Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

At the weekend, we learned that an investment fund is buying up the majority of homes in a development at Mullen Park in Maynooth. The fund, which has a "war chest" of €1 billion, has robbed first-time buyers of the opportunity to buy their own homes. The fund will acquire these homes and then put them up for rent at extortionate rates. Of course, investment funds buying housing in bulk is not a new phenomenon. It has been happening for a number of years. The truth is that it is Government policy to incentivise and support these private funds to buy up housing across the State. Indeed, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have rolled out the red carpet for them with a range of sweetheart tax advantages. These funds pay no corporation tax, no capital gains tax and minimal stamp duty, and they charge some of the highest rents in the State, on which they then pay no tax.

This cushy regime gives massive financial advantage to wealthy investment funds. No person trying to buy a home could possibly compete with them, be it in Maynooth or anywhere else. People scrimp and save every cent to put themselves in a position to buy a home, but just when they think they are getting closer to that goal, another Government with another bad decision pushes their dream further away. In this case, a wealthy investment fund has swooped in and bought homes from underneath the noses of families and workers.

This is not happening by accident. It is the outworking of a policy designed and defended by Fianna Fáil and its partners in government, Fine Gael. Year after year, we in Sinn Féin have submitted amendments to finance Bills to close down the tax advantages that allow these funds to squeeze workers and families out of the housing market. Year after year, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have clubbed together to stop that from happening. As recently as last November, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party voted against every single one of Sinn Féin's amendments. Time and again, the Government has favoured investment funds over ordinary people.

Now, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, says that Fianna Fáil's big plan to tackle this scandal is to limit investment funds to purchasing only 70% of a housing estate. Well, woo-hoo. That gives nobody any comfort. That is outrageous. While investment funds continue to enjoy the Government's tax advantages, they will still be able to gazump ordinary people for the majority of homes for sale in any estate on any day of the week. They will be able to do that because the Government allows and encourages it.

This approach is just another plank of a housing policy that is failing. The Government has produced an unambitious and anemic plan that has no understanding even of affordability. Some €450,000 for a home in Dublin is not affordable. People deserve better. We can and must make housing affordable again. We can deliver homes that working people can actually afford and we can tackle extortionate rents, but, first, the Government needs to stop lining the pockets of wealthy investors and developers. Maintaining sweetheart tax advantages for investment funds must come to an end. When will the Government take immediate action to close these tax advantages and stand with workers and families as opposed to the funds? When will it introduce legislation to stop them from buying homes in bulk?

First of all, I will state unequivocally that the purchasing by institutional investors of completed housing estates is unacceptable and not consistent with Government policy. We do not want institutional investors competing with first-time buyers. Our priority is first-time buyers. Our priority is additional supply of housing. The cornerstone of our housing policy is to build 50,000 social homes over the next five years. It is the largest and most ambitious social housing programme in the history of the State, with 9,500 direct builds targeted this year and 12,750 social homes in total out of 25,000 houses overall this year. That is the bottom line insofar as this Government is concerned.

Institutional investment was brought into the country more than eight years ago through various measures to add supply, not to displace supply. That is the critical differential point. The Government will now examine what transpired over the weekend in respect of a suburban housing estate being purchased en bloc by an institutional investor. That is not acceptable to the Government. I have spoken to the Ministers for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Housing, Local Government and Heritage. This issue will be examined across the board in terms of ensuring that the purpose and objective of inward investment in the residential market is to add supply, not displace supply and compete with first-time buyers out in the suburban market. Originally, the intention was to facilitate high-density build-to-rent housing a number of years ago in the cities. We were not in government at the time, but nonetheless capital is important in getting supply into this country. One has to distinguish between good capital and bad capital, between additionality and displacement.

In the past, banks drove construction activity in this country. That is no longer the case. Instead, this Government will drive new construction by providing unprecedented levels of funding to local authorities and approved housing bodies, AHBs, to build social and affordable homes in what I have described as the biggest social housing programme in the history of the State. That is what we are about in relation to housing. On the affordable front, a suite of policies have been developed by the Minister in addition to ones already in place, every single one of which Sinn Féin has opposed, including the 22,000 purchasers who availed of the help-to-buy scheme, which has been in place now for a number of years.

