Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

The people impacted by the mica scandal are outside the gates of Leinster House and have been every day for months. They are pursuing justice as their homes crumble around them. Yet, as often is the case, the Government's suggestions regarding a redress scheme were selectively leaked last night before the families involved even had sight of the working group report. That is completely unacceptable. Some families did not have a decent night's sleep last night because of worry about whether that leak was accurate and, if it was, what that might mean for them. These families must be treated with respect. Instead of leaks and speculation in the days to come, the Government must provide clarity, move swiftly and do the right thing in respect of 100% redress.

Tá costais chónaithe imithe ar fiáin, le costais fuinnimh, cúraim leanaí agus tithíochta á ardú achan lá. Bhí díomá orm agus mé ag léamh na tuairisce a d'fhoilsigh an Bord um Thionóntachtaí Cónaithe ar maidin. Ta boilsciú de os cionn 10% i naoi gcontae agus os cionn 4% in achan contae eile. Tá a fhios agam go gcreideann an Tánaiste gur cheart ioncam na dtiarnaí talún a chosaint thar chosaint a thabhairt dá dtionóntaí ach ní thig le hoibrithe agus le teaghlaigh mórán eile de seo a ghlacadh. Tá réiteach ann, réiteach a bhféadfaí a chur i gcrích sa bhuiséad i mbliana, is é sin cosc a chur ar ardú cíosa agus creidmheas cánach a thabhairt do thionóntaí le hairgead a choinneáil sna pócaí atá acu féin.

The cost of living crisis is out of control. Every day we see the costs of energy, fuel, childcare and housing go up. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the rental market. This was laid bare in the rental report for quarter 2 published this morning by the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB. Its findings are some of the grimmest for some time. It will cause further concern and anxiety to renters and those stuck in the rental market. Nine counties have experienced double-digit inflation in the cost of rent. All other counties have seen inflation of over 4%, with many approaching 10%. Despite all the lofty and ill-thought-out pronouncements from the Government about budget day spending, the fact remains that the Tánaiste's Government has no plan to put a halt to these runaway rents. That is the reality.

I know the Tánaiste believes that landlords should be prioritised above, and that their incomes are more important than, renters being able to have a decent life, but I do not think even he could deny renters are being fleeced and landlords are milking this situation, based on the figures published by the RTB. Runaway rents must stop. They must be halted, and the choice lies with the Tánaiste and his Government. The budget is just two weeks away. Renters must be given a guarantee their rents are not going to increase in the coming years. In fact, they need their rents to decrease. Therefore, if this Government is serious about protecting renters, it would ban rent increases for three years for all new and existing tenancies. What the Government should do in the budget, and I am asking if it will do this, is to introduce a refundable tax credit for renters that will reduce the cost of rent and put a month's rent back into the pockets of workers and families living in rented accommodation.

I thank the Deputy. Regarding the mica issue he mentioned, I have not seen that report, so I cannot confirm whether what is being reported is correct. I can state the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, thanked the members of the working group at yesterday's meeting for its involvement and engagement in the process in recent months. He acknowledged, in particular, the stress and hardship faced by affected homeowners and ensured them enhancements would be made to the scheme. The working group is going to submit its final report to the Minister today, 30 September 2021. The Minister, along with the Taoiseach, me, and the Ministers, Deputies Ryan, Donohoe and McGrath, with input from the Attorney General, will then consider the proposals with a view to them being presented to Cabinet. The Minister, Deputy O'Brien, intends to bring a memorandum to Cabinet in the coming week.

Turning to the Deputy's earlier comments, what I believe is what I say and what he said is not what I believe. A classic tactic of populist politicians is to claim their opponents believe something and then argue with it, to put words into somebody's mouth and then criticise them for it. It is a classic tactic of a populist politician. I want put on the record that that is what Sinn Féin is engaging in as a party. Its members tell people what they believe and think, and then they tell them how awful they are. That is rubbish, it is rubbish politics, and it is something the party engages in all the time.

