Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2021: Report and Final Stages

We have only 45 minutes for this business, so I hope that we can deal with as many amendments as possible as expeditiously as possible. Amendment No. 1 is in the name of the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, and arises out of proceedings on Committee Stage. Amendments Nos. 1 to 9, inclusive, 11 to 18, inclusive, 24 to 31, inclusive, and 37 are related. Amendment No. 3 is consequential on amendment No. 2, amendments Nos. 5 to 7, inclusive, are consequential on amendment No. 4 and amendments Nos. 16, 18, 24 to 31, inclusive, and 37 are consequential on amendments Nos. 11 and 12. Amendments Nos. 1 to 9, inclusive, 11 to 18, inclusive, 24 to 31, inclusive, and 37 will be discussed together. If Deputies can remember all that, they are entitled to an award. I call the Minister of State.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 24, to delete “or 14H” and substitute “, 14H, 14K or 14L”.

I flagged on Committee Stage that I would be tabling several amendments on Report Stage to provide in respect of the second partner in a couple. These second partner provisions are largely dealt with in the amendments I am presenting now. However, providing for couples in this legislation has presented many complex questions which must be carefully considered before it is finally put into operation. For this reason, alongside the already completed new provisions, I also intend to insert a regulation-making power into the Bill which will allow me, via regulations, to provide the remaining second partner provisions in advance of the Bill being commenced.

My officials are working on completing these new provisions. The regulation-making power will not extend beyond what is required to ensure that couples are properly catered for in this legislation. When considering how couples are treated in the Bill, fairness has always been the guiding principle. This is particularly relevant when considering the appointment of a family successor in respect of both members of a couple and concerning the same productive asset in cases where both members of the couple are living and also in cases where one member of the couple is deceased. To provide for the various scenarios which may occur when both members of a couple enter nursing home care and apply for relief under this legislation, three new sections have been provided, namely, sections 14K, 14L and 14M. I will discuss the sections in more detail shortly.

Many of these amendments concern the second partner, some of which are of a technical nature and some more substantive. Many of these amendments simply amend the current legislation to take into account the new sections I mentioned. Amendment No.1 is one of these. This amendment updates the definition of a "particular family asset" by adding the new sections 14K and 14L to the definition. Amendment No. 2 concerns section 3, which deals with an application for the appointment of a family successor in respect of a farm or relevant business. This amendment simply confirms that the second partner in a couple cannot make an application under this section, as he or she will be making his or her application for the appointment of a family successor under the new sections 14K or 14L. The only exception to this rule is when a repayment event has occurred in respect of the first member of the couple before the second member enters care services or such other circumstances as may be prescribed.

Amendment No. 3 concerns section 4, which deals with a charge against interest on chargeable land. This is a technical amendment reflecting the additions to section 5.

Amendment Nos. 4 to 7, inclusive, concern section 5. The duty of an executive to determine whether paragraph 6B of Part 3 of Schedule 1 applies. These are technical amendments to reflect the new sections 14K and 14 L.

Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 concern section 7, which deals with the review of compliance with conditions. Amendment No. 8 is a minor technical amendment and amendment No. 9 updates this section to reflect the new sections 14K and 14L.

Amendment No. 11 provides for the new section 14K to replace the current section 14K, which now becomes section 14N. This new section, concerning the application by a partner for the appointment of a family successor, provides for situations when the second partner enters care after the first partner is already in care. In cases where the first partner has appointed a family successor in respect of a productive asset and the six-year obligation of the family successor has not expired, the second partner, to avail of the relief available in respect of the same asset, must appoint the same family successor as the first partner. However, regarding the second partner, the family successor only needs to complete whatever is left of the six-year obligation committed to in respect of the first partner. For example, if the family successor has already completed three years of the obligation, then that person will only need to commit to a further three years in respect of the second partner, for a total of six years in respect of the given asset overall.

Amendment No. 12 provides for the new section 14K, which deals with an application by the partner of the deceased person for the appointment of a family successor.

This section provides for when the first partner appoints a family successor and dies before the six-year commitment of the family successor has expired. If, subsequently, the second partner enters care, he or she must appoint the same family successor as the first partner if any relief has already been advanced to the first partner. If no relief has been advanced, the second partner can appoint a different family successor. Similar to section 14K, the newly appointed family successor in relation to the second partner will have to complete whatever is left of the six-year obligation committed to in respect of the first partner.

Amendment No. 13 provides for the new section 14M, regarding the determination as to farm or business relief where the family successor fulfils the undertaking. This section provides for when the second partner enters care after the six-year obligation of a family successor appointed in relation to the first partner has been completed. If the second partner seeks relief under this Bill in respect of the same productive asset, the second partner does not have to appoint a family successor at all to the asset. After three years in care, the second partner can avail of the relief in respect of the asset. This section allows the HSE to make a determination, in these specific circumstances, that the second partner can get the relief offered without appointing a family successor or applying a charging order to the asset.

Amendments Nos. 14 to 17, inclusive, concern section 13 of the Bill, on the offence of giving false or misleading information to the executive under certain provisions. This section has been renumbered from 14K to 14N. These amendments are technical in nature to provide for this renumbering and to reflect the new sections 14K, 14L and 14M.

Amendment No. 18 concerns the current section 14 of the Bill, regarding the amendment of section 21 of the principal Act. Section 21 provides for the appointment of a care representative in the case of a person not having full capacity. This section will be further amended to reflect that a care representative can act on behalf of a person in care in respect of the new sections 14K and 14L.

Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 are technical amendments to the current section 20 of the Bill, which relates to the amendment of section 32 of the principal Act. Section 32 concerns the appeals process under the Act. These amendments allow for two provisions which concern repayment events to be appealed and allow provisions in the new sections 14K and 14L to be appealed.

Amendment No. 26 further amends the current section 21 of the Bill, that is, the amendment of section 36 of the principal Act. Section 36 of the 2009 Act allows the Minister to make regulations in defined circumstances and amendment No. 26 inserts a regulation-making power into the Bill to allow the Minister to make modifications to the current provisions of the Bill, specifically in relation to the second partner in a couple.

I will have to stop the Minister of State there because the seven minutes are up. I call Deputy Tóibín.

I welcome this Bill and commend the Minister of State on it. I also applaud the civil servants and the previous Ministers who completed some of the groundwork for this legislation. Maura Canning has also done enormous work on this issue. I have spoken previously on this legislation and I am aware that Sinn Féin tabled a motion yesterday on nursing homes. I will outline a number of concerns I have. Just a few hours ago, a document was released to me by the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, which is signed by the contract manager of the NTPF. I have it to hand and I will furnish it to the Minister of State after the debate. It is an extraordinary document. According to it, an email was sent by the NTPF to nursing homes at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 12 March 2020. The NTPF stated that it had been asked to establish capacity within nursing homes. It warned nursing homes that they needed "... to have the ability to care for patients coming from an acute hospital setting ..." The individual facilities, the letter says, would co-ordinate with the discharge units in the hospitals directly. It goes on:

Facilities must be able to facilitate short term residents being discharged from the acute hospital. These residents ... may be nominated by the HSE or the Department of Health as applicable for receipt of appropriate funding.

Was it the Minister of State's Department that instructed the NTPF to put money before nursing homes and instruct the homes to make way for a large surge of hospital transfers? Was there a concerted effort by the Department and the HSE in March last year-----

This is Report Stage, where there is a requirement to focus on the amendment or group of amendments being discussed. How, pray tell, is the matter the Deputy is raising in any way relevant to the amendments with which we are dealing, which are about the appointment of successors?

This is a very important document that has been released into my hands today.

I am sure it is but it is in any way relevant?

It is relevant to Report Stage of this Bill. I believe if the Minister of State does not contemplate-----

It may be relevant to Report Stage but it is not relevant, in my opinion, to the group of amendments we are currently looking at.

If the Ceann Comhairle will just give me one minute, I will complete my statement.

Go raibh maith agat. Did the Department of Health instruct the NTPF to put money in front of nursing homes and instruct them to make way for a large surge in hospital transfers? Was there a concerted effort by the Department and the HSE in March last year to clear hospitals of elderly people and put them into nursing homes?

I am sorry Deputy but that is not relevant. It is a most important matter-----

It is very important.

It is terribly important but I am afraid this is an important piece-----

This is the last opportunity-----

This is important legislation and we are under extreme time pressure to deal with it. Those questions are not relevant to the amendments before us.

This is the last opportunity I will get to raise this very important issue.

It is and I am very sorry but you cannot raise it through these amendments. You have said as much as you are going to be able to say. I call Deputy Cullinane.

Everything Deputy Tóibín has said reinforces the need for a public inquiry into what happened in nursing homes.

There is no point in Deputy Cullinane going down that road either.

I am not going down that road at all.

Will you deal with the amendments, please?

I will indeed. I was making a very quick point and I will move on.

On the amendments, I commend the Minister of State on the approach she took on Committee Stage. It was very constructive and while some of these amendments are technical in nature, many of the amendments we are dealing with are ones that we discussed ourselves and they arose out of conversations and concerns some Members had. I appreciate that this is complicated, as the Minister of State said. We are dealing with second partners and issues around family successors are complicated when trying to work out how things will work in practice. The Minister of State spoke about the provisions in the amendments that will allow the Minister to make regulations in the future. It is important that she gives us more detail on what type of regulations can be brought in by the Minister in that regard. I have a number of other questions but as we have very little time I will leave it at that. These amendments are being tabled in good faith and came out of very good discussions that we had on Committee Stage. However, when we are being asked to support amendments that will give powers to the Minister to make regulations, it is important that we are given a better and clearer sense of what those regulations might be.

I thank the Minister of State and her officials for the briefing I got earlier today to try to go through these 20 pages of amendments. I accept that the Minister of State flagged these issues on Committee Stage and, based on the briefing I got today, I also accept that a substantial number of the amendments relate to partners. This is a complex issue to reflect in the legislation and that is why we have so many complex amendments before us. However, it is not good practice to have 20 pages of amendments with very short notice given to try to interpret them. Not only are we looking at the amendments reflected in this legislation but because this Bill is amending primary legislation, we have to look at three sets of documents to try to decipher what is in them.

Based on the explanation the Minister of State has given, I am not sure whether this applies to a husband and wife where the farm is one or both of their names. As the Minister of State knows, the tradition now is that both the husband and wife have their names on the property and that is incentivised and encouraged. That is transitioning through Irish society.