The affordable housing Bill provides mechanisms and more opportunities to support affordable homes for couples and young people who want to buy housing. That is extremely important, including in the delivery of housing programmes and the construction situation from social homes to affordable homes, the development of brownfield sites, infrastructural development and the whole raft of urban regeneration and development fund, URDF, funding to, for example, enable infrastructure to facilitate the construction of housing. These are all important initiatives that will yield additional supply in the private sector over time. The development of the first national cost rental scheme should be acknowledged. It is a very significant development that opens up significant potential, not just this year, but into the future, with rents that are 25% below the market price. These are important developments. In addition to them, the Land Development Agency, LDA, legislation will provide a further mechanism to get additional supply into the market.

The fundamental point that I want to make this afternoon is that the purchase by institutional investors of completed housing estates is unacceptable and will now be examined by the Government in terms of dealing with that aspect of the events.

The Government is not driving construction. It has left renters in the lurch, it will not cut rents and it will not ensure that there will be no rent increases for the next three years. It has no clue about affordability. In the cloud cuckoo land that the Government inhabits, €450,000 for a house in Dublin is affordable apparently. That is not the case.

Above all else, the Government's policy has consistently favoured and facilitated big developers, landlords and private investment funds. What happened in Maynooth was not an accident; it is a direct consequence of the Government's policies, which it has designed and defended. It has cut a sweetheart deal arrangement for these investment funds with no corporation tax, no capital gains tax, and only minimal stamp duty. The result is that these big wealthy funds can swoop in and gobble up those houses that workers and families should expect to be able to afford.

I thank the Deputy.

I am not looking for a long-winded examination of this.

No, but the time is up.

The evidence of the Government's policies can be seen on the ground. I want the Taoiseach to tell us today-----

Please, Deputy-----

------that the Government will end these sweetheart arrangements for these funds and get them to pay their corporation tax-----

Deputy, please, the time is up.

-----capital gains tax-----

The Deputy is out of time.

-----and stamp duty on those properties.

I ask the Deputy to desist. The time is up.

The Deputy should listen to what I said. I was very clear that this is not Government policy.

I have said it very clearly. We do not in any shape or form deem it acceptable that institutional investment of this kind would buy up estates that are already built. We have said that now. By the way, just to put things in perspective-----


The Taoiseach, without interruption.

-----institutional ownership of residential units is less than 1% of total housing stock and 5% of all rental tenancies. Just to give some perspective to the rather long-winded introduction that the Deputy gave-----


The Taoiseach, without interruption.

I will make a further point. The Deputy also needs to analyse-----

The Taoiseach is a disgrace.

-----her own party's affordability policies and the assertion that it would deliver 20,000 homes each year. She cannot say where, how or by whom.

Let us take Clondalkin, for example, where Sinn Féin and parties of the left voted against the building of 975 homes, which included 30% social housing.

Time is up, Taoiseach.

In Tallaght, for example, Sinn Féin opposed 500 homes, of which 80% would be social or affordable houses. Sinn Féin continues to oppose house developments in this country.

Please, the time is up.

That gives the lie to its so-called commitment to social and affordable housing.

Go away out of that.

It has voted against every affordable scheme-----

The Taoiseach does not even know what affordable is.

-----that is brought before the House.

Is €500,000 affordable?

I ask the leaders to comply with the time limits that have been set down, please.

I also raise the role of the international investment funds in displacing individuals and families from purchasing a home. Last week, the example occurred in Maynooth, in Mullen Park housing estate, which is well under construction at this stage. I started getting calls and emails late last week from constituents on this. Each one of them had signed up with an estate agent expressing an interest in purchasing a home. They would have been watching the development as it was progressing. They would have been looking forward to the day when they would have been contacted and asked to pay a deposit on a house. Those hopes were dashed last week when the auctioneers sent them an email to say that Round Hill Capital would be buying the rest of the estate.

The developer had no shortage of buyers. Individuals wished to purchase, as did Kildare County Council and Tuath Housing association. However, they were all dumped in favour of Round Hill Capital. The same company also purchased 112 family homes in Bay Meadows, Hollystown and 297 apartments in Northwood, Dublin. They will now come on the market at extortionate rents.

