Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 4.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 4:
In page 5, line 8, after “1996;” to insert the following:
“to amend the Water Services Act 2007, the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 and the Water Services Act 2014;”.
- (Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government).

It has come to my attention over the past few days that in college accommodation consisting of one kitchen with possibly eight to nine rooms, those in charge of this accommodation have sent letters looking for a down payment of €130 from each student. There is a charge of €260 for a household with more than two people. What I have just spoken about is a case of ripping off youngsters who are going to college. Something needs to be done to deal with this problem because €130 multiplied by nine is €1,170. We need to make sure that landlords like these do not rip off these youngsters.

I want to speak on amendment No. 21 and the Minister's proposals to force people to register, regardless of whether they are the occupier. Other speakers have outlined the difficulty this creates for tenants who are obliged to register with Irish Water within 20 days of this legislation being passed and the question of whether the landlord has to register as well. It also affects individual householders who have not registered. Perhaps I am wrong but from my reading of it, the relevant section says that the person must register with Irish Water as a customer and confirm whether or not the dwelling is their principal private residence. If somebody is obliged to register and confirm that it is their principal private residence, it has the same effect. Basically, this is targeting everybody who has not registered with Irish Water regardless of whether they are landlords or tenants.

It shows that the Government's policy has failed. Its attempt to introduce a second charge for water services for citizens across the country is a failure when one sees that it has to act in this way, introduce it in such significant legislation and bypass discussion on Second and Committee Stages about the potential impact of legislation such as this. It shows the complete failure of Government policy relating to Irish Water. It shows all the citizens who have stood in principled opposition to the introduction of a second water charge that they are right to stand together and oppose this unfair and unjust water tax. It is vitally important that the message that the citizens who are standing together against Irish Water are defeating the Government and Irish Water goes out here today from the House. I call on people to continue to stand together in the face of the draconian measures that have been introduced by the Government.

What will gall people across the country is the underhand way it has been dealt with and the way it has been slid in as an amendment on Report Stage when it should be amending legislation in its own right as a water services Bill. The citizens know what the Government is doing and that they have it on the ropes. Clearly, the roll-out of Irish Water has been a failure, people are refusing to pay the water bills and the boycott of water charges exists across the country because if this was not the case and if there was any sense in Irish Water and the Government that people were signing up to and paying this second water tax, the Government would be releasing figures on a regular basis showing the percentage of people who have paid and complied with the Government's demands relating to Irish Water. It shows the success of the campaign. People should take great encouragement from that. It shows that this Government has been forced into doing things like this in an underhand way to impose a potential class A fine on citizens who take a principled opposition to its policy on this austerity tax and this further attack on citizens.

It shows also that this Government has not got a mandate to continue with the implementation of Irish Water and with the imposition of the second tax on citizens. It has a huge impact on tenants and potential tenants. In cases where householders decide not to register with Irish Water, being the owner-occupiers they cannot be evicted for non-compliance with this section and will at least have a roof over their heads if they refuse to comply. However, tenants are in a very precarious situation, as if Government policy had not left them in a precarious enough situation with the complete and utter refusal to deal with the rent allowance and rent supplement and the refusal of this Government to introduce any measures for rent certainty and certainty for tenancies. The Government hides behind the constitutional provisions when it says it cannot do anything about that. It leaves tenants in a very vulnerable position.

We will all take strength from the position we are in because we know that this is a Government that is defeated on this issue and we know that the days of Irish Water are numbered because the Government has to resort to this kind of tactic to threaten people and potentially to impose fines if they do not register with Irish Water within the timeframe the Government has set out in this legislation. If the Government wanted to convince people of the argument and the need to pay this second water tax they would not need to introduce measures like this to hide behind and to force people into it. People were concerned and were frightened by the Government's imposition of the property tax but they have decided that they have had enough. They have stood against the water charges and they will continue with the boycott campaign against the charges. The other side of it is that not registering is a form of opposition but not registering does not matter if a person is not going to pay. The boycott campaign will continue and Irish Water will collapse on the basis that it cannot raise the revenue it needs to keep going.

Sometimes I wonder whether we live in the real world at all.