First, where either spouse does not have a name on the asset but would have a legal right to 50% of it, are they caught under this definition? Second, where their name is on that asset, would they be caught under this definition? Third, we are talking about a single asset like a farm. We have decided, and there is unanimous agreement across this House, that there would be a three-year cap on nursing home fees for that particular asset. The Minister of State is telling us that there is three-year cap per individual. Where there is a couple involved, there is potential six-year cap. The belief was that people would only have to pay for three years where there are two older people in a nursing home but they will have to pay for six years before they can avail of the cap. That is new and that was not the belief we had. The belief was that the asset could only be charged in the context of three years, not six. I ask the Minister of State to clarify how that would apply.

The related issue is backdating. The decision was taken six years ago to implement this legislation and the Government decision on this legislation was made three years ago. I asked the Minister of State on Committee Stage to consider the example I supplied to her. That was the example of John and Michael. John signed over the farm, including the land and entitlements, in February 2010 to his son Michael in totality. John subsequently went into long-term nursing home care in January 2015 and Michael has been paying 7.5% of the capital value of the farm towards the nursing home costs up until now. John will now have to sign a declaration to make Michael a successor, even though Michael has held the land in his name for the past 11 years. The difficulty is that the six years only start from now. There will be a charge levied against that particular farm for the next six years. We are saying that for 17 years that land either has money being drawn off it or a charge placed on it because the six years itself is not backdated to the time of entry into the nursing home; it is only from here forward or from the time that the asset was signed over.

I accept that this is complex legislation. I know it has gone through a tortuous process to get to this point but those two anomalies will cause huge difficulties down the road for many farm families.

I am concerned about the Bill. I want to especially thank the Minister of State for bringing the Bill forward and at least we will have a cap. When I hear what Deputy Denis Naughten has come out with, that it will be six years if a couple are named on the deeds, that is not what we signed up to at all. That is bad. Take a farm with the value of €500,000, for example. It would be €7,500 per year per €100,000 so that is €37,500 per year for the young fella or the wife or whoever is trying to fund the person in the nursing home. That is a savage sum of money to come up with and for many it would mean they will lose their farms. They will not be able to hold them.

This Bill was supposed to be about fairness in the context of family farms. It would be way easier altogether if the family farm was not assessed and if, like everywhere else, only the family home was assessed. What is being done is not fair to those with family farms. It should not and need not be so complex. There are provisions that the person taking over the farm or running it cannot lease it. If there are young children and the man gets hurt in an accident or whatever, what is the wife supposed to do with the farm? She is not able to farm it and she might have to mind the young children. Take another scenario. The children could be that bit older and might be in college, which means that third level fees have to be paid. Are we going to insist that one of these youngsters drop out of college to start running the farm? Then, at the same time, he or she would have to try to earn €37,500 per year from a €500,000 farm. You will only get an average farm for €500,000.

With the revelations that are coming out about joining the couples, I am not at all satisfied that this is happening. We are not treating farm families fairly. It should be the same for every applicant or everyone going into a nursing home in that the family home should be assessed, not the farm. The farm is the source of a family's income. Other people have pensions and different things and maybe they have other jobs but it takes a couple and a family to run a farm. One of them might have to go into a nursing home and the other, like I said, would not be able to farm because he or she would have children to mind or the children might need to go college.

I am appealing to the Government to look at this again. It took so long to do this. Questions need to be asked. Since the Government said it was going to bring forward this Bill, people in nursing homes and farmers have been under threat that money would have to be paid back. They have been paying money to nursing homes because I guarantee they would not be in the nursing home if it was not being paid. As a result, there is money owed. These people need to be considered retrospectively. Even going back six years, there are people in nursing homes who we know will lose their farms. I appreciate the Minister of State going at it but the Government has made it more complex by insisting that the land is assessed.

I appreciate that other Members want to get in but I am still concerned about what is happening. It is not a fair deal at all; in fact, it is lousy for some farmers.

I put it to Members that the guillotine motion is to be taken at 7.19 p.m. I say this in the context of giving the Minister of State time to respond. Deputies Canney, Michael Collins and Ó Murchú still have to speak.

I again salute the Minister of State for her efforts in getting the legislation this far. It is long overdue. On the amendments the Minister of State has brought forward, the issue of the partner and the three years and three years needs to be clarified for us. The second issue relates to the value of the house being taken as capital and the derived or notional income from that is fine. If, however, the house is rented and that value is taken twice, that is something we need to address. I mention the example where someone rents out the house and the rent for the house is also taken as a notional value on the value of the property. This means that they could be paying twice into the nursing home. The other amendment we had down was on the time for the enacting of this legislation. The big disappointment is the fact that this legislation is not backdated to the date the decision was made by the Government.

I will be brief because other Members need to get in. I commend the Minister of State on bringing this Bill as far as it has come.

During the lifetime of the previous Government, it was raised many times in the Dáil and it just seemed to have stalled somewhere along the line and never got to where it was meant to go, even though promises were made. I am concerned that this debate is to be guillotined despite the number of amendments that have been tabled. The debate will finish before 7.20 p.m., only 45 minutes after it began.

This is, of course, an enormous issue for the people of rural Ireland. It mostly affects people with farms. Deputy Denis Naughten raised the point that clarity is required regarding the legislation's implications for couples. People are asking about that. I know many people in my constituency who are unable to put their loved ones into nursing homes. They cannot afford to do it even though their loved ones need to be in nursing homes in order to get the proper medical attention. Some of those people were unable to get that medical attention.

