It is proposed to take No. 20d, motion re Standing Orders 94B and 94C; No. 20e, motion re Standing Order 99; No. 20f, Supplementary Estimates [Votes 20, 21 and 22] - back from committee; No. 9, Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 40, Garda Síochána (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 20d, 20e and 20f shall be decided without debate and, in the case of No. 20f, Votes 20, 21 and 22 shall be moved together and decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith.
Order of Business
There is one proposal to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 20d, 20e and 20f without debate agreed to? Agreed. I call Deputy Kelleher on the Order of Business.
I am not raising the industrial relations (amendment) Bill in the context of what happened here this morning. Some time ago, the Mandate union referred Dunnes Stores to the Labour Court in connection with zero hours contracts. Representatives of Dunnes Stores did not turn up at the Labour Court hearings. In effect, workers who have been put on zero hours contracts by some companies in this country - I refer to Dunnes Stores, in particular - are basically guaranteed no hours whatsoever. I am aware that the industrial relations (amendment) Bill is currently the subject of a consultative process. There is an urgency about this issue, particularly in light of the recent unemployment figures. People are saying that employment is increasing, but at what cost in terms of employment? To what extent are zero hours contracts being calculated into those jobs figures?
In the context of the employment figures, we now have 1.93 million people at work, which is the best figure since 2009. That is welcome news for everyone. The fact is that 94% of the extra employment that has been created is full-time employment, so it is not affected by the zero-hour situation.
Regarding the legislation to which the Deputy referred, work is ongoing in the Department and I understand that it will be introduced next year.
I wish to raise two matters. First, the gender recognition Bill is due for publication within a week or so. Is there an exact date for it? Second, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board legislation has been promised a number of times, but no progress has been made on a Bill. I acknowledge that the plans are proceeding and the board is in place, but no planning application has been made as yet. Is it intended to use the pre-legislative process to refer the Bill to a committee before publication, given the fact that it is not intended to be published until late next year? It could be fast-tracked in this way.
I anticipate that the gender recognition Bill will be published by the end of the year. There is no date for the national paediatric Bill as yet, but a lot of work is ongoing in that regard.
In view of the HSE's service plan, which we heard about but did not see this morning, and the Health (Amendment) Act, the removal of the rehab unit at St. Patrick's Hospital in Cashel to the older and unsuitable Our Lady's County and Surgical Hospital in Cashel is a madness that we thought was gone. Will someone ask the HSE officials-----
To what Bill is the Deputy referring?
The Health (Amendment) Act. Will someone ask the HSE officials to show respect to the elderly and to try to see sense?
Maybe the Deputy might submit a Topical Issue.
I will indeed.
On the specific issue of the Health (Amendment) Act, there is no date as yet.
What is the Government's position on the Antarctic treaty? I do not expect the Tánaiste to have the details of the matter immediately available to her, but I have raised this matter in the House frequently. As an international treaty, its number of signatories continues to increase and includes the majority of our European partners. Ireland is remiss in not having signed up to it. Will the Tánaiste bring the matter to the Cabinet's attention and revert to the House at an early stage to indicate whether the Government will do something about this matter? The Government is remiss in its environmental responsibilities.
For a moment, I thought the Deputy was going to be controversial.
I will make inquiries for Deputy Ó Fearghaíl and revert to him.
Will the Tánaiste advise me on the current status of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013?
I understand that it is on Committee Stage and that a number of amendments are to be tabled.
I thank the Tánaiste.
Will the Tánaiste indicate to the House the progress that has been made on the national paediatric hospital development board (amendment) Bill? Is it progressing as anticipated? Have its heads been agreed? When is it likely to be before the House?
A great deal of work is proceeding on this legislation and the important issue of the children's hospital, but I do not actually have a date as yet.
I wish to ask about two Bills. First, I raised the issue of No. 41, the criminal justice (legal aid) Bill, previously. When is it expected to be published and debated in the House? Second, what is the status of No. 49, the family leave Bill?
Regarding the criminal justice (legal aid) Bill, my understanding is that it will be in the middle of next year. Regarding the family leave Bill, I understand that it will be in the first half of next year.
What progress has been made on the adoption (tracing and information) Bill by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs? Many people want to know their medical records, trace their family histories, etc. It is a reasonable right. The Tánaiste will understand that this is urgent and important legislation for those involved. I also understand that, in some instances, people will not wish to avail of the legislation, but the right should still exist. It is long overdue and I urge the Tánaiste to progress it.
I have said many times that I look forward to having such legislation before the House. As the Deputy alluded, there are many complex legal and constitutional issues. A great deal of work is ongoing, but I will take the matter up with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to see whether a more definitive timeline for the Bill is available.
Thousands of jobs are being lost around the country. Consider the hallmarking (amendment) Bill on metals. In the fabrication industry, there is no joined-up thinking between the Departments of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Social Protection and the Environment, Community and Local Government. New CE markings are required for welders. It costs €20,000 to get each company certified. Government policy has done nothing to resolve this problem. Will the Tánaiste enlighten the House as to whether there will be joined-up thinking to stop the rot of job losses around the country?
To which Bill is the Deputy referring?
The hallmarking (amendment) Bill.
There was good news yesterday on the jobs front in terms of the increasing number of jobs, but I understand the Deputy's anxiety about seeing the dividend spread to every part of the country. The heads of the legislation that the Deputy referred to were, if my memory serves me correctly, introduced to Cabinet around September. Therefore, I anticipate that this Bill will be before the House in the first half of next year.
Every year, families are dragged through the courts at significant cost to the Exchequer because they are trying to get answers about instances of medical malpractice. The Tánaiste will recall the case of baby Mark Molloy, whose parents, Mark and Roisin, needed to go through the courts to get some answers about his death. It was the Portlaoise babies incident, which was exposed by "Prime Time" earlier in the year. At the time, the then Minister for Health promised the introduction of medical (open disclosure) legislation later this year. However, it does not seem to be on the legislative programme. When will it be published? It would allow families to get the truth of what happened to their loved ones without needing to go through the courts and entering into confidentiality clauses and without the State needing to fork out large sums of money. All that people are looking for is the truth.
I will have to revert to the Deputy on that, having requested information from the Minister for Health.
Yesterday, the Tánaiste stated that she would insert an amendment in the Social Welfare Bill next week. Will she announce that and the reasons for tabling the amendment here?
It is the practice to announce any likely Report Stage amendment on Committee Stage as a courtesy to the House. That is basically what I did yesterday. I will bring any matter that requires to be dealt with to the House on Report Stage.
While I understand the point made by the Tánaiste, can she provide the background as to why she is introducing this amendment before the House this afternoon?
Deputy, it is not really on the Order of Business.
But it is an amendment to a Bill.
It is an amendment that is being worked on by the lawyers and by the Attorney General's office. I set out in yesterday's note what it is about.
Can the Tánaiste repeat that?
The Deputy heard me read the detailed note. It pertains to pension schemes where there has been a double insolvency. I read that out to the committee yesterday but it is being worked on at present by the Attorney General's office and the drafters.
I understand there will be a debate on the issue in the House.
There will be a debate on the motion.
Deputy, there will be a debate on the motion.