I listened to Senator White without any interruption. I did not interrupt any person. It was this Government which introduced reforms in order that Members of the Oireachtas would not be paid official officeholder pensions while they were still sitting Members. New laws were introduced by this Government and are applicable to all new Members of the Oireachtas, including Ministers. The Government introduced a new single public service pension scheme with a new minimum pension age of 66 years. Certainly, I share the view that it is ludicrous for many of the Taoiseach's predecessors to enjoy pension entitlements that are not much lower than his current salary. That applies to other higher earning public servants' posts as well. I am mindful of the continued high level of pension payments to former public officials during the time of the economic crisis. It was also this Government which increased to 20% the public service pension reduction on pension payments in excess of €100,000. The reductions in the pay for high-level public servants were made under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act. The Government has also decided that members of the current Government and their senior special advisers will not personally benefit from any of the pay increases due in 2016. That is the record of this Government in respect of payments and pensions to officeholders.
I note Senator Mooney's points in respect of Women on Web, their support for abortion drugs and the role of Amnesty International in assisting that campaign. I note his comments in this regard.
Senator Burke commented on the use of drugs by young people. I believe the Minister is speaking on this issue in a committee at present. It is a sad fact that more than 630 people died in 2012 from drug misuse.
Senator Quinn referred to the European Commission third report on Ireland and the Commission views on mortgage rates. The fact is we need more competition in the banking sector. That is exactly what we need. I also note Senator Quinn's point in respect of the fact that more than 8,000 people were jailed because of non-payment of fines. The Government is addressing that and we will have a related Bill before the House next week, the Civil Debt (Procedures) Bill, which will deal with these issues.
Senator Landy commented on the disruption of council meetings throughout the country where public representatives failed to gain access or egress from council chambers. That is a deplorable situation. It is a matter which council officials should raise directly with the relevant chief superintendent to address. Sadly, it is a fact of public life now that people who are in public life are harassed going to and coming from meetings. It is a sad fact and a sad day for democracy in the country.
Senator Byrne referred to mortgage arrears. The Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Bill will come to the House next week. Senator Byrne also referred to comments made by Members on the Order of Business. I cannot legislate for what people might say on the Order of Business. I would love to be in a position to be able to stop people, but I cannot. We would have liked to have heard Senator Byrne make his comments on Seanad reform yesterday.
I compliment all the Members who made representations and the two former Senators, Dr. Maurice Manning and Joe O'Toole, it was a very comprehensive debate on the issue. Senator Brennan welcomed the Web Summit due to be held from 3 to 5 November and outlined the major benefits and the boost for tourism in Dublin and Sligo and other areas. Senator Heffernan reminded us of the anniversary of the children who were killed in Gaza last year - that was a sad and tragic period which needs to be commemorated. There was a call for the repeal of the eighth amendment suggesting that people's opinions have moved on. Senator Mullen disagreed with those comments and raised the question of the Saolta University Healthcare Group and Northgate, calling for the HSE to release the report. Commencement debates were down on that issue in the past and I will bring the matter to the Minister's attention.