I very much do, Deputy Coppinger. I listened in my office with incredulity to some of the comments. Deputy Ó Cuív started talking about "Lanigan's Ball". Deputy Ó Cuív reminds me of Bobby in "Dallas"; he woke up from a dream after 14 years of government. You sat at the Cabinet table, Deputy Ó Cuív. You were part of a party that wrecked our country.

Not for 14 years. Check your facts.

You were part of a government for 14 years and you sat there and you come in here now. It is extraordinary. You come in here every day and I swear to God you would think you never did anything wrong in your life. You have an answer for everything now whereas when you were in government look what ye did. Then the irony of it all is ye went off and ye told the troika, "We will roll over and do whatever you want". Today, Irish Water is the culmination of what ye did to our country, whether you like it or not.

Is that why you are doing it?

Whether you like it or not.

You did not actually succeed.

Are you speaking to the amendment?

I am. The only panacea Deputy Coppinger has is to boycott, to oppose and not to pay. I can tell her that 70% of people have taken a principled stand-----

Is the Acting Chairman sure that the Deputy is speaking to the amendment?

Seventy per cent of our people have agreed to pay. The reality-----

Deputy Ó Cuív you come in here every day with this stunt of "The Minister is giving a speech and we will call a quorum". Stop playing politics. Ye talked on the first day of the new Dáil about new politics. The people outside do not care about a quorum or do not care about the fact the Minister does not have a script. The reality is this: what you have done as a party can never be forgotten by the Irish people.

You should care about them-----

I do care. Do not tell me I do not care because I do.

You have an obligation to care about the rules we have made to run this place.

I represent the people of my constituency every single day and I will not take a lecture from people inside here on the Opposition benches who profess to have a majority of knowledge or empathy or sincerity about whatever. They do not have it. The rest of us live in the real world too and we represent our people. We have seen the hardship, we have heard the hard luck stories and we have seen the people who have lost things because of the reckless behaviour of your party in government. Let us deal with that, please.

Keep going, you are on a roll.

Yes, I am on a roll, because I live in the real world and you cannot take the facts that your party in government was the party of a few. It might not have been your personal ideology-----

That is not true. I take serious exception to that. The people in my constituency elected me like they elected you in the last election. It was not a few; it was the many. I am delighted that Deputy Brian Walsh is here in the Chamber because he knows as a fact, which you do not seem to know, that I have always represented the very ordinary decent people of my constituency.

You can do what you want. It might not be your ideology now.

Resume your seat, Deputy Ó Cuív.

The proof of the pudding is that you were partying in the Galway tent and your friends and cronies were partying in the Galway tent as ye bankrupted the country.

Except for the fact I was born in this city, I have never - I ask the Chair to get him to withdraw that absolutely scandalous and scurrilous remark.

Deputy Ó Cuív, please. resume your seat.

Ask him to withdraw that absolutely scandalous and scurrilous remark. I ask the Chair to get him to withdraw that scandalous remark.

I have the floor.

He said that I represented a few. I do not represent a few.

If you heard what I said Deputy Ó Cuív-----

If he repeats it outside I will sue him for every dime in his pocket.

What I said was-----

I want the Chair to get him to withdraw the remark. He knows it is not true

The record will show what I said.

If you could resume your seat I will try to sort it out.

If Deputy Ó Cuív heard me----

Deputy Buttimer, please, if you do not mind, allow me to try to chair this. We are speaking on the amendments. There is no point in slagging each other. Let us get on with dealing with the amendments because that is what is important to the people out there. Deputy Ó Cuív has asked you to withdraw the remark. If you wish to do so that is your business and it has nothing to do with the Chair.

What I said was and the record will show-----

I do my best to chair the debate. Everybody is given ample time to say what they want to say. There are no restrictions on how long a Member may speak. Deputy Ó Cuív is the next speaker on the list and I will go back to him but please, could you speak to the amendment, Deputy Buttimer?

I will say again what I said, Deputy Ó Cuív, as you did not hear what I said. I said it may not have been your ideology but Fianna Fáil represented the few.

You said "you represented the few".

