Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 13, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 42, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2015 - Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage; No. 43, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015 - Order for Report Stage and Report and Final Stages; No. 44, Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015 - Order for Report Stage and Report and Final Stages; and No. 1, Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and adjourn not later than 10 p.m.; (2) No. 13 shall be decided without debate; (3) in the event of a division being in progress at the time fixed for the taking of Private Members’ business which shall be No. 217, motion re housing (resumed) Standing Order 121(3) shall not apply and Private Members’ business shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes.

Tomorrow’s business after oral questions shall be: No. 42, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2015 - Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage; No. 43, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015 - Order for Report Stage and Report and Final Stages; No. 45, Choice of Court (Hague Convention) Bill 2015 [Seanad] - Order for Report Stage and Report and Final Stages; No. 46, Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) (Amendment) Bill 2014 [Seanad] - Order for Report Stage and Report and Final Stages; No. 8, Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 1, Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second Stage.

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. 13, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, without debate, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed.

It was appropriate that we had a minute's silence in the Dáil yesterday and statements from all parties on the appalling atrocity in Paris. However, I do not believe the Government should have taken the decision to remove all other items of business from the schedule, in particular, the Order of Business, Leaders' Questions, Taoiseach's Questions and Topical Issues. All of these items should still have been facilitated in yesterday's sitting. The Dáil could have sat earlier. After all, the Cabinet meeting adjourned earlier in order to make announcements on school buildings and so on.

The point I wish to make is that there has been an ongoing approach to Dáil business which seems to ensure there will be as little accountability as possible on the Government side. The Dáil sat for five days in September, for only ten days in October and there will probably be a few late night sittings in December to guillotine the debates and ram through legislation. The Taoiseach stands accused of making the Dáil a plaything, something to be undermined. This has been ongoing for a number of years, but the situation has been particularly acute since May. We have had one day sitting weeks and two sitting day weeks after a bank holiday. The Taoiseach is demeaning and undermining the Dáil-----

I am sorry, but this is the Order of Business.

-----and the democratic revolution he promised is like universal health insurance, another illusion and denial of the truth.

The second issue I wish to raise concerns the announcement the Taoiseach made to the House last week on the inquiry into Siteserv, the activities of IBRC and the disposal of assets. Some 11 questions I have submitted on the subject have been ruled out of order. They relate to when the Minister for Finance became aware of issues to do with the inquiry, when the Taoiseach or his Department became aware or were informed of possible delays and if, to his knowledge, there had been objections to information being released. Six or seven of the questions I have submitted relate to the Taoiseach's responsibilities. Incredibly, I have been told by the Ceann Comhairle that the Taoiseach has no official responsibility to Dáil Éireann in these matters, that they are matters for IBRC which is independent in the performance of its functions. I have also been told that the Minister for Finance has no official responsibility to Dáil Éireann in these matters, that they are matters for the commission which is independent in the performance of its functions. I contest this decision and will write to the Office of the Ceann Comhairle about the issue because I do not understand how a simple question about when the Minister for Finance or the Taoiseach became aware of something is not a legitimate one to ask of them. The Taoiseach made a commitment to the House that in the ordering of its business there would be provision for a debate on this issue and that he would consult-----

I am sorry, but we are six minutes into the Order of Business already.

As I am entitled to ask a question on the Order of Business about the scheduling of business, please do not interrupt me when I am in order. The Taoiseach said he would consult leaders and that there would be a debate. When is that debate going to take place and when will provision be made on the Order Paper to enable it to happen?

We were told there was to be inclusion of €600 million in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Health, but we have now been told that that may not be the final figure. It could be higher, which shows how dishonest that budget figure was. The final figure will need to reflect the outcome of the latest review of the HSE. When can we expect the Minister for Health to present the Supplementary Estimate to the Dáil?

I made it clear to the Whip that if it was the wish of Opposition parties, I had no objection to taking Leaders' Questions yesterday. However, it was felt that, given the atrocity in Paris and the requirement for a particular environment here, the arrangements should be as they were. That request came from a number of Opposition Members. It was not a direction from me that the schedule be as it was.