Regarding rents, they are too high in Ireland. That is my view and the Government's. High rents have an impact on people's finances, on the standard of living they can have, on their well-being and on the labour market. High rents make it harder to get staff and push up labour costs, and that has a general impact on the economy. For that reason, the Government has introduced a rent freeze in real terms. That means people will not see rent increases greater than the rate of inflation. It was the policy of Sinn Féin, before the party decided it was against it. The policy has now been introduced. It means people will see much lower rent increases in the year to come and, it is hoped, no rent increases at all.

The crisis we face in the rental market is not just one of affordability; it is also one of availability. We need to make sure we do not end up in a situation whereby fewer properties are available for people to rent. We have seen an exodus of landlords and property owners from the rental market. Essentially, they are selling up and issuing people with notices to quit. That is not good either. Therefore, we must ensure that whatever we do deals with the affordability issue, which is the cost of rent, and the availability issue. The Deputy will have seen plenty of examples of 50 to 200 people queuing up just to see one rental property. We do not want to make the availability issue worse. We must bear that in mind in any decision we make.

What can we do about it? Cost rental is a big part of the Housing for All strategy. I refer to the Government investing in that model and providing homes for people to rent. Those who do not qualify for social housing do qualify for cost rental. The first units are now available. The roll-out will ramp up considerably in the next few years. It is an important intervention by the Government in the rental market. The Land Development Agency, LDA, a State developer, has also now been established. It is building properties for people to rent and to buy and for social housing. A major ramp-up is being witnessed in the level of social housing being provided by the Government. Only 600 such units were provided in 2016 and 6,000 units in the year before the pandemic, but that is going to rise to 9,000 or 10,000 units. How does that help? It provides housing for people on the social housing list, and that frees up properties for other people to rent or to buy.

Those are the interventions that the Government is undertaking: a rent freeze in real terms, linking rents to inflation, cost rental, the Government providing more rental properties for people to rent, the LDA increasing supply and, crucially, a social housing programme, the biggest in the history of the State, which will ensure we free up properties for people to rent or to buy.

I am not interested in the Tánaiste's snipes against me. It does not interest me. For years, we have been raising the issue of rent being out of control and for years the Tánaiste has stood up in his seat and given different excuses. Forget about what Sinn Féin is saying, and just listen to what the RTB is saying. Rent increased in the past year by 15.5% in Kilkenny, 16.1% in Clare, 15.9% in Longford and 17% in Leitrim. The Tánaiste can talk about real rent freezes and so on and so forth. Inflation is running at 3%. We told the Tánaiste that when the Government introduced its policy. It means that rent costs can continue to increase by 3%.

The Tánaiste talks about rent caps in recent years of 4%, yet every single county has breached them year on year. He has been in government for more than ten years, he has been Taoiseach for a large portion of that time, and yet in Dublin today, if you are renting an average three-bedroom house in the city where he lives, you are paying €2,105. What I, Sinn Féin and, more so, renters are saying to the Tánaiste is that he needs to prioritise them and their cost of living over the income of the landlords.

I thank the Deputy. His time is up.

The Government must freeze rents and put a month's rent back into people's pockets by means of a refundable tax credit.

I am not interested in Deputy Doherty's swipes against me either, but I am going to call out populism when I see it. It is a classic tactic of populist politicians from the far left and the far right and everything in between, all around the world, to display this tactic. You tell your opponents what they think and believe, and then you tell them how awful they are for believing or thinking those things, but what you actually do is you fabricate quotes and you put words in people's mouths. That is the classic tactic of a populist politician. Deputy Doherty needs to know he is that, and people need to know that he is that.

Regarding being in government for the past ten years, again the Deputy speaks as if Sinn Féin is not an establishment party on this island. Sinn Féin has been in office in the past 20 years on this island, longer than my party, Fianna Fáil or the Green Party have been. Sinn Féin is an establishment party, a party of government on this island for most of the past 20 years. Sinn Féin increased the rents in Northern Ireland.


Deputies should please not interrupt.

I know Deputy McDonald asked this question yesterday but, with respect, it is Leaders' Questions, and the Tánaiste did not answer any question. I put forward the facts from the RTB-----

The Chair does not have the authority to direct the Tánaiste or the Taoiseach to give any Deputy the answer he or she may require.

It makes a mockery out of Leaders' Questions if the Tánaiste is going to involve himself in diversion every day.

I am sorry, but Deputy Doherty's time is up. I call Deputy Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats.