The legislation discriminates against the farming sector. People in that sector are being singled out. They have been hit hardest by the fair deal scheme since its inception years ago. My worry is that we are going to rush through this legislation without debating it properly and without spending an adequate amount of time going through and discussing each amendment and teasing out any difficulties that might be there and that could be sorted out before it is passed into law. We may end up making a mistake that will cause further hardship on one sector of society, namely, those with family farms. The family home is the means of assessment everywhere else. In my view, farms should have been exempted from assessment but, unfortunately, that is not what has happened. Farmers are having to take up the slack.

I am not happy with the fact that we are cutting short the time to talk about these important amendments. Many farmers are under massive pressure because of this scheme. I would like to know if the scheme is going to be backdated. That is important because families are waiting. Payments will have to be made at some stage. Those payments may have been deferred until the person concerned has passed away. Families cannot afford those payments. Perhaps the Minister of State could clarify some of these issues.

I will follow up on some of the issues that were put eloquently by Deputy Denis Naughten. Like many, I share his concern about the situation as it relates to a husband and wife, and the fact that they could be dealing with a six-year period during which money is being taken from a farm. The whole point is about ensuring that family-owned farms are viable and sustainable, and that we do not absolutely hammer people who find themselves in difficult situations.

I know of a case in which someone has applied for the nursing home support scheme for their father. As in many other situations, the paperwork relating to succession was not completed and the person concerned did not meet the five-year criterion. This issue has only arisen in the past couple of months. Michael, the father, is in a nursing home at the minute. I am worried because the backdating situation has not been taken into account. Will the three-year period referred to in the legislation include a period that went before its enactment or will it apply from the point this Bill becomes law? That needs to be revisited because we are talking about the viability of family farms. The timing of this legislation is unfortunate for some people who have no choice but to put their loved ones into nursing homes because they need that level of care. Brian is Michael's son. He and his sister have responsibility for Michael's care but he is not in a fit state to deal with any legal framework and we may just be talking about the provisions of a will. I want the Minister of State to come back to me on this matter. It is about ensuring that people are not hammered harder than needs to happen. We must ensure that the likes of this family farm are sustainable. People are going through difficult situations such as the one I have outlined and they do not need added hardship.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for bearing with me. Bhí mé ag dul chuig an leithreas nuair a ghlaoigh tú mé.

I know the Minister of State has done a lot of work on this legislation. Many people have worked on these matters over the past decade, especially Ms Maura Canning. I cannot say enough of her. She has done Trojan work on behalf of farm families in the Irish Farmers' Association.

There are considerable difficulties with this legislation, which was promised during every session for the past two years. We kept being told it would come in the next session or before Christmas or before the summer. Now that it has finally arrived, I am worried that the Minister of State has told us the Government will introduce a number of statutory instruments that are not dealt with in the Bill. The devil is in the detail, as we all know. There must be fairness. This will affect not only family farmers but also self-employed business people who own shops, hardware stores or whatever. It will affect many areas. Those people must work hard and their asset is their tool. That asset is their ability to earn a living. It is not a guaranteed income, it is just their means of earning a living. The kids put a sticker on my wife's car some time ago that stated, "Be nice to your kids because they choose your nursing home." It is a strange one.

This legislation is making the process complicated. Men and women are both bread-earners and can be pivotal in the businesses about which I am talking, including family farms and family businesses. Their assets will be stripped away and they will be left without an asset to make money. There are complications relating to the second partner and young adult children. Are they going to wait around for six years? There are many issues to be teased out.

I know that almost no legislation applies retrospectively. Perhaps there should be an exception, however, in the case of difficult human stories involving family members who have been in nursing homes for a long number of years, where huge bills have accrued and there is no hope of paying them. The affected family members may have been depending on this Bill to do something. I am glad the legislation is being rushed through but there has not been enough time for debate. I wish we knew what the statutory instruments are going to be or what orders the Minister is going to make after the Bill is passed.

I will be brief as I know we are caught for time. I thank the Minister of State because we are now where we have wanted to be for a long time. I am disappointed with some of the content of this Bill. There are still anomalies and concerns, particularly surrounding assets, whether they are family farms or other similar assets. I have always said that a family farm should never be looked upon as an asset in a monetary way because all any person who has a farm ever wants to do is to enhance it, use it, try to make a living from it and pass it on to the next generation. I disagree with calling it an asset in a monetary way and saying one fellow's farm is worth a certain amount of money because it is worth nothing unless he is selling it, disposing of it and getting money. That does not happen in Ireland. Anybody who knows anything about land in Ireland knows that the people who are really into their land do not sell it. They will not part with it. They will pass it over when they die but that is the only time it changes hands. Sometimes farmers will pass the land on to the younger generation while the farmer is still alive and that is always nice to see. That is my concern. Couples might potentially get hit in a financially adverse way on a family farm or business asset. That is a worry. I would like the Minister of State to take that on board. I will keep to my promise of being brief.

I thank everyone for their contributions, some of which I thought were unfair. We are losing sight of what I am trying to achieve. The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act was introduced in 2009. It was quickly acknowledged that there was an anomaly as to how farm families and small businesses were being treated. The three-year cap applied to everybody else with a principal private residence but somebody who had a farm or small business did not get the same treatment. We must be clear that I am trying to fix that anomaly but, as Deputy Naughten said, this is a complicated Bill.

I am glad that Deputy Cullinane raised the issue he did. I will clarify that matter. Alongside the already completed new provision, I also intend to insert a regulation-making power into the Bill which will allow me, by regulations, to provide the remaining second partner provisions in advance of the Bill being commenced. Every regulation made under this new power must be laid by the Minister before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made. If a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation can be annulled accordingly.