Round Hill Capital claims to have €1 billion to spend on residential property in Ireland. It is just one of dozens of investors competing for this limited supply of housing. Since 2018, nearly €4 billion has been invested by global funds in the Irish residential market. In 2019, international funds bought a staggering 95% of the apartments that were constructed that year. How are ordinary buyers, who scrimp and save for a mortgage, supposed to compete with this?

There is no mystery as to why these funds are outbidding ordinary buyers because they are being advantaged by the State. As has been said, they pay no stamp duty, no capital gains tax and no corporation tax. I listened to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage yesterday talk about not doing anything radical. He was concerned about unintended consequences. It begs the question: is what happened in Maynooth an unintended consequence? It is not just that estate in Maynooth; another estate in Maynooth went the same way some months ago.

There is a skewed ideology at play here. The Taoiseach must tell us when there will be a change in this. It cannot be put off until the budget. If we need to, every one of us can sit over a weekend or overnight to pass legislation to stop this. It is not just that they are buying these estates, but we will find that the State will be on the other side with long leases over 25 years where they will be leased, refurbished and returned to the developer at the end of it.

The time is up.

The Taoiseach needs to tell us when this will change. There is an urgency about this now.

I thank the Deputy. Time is up.

We are getting to a point of no return. We need a timeframe on this.

I appreciate the genuine points the Deputy has articulated. No local authority should be on the other side of this. Let that message go out loud and clear from Government. No local authority should be on the other side of this, engaging in a long lease with these institutional investors in that estate. A limited degree of leasing has some importance, but leasing over the long term does not represent great value for money. That is why we are building 9,500 social houses this year out of 12,750 social houses overall. That is why we want to build 50,000 social houses by way of direct build over the next five years. That is the overall commitment of the Government. That is where the main focus of Government construction will be in the coming period.

We will deal with the swoop-in by that institutional investor, which is not acceptable. Previous Governments facilitated the arrival here of investors with the good intention of trying to get some investment into the high-density rental market, particularly in Dublin, when capital was scarce. It was never intended that that would facilitate competing with first-time buyers on a suburban housing estate. That was never the intention and it will be dealt with. Government will ensure that is disincentivised and not facilitated.

Obviously, the Minister for Finance will meet his team this afternoon to discuss this matter. He will also engage with colleagues across government on this development. Government wants to give people the chance to be able to afford to buy their own homes through a number of schemes. We also want to make sure that we build the largest social housing programme in the history of the State to ensure that people who cannot afford to buy houses get houses at rents they can afford. The cost rental scheme is another mechanism that will also enable people to get access to homes.

Last year, just over 20,000 houses were provided in the entire country, of which approximately 8,000 were social houses. We do not have a thriving private market in this economy. Sinn Féin keeps going on about it and keeps on inventing the same old slogans and the same rhetoric. However, it is simply rhetoric at this stage because the bulk of housing construction at the moment is being driven by the State in a variety of shapes and forms. That will continue to be the case for quite some time to come.

The key point is this. I accept the basic principle of what the Deputy is saying that what happened in Maynooth is not acceptable. It is not something we want to see happening in this country. We want those housing estates reserved for people who wish to buy houses and for AHBs.

The Taoiseach did not tell us when that will be addressed. It is important for us to hear that today. I do not know if I am living on a different planet or in a different country, but all I see in the area that I represent are turnkey developments that are being long-leased by the local authority. I do not see any builds. I do not see where all this social housing is coming from. I can give the Taoiseach the names of the estates that are long-leased.

I live 100 yd from an estate which is under construction and in which 61 Part V houses are to be long-leased for 25 years. Tomorrow night, in our Private Members' time, my colleague, Deputy Cian O'Callaghan, will bring a Bill before the House to deal with this issue. As I said, I live only 100 yd from the estate. Everybody expected that the 61 houses would be local authority housing and would be peppered throughout what would be a nice estate. It was expected that the State would buy these houses such that they would be an asset at the end of the process. Nobody expected that these houses would be long-leased for 25 years, after which they would be refurbished and returned to the developer. I have raised this issue previously with the Taoiseach. This is madness. The Taoiseach needs to tell us when this is going to change.

