Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 33, Social Welfare Bill 2014 - Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage; No. 34, Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2014 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 35, Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Bill 2014 [Seanad] - Fifth Stage; and No. 1, Companies Bill 2012 - amendments from the Seanad. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and shall adjourn no later than 10 p.m.; in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for Private Members' business, which shall be No. 175, motion re Palestine (Resumed), Standing Order 121(3) shall not apply and Private Members' business shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes; and there shall be no Topical Issues tomorrow. Tomorrow's business after Oral Questions shall be No. 31, Water Services Bill 2014 - Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages.

There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal that there should be no Topical Issues tomorrow agreed to?

It is not agreed. I object to Topical Issue matters not being included in tomorrow's schedule. It is the second week in a row that this change has been made in order to facilitate the fast-tracking of the Water Services Bill. As I understand it, the convention is that, when Second Stage of a Bill concludes, a minimum of two weeks should pass before Committee Stage commences. Yesterday, we had the farcical situation of a Second Stage voted being called after the Order of Business, with Committee Stage starting four hours later close to midnight. Some of us were here until after 1 a.m. I do not believe it to be appropriate or proper that Teachtaí are not allowed to proposed Topical Issue matters for the Ceann Comhairle's consideration. It highlights the unacceptable way that the Government is forcing through legislation in order to pave the way for the introduction of water charges.

I protested strongly at the Government's behaviour in ordering yesterday's schedule, which was farcical. No lessons have been learned - meeting at midnight and beyond for an hour's debate on the Water Services Bill. I do not know what it is with the Government and water, but the former cannot get it right-----

Swimming against the tide.

-----in terms of the Parliament debating the matter properly.

No guillotine.

As the Taoiseach knows, the legislation was rammed through this time last year. That was a disaster and consequences arose.

I do not understand why the Government is suppressing Topical Issue matters. The Members of the House, irrespective of their parties or position as Independents, are entitled to raise Topical Issue matters. I did not realise that the Government was axing Topical Issues tomorrow. That is wrong. The Taoiseach should amend the Standing Order to ensure that Topical Issue matter can be allocated to Deputies and held. Last night, we had the Order of Business at around 7.50 p.m.

For yesterday.

We had already had about six hours of debate. We had the Order of Business six hours after starting business. We had Leaders' Questions at about 5.30 p.m. The entire thing was farcical.

We will not go through yesterday's business. We will deal with today's.

I know, but it is about reform of the House, how we do business and how we present ourselves to the public.

I am conscious of the time.

We are not doing it well. The Taoiseach is not doing it well.

Back in 2010, I recall there was a motion of confidence. Fianna Fáil did the very same thing itself, but that is beside the point. Tomorrow, we are going to have-----

The Government said it would be different.

-----parliamentary questions, Leaders' Questions, an Order of Business-----

Why does the Deputy not leave-----

As to this crowd over there, Topical Issue matters were abandoned because people sat in the Chamber and refused to obey the rules. All Deputy Martin wants-----

Sinn Féin might have another "Sit-in Thursday" tomorrow.

"This crowd"? That is not very respectful.

What Deputy Martin would love to happen, of course, is that the Government would try to guillotine Bills. There has been no guillotine introduced this year and there will not be.

The Government is getting rid of a legitimate mechanism that parliamentarians use to raise issues.

This is an issue on which if the Deputy did not have the opportunity to have full discussions about water, he would have a different complaint.

The Taoiseach is a bit of a dictator. That is the problem.

Deputy, please.

Deputy Martin would like to dictate.


The Taoiseach is being a bit of a dictator.

Tomorrow we will have Question Time, Leaders' Questions, the Order of Business and Committee and Remaining Stages of the Water Services Bill 2014. The House will, in addition, sit on Friday to continue the debate on the Water Services Bill.

Question, "That there be no Topical Issue Debate tomorrow", put and declared carried.

In the light of last night's "Prime Time" report, will the Taoiseach indicate the status of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013, which went to select committee last December but has not since been progressed? It is a long time in the system at this stage.