A safeguard is, therefore, in place. It will be laid before each House for 21 days and if Members are not happy with it, they can deal with it accordingly.

Deputy Naughten almost confused me when he spoke about couples. The financial assessment within the nursing home support scheme is always joint when there is a partner. It has not changed since 2009 and it is certainly not changing today. The rates charged reflect that. On the assessment of income, 80% for a single person becomes 40% for a couple and 7.5% on assessment becomes 3.75% in respect of a couple. If a couple from a farming family or business are in a nursing home at the same time, they will be charged as a couple rather than as two individuals. In addition, one family successor can be appointed. Is the time concluded?

We have eight minutes remaining. The Minister of State's time is concluded, however. If there are supplementary questions, we will take them briefly.

If a couple are in a nursing home at the same time, that is fair enough, but what is the position when one of them enters a nursing home subsequent to the other? This has huge implications, not just for this legislation but also perhaps for women's names being put on farm deeds. It is important that the matter is clarified.

I ask the Minister of State for clarification. If one person is in a nursing home and the other person is at home and not availing of the fair deal scheme, is the assessment based on 7.5% of the value of the farm, house or whatever, or is it 3.75%? Does the three-year or six-year cap apply for a couple? Will the Minister of State please clarify that?

Can we get clarity on the lack of backdating? When does the clock start for somebody who is already in the system before this legislation is implemented? Will it be possible to backdate the provisions to take anomalies into account to ensure people are not hammered while dealing with this situation, and also to make the farm sustainable?

I will address the last question first. Once the Bill has been enacted, from the day a person appoints his or her successor, any time spent in the nursing home previous to that will be accounted for. If, therefore, a person has been in a nursing for two and a half years and he or she appoints a successor today, the three-year cap will be reached after six months. Time spent in the nursing home is taken into account.

Regarding the questions asked by Deputies Naughten and Danny Healy-Rae, the same circumstances apply if a couple go into a nursing home separately because they are still classed as a couple. If, therefore, one person is at home and one is in a nursing home, the 3.75% figure applies. It is three years each at 3.75% for a couple. Technically, therefore, it could be six years because they are classed individually for the time spent but they are classed as a couple. It is not, therefore, 7.5%; it is 3.75% once they are part of a couple.

I thank the Minister of State for the clarification, which is welcome. I have one final question. The length of time a person is in a nursing home - up to three years - is taken into account in this legislation and, after that, once the successor is appointed. During the six years that the asset must be held by the successor, however, persons are not given credit for the length of time that is already in the successor's name. The example I gave the Minister of State is of someone who has had an asset in his or her name for almost 11 years, yet must hold on to it for a further six years from this day forward. Is that not a discrepancy?

I will let the Minister of State respond to that but we must move on.

I do not believe it is a discrepancy. This is a new amendment to the Bill and there are no successors in this legislation until it has been enacted. The Bill will go through the Seanad tomorrow and Friday and will be enacted within 90 days. I took on board the amendment. This means that a successor can only be appointed after the Bill has been enacted. Someone who has been a successor for the past five, six or 11 years is, therefore, not a successor, as defined in this legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 8, to delete lines 6 and 7 and substitute the following:

"(g) that, where the relevant person is a member of a couple—

(i) except for any application under this section in relation to which a repayment event has occurred or in such other circumstances as may be prescribed, the relevant person’s partner has not made an application under this section, and

(ii) the relevant person’s partner consents to the making of the application by the relevant person.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 9, lines 38 and 39, to delete ", (b), (c) and (d)" and substitute "to (f)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 14, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

"(d) that, where a family successor was appointed under section 14K, the family successor has complied with the undertaking given by him or her under subsection (3)(e) of that section since the appointment,

(e) that, where a family successor was appointed under section 14L, the family successor has complied with the undertaking given by him or her under subsection (3)(f) of that section since the appointment,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 14, line 33, to delete "(d) that" and substitute "(f) that".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 14, line 36, to delete "(e) that" and substitute "(g) that".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 14, lines 36 and 37, to delete "or 14H(5)(d)" and substitute ", 14H(5)(d), 14K(3)(f) or 14L(3)(g)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 18, line 2, to delete "or".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 18, line 4, to delete "section."." and substitute the following:

"section,

(e) where the relevant person’s family successor was appointed under section 14K, the first period referred to in subsection (3)(e) of that section, or

(f) where the relevant person’s family successor was appointed under section 14L, the first period referred to in subsection (3)(f) of that section.".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 21, line 1, to delete "subsection (2)(d)" and substitute "subsection (2)(c)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 33, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

"Application by partner for appointment of family successor

13. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 14J (inserted by section 12):

"14K. (1) This section applies where—

(a) a family successor has been appointed in respect of a person (in this section referred to as the ‘relevant person’) in relation to a particular family asset,

(b) the period to which the undertaking given by that family successor in relation to the particular family asset under section 14A(3)(d), 14F(8)(b), 14G(4)(b) or 14H(5)(b) relates has not expired,

(c) the Executive has made a determination under section 7(8)(a) that the relevant person’s partner (in this section referred to as 'the partner') needs care services,

(d) the Executive has made a determination under section 11(1) in relation to the partner, and

(e) the partner is receiving care services.