It was. An e-mail was issued stating the Government had decided on the schedule for the day.

When the schedule was issued on Monday, no Member from any Opposition party responded to suggest it should be otherwise. Clearly, I would have been quite willing to deal with other business.

I have already answered questions about Siteserv and when the matter came to the notice of the Department, but I do not know what questions Deputy Micheál Martin has submitted as I have not seen them. I happen to be the receiving Minister and mine is the receiving Department for the interim report, on which I expect we will have a debate next week. I expect to publish the report this week. The Deputy will receive a copy of it and we will have a debate, as is appropriate, next week.

All of the Supplementary Estimates, with the exception of those for the Departments of Health and Social Protection, have been dealt with. They will be dealt with shortly.

The Taoiseach says he will publish the interim report of the commission of investigation this week. It would be useful to know when he is going to do so. Questions put by our finance spokesperson, Deputy Pearse Doherty, on the issue have also been disallowed and this is a matter we will raise with the Ceann Comhairle.

I am sorry to interrupt, but on the disallowance of questions, there is a procedure and system in place for questions that are referred to me for confirmation or rejection. This is done entirely in accordance with Standing Orders. There is a procedure in place and staff will be only too pleased to advise on what is and is not in order.

With respect, we know what the procedure is. I am simply mentioning that we have been advised that the Taoiseach, as he may be aware, is not responsible to the Oireachtas for these issues. These are hugely important issues which have led to the establishment of a commission of investigation, but we are told the Taoiseach is not responsible to the Oireachtas for them. However, we can leave it at that to be considered at a future time.

I want to ask about promised legislation on rents and for a debate on the North. A recent daft.ie survey reveals that rents continue to spiral out of control. We warned the Government about this. Many observers also warned that its indecision on the issue over a period of months had led to some unscrupulous landlords pushing rents up by as much as €82 a month.

In my constituency of Louth there has been a 12% increase. As we approach Christmas there are 1,500 children in the city of Dublin in homeless accommodation. When will the Government's proposed legislation be introduced to the Dáil and when does the Taoiseach expect it to become law?

On the issue of the North, I raise again the general point on the need for a regular routine debate on the North because it is so important to all of us across this island, not least to people in this State. Rather than have a debate on the back of a crisis or on allegations of one sort or another with controversy we need to be carefully watching, observing, encouraging and being helpful as is our constitutional requirement and as the Government is obliged under various agreements.

I thank the Deputy.

Yesterday, after ten weeks of very intense and difficult negotiations we had the Stormont agreement, A Fresh Start. It is not a perfect agreement but nonetheless it is progress and it provides an opportunity to stabilise the political institutions-----

I thank the Deputy.

Sorry, Ceann Comhairle.

Sorry, when you are ready.

Go raibh maith agat. Regrettably there was no deal on the issue of legacy. The British are excusing this because they say there is a national security issue, but there is no rationale for events that happened 40, 30 or 20 years ago.

This is the Order of Business. We cannot discuss Northern Ireland on the Order of Business. Some 12 minutes are used up already and a number of Deputies are offering. If it was a special debate that would be fine, but not on the Order of Business, please.

I am looking for a debate on this issue.

I am trying to persuade the Taoiseach of the importance of the issue.

I thank the Deputy.

Fair play to the Leader of Fianna Fáil who spoke for seven minutes.

The Deputy is not too far off that himself.

This is not a contest between the Deputy and the Leader of the Opposition as to-----

This is the Order of Business and I ask the Deputy to respect the Chair. A number of other Deputies are offering. I ask the Deputy to sit down.

The leader of Fianna Fáil wins the long-windedness competition all the time. I am raising a very serious issue.

The Deputy has raised the issue.

The Ceann Comhairle has interrupted me a number of times. The fact is the British Government failed to honour its commitments under the original Stormont House agreement. That is a matter we need to ventilate and discuss here. I ask the Taoiseach if he will set time aside next week to debate the North following yesterday's agreement?

I thank the Deputy.