As the Deputy will know, the Government will not oppose the Bill tomorrow. The Government wants to work with the Deputy's party in respect of the legislation it is bringing forward tomorrow to deal with the leasing issue. The leasing issue is not the dominant form of house provision. As I mentioned earlier, in terms of institutional investment and to give a sense of perspective, 5% of all rental tenancies and 1% of the existing housing stock is owned by institutional investment. There is need for balance in this area. In terms of affordability, as referenced, last February Fingal County Council announced its first affordable housing scheme in 11 years, the Dun Emer scheme, which will provide 51 homes, of which 39 will be affordable housing and 12 will be social housing. The scheme is a mix of two-bedroom apartments at €166,000 and not €450,000; three-bedroom duplexes at €206,000; three-bedroom terraced houses from €250,000; and three-bedroom semi-detached houses from €258,000. A range of affordable schemes will emerge from the initiatives taken in this area by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien.

On Part V housing, the preference of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is not that leasing would be the dominant form of that provision. That is the policy position.

That is what is happening.

Thank you Taoiseach. The time is up.

That is our policy position. We do not want to see, in any shape or form, an over-use of the Part V mechanism via the leasing option.

We, Donegal people, often call our home county the forgotten county. It has no rail service, poor public transport, poor or non-existent broadband infrastructure and it has experienced years of under-investment and neglect from this and previous Governments.

Last week, finally, there was a good news story with the launch of the Donegal Place initiative. Donegal was to be positioned as a great place to live, work, invest, explore and study. Those of us from Donegal and those who have travelled there already know this. Instead of this positive news story being shared over the weekend, Donegal was highlighted as the worst county in class for its continuing high rates of Covid-19. Figures from the National Public Health Emergency Team, NPHET, showed that Donegal had the highest incidence rate of Covid-19 in the country, at 293.4, compared to a national 14-day incidence rate of 127.3. The highest rates of infections were in Milford and Letterkenny, whereas infections in the south of the county were very low, around three times lower than the national average.

On Saturday, 1 May, there was much media fanfare around the online meeting between the Minister of Health, Stephen Donnelly, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, and public representatives from Donegal. Having attended the hour and a half meeting, I can say that it was little but a public relations exercise. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, was supposed to be on Highland Radio yesterday morning on the "Nine til Noon Show" with Greg Hughes to outline what was being done in regard to the Covid-19 outbreaks. I listened to the show and was not surprised to hear that it was just local representatives again.

During the meeting on Saturday there were discussions about the possibility of increasing the number of walk-in test centres and the need to put testing centres in Milford or Glenties, for example, so that people could access them. I welcome the eventual announcement that as part of the enhanced response a self-referral testing centre will be opening in Milford Mart today, but it will only be open for three days. Additional facilities are to be announced, but we do not know where they will be located or for how long they will be open.

Since the start of the pandemic, I have been asking about access to test centres and vaccines for people in Donegal. I have been calling for an all-island zero-Covid approach, something which I raised with the Taoiseach in January of this year because of the issues around having differing regulations and regimes on both sides of the Border.

One of the initiatives announced yesterday, which did not come out of the PR-stunt last Saturday, was that the Garda had set up a hotline - a tout line or a rat line - through which neighbours are asked to tout on neighbours. On what planet is this Government if that is its response and that of officialdom in regard to the Covid outbreak in Donegal? We need walk-in test centres and vaccination clinics in Donegal and an extension of them for more than one week to ensure people can get tested and not a hotline through which people are being encouraged to inform on their friends and neighbours in respect of breaches of the Covid-19 restrictions. That is crazy. It will do nothing but set back the response in the county. What does the Government propose to do to ensure there is a proper roll-out of services?

Nationally, we are making progress in the battle against Covid-19. In terms of hospitalisations and ICU numbers, the situation is extremely positive. For example, as of this morning, there were 132 people in hospital and 39 in intensive care. The vaccination programme is making great progress, with close to 32% of the eligible population having received a first dose and 12% having received a second dose, which amounts to 1.65 million doses administered. This gives us great cause for hope and continued momentum, both on the vaccination front and in terms of keeping pressure on the virus.