(2) On the application of the partner, the Executive shall—

(a) if satisfied that the conditions in subsection (3) are met, appoint the person specified in the application as the family successor in respect of the partner in relation to the interest that the partner and the relevant person has or had in the particular family asset, or (b) if not so satisfied, refuse the application.

(3) The conditions referred to in subsection (2)(a) are—

(a) that a repayment event has not occurred in relation to the particular family asset,

(b) that any determination made under section 14C(2)(a) has not been revoked,

(c) that the person specified in the application is the family successor appointed in respect of the relevant person,

(d) that the partner declares by way of statutory declaration that, in relation to the particular family asset, for a period of 3 years (which period need not be continuous) during the period of 5 years ending on the date on which the partner began to receive care services, a substantial part of the working time of—

(i) the partner,

(ii) the person specified in the application,

(iii) any other person appointed as a family successor in respect of the relevant person, or

(iv) the relevant person, was regularly and consistently applied to running the family asset,

(e) that the person specified in the application undertakes by way of statutory declaration that, if appointed as a family successor in respect of the partner under subsection (2), a substantial part of that person’s normal working time will regularly and consistently be applied to running the family asset during the period beginning on the date of his or her appointment under subsection (2)(a) and ending on the expiry of the period to which the undertaking given by the family successor in respect of the relevant person under section 14A(3)(d), 14F(8)(b), 14G(4)(b) or 14H(5)(b) in relation to that particular family asset relates,

(f) that, except where the application relates to a relevant business which does not include an interest in land situated within the State—

(i) in a case where the particular family asset is not a transferred asset, the partner, the relevant person and any other owner of the particular family asset, or

(ii) in a case where the particular family asset is a transferred asset, the person specified in the application and any other owner of the transferred asset,

each consent to the creation by virtue of section 14B(1) of a further charge in favour of the Executive against the interest in the chargeable land in respect of the particular family asset,

(g) that, where the particular family asset is a transferred asset, each owner of the transferred asset consents to the making of the application, and

(h) that the relevant person consents to the making of the application.

(4) The Executive may appoint more than one person as a family successor in respect of the partner in accordance with this section where more than one family successor has been appointed in respect of the relevant person.

(5) An application under this section shall be made in the specified form.

(6) In deciding an application under this section—

(a) the Executive may request information from, and interviews with, the partner, the relevant person, the person specified in the application and any representative (whether appointed under section 21 or otherwise) of the partner or the relevant person, and

(b) the Executive may request, receive and consider records and information relating to the partner, the relevant person and the person specified in the application whether received pursuant to section 45 or otherwise.

(7) The persons referred to in subsection (6) shall furnish all information and attend any interviews which the Executive may request in accordance with this section.

(8) The Executive may refuse to consider or further consider an application under this section if a person referred to in subsection (6) fails to provide the Executive with such information as may be requested by the application form or under that subsection within 40 working days from the date of the request.

(9) Where the Executive refuses under subsection (8) to consider or further consider an application under this section, it shall, not later than 10 working days after the refusal, give the partner, the relevant person and the person specified in the application notice in writing of the decision and the reasons for the decision.

(10) The Executive shall, not later than 10 working days after granting or refusing an application under this section, give notice in writing to the partner, the relevant person and the person specified in the application of the decision and the reasons for the decision.".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 33, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

"Application by partner of deceased person for appointment of family successor

14. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 14K (inserted by section 13):

14L. (1)This section applies where—

(a) a family successor has been appointed in respect of a person (in this section referred to as the ‘relevant person’) in relation to a particular family asset,

(b) the relevant person dies,

(c) immediately before the death, the period to which the undertaking given by that family successor in relation to the particular family asset under section 14A(3)(d), 14F(8)(b), 14G(4)(b) or 14H(5)(b) relates has not expired,

(d) the Executive has made a determination under section 7(8)(a) that the relevant person’s partner (in this section referred to as ‘the partner’) needs care services,

(e) the Executive has made a determination under section 11(1) in relation to the partner,

(f) the partner is receiving care services, and

(g) the partner falls into one or more of the following categories—

(i) he or she has an interest in a farm,

(ii) he or she has an interest in a relevant business,

(iii) he or she had an interest in a farm which is a transferred asset, or

(iv) he or she had an interest in a relevant business which is a transferred asset.

(2) On the application of the partner, the Executive shall—

(a) if satisfied that the conditions in subsection (3) are met, appoint the person specified in the application as the family successor in respect of the partner in relation to the interest that the partner has or (in the case of a transferred asset) had in the particular family asset, or

(b) if not so satisfied, refuse the application.

(3) The conditions referred to in subsection (2)(a) are—

(a) that a repayment event has not occurred in relation to the particular family asset,

(b) that any determination made under section 14C(2)(a) has not been revoked,

(c) that, where a determination was made under section 14C(2)(a) in respect of the relevant person, the person specified in the application is the family successor appointed in respect of the relevant person,

(d) that, where no determination was made under section 14C(2)(a) in respect of the relevant person, the person specified in the application is—

(i) the family successor appointed in respect of the relevant person,

(ii) a relative of the relevant person or of the partner, or

(iii) a son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the relevant person or of the partner,

(e) that the partner declares by way of statutory declaration that, in relation to the particular family asset, for a period of 3 years (which period need not be continuous) during the period of 5 years ending on the date on which the partner began to receive care services, a substantial part of the working time of—

(i) the partner,

(ii) the person specified in the application,

(iii) any other person appointed as a family successor in respect of the relevant person, or

(iv) the relevant person, was regularly and consistently applied to running the family asset,

