Senator Bacik also raised that question, as well as the issue of men's cancer awareness. It is blue day in the Oireachtas and I see many people sporting blue. I was even accused of wearing Dublin colours this morning.
Senator van Turnhout mentioned the children's information hotline and I will consider giving Government time for such a debate shortly. I hope we will have clarity on the matter soon.
Senator Norris spoke about the need for further democracy in involving people in the operations of the Oireachtas. That is one of the reasons we established the public consultation committee which I hope will address the gap in democracy that has been evident for some time.
Senator Gilroy spoke about the points system, which was discussed on the Order of Business yesterday. It is a worthy point. The Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, attended the House yesterday for an interesting debate to which quite a number of Members contributed.
Senator MacSharry referred to waiting lists for social welfare applicants. The attitude of staff that he described is totally unacceptable. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, will attend the House next month when she will be able to take a number of questions on social welfare matters, including the problems outlined by Members today.
Senator Keane referred to a cartel in the concrete industry. I will certainly ask the Minister to examine that situation and I am sure he will do so.
Senator Feargal Quinn mentioned social welfare fraud and the possibility of an amnesty. That matter can be raised with the Minister when she is here next month. She will be taking statements as well as questions and answers in that regard.
Senator Harte raised the lack of exceptional needs payments for people taking up long-term house leases. I know it has been a problem and it can be addressed by the Minister when she next attends the House. There has been a discrepancy in the amount of money allocated by community welfare officers for exceptional need payments in the various areas throughout the country. The Minister is endeavouring to address this matter.
Senator Cullinane spoke about the overrun in health service budgets. It is time the hospitals and everybody involved must realise that they have to live within their budgets. This has to be done and the HSE and hospitals must realise their budgets need to be realistic. There is currently an embargo on staff recruitment in the health service and throughout the public service.
Senator Cullinane has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business which I do not propose to accept. The Minister, Deputy Reilly, has just returned from representing the country and the Government at a UN conference on health. The request for him to attend the House is on his desk and I hope to have a date fairly soon.
Senator Sheahan asked about Garda stations and this matter was discussed yesterday. The Minister is carrying out a review of the entire Garda organisational structure. This is necessary in the context of dealing with the very difficult financial circumstances facing the State but also for the modernisation of the force. The purpose of the review is to ensure we will have the most effective arrangements in place to meet the challenges which the Garda Síochána will face in future years.
Senator O'Sullivan called for a debate on the Defence Forces. He outlined the work and the service of the FCA. I will arrange to have this debate as the House has not had a debate on the Defence Forces for quite some time.
Senator Clune spoke about the points system. Other Senators spoke about Aviva and MBNA and the need for workers to upskill to allow for future investment in the country. This matter was raised with the Minister last week and I hope he can come to the House again. As he was here only last week, it may be another while before he is available but we will take on board the points made by Senators Leyden and White and ask for a report on his deliberations as regards MBNA and the protection of jobs in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Senator O'Keeffe spoke about the case of Maedbh McGivern. I am sure all Members wish this young girl a very speedy recovery. The question of safe transport home will have to be addressed as this should not be an extra worry for people who have undergone life-saving operations. It is only fair that safe transport home would be provided for them.
Senator Daly asked for the Minister for Health to come to the House. I have already dealt with that matter and I hope that when the Minister comes to the House there will be more Members present than were here last week for questions to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. As I stated, Members were shouting for the Minister to come to the House but only three or four Members were in attendance at some stages for the session of questions and answers with the Minister. In this regard, it is very irresponsible of Members to be standing up and demanding that Ministers come to the House to answer questions.
Senator Mullins spoke about betting shops and the loss of 500 temporary jobs as a result of the closing hours. We are due to have betting legislation before the House, possibly before Christmas. I am sure that matter will be addressed in that legislation.
Senator Colm Burke raised some very relevant points regarding junior doctors and their problems with sitting examinations. I will bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for Health.
Senator Mullen referred to the death penalty and said that the current controversy in Georgia over Troy Davis affords the House an opportunity to bring forward an all-party motion on the subject. I am sure there would be no problem in obtaining all-party support for such a motion.
Senator Bradford supported the request by Senator Jimmy Harte for a debate on social housing. He also asked for a debate on the Middle East. He outlined his support for the State of Israel. I hope to have the Tánaiste in the House for statements and a question and answer session on that issue.
Senator Byrne asked for time for a discussion on the Slane bypass. This issue was dealt with and ruled on by the Cathaoirleach.
Senator Jim D'Arcy referred to the 80th anniversary of the National Ploughing Championships. All Members will agree that the education system should be geared towards supporting young people who wish to work in agriculture.
Senator Leyden also raised the question of MBNA. I thought he was going to propose Senator White for the Presidency but it did not get that far.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh also made some points and asked for the Minister for Justice and Equality to come to the House to deal with a matter.