In regard to Donegal, I do not accept the Deputy's analysis that the online meeting was PR stunt. I think that is an unfortunate representation. It is important that where the numbers are high, there is awareness around that issue. We know from previous experiences during the pandemic that when people see numbers rising in any particular location, that affects behaviour. It can lead to a change of behaviour. For example, if numbers go up in hospitals or if the numbers of cases rise more generally, it leads to greater caution. That in itself is not a negative.

The opening of the walk-in test centre in Milford is an important outcome of what transpired at the weekend. If additional walk-in centres are required, they should be provided. That system works and it has been proven to work in other locations where numbers are high. It was by such mechanisms numbers in other areas were brought down, more recently in the midlands. I believe the same can happen in Donegal. Everything must be done to make sure that Donegal, along with the country, continues with the reopening of key sectors of society and the economy. It would be an awful pity if that was not to transpire. I have every confidence that we can improve on the figures in terms of the number of cases in Donegal, which, unfortunately, are much higher than in the rest of the country.

My understanding is that some Oireachtas Members sought the meeting and that they felt it would be useful if the public representatives met with the Chief Medical Officer to discuss the numbers. The Chief Medical Officer and deputy chief medical officer articulated their concerns in respect of Donegal. They certainly were not doing that as part of a public relations exercise. They are concerned about the numbers and they are anxious to get them down. We will be supportive of the people of Donegal in getting the numbers down.

I have no knowledge of a tout line. I do not like that language, the use of the word "tout". It has wider connotations.

It would be useful if what was agreed at the meeting on Saturday was carried out. It was agreed that Dr. Holohan would take part in an interview on local radio yesterday to discuss the situation. That did not happen. It was agreed that walk-in centres would be announced yesterday. They were announced after the Garda announced its confidential telephone line through which people could inform the Garda where incidents and breaches of Covid-19 restrictions are taking place. As far as I am aware, Donegal is the only place in Ireland where that is happening. That has been the response of officialdom to the high incidence of Covid-19 infection in Donegal. It is a serious situation and this high incidence of infection needs to be tackled. There is no doubt about that. However, it needs to tackled in a holistic way and not in a way that isolates people or puts them on the back foot, which is what the response thus far is doing. This matter needs to be tackled properly.

The Taoiseach is probably correct that local representatives called for the meeting on Saturday because it appeared to be a PR stunt. That resulted in a dedicated response, but when representatives commit to doing something, they should do it. It is vital that happens.

First, I think it is a good thing that public representatives would be proactive and would meet with the Chief Medical Officer and responsibly work out what measures would be helpful in terms of reducing the numbers in Donegal. From what I could glean, that was the genuine motivation behind that meeting during a bank holiday weekend. From my perspective, it was a positive thing to do. I believe there should be follow through. I will check whether representatives of the Chief Medical Officer can make themselves available to local radio. There may have been reasons beyond their control that they could not participate in the Monday show. I will follow that up.

We should support the Garda. I have had quite a number of discussions with the Garda and one would be taken aback by what they say, for example, about the sophistication of quite a number of síbíns that were found around the country, in blatant violation of the regulations and undermining legitimate traders in the hospitality sector who had closed in accordance with the regulations. They were quite sophisticated operations and it is important that there is a clampdown on gross violations of that kind. There should be zero toleration of that kind of blatant disregard for the regulations that are passed under the aegis of this House.

We go now to Deputy O'Donoghue of the Rural Independent Group.

I am raising issues on which I need answers. Why is there a disconnect between what was printed in the 150 commitments in the Government's Rural Development Policy 2021-2025, Our Rural Future, published on 29 March, and what is happening on the ground? The rural development policy states that it is 100% focused on supporting people and enterprise to remain in rural Ireland. The main ambition of the policy is to have more people working in rural Ireland. My understanding of this is that people would be enabled to work from their own local communities in order to revitalise town centres, reduce commuting times, lower transport emissions and, most importantly, improve their quality of life.

How is this going to happen? There is no development in towns and villages to support it.

Sorry, there are other people talking.

A developer cannot commence building when there is no basic infrastructure in place. I can now reveal that each town and village in Ireland is to be capped such that they cannot develop under the Government's 2040 plan. What is the purpose of bringing development to a standstill? Is it just a token gesture of updating existing services in some towns and villages? It does not increase the capacity of our water and sewerage infrastructure. The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Humphreys, has said about rural Ireland:

For decades we have seen...young people leave their local communities to live and work in larger cities. As we emerge from Covid-19 we will never have a better opportunity to reverse that long-standing trend.

