As I mentioned earlier, this case is going to be appealed to both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, with a view to going straight to the Supreme Court in order that we can have an adjudication as soon as possible. The difficulty we have is that because this section of the legislation has been struck down as unconstitutional, it is questionable as to whether this House can bring in sector-specific minimum wages, pension arrangements or terms and conditions. With that power in question, all we can do is bring in legislation across the board but that will not work because the whole point of sectoral employment orders is that they are sectoral. I am not sure we have a legislative solution to address this lacuna and the problem that arises, at least until the Supreme Court hears the case.
We have to work on contingencies, depending on what the outcome of the case might be. Having spoken to the Attorney General, we are confident as a Government that this House does have the authority to make sectoral employment orders. The Minister cannot do so on his or her own but provided it is done by regulation and can be revoked by the House, then we are confident that we can but it does create a lacuna during that period, and does speak to a bigger question that we need to resolve. One of the problems with sectoral employment orders is that they only apply to sectors and one issue we both need and want to address in next couple of years, presuming the economy allows it, is to continue to raise pay and terms and conditions for all workers, not just those in particular sectors or those who are represented by unions. I refer to the move from the minimum wage to the living wage. What that means has to be defined because it means different things to different people in different countries.
It is also intended to introduce auto-enrolment so that everyone has access to a pension fund. At the moment, three quarters of people in the private sector have no access to an occupational pension fund. We have pension apartheid in Ireland when one compares the public and private sectors. The third issue is to increase social insurance benefits more generally to every working person, so that work pays. In recent years we have made some good progress in that regard on issues such as treatment benefit, maternity benefit and parental benefit and we need to add to that now with other social-insurance related benefits as well, so that we are raising the floor for everyone not just those in particular sectors or those who are unionised.