Second, will the Taoiseach indicate the status of the review that was to take place of the fair deal scheme? It is unacceptable that nearly 2,000 people are waiting up to 15 weeks for access to eligibility under the scheme. Some families will have to spend up to €10,000 if their loved ones are already in care but do not have eligibility. The situation has got progressively worse in the past 12 months. It is a programme for Government commitment that the fair deal system of financing nursing home care would be reviewed, with a view to developing a secure and equitable system of financing community long-term care which supports older people to stay in their own homes. Four years since the Government gave that written commitment, which provided that investment in the supply of more and better care for older people in the community and in residential settings would be a priority for this Administration, the situation continues to get worse for families of older people. Will the Taoiseach outline where stands that commitment and what additionality has been brought to the public system as a result of actions taken by his Government in this area?

Third, will the Taoiseach outline the status of the proposed integrated care agency? He promised legislation to establish such an agency under the aegis of the Minister for Health.

I will get back to the Deputy on the legislation to introduce the integrated care agency.

I appreciate that, but it is frustrating that this so often is the response in regard to legislation on health matters.

This from the man who did not read the report.

The Taoiseach, without interruption.

Committee Stage of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 will be taken early in the new year. The reason for the delay is that the advanced directive protocols, for which we are waiting 20 years, had to be written.

The fair deal review is under way. In addition to the normal allocation of 515 beds per month, an extra 1,000 have been released. The waiting list is down from 18 weeks to 11 as a consequence of the extra money allocated in the budget for 2015, which is currently being spent.

There should be no waiting list.

That extra €25 million means better home care packages, enhanced care packages and so on. The review of the fair deal scheme will be brought to the Minister's attention as soon as it is concluded. As I said, 1,000 extra beds have been released in addition to the normal 515. The waiting list, I understand, is up as far as 4 December.

It is not good enough.

Ba mhaith liom ceist a chur faoin criminal justice (offences relating to information systems) Bill. This legislation, I understand, is designed to enable the implementation of the EU directive on cyber crime, which is on the increase across this island. What progress has been made in bringing forward that Bill?

Gabhann an cheist eile atá agam leis an Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill. Thug an Taoiseach freagra ach níl mé sásta leis. Caithfimid a bheith níos gasta faoi seo. This legislation needs to be progressed more quickly. It is about safeguarding vulnerable adults, an issue that has gripped public attention following the RTE revelations. It is unacceptable that this State is not yet in a position to sign up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It does not matter that we have been waiting 20 years for certain actions to be taken; the delay is happening now on the Taoiseach's watch. There must be greater urgency from the Government on this issue. When will the Committee Stage amendments be drafted and the Bill returned to the House?

The Bill being taken in committee in the new year will be the most advanced and up-to-date of its type. As I said, the reason it was delayed was the requirement to draw up the protocols in respect of the advanced directive. The progress made in this regard will bring us much further down the road we wish to go.

The criminal justice (offences relating to information systems) Bill is due in the middle of next year.

The most recent Teagasc report indicates that there could be a 50% drop in dairy farming incomes next year. Many young farmers in particular are investing massive sums of money in farm infrastructure. It would be devastating for them and for rural communities around then country if that report were to prove even remotely correct. Will the Government, through the Whips, set aside time at the earliest date to debate this issue in the Chamber? The matter will be discussed by the agriculture committee, of course, but it cannot be dealt with adequately in this House by way of Topical Issue matter or parliamentary question.

I had to look twice when I saw Deputy Deasy changing seats. It was because his microphone was broken but, for a moment, it looked like he was moving to be closer to Deputy Peter Mathews.


The Taoiseach wishes.

Can we not be friends, a Thaoisigh?

This is a fundamentally important issue for the agricultural sector and for young farmers all over the country. I will bring the Deputy's proposal to the attention of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I listened to the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association speaking about this recently. It is something that is of great importance nationally. The Deputy can take it there will be discussion here early in the new session.

When I asked the Taoiseach last May about the status of the expert group review that was provided for under A Vision for Change, he said it would be presented to the House in four weeks. When I asked the same question in September, he indicated it would come before the House within two weeks. When can we expect the publication of that report, which is to provide the roadmap for implementation of the policy set out under A Vision for Change?

Second, when can we expect the review of the Mental Health Act to commence?

We are awaiting the report on the review of the Mental Health Act. The review is complete, but the report has not been presented. We expect that to happen very soon. The expert group will be set up following our receipt of that report.

