It is not usual to have to respond to 40 Senators on the Order of Business. The Minister is waiting to come into the House and I would appreciate it if I could continue.
The requests for a debate on education are timely and I will endeavour to have the Minister for Education and Science before the House to update us on, and to clarify, the many urgent issues highlighted by Senators Fitzgerald, Healy Eames and Cannon.
Senator O'Toole called for an urgent debate on the public service, value for money and the work done by hard-working, dedicated public servants. I can accede to that request.
Senators O'Toole, Buttimer and John Paul Phelan sought a debate on NAMA. The legislation is before the Dáil and I expect it to come to the House at the end of October or in early November. As I will not guillotine the Bill, I anticipate the House will sit for a good many days to tease out the pros and cons of the proposed legislation.
With regard to hard pressed mortgage holders and the limited credit being provided by the banks, this urgent matter must be addressed by every Oireachtas Member. We are being told by the banks that credit is available but we know from our constituencies that this is not the case. Many people are in extreme difficulty and it is up to us to ensure the Minister for Finance makes money available from the first tranche of NAMA funding to mortgage holders who are rearing families and trying to keep going day to day to ensure they are protected and their mortgages are extended if they must be because these are unprecedented times. I look forward to the debate on the economy and to Members outlining the difficulties they are hearing about in their constituencies from many of their friends and from those who for generations have been decent people and who have made their repayments and honoured their obligations to the financial institutions down through the years.
Senators O'Toole, Doherty and Ross all inquired about the up-to-date position on Seanad reform. Submissions have been received from the various parties and the Minister is very anxious to bring the Bill before the House. We look forward to debating it. For Senator Ross's information, in relation to amendments, I heard the Ceann Comhairle outline the Bills from the Seanad. As we all know, Bills came from the Dáil in the last week of the session. While it is true there were no amendments to the Bills concerned, I remind the Senator and the House that in 2008, 1,201 amendments to various Bills were made in this House and accepted by Ministers of the day, which speaks for itself. One of the longest serving Members of the House will appreciate this information which will give him heart regarding the long-standing future of the Seanad. We look forward to real reform when the Minister brings the Bill before the House for our consideration.
Senators Alex White, Walsh, Ross, Bradford and O'Reilly spoke about the three reports published. It is my intention that we will discuss each of them in the House. I will discuss how this can take place with the leaders on the next sitting day. I fully agree with the requests made to have the reports discussed and teased out at length.
Senators Glynn and Walsh called for a debate with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the issues Senator Glynn correctly raised regarding the registers. He also congratulated and welcomed the statement from former Senator Des Hanafin on abortion, on which we can all agree. I also note the Taoiseach's letter and statement inThe Irish Catholic this week, which demonstrates balance and common sense, unlike the other publication, Alive!, which we have to endure in our churches on a Sunday. One wonders if one is living in the same country when one sees such a publication which the church allows to be placed in front of one’s eyes when one is trying to have a word with the good Lord for an hour on a Sunday morning.