There is an astonishing story in The Irish Times today on which we urgently need further information. It transpires the Attorney General, Paul Gallagher, has been carrying on private legal work since he was appointed by the Government in June 2020. According to the article, Mr. Gallagher is acting for the former directors of Independent News & Media, INM, now known as Mediahuis Ireland, after INM was taken over by a Belgian company, in their dealings with High Court inspectors who are investigating the company. What makes this even more bizarre is the High Court inspectors were appointed on foot of an investigation that is under way into the company by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, ODCE, the State's white-collar crime watchdog. We have the Attorney General, the State's top lawyer, acting for a number of former company directors of one of the biggest media companies in the country in a case which emanated from an inquiry by the State's corporate watchdog. You could not make it up.

It has also been reported that one of Mr. Gallagher's clients is a current board member of Mediahuis. It really is quite extraordinary. The Irish Times article stated Mr. Gallagher is acting in the case in a private capacity. I do not know how that works. Is he Attorney General by day and a more ordinary barrister by night? Mr. Gallagher cannot simply take off his Attorney General's hat, leave it at the door and enter the room as a different persona. His office carries weight, power, authority, and responsibility, not to mention obligations that cannot just be shrugged off whenever it is expedient to do so. On what planet was it felt that it was appropriate to do so, especially given the case is the most high-profile investigation currently being undertaken by the ODCE? The conflict of interest here is just stunning, and multilayered.

There is the obvious conflict of the Attorney General being involved in a case in which the State is on the other side. Apparently, Mr. Gallagher sought and received Government approval to carry on his private legal work. Who exactly authorised this? Was it a decision by the Taoiseach or a Cabinet decision? Is there a record of it? Who provided the legal advice to whoever made this decision? Was the Tánaiste aware of it?

Incredibly, we do not know if this is the only case the Attorney General is involved in. There could well be others. We need clarity on that today. How many private legal cases is the Attorney General acting in, and who exactly are his clients? There are strict rules when it comes to civil servants, in particular senior civil servants, engaging in private work. Were those rules followed by the Attorney General? Like Deputies and Senators, the Attorney General has to fill out a statement of interests that is lodged with the Standards in Public Office Commission, SIPO.

I thank the Deputy.

Was his private work included in this statement?

Of further huge importance is that the Attorney General's office instructs barristers for State work, which is often quite lucrative. Does the Tánaiste accept therefore that it is grossly inappropriate that the Attorney General would be engaged in private work? How would a barrister feel upon learning the opposing counsel is the Attorney General, whose office can make or break careers?

The Deputy is over time.

Does the Tánaiste see that there are serious problems with this?

There are salient rulings in this area of allegations against the Attorney General. Although I am conscious that the matter the Deputy raises has been in the media, we should proceed with great care in terms of what we have to say here.

The Attorney General is finishing out a number of cases which he had taken on prior to his appointment as Attorney General to this Government. That is not unprecedented. I understand it has happened in the past with former Attorneys General, that they are allowed to finish out cases that they were involved in prior to their appointment. It is something the party leaders and the Cabinet were aware of in a general sense at the time of his appointment, but obviously not the detail of any particular cases.

The ODCE is an office of my Department. Taking that into account, it would be most inappropriate for me to comment on any particular case. I appreciate that Deputy Shortall is not asking me to do so, but I wanted to put that on the record of the House.

The Deputy has asked a number of detailed questions, which are reasonable questions, about the Attorney General's legal practice, but they are not questions to which I have the answers. I am not accountable to the Dáil for such matters, but they are reasonable questions, and I will endeavour to see if we can find answers for the Deputy sooner rather than later.

Does the Tánaiste accept that there is a huge potential conflict of interest here? It is news to me, and probably to other people, that there have been other such cases. What about the previous period when Mr. Gallagher was the Attorney General? Did he carry on private work at that stage?

Will the Tánaiste be a bit more specific about how this decision was reached? Was it a Cabinet decision? Was it recorded, and who provided the legal advice on it? The Tánaiste said he does not have the detail on this. Surely Mr. Gallagher would have been asked to provide that detail. Is it recorded somewhere?

I accept there are some questions the Tánaiste cannot answer here and now, but will he give a commitment, in light of the seriousness of this situation, to come back to me today with all of those replies?