I did not say "you". I was not referring to you. I was referring to you as in Fianna Fáil, not to you personally.

I am part of Fianna Fáil. Therefore in saying that I - you - included me and I do not. You are saying that I am not part of Fianna Fáil. I ask you to withdraw that as well.

I understand that. I have clarified my remarks.

If you said "you" and you meant Fianna Fáil, you are saying it included me. If you do not mean me, you have to be consistent in your use of language-----

I am. I am being very consistent.

If the "you" is plural and inclusive it includes me and you said-----

Deputy Ó Cuív, I think you did say it was not part of your ideology-----

He did say that----

You did say "you".

If you wish to speak, put up your hand.

Do I have the floor?

Yes, Deputy, you have the floor.

I am not finished.

I did not say you were finished.

I have listened to rhetoric for the past-----

What amendment is Deputy Buttimer speaking on?

On the Buttimer amendment.

On the amendment Deputy Coppinger spoke to.

You have not got a clue what amendment.

Excuse me, Deputy Coppinger, please, you had your turn. If you want to speak you can come back in when I take your name. There is no problem. We are speaking on amendment No. 21.

The amendment and the Bill before us-----

He has not a clue.

He does not know which one we are dealing with.

It is a pity, Deputy Ó Cuív, that you would not have the manners to allow people to speak.

I do not take slander.

We listened to you for two days and we listened to people opposite for two days. Some of us are entitled to speak in the House. You might not like what we have to say and the record of your party in government for the 14 years. I did not slander you.

The record will show I did not. I said it might not be your ideology. Deputy Walsh concurred with me.

You said it post facto.

I did not say it post facto. I am disappointed with Deputy Ó Cuív's attitude.

The infrastructure being put in place by Irish Water is a necessary one. I will quote the example of the case of Cork city where the lives and homes of thousands of people were destroyed in two major floods in the Middle Parish and Douglas.

We are putting in place flood-relief infrastructure.

That is not the OPW.

The infrastructure requires investment.

That is not Irish Water.

That is not the OPW.

Irish Water is part of that scheme with the OPW to put in place the infrastructure to ensure we will have safe streets if we have a repeat of those two major floods in Cork.

We must ensure that Irish Water as a utility company has the confidence of the people. I listened to Deputy Pringle talk about mass boycotts and the people winning. What about the people who have made a principled stand to pay and register? Those people who pay want to have a service delivering clean drinking water without the necessity to boil that water, so that they can have that luxury, which is not a luxury at all in effect, of drinking water.

They can drink that water now.

They can, but they pay twice for it.

It is important that the legislation is passed. Some of us might wish we did not have to do this, but the reality is that we have no choice because of the memorandum of understanding with the troika agreed by the party, Fianna Fáil, of which Deputy Ó Cuív is a member.

Water charges.

It is imperative that we get this legislation through.

Yet not sewerage charges.

We see the benefit for people in group water schemes and people with wells. I come from an area where my father in his family home had to sink his own well and my late uncle had to sink his own well. They paid for the cost of running that well. Deputy Ó Cuív talks about representing people. He represents people who are part of a group water scheme who have been paying for water for years. We need to ensure that all of us play our part.

Some of the rhetoric in the House this afternoon, by Deputy Coppinger in particular, is not helpful to the discourse. She is effectively sowing the seeds for the problems we saw last night. I have not heard her condemn the treatment of Members of this House or members of An Garda Síochána, or the way in which people were stopped from going about their daily business outside the gates of Leinster House. I am not opposed to anyone's right to protest. I have been on protests, part of action marches and involved with different sporting, civic and charitable organisations trying to achieve an end.

What was the Deputy protesting for?

However, I have not heard the Deputy condemn the incident where a member of An Garda Síochána had to be taken to hospital having been struck by a cone.

The Deputy has not heard me say many things.

I have not heard her say that.

I have not heard the Deputy refer to any of the amendments that we are discussing.

I would like her to do that if she could.

What amendment is the Deputy speaking about?

As legislators, Members of the House have a responsibility and a duty to uphold the law of the land and the men and women who work as members of An Garda Síochána.

That is rich coming from the Deputy.