In respect of IBRC, the Oireachtas set up a commission of investigation. That is the responsibility of the sole member dealing with that issue. An interim report has been received. I happen to be the Minister in the Department who has received that report. That is my function to receive it. I hope to publish the interim report by Mr. Justice Cregan this week.

When this week?

We have only got Thursday and Friday. I want to publish it in good time. I have to get authorisation that it does not conflict with any existing court cases. I hope to publish the interim report by Mr. Justice Fennelly on the question of the telephone calls to Garda stations today.

In respect of Northern Ireland I compliment the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan, and the Minister of State, Deputy Sean Sherlock, on behalf of the Government and, indeed, all the members who contributed to more than ten weeks debate in respect of the Northern Ireland Stormont House agreement. I welcome the fact that a conclusion was reached and that an agreement on a whole range of issues has been put together. We will have a debate on this next Wednesday in the Dáil and we can set out the terms for all Members.

In regard to the question of rents which the Deputy raised, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill is currently going through Committee Stage in the Seanad. Amendments will be tabled in the Seanad in respect of the decisions made by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Minister for Finance and the Bill will come back to the Dáil in the last week in November.

In respect of the outstanding reports from the Constitutional Convention may we have an assurance that these matters will be dealt with in the House before the Christmas recess? In fairness to the Government Chief Whip, we have raised this issue with him and he has responded positively at a series of meetings in the past year. However, none of the deadlines in respect of the Constitutional Convention which the Taoiseach set for the reports to be dealt with in the House has been met. Is the Taoiseach embarrassed that last weekend a seminar was held, funded by his Department, to consider the effect of the Constitutional Convention?

I have given an undertaking - I might need the Deputy's help - to set aside time in the remaining weeks of this Dáil session for a proper debate here on the outstanding reports from the Constitutional Convention. Some of the issues it raised actually required quite a deal of work in different Departments. I have given that undertaking and I hope to be able to honour it.

May I ask the Taoiseach when can we expect publication of the criminal records information system Bill to provide for the exchange of criminal records information with other States and to implement the Council framework decision? As we have seen from the events of the last few days this Bill is needed now more than ever.

The Bill will not be published this year. For the information of the Deputy it will obviously be in 2016.

The House welcomed the Taoiseach's undertaking on Wednesday and the Tánaiste's undertaking twice on Thursday of last week, that one year bankruptcy legislation will be enacted and operational before Christmas. There are 13 sitting days left before Christmas. I hope it is receiving utmost priority in the Department of Justice and Equality.

It is proceeding. Working is taking place on that Bill. I have already said I hope to see it published and, hopefully if we have time, to enact it before Christmas.

Hopefully it will become the new operational word.

I wish to put a few brief questions. When is it expected that the road traffic Bill and the judicial council Bill will be published? When first announced I thought it was intended to include in the judicial council Bill a register of interests for judges but the Minister is saying that may not be the case.

Both Bills will be published this session with the drug testing and the judicial declaration of interests.

Our national monuments are a very important part of our heritage.

That is correct.

There are artifacts belonging to the regions and counties lying in vaults in Swords in County Dublin. When can we expect the national monuments Bill to be published? It is on the clár for nearly ten years.

It will be next year.

The Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 was enacted this time last year. I am aware its provisions will be implemented on a step by step basis but the provision in which I am particularly interested is the provision that requires unmarried parents to register the name of the father on the birth certificate of the child. Is there any prospect of that provision being commenced fairly soon, preferably before the end of this Dáil?

That is an important point that Deputy Mitchell has raised. I will discuss it with the Minister for Justice and Equality and come back to the Deputy.

I thank the Taoiseach.

Throughout the country farmers and farm families are facing severe hardship due to the non-payment of farm payments. This is due to the subcontracting of the mapping project. Where mistakes occur, huge hardship is imposed not only on the particular farm family but the neighbouring families. It is a huge issue. What other sector of society would accept their payments or wages being held up? This is not acceptable. Under the data sharing Bill, data sharing is supposed to happen. Why can these corrections not be made-----

We will get the information on the data sharing Bill.

-----in advance of sending out the letters to farmers stating there is a problem? It is not fair to farmers and their families.

The Deputy has made his point.