(f) that the person specified in the application undertakes by way of statutory declaration that, if appointed as a family successor in respect of the partner under subsection (2), a substantial part of that person’s normal working time will regularly and consistently be applied to running the family asset during the period beginning on the date of his or her appointment under subsection (2)(a) and ending on the expiry of the period to which the undertaking given by the family successor in respect of the relevant person under section 14A(3)(d), 14F(8)(b), 14G(4)(b) or 14H(5)(b) in relation to that particular family asset relates,

(g) that, except where the application relates to a relevant business which does not include an interest in land situated within the State—

(i) in a case where the particular family asset is not a transferred asset, the partner and any other owner of the particular family asset, or

(ii) in a case where the particular family asset is a transferred asset, the person specified in the application and any other owner of the transferred asset,

each consent to the creation by virtue of section 14B(1) of a further charge in favour of the Executive against the interest in the chargeable land in respect of the particular family asset, and

(h) that, where the particular family asset is a transferred asset, each owner of the transferred asset consents to the making of the application.

(4) Where no determination under section 14C(2)(a) was made in respect of the relevant person, the period beginning with the appointment of a family successor in respect of the relevant person and ending with the death of the relevant person shall be taken into account in reckoning the period mentioned in subsection (3)(f).

(5) The Executive may appoint more than one person as a family successor in respect of the partner in accordance with this section.

(6) An application under this section shall be made in the specified form.

(7) In deciding an application under this section—

(a) the Executive may request information from, and interviews with, the partner, the person specified in the application and any representative (whether appointed under section 21 or otherwise) of the partner, and

(b) the Executive may request, receive and consider records and information relating to the partner and the person specified in the application whether received pursuant to section 45 or otherwise.

(8) The persons referred to in subsection (7) shall furnish all information and attend any interviews which the Executive may request in accordance with this section.

(9) The Executive may refuse to consider or further consider an application under this section if a person referred to in subsection (7) fails to provide the Executive with such information as may be requested by the application form or under that subsection within 40 working days from the date of the request.

(10) Where the Executive refuses under subsection (9) to consider or further consider an application under this section, it shall, not later than 10 working days after the refusal, give the partner and the person specified in the application notice in writing of the decision and the reasons for the decision.

(11) The Executive shall, not later than 10 working days after granting or refusing an application under this section, give notice in writing to the partner and the person specified in the application of the decision and the reasons for the decision.".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 33, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

"Determination as to farm or business relief where family successor fulfils undertaking

15. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 14L (inserted by section 14):

"14M. (1) This section applies where—

(a) a determination has been made under section 14C(2)(a) in respect of a person (in this section referred to as the ‘relevant person’) in relation to a particular family asset,

(b) the period to which the undertaking given by the family successor in relation to the particular family asset under section 14A(3)(d), 14F(8)(b), 14G(4)(b) or 14H(5)(b) relates expires,

(c) if the relevant person has died, the relevant person’s partner (in this section referred to as ‘the partner’) has an interest in the particular family asset, and

(d) after the expiry of the period mentioned in paragraph (b)—

(i) the Executive has made a determination under section 7(8)(a) that the partner needs care services,

(ii) the Executive has made a determination under section 11(1) in relation to the partner, and

(iii) the partner has received any combination of relevant services for a period of 3 years (which period need not be continuous).

(2) The partner need not make an application under this Act for the appointment of a family successor in relation to the particular family asset.

(3) The Executive shall make a determination that, with effect from the date specified in the determination, paragraph 6B of Part 3 of Schedule 1 applies in respect of the partner in relation to the particular family asset.

(4) Where the Executive makes a determination under subsection (3), the date specified in the determination shall not be earlier than the date by which the partner has received any combination of relevant services for a period of 3 years (which period need not be continuous).

(5) In this section, ‘relevant services’ has the same meaning as in section 14C.".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 33, lines 27 and 28, to delete all words from and including "section" where it secondly occurs in line 27 down to and including line 28 and substitute "section 14M (inserted by section 15):".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 33, line 29, to delete "14K. Any person" and substitute "14N. Any person".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 33, line 32, to delete "or 14H" and substitute ", 14H, 14K or 14L".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 33, line 34, after "14C" to insert "or 14M".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 34, line 9, to delete "or 14H" and substitute ", 14H, 14K or 14L".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 34, line 26, to delete "10 working days" and substitute "20 working days".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 36, line 24, to delete "and".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 36, line 26, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 36, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following: “(ii) by the insertion of “, in the case of an order made under section 14B(1), the interested person or interested persons, or, in the case of an order made under section 17(2),” after “in the land concerned to which”, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 36, to delete line 28 and substitute the following:

“ “section 17(4)”,

(c) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (3):

“(3) Subsection (2) shall not apply—

(a) in the case of an order made under section 14B(1), where all the joint tenants in the joint tenancy concerned are interested persons, or

(b) in the case of an order made under section 17(2), where all the joint tenants in the joint tenancy concerned have made a request to the Executive that the ancillary State support be paid in relation to the interest in the land concerned.”,

and

(d) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (3):

“(4) In this section— ‘interested person’, in relation to an order made under section 14B(1), means—

(a) where the chargeable land is not a transferred asset—

(i) each member of the couple, where the relevant person is a member of a couple, or

(ii) the relevant person, where the relevant person is not a member of a couple,

or

(b) where the chargeable land is a transferred asset, the person or persons who hold the interest that—