An ambition of the rural development policy is to ensure that people living in rural areas have access to good quality public services that enable them to continue to live sustainably in rural communities. This will help them to maintain a good quality of life. Investing in improvements in public transport services, healthcare within communities, housing provision, early learning and childcare facilities and community safety is all a means to an end. It is written in the Government's manifesto but only achievable if basic infrastructure is provided.

I listened to the Taoiseach rattle off numbers, pointing to X number of houses being built here and X number being built there. Will he stand up now and tell me how many houses are being built in the small towns, villages and rural areas in County Limerick and around Ireland? I want to see if he has those statistics. He has capped that development under the 2040 plan. If he comes out with the truth, he will tell the people of Ireland that the 2040 plan is limiting the number of houses being built in towns and villages in rural areas because his Government has failed on infrastructure.

I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. To cut straight to the point, there has been strong delivery of new homes in rural areas over recent years. Approximately 26,000 rural house planning permissions were granted in the past five years. In the same period, nearly 93% of that number of rural homes were actually built. There is ongoing work. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, is currently updating rural housing planning guidelines that will continue to allow for the development of homes in rural areas while also highlighting the need to manage certain areas around cities and towns in order to avoid overdevelopment of those areas.

As the Deputy knows, in the programme for Government and the rural development policy that was launched, the whole idea of developing town centres is a critical part. Funding will be provided to facilitate the reconstruction of run-down units or buildings and to refurbish and renovate them for residential purposes. The new rural regeneration policy will be part of that as well. The URDF, with well over €1 billion more in funding announced in recent times by the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, will dramatically increase infrastructure in towns across the country. Massive amounts of money are now allocated to get vital water infrastructure and enabling works done and facilitate development of enterprise, industry and housing right across the length and breadth of the country. This is critical to ensuring big investment in the regional cities to create a counterpole to the development of Dublin in the east, so that we have a more balanced development of the country into the future.

I do not think we have seen as large an investment programme across the regions as has been announced by the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, in recent times through the URDF. It will be transformative in terms of its impact on the cities and towns across the various regions, from the north-west to the west, south and midlands. That is the continued objective of Government in respect of both the URDF and other funding. Last weekend, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, announced €38 million for 79 projects from Castletownbere right across the length and breadth of coastal communities, right up to Donegal and out to Balbriggan. There will be very significant investment in harbours and estuaries, which will underpin economic activity in those areas. It is unprecedented what the Government is doing in terms of transforming active transport across the length and breadth of rural Ireland through the provision of greenways, walking routes and public transport.

I draw the Taoiseach's attention to County Limerick, which I represent. Askeaton is 33 years waiting for a sewerage system and Dromcolliher is waiting ten years. Glin is waiting more than 20 years, Hospital more than ten years and Oola more than ten years for infrastructure. There is 27% of the infrastructure left in County Limerick and that is the only place where the investment is going. It is not going into the areas we are talking about. The Government's 2040 plan is going to close down areas completely. Where the Government could not provide houses for people, they are building their own and putting in up-to-date sewerage systems. Now the Government is trying to stop that as well.

I will finish on this point. In my parish of Granagh in County Limerick next week, we will commemorate Lieutenant Mick O'Shea and the Granagh volunteers of 1921 who died for the freedom of Ireland. I challenge the Taoiseach today that they did not die in vain. We were given our freedom to live where we want and neither this Government nor any other Government is going to take that away from the people of County Limerick.

First, I commend the Deputy on organising that commemoration. The people of west Limerick more than did their bit in terms of helping the struggle for Irish independence. Indeed, my late grandfather was close in the Mitchelstown area with those in west Limerick in a number of endeavours. I wish the Deputy well in that regard. They did not die in vain because we have a country, overall and globally, that is a good country to live and work in and a good country in which to have a reasonable quality of life. Part of the programme for Government is to provide good well-being metrics to ensure that we judge ourselves not just by GDP growth but, rather, that we judge ourselves by those qualities that make the difference in terms of human development and facilitating the growth and development of children in a reasonable and high quality way. That is the objective of Government during this term.