the medium of the Irish language.
I do not think that is a matter for the Order of Business.
It is not usual to have a debate in the House about the appointment by the Government of Ministers of State, although it is something to which I do not object. Ministers will be subject to a lot of public comment. The first action of the Minister of State appointed to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has been to book in for a refresher course in Oideas Gael-----
An Irish college.
-----in Gleann Cholm Cille, which will help the Minsters to be able to debate the issues that matter with Deputy Ó Cuív on TG4, Raidió na Gaeltachta or any other forum. It is an example, as I saw previously in this House over the years, of somebody whose Irish might be a bit rusty getting back into action and bringing it up to standard.
Would the Taoiseach give a truck driver a job and say they can get the licence afterwards?
No, Deputy. Resume your seat. We are not having a debate on this. I call Deputy Finian McGrath.
I ask the Taoiseach for an update on the noise nuisance Bill, which is an issue that has emerged in many communities, particularly for families living in blocks of apartments as a result of the Celtic tiger who often have to deal with anti-social neighbours and major noise emanating from other apartments.
There is no date for its publication but if neighbours are being unduly unruly or causing social disruption, there is a way of dealing with that in terms of having them moved out.
What about the noise from the backbenchers?
On promised legislation, what progress has been made on the Valuation Bill in terms of the need to address the valuation process in light of the difficulties businesses are under, the changes regarding the town councils and the change in respect of harmonising rates?
That is an important Bill, which is on Committee Stage in the Seanad. There are quite a number of amendments to it on which some legal work has been done. I assume, given where we are this week, that it will be the next session before it is passed by both Dáil and Seanad.