In the light of the programme last night detailing events in County Mayo, will the Taoiseach indicate when the Health Act 2007 (amendment) Bill, which will bring the provision of home care, whether privately or publicly funded, under the remit of the Health Information and Quality Authority, will be published?

Is it possible that publication might be expedited, particularly in view of the fact that the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Lynch, is allocating approximately €50 million in respect of the provision of essential services to very vulnerable people and to adults in their own homes? In the context of last night's television programme, can the Bill be prioritised to ensure that HIQA will be given the responsibility to carry out inspections in respect of private and publicly funded home care provision?

I must ask Deputies not to make speeches. Some 13 other Members are waiting to pose questions.

I do not have a date for the publication of the legislation. However, I will revert to the Deputy with up-to-date information on the work that is being done in respect of it.

I gclár reachtaíochta an Rialtais, dúradh go mbeifí ag tabhairt isteach Bille chun leasú a dhéanamh ar Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Cuireadh tréimhse chomhairliúcháin ar bun trí bliana ó shin, a mhair bliain, agus anois táimid ag fanacht leis an mBille. An bhféadfadh an Taoiseach a rá ag an bpointe seo an mbeidh an Bille seo foilsithe roimh dheireadh na bliana seo? Freisin, an mbeidh reachtaíocht curtha tríd an Teach, de réir mar a bhí geallta i gclár an Rialtais, sula dtagann deireadh le tréimhse an Rialtais?

Sílim go raibh an Bille sin os comhair an choiste.

Bhí sé os comhair an choiste ach ní fhaca siad an Bille.

Sea, níor tháinig sé isteach anseo. Sílim go dtiocfaidh sé os comhair an Tí go luath.

Roimh an Nollaig?

Ní hea, tiocfaidh sé go luath.

Dúradh go mbeadh sé againn roimh an Nollaig.

Ní bheidh sé anseo roimh an Nollaig, ach go luath i Mí Eanáir.

Bhí mise freisin ag féachaint ar an gclár teilifíse aréir agus bhí fearg orm agus bhí mé fíor bhrónach agus mé ag féachaint air. An mbeidh seans ag gach Teachta an t-ábhar sin a phlé sa Dáil nó an mbeidh díospóireacht againn chun é a phlé agus chun ár gcuid smaointe a chur chun cinn chun cabhrú leis an fhadhb seo a réiteach.

Tá iniúchadh ar siúl faoi láthair ag na comhairleoirí éagsúla agus is dóigh go mbeidh seans ag an Dáil an t-ábhar ar fad a phlé sa chéad seisiún eile.

In the context of the broadcasting (amendment) Bill, recent media reports indicate that a DJ returning to RTE is going to be paid €500,000 per year.

We do not need a speech from the Deputy.

There is a need to introduce a salary cap in RTE in order that local radio and commercial public service broadcasters such as TV3 will be in a position to benefit. It is ridiculous that certain individuals in RTE are being paid €500 million a year.

I think the amount is €500,000.

I apologise, €500,000.

The broadcasting (amendment) Bill is due to be published early in the next session.

Earlier, the Taoiseach referred to certain state-of-the-art legislation that is due to be brought forward. Is any impact analysis ever carried out into legislation before it is introduced? Under the Road Traffic Act 2014, drivers must ensure that they have up-to-date NCT certificates displayed on their vehicles. I have been contacted by many of the thousands of people throughout the country who cannot get appointments to have their cars tested and whose current certificates are out of date. If these people are stopped by the Garda, they will be given penalty points and will need to pay a fixed charge.

The Deputy should table a parliamentary question on the matter.

I have done so. I also sought a Topical Issue debate on the matter.

I think that is due to be taken today.

It is not because it was refused. I do not blame the Ceann Comhairle for that because a large number of matters are being submitted by Deputies.

The Deputy was given permission to raise another matter in recent days. He is not doing too badly.

I appreciate that and I wish the Ceann Comhairle a happy Christmas.

The Deputy should confine himself to the Order of Business.

Thousands of people who drive to work do not have valid NCT certificates.

That is grand, but we cannot deal with the matter on the Order of Business.

If they are stopped on three occasions and do not have valid certificates, they will be put off the road altogether.

I know, but we are not dealing with the matter on the Order of Business.