The data sharing Bill will be published next year.

In respect of promised legislation, the investment limited partnership (amendment) Bill, have the heads been cleared and will it be ready to come before the House in this or the next session? Similarly, in respect of No. 95, the health (miscellaneous provisions) (No. 2) Bill which covers issues such as the Lourdes Hospital redress scheme, the Lourdes Hospital payments scheme, symphysiotomy payments scheme etc., is it likely to come before the House this session or early in the next session and have the heads been cleared?

What is the status of the Health (Transport Support) Bill, a matter I have raised on a number of previous occasions? This Bill provides for a scheme to make individual payments as a contribution towards transport costs to people with severe disabilities who cannot access public transport.

The Health (Transport Support) Bill will be early next year. The health Bill referred to by the Deputy is due later next year. The heads have not yet been prepared for the investment limited partnership (amendment) Bill.

Yesterday, the Tánaiste informed me during Question Time that it was the Government's intention to introduce legislation to deal with the issue of determination orders. These are orders made against an absent partner in respect of moneys paid by the State to lone parents where the State can recoup some of that money if the person in question is in a position to pay or contribute. When will this legislation be introduced? Is it imminent?

Last week, I asked the Taoiseach about a memorandum which the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform was to bring to Government relating to people aged over 65 who are applying for social welfare payments. The Taoiseach promised to come back to me on that.

We do not deal with memoranda to Government on the Order of Business.

It is probably delayed in the Christmas post. The Taoiseach has not yet got back to me.

In the section on housing in the programme for Government, the Government promised to introduce a probationary period for new tenants in social housing. If they engaged in antisocial behaviour during this period of 12 months, their tenancy was to be automatically terminated. Will the Taoiseach confirm whether this has been introduced because to my knowledge, it is certainly not operating in Limerick?

I do not know but I will find out for Deputy O'Dea.

Who wrote the programme for Government?

Could Deputy Martin settle down for a moment?

I heard the response of the Tánaiste yesterday about the issue of absent parents and determination orders. This is quite a complex issue and will require a legislative response. Obviously, the Tánaiste will deal with that with the Department. In the wake of Deputy O'Dea raising the memorandum to the Department of Social Protection last week, I sent a note to the Department of Social Protection and am awaiting a detailed response.

The Taoiseach has sent notes about a question of mine to the Minister for Justice and Equality. My question concerns a statutory instrument awaited by many local authorities the length and breadth of this country so that they can deal with local authority tenants who consistently engage in antisocial behaviour. To be fair, I did receive a letter from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government who confirmed the need for this statutory instrument to be put in place so local authorities can deal with families who persistently engage in antisocial behaviour. A housing estate in Athlone is being terrorised by one family. The local authority has gone to court three times and the court will not deal with it until this statutory instrument is published. When will the necessary statutory instrument be published by the Minister for Justice and Equality?

We are still awaiting much-needed adoption legislation that will give effect to the result of the children's rights referendum despite the fact that the referendum was held three years ago.

I think we have news for the Deputy.

When can we expect this necessary legislation to come before the Houses of the Oireachtas?

That legislation will come before the House in this session. The letter received by the Deputy from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government clearly points out that an application by a housing authority for a possession order under Part 2 of the Act can be dealt with by the District Court, a concern under order 39(1) of the District Court rules, S.I. No. 17 of 2014. The house referred to by Deputy Troy can be repossessed by the local authority under existing District Court rules, as outlined to him in writing yesterday.

Last week, the Taoiseach said there would be legislation before the House by the end of the month relating to proposals to deal with the rent and housing crisis. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government subsequently said it would be this week so could the Taoiseach clarify when this will be before the House and whether there will be adequate time to debate and scrutinise what is in it to make suggestions that could deal with this issue, which the Government has failed to do for the past 18 months?

I have already dealt with the question of rent. The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 is before the Seanad. Amendments agreed by the Ministers for the Environment, Community and Local Government and Finance will be taken in the Seanad on Committee Stage and that Bill will come back here before the end of November. The second Bill raised by the Deputy relates to planning and will be brought before the House before it rises for the end of this session.