As someone who spent all my life as a public servant in school teaching, I am very proud to be part of the public service. I hope Deputy Coppinger would condemn the treatment of members of An Garda Síochána outside this House last night because that has no place in a civilised democracy. The right to protest and have a disagreement is fundamental to democracy, but it is not right to stop the men and women of An Garda Síochána from doing their business. That is the reality regardless of whether the Deputy likes it. We have a duty, as Members of this House, to support and uphold the men and women of our police force, An Garda Síochána.

A Chathaoirligh, on a point of order, are Deputies allowed to just come in-----

There is no point of order. Sit down.

Sorry, it is a point of order.

There is no point of order. Deputy Ó Cuív has the floor.

Sorry a Chathaoirligh, I would like to raise a point of order.

Deputy Ó Cuív has the floor.

Deputies are coming in and speaking on random topics-----

----- that have already been-----

What about the Deputy last night? She was ranting for hours last night.

You should be conducting the debate in an impartial manner-----

-----which you have not been.

I have been and you can withdraw that remark.

I would like to make a point of order now.

I do not take lightly to that remark. I am a very fair Chair whenever I am here. I ask the Deputy to sit down.

No, the Deputy has already spoken. It is Deputy Ó Cuív's-----

May I speak on a point of order about the conduct of the debate?

No. There is no point of order. Everybody who has spoken-----

Okay. There is no point of order. That is really impartial.

That is not fair.

That is not fair to the Chair.

Everybody who spoke previously from Deputy Stanley onwards since I came into the Chair, have strayed from the amendments one way or another. I have never intervened. If we want to call each other names, that is fine. I do my best here as Chair. If it does not suit the Deputy, she should make a complaint to the Ceann Comhairle's office.

Great. That is fantastic.

We will get back to the amendments. Amendment No. 21 states:

23A. (1) Where water services are provided to a dwelling by Irish Water, the owner of the dwelling shall, subject to subsections (2) and (3)—

(a) register with Irish Water as a customer and confirm whether or not the dwelling is his or her principal private residence,

I take it there is now an onus on everybody to register with Irish Water. While I cannot see it here, presumably the legislation provides for some penalty for not registering with Irish Water, because there is never a provision in a Bill without a penalty for not complying with that provision. When the Minister is replying, he might outline the penalty for not registering with Irish Water. The amendment further states:

(6) A person who registers with, or notifies, Irish Water under subsection (1) and provides information which to his or her knowledge is false or misleading in a material respect commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.

That covers a person who registers and gives information that is false, but it does not clarify for me what happens if they do not register. Let us suppose I am correct that there is a penalty for not registering. It would not make sense to have a Bill with an obligation but without a penalty. This goes back to what I was saying about the macho war going on between the two sides here.

Where is the Deputy?

Is the Deputy on the pitch?

Where I am is that I think this should have been handled in a better way. We have an arbitrary cut-off date for the grant. The first thing the Minister could do would be to get his colleague and party leader, the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, to say that it is not too late to register to be eligible for the grant. That is the first thing she could do.

When the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, was here last night, I made it clear that I welcome one element of all of this, which is that people who were paying general taxation and motor taxation were getting the half-benefit or no benefit from the public expenditure on water and sewerage services. I have been saying that for years. Unlike some Deputies in the House, I do not have, nor have I ever had, a principled objection to water charges. I have suffered personally from having to operate a well for years. If we had a continuation of the same Minister in the House dealing with the Bill, the Minister, Deputy Kelly, would have known that I said all this last night, but I will repeat it for his benefit. I said last night that I and all my neighbours with wells used to end up changing washing machines and dishwashers every few years because they used to get corroded from the type of water in our area. We were still paying all the taxation that was funding all the water and sewerage systems of the country.

There is fairness. I remember the arguments we had with the former Minister and now Commissioner, Commissioner Hogan, on the famous Water Services (No. 2) Bill on septic tanks. I always maintained that it was during that Bill that he said there would not be charges for water out, but he suddenly realised that all hell would break loose if people who got two services were paying the same amount as people who got only one service or no service. I believe that part of this Bill is fair.

However, the Minister could do a considerable amount to