The impact of the relevant legislation must be taken into account.

Tá an ceart aige. The Deputy is right.

I call Deputy Grealish.

Can I get a freagra?

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is reviewing the situation. He is aware of the matter, which has been raised by Deputy Butler and others in the recent past.

I hope he is reviewing the position. Many people are going to be in trouble.

The Minister is already reviewing legislation that was only just passed.

On proposed legislation, is the Government committed to Ireland hosting the European capital of culture in 2020?

To what legislation is that relevant?

Will the Minister issue an immediate national call for submissions before the 31 December deadline specified in legislation passed by the House?

If the Deputy wishes to pose a question in respect of specific legislation, he should do so.

As the Taoiseach is aware, Galway is preparing a bid to host-----

That is fine. In which legislation is the Deputy interested?

-----the European capital of culture in 2020. In that context, when will the national cultural institutions (No. 1) Bill be brought before the Dáil?

Proposals relating to the European capital of culture are being worked on by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht at present. The Bill to which the Deputy refers is due early in the next session.

The Minister would want to hurry up because we are running out of time.

Would it be possible to set time aside next week for a discussion on the broader public policy issues that arise on foot of last night's programme on the situation at Áras Attracta?

We already dealt with that matter.

After she has met the chief executive of Áras Attracta, perhaps the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, might furnish the House with a report on the matter.

The Taoiseach has already dealt with that matter.

The Ceann Comhairle is fluent as Gaeilge. As stated earlier, there will be an opportunity to discuss the broader policy issues in the next session.

Deputy Calleary would want to brush up on his Irish.

When will the education (admission to school) Bill be brought before the House for debate?

Drafting of that legislation is well advanced. A number of issues have given rise to concern but it is hoped to publish the Bill before the beginning of the next session.

What is the position regarding the building control Bill, the purpose of which is to regulate the construction industry and ensure that a proper register of builders is kept? In view of the emphasis the Government has placed on housing and in order that we might avoid another Priory Hall, when will the Bill be brought forward?

As the Taoiseach is aware, there is an unhealthy relationship between sports organisations and alcohol. In that context, when is it proposed to introduce the public health (alcohol) Bill? The legislation in question will also deal with the issue of minimum pricing of alcohol products.

The second Bill referred to will be introduced next year. Legislation relating to construction was passed by the House and the agency to be established under its provisions will be set up within the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

During the course of business yesterday, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport made it clear that a serious issue has arisen in the context of the imposition of penalty points. He indicated that he is awaiting comments from the Attorney General on the matter and stated that there may be a requirement to introduce emergency legislation. Is the position relating to this issue any clearer today?

The Minister is taking advice on the matter. If necessary, he will bring forward amending legislation. It is not yet clear as to whether such legislation will actually be required.

Will the Taoiseach indicate the progress that has been made in respect of the proposed landlord and tenant Bill? Have the heads been cleared by the Cabinet and when is the legislation likely to come before the House?

Will the Taoiseach also indicate the current position with regard to the publication of revised regulations in respect of the operation of wind farms, set-back distances, etc.?

The landlord and tenant Bill is expected in the middle of next year. I will contact the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy White, to establish the position with regard to the revised regulations to which the Deputy refers.

Given that there would be a great deal of merit in alleviating the financial stress being experienced by people over 70 who may fall ill and in view of the fact that early detection is vital, when will the health (general practitioner service) (No. 2) Bill, which will grant such people universal access to GPs, be introduced? This is important and progressive proposed legislation.

The process relating to the legislation is very well advanced. It was on the list for this session and I would say that it will be published early in the next session.

The Tánaiste has been very vocal regarding the problem of low pay in the private sector. The legislation to establish a commission to examine this problem is not expected until sometime late next year. In view of the fact that the Tánaiste is so concerned, does this not imply a distinct lack of urgency in respect of this matter? Would it be possible for the legislation to be brought forward sooner?

What is going to happen is that the commission will be established on a non-statutory basis immediately. Provision has been made to facilitate this in the relevant Estimate and the legislation will follow.

When will the Horse Racing Ireland (amendment) Bill be introduced?

It is galloping up on us.

That must be a fast piece of legislation, particularly as it has already undergone pre-legislative scrutiny. The white flag has been raised.