(i) each member of the couple had in the chargeable land, where the relevant person is a member of a couple, or

(ii) the relevant person had in the chargeable land, where the relevant person is not a member of a couple;

‘relevant person’ means a person receiving care services.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 36, lines 31 and 32, after “14I(2)(a)(i),” to insert “14I(6)(a), 14J(1), 14K(2), 14K(8), 14L(2), 14L(9),”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 36, line 34, after “14I(5),” to insert “14I(6)(b), 14J(1), 14K(9), 14K(10), 14L(10), 14L(11),”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 36, after line 36, to insert the following:

“(a) in subsection (1), by the substitution of “(1A)” for “(2)”,

(b) by the insertion of the following subsections after subsection (1):

“(1A) The Minister may by regulations provide for the arrangements that shall apply in relation to persons who are or were members of a couple where one member of the couple has made an application under section 14A.

(1B) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1A), regulations under that subsection may provide for all or any of the following:

(a) arrangements that shall apply in relation to a charge under section 14B;

(b) arrangements that shall apply in relation to a determination under section 14C, including the conditions that shall apply in respect of a determination under that section of the revised amount of State support payable in respect of a person;

(c) arrangements that shall apply in relation to a review under section 14E for the purpose of ascertaining whether a repayment event has occurred;

(d) arrangements that shall apply in relation to the death of a person where a determination under section 14C was made before the death, including any notification or application for appointment of a family successor to be made under section 14F and any conditions that shall apply to such notification or application;

(e) arrangements that shall apply in relation to the death or change in circumstances of a family successor, including any application for appointment of a new family successor to be made under section 14G and any conditions that shall apply to such application;

(f) arrangements that shall apply in relation to the change in family successor following the transfer of a particular family asset, including any application for appointment of a new family successor to be made under section 14H and any conditions that shall apply to such application;

(g) arrangements that shall apply in relation to repayment events;

(h) arrangements that shall apply in relation to an application under section 14K or 14L;

(i) arrangements that shall apply in relation to a determination under section 14M, including any conditions that may apply in respect of a determination under that section;

(j) arrangements that shall apply in relation to Schedule 1.

(1C) When making regulations under subsection (1A), the Minister shall have regard to the following:

(a) the policies and objectives of the Government to protect the future viability of farms and relevant businesses that are owned and operated by families;

(b) the fair and equitable treatment of couples under the Scheme;

(c) the proper and efficient administration of the Scheme.

(1D) In regulations under subsection (1A), the Minister may make provision for different circumstances or cases, including where—

(a) the period referred to in an undertaking given by a family successor under any provision of this Act has or has not expired,

(b) one or both members of a couple is or are receiving care services, or

(c) one or both members of a couple has or have died.”,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 37, line 32, to delete “or 14H” and substitute “, 14H, 14K or 14L”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 38, line 3, to delete “or 14H” and substitute “, 14H, 14K or 14L”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 38, lines 15 and 16, to delete “and 14H, determinations under section 14C(2)” and substitute “, 14H, 14K and 14L, determinations under sections 14C(2) and 14M(3)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 38, line 33, to delete “and 14H” and substitute “, 14H, 14K and 14L”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 38, line 36, to delete “section 14C(2)” and substitute “sections 14C(2) and 14M(3)”

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 39, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:

“24. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 45A

(inserted by section 23):

"45B.(1) The Executive shall prepare, within 180 days of the Act taking effect, a report containing information in relation to the legislative and policy options available to the State for the reassessment of arrears accumulated as a result of the failure to introduce a 3 year cap on all working assets.

(2) The Executive shall send a copy of the report prepared under subsection (1) to the Minister.

(3) The Minister shall cause a copy of the report prepared under subsection (1) to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas not more than 3 months after it has been prepared.”.”.

This amendment is about the backdating of the period in question. We discussed this in great detail on Committee Stage. Where people have already acquired the three years in the nursing home, there should not be a liability for any further period beyond that. We have tabled this amendment for that purpose.

As the Deputy said, we discussed this matter at length on Committee Stage. As I explained, we are not in a position to retrospectively deal with the financial costs. The nursing home support scheme costs the Exchequer €1.4 billion per year and €350 million is received through charges. To be brief, it is for this reason and the reasons I outlined on Committee Stage, I will not be accepting the amendment.

I hear what the Minister of State is saying and I accept this is a substantial cost. The number of families affected by this is very small so the potential cost to the Exchequer is very small. For the individual families, however, substantial arrears may have accumulated and these will be charged against their farm holdings. The decision was taken three years ago to bring forward this legislation. That should be the date on which the provision is considered implemented, not some future date when the legislation has been commenced. I am, therefore, pressing the amendment.

The Deputy has been passionate about this matter but it was examined in detail. The challenges and risks are high. It is my view and the view of the Department that retrospective application of these particular conditions is not possible. There will, therefore, be no refunds for contributions already made towards the cost of care for those who have already spent in excess of three years in care prior to the Bill being commenced. I will clarify again, however, that the time a person has already spent in care counts when making up the three years to qualify for the cap.

I am sorry to interrupt the Minister of State. The time permitted for this debate having expired, I am required to put the following question in accordance with the order of the Dáil of 13 July: "That the amendments set down by the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Butler, and not disposed of, including those in respect of which recommittal would, in the normal course, be required, are hereby made to the Bill, Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put and agreed to.

I thank the Minister of State. Congratulations to all involved.