I am absolutely certain the Attorney General will be very careful to avoid any conflict of interest or any perception of that. He is a person of the highest integrity and ability and I have full confidence he will make sure there is no conflict of interest.

I will endeavour to find answers to the Deputy's questions as soon as I can. I cannot promise it will be today. I do not know if a formal Cabinet decision on the matter was recorded or if there was legal advice, but what I can say is the party leaders and the Cabinet were informed that the Attorney General would be finishing out some cases he had taken on before his appointment as Attorney General.

Does the Tánaiste remember saying, "So long as I am Taoiseach Waterford will not be neglected or forgotten"? He said he considered Waterford to be "a litmus test for the Republic of Opportunity ... one in which every part of the country has an equal chance to share in our country's prosperity".

These words were not said in the Sturm und Drang of an election campaign, rather they were said a few weeks after he became Taoiseach in the summer of 2017 in what was probably his first visit outside Dublin. What was really amazing about that speech is that he perfectly formulated the tough predicament of the region and the practical impact of years of political neglect.

The Tánaiste saw what was happening. He promised change. Most people in Waterford know his Bausch & Lomb speech very well. It really is the hope that kills.

Budget 2022 is being framed at the moment, as is the review of the Ireland 2040 capital projects. The last Ireland 2040 capital projects spreadsheet listed 96 significant capital projects projected to cost €10.2 billion, which I brought up with the Tánaiste in the House some months ago. Just four of these projects were located in the south east, with just €304 million of the total expenditure. Just under 10% of our population lives in the south east, so a fair share would be nine projects and €907 million.

Unfortunately, we are still awaiting the sunny uplands that the Tánaiste foresaw in 2017. We are still awaiting the 24-7 cardiac care that the Tánaiste had hoped was imminent, still awaiting the national recognition of the health inequality being waged on vulnerable and acutely sick south-east cardiac patients, and still awaiting the higher education investment and the public private partnership building that has been promised and postponed yet again. There is no mention of any other main investment in the campus of the new technological university, not even remediation moneys to stop the rainwater at present entering the roof of the engineering building. Everyone is worried that our search and rescue helicopter service will be pulled and our airport shuttered. Our hospital is still suffering under the yoke of Cork politics. The white-hot idea in Sláintecare was to throw us to the Dublin wolves.

A lot of hope in the south east hangs on the revised capital plan. I hope we will not continue to be disappointed.

I thank the Deputy. I remember that speech well and I remember visiting Bausch & Lomb that day. It was a very positive day. We were announcing additional jobs for the region, and those jobs have been delivered and have happened.

In the past couple of years, there have been some very significant and positive developments for Waterford, which I know the Deputy will acknowledge. We have made some real progress on developing a technological university for the south east, centred on Waterford. I am hopeful, if not confident, that it is only a matter of months before that designation can happen. I think that is really important and will make a real difference, not just for Waterford city but also for the south east as a whole. We have seen the opening of the Dunmore wing in the hospital. Only four hospitals in the country had a major extension in the past three or four years, and Waterford University Hospital was one of those, with the Dunmore wing, which is a very significant addition to services at the hospital. We have had the commitment of nearly €30 million to the north quays, a project which Deputy Shanahan, Senator Cummins and the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, are very committed to. I am glad that allocation has been made as that can be transformative for the city.

We have also seen some very significant job creation, led by the IDA, in the past couple of years. There has been a 24% increase in the number of IDA jobs in the past four or five years in the south east, with nearly 1,000 IDA jobs announced between Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny only in the last year, so significant progress has been made. As the Deputy knows, an allocation was made to the airport but, for reasons beyond the control of the Government, it has not been possible for the airport to draw that down.

Crucially, the Sláintecare regional integrated care organisations which were signed off by the Government in 2019 re-established the south east, if you like, as a regional integrated care organisation area, which is something I strongly support.

In regard to the analysis the Deputy raised, I have read that analysis and I am familiar with it. I think it is incomplete because it discounts, or counts for nothing, certain projects. It does not count the national broadband plan, for example. I do not know how much of the national broadband plan is being invested in County Waterford but I think it is a pretty significant amount, and I can check that. That analysis does not take account of that, for example. It also discounts any investments that are less than €25 million or €20 million and, of course, an analysis that does that is going to skew investment towards the big cities, where the big projects happen. In a lot of counties, and in counties with lower populations than Dublin or Cork, the projects are smaller - they are €5 million projects, €10 million projects and €15 million projects - and in that analysis they are counted as nothing. That is incorrect. It is almost like saying that if money goes to a sports club, a community centre or a small bypass, it does not count, and I think that analysis, therefore, is flawed.

I thank the Tánaiste for his response but I have to say I do not accept it. It would be very helpful to see proper granular data on capital spending. To that purpose, after our last engagement on this subject, I asked the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, which does really excellent work, to look at this and to prepare a report to see where public money goes. Believe it or not, they could not provide me with the analysis because they do not have access to the data. It is very hard not to reach the conclusion that the vast bulk of this discretionary capital spending is being funnelled into Dublin and Cork, home to almost all of our Ministers. I am not sure if the Tánaiste is aware of the list of projects that are being funded, the very large projects which he mentioned, such as the children's hospital, the MetroLink, the Ringsend water supply and the M20 Limerick to Cork motorway at €1 billion. These are really large-scale State projects and we are not seeing them. Most of our projects have been knocking around Dublin for more than a decade now, unactioned and slow-walked. Meanwhile, Cork and Dublin are on to the next new shiny thing. It is heartbreaking, to be honest.

I thank the Deputy. The M20 project between Limerick and Cork is one that I strongly support and I know the Deputy does too. It is important to bear in mind that there have been very significant motorway projects that benefit Waterford. The Dublin to Waterford motorway is complete and it was done before the Cork to Limerick one. Just in recent times, we have done New Ross, and while New Ross obviously is of particular benefit to Wexford, it is of benefit to Waterford as well.

Perhaps what I could help the Deputy with is some of that granular data, and I would be happy to provide it to his office. To give a few examples, there was €1.2 million under the regional regeneration fund for County Waterford, mainly going to Cappoquin, and €10.63 million in the transformation fund for the technological university for the south east, bringing the total allocation for that to €14.33 million. As I mentioned earlier, almost €30 million has been allocated to the north quays project, which I know we are strong supporters of. Of course, the cath lab is now very much under way, and I know the Deputy has worked very hard on that and is very committed to it.

I want to say that, obviously, when it comes to putting the national development plan review together, we will proof it and we will make sure every region in Ireland gets a fair share of investment.

On behalf of the Rural Independent Group, I call Deputy Michael Healy-Rae.

On “Morning Ireland” yesterday, Wednesday, the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, stated that he could no longer guarantee there would be no blackouts this winter. In his own words, I think what he said was that the energy supply is going to be a little bit "tight". That is a an understatement. EirGrid has stated that if no action is taken, Ireland will be short 260 MW of electricity in 2022 and 2023. Why has this happened? The Government - in other words, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil - has pandered to the Green Party, closing peat power stations such as Lough Ree. Bord Gáis customers face a 12% rise in gas and a 10% in increase in electricity prices. There have been something like 17 announcements of ESB increases over the last couple of years. This will see customers pay 28% more for gas and 24% more for electricity than last year. Similarly, Energia last week announced increases of 15.7% for gas and 18.5% for electricity, on top of two increases earlier this year. The Government policy has resulted in fewer Irish jobs, less Irish fuel, higher Irish prices, potential blackouts and a massive knock-on to inflation in general.

The horticultural harvesting of peat in Ireland ceased in September 2019 yet, over the last couple of weeks, 4,000 tonnes were imported from Latvia at a higher cost, both financially and environmentally. Can the Tánaiste please explain to me how this makes sense? The depleted supply of Irish peat and the ban on harvesting of peat is endangering 17,000 jobs across Ireland. The horticultural industry is at serious risk. They came to the Dáil a couple of months ago to make their case, and I know they got a good hearing on the day, but they did not get a good hearing from the Government. The cost of importing peat, for example, is three times the cost of providing our own peat.

Two more shipments, believe it or not, of 4,000 tonnes will be required each month if we are to keep the horticultural industry serviced. This was a decision of the Government. It is not good enough. I do not want anybody to think that I am landing all this at the lap of the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan; I am not. The Minister did this, but he was ably and suitably abetted by the Tánaiste's party and the other parties.

I would remind the Tánaiste that last year, on the third Saturday in February, in Texas, after the network failed, 69 people died in their homes of hypothermia. Can the Tánaiste guarantee that we will not have a situation where people will be cold and in danger in their own homes where there is an over-reliance on electricity, where there is no chimney in the house, and where people need electricity to keep themselves warm, to feed themselves and to keep themselves safe?

I thank the Deputy for raising this important issue. I have had a chance over the past couple of days to study the presentations that EirGrid and the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities have provided to the Government. Having looked at those presentations, I am confident that we will avoid blackouts and brownouts this winter, but nobody can guarantee it for certain because there are certain factors that are outside of our control.

It is important to point out that the peat power stations in the midlands were not closed as a consequence of a Government decision, and nor were they closed at the behest of the Green Party. They were closed because of planning and legal issues. If people have a perception that the Government decided to close those plants, that is factually incorrect. It is important that everyone here should acknowledge that.

The Government has been advised both by the utility regulator and EirGrid that they have identified specific challenges to ensuring continued electricity security of supply which they are currently in the process of addressing. This is very much affected by the fact that two major gas-fired power stations in Ireland are out of action - one in Huntstown in my constituency and another in Cork - and we need to get those back online in October and November. We are confident that this will be the case but we cannot guarantee it absolutely. Also, there has been increased demand and some of the anticipated new power stations have not been developed as planned.

Something being considered as part of the plan as well is the deferral of the expected closure of power stations that make up approximately 25% of our conventional electricity generation capacity over the coming years. A number of plants were due to close over the next couple of years. It is likely that those decisions to close will have to be deferred until we have sufficient wind and gas developed to allow us to close those stations.

There is a short-term immediate risk to the supply of electricity. That is being caused by a number of factors, including those two power stations that are closed, wind not blowing as much as was anticipated and problems with the interconnector between the UK and Ireland.

There have been a number of system alerts which indicate an elevated level of risk, including two in early September. However, it is important to say that these alerts did not impact on the electricity supply to any customers. This risk will reduce with the upcoming return to operation of the two major gas-fired power stations and that is due to happen in October and November.

Another conversation that is not taking place and should be is that the network is not capable of carrying the load that it is being asked to carry, now and in the future. The grid needs to be replaced and no one is talking about that. There is a massive investment needed in upgrading. The Government policies are to use this type of power but at the same time we are not doing anything to increase the availability of it.

Also, we have to look at the whole subject of the Shannon liquefied natural gas project, which was a priority of the previous Government of 2016 but, at the Green Party's behest, was dropped from the aspirations of the current Government. I believe that the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, recently stated that one of his favourite songs was Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark". The Minister, the rest of the Cabinet and, unfortunately, the rest of the country could possibly be dancing in the dark if we do not see action and if common sense does not prevail. The Government should stop going on this crusade of talking about the future while ignoring the present needs of the people of this nation - the young people, the old people, the people who want to go to work and the people who want heat and comfort in their homes.

God knows, we are giving Garth Brooks great publicity anyway.

I very much agree that we need to upgrade, improve and modernise our grid but I would not agree with the Deputy saying that nobody has been talking about it. Very ambitious plans have been published to improve and modernise the grid, including the North-South interconnector, the Celtic interconnector between Ireland and France, and Grid West. At times they are controversial but no one can doubt that, with a growing population, an expanding economy and the move to renewables, we will need to improve and modernise our power grid.

There are different types of natural gas, including green gas; brown shale gas, which we want to avoid; and blue gas, which is the natural gas from the sea. It is acknowledged, and it is Government policy, that natural gas is a transition fuel. We will need to use natural gas, and lots of it, for the next 20 or 30 years, and we will need to see new gas-fired power stations built.

There may come a time when we can produce so much wind that we will be able to use the excess wind to produce hydrogen. That point may arrive, in 20 or 30 years' time, when we do not need gas in our system and we can rely entirely on renewables but we are very far away from that. In the meantime, we will need new gas-fired power plants to provide that power when we need it.

I thank everyone for their co-operation. We finished Leaders' Questions more or less on time. We move now to Questions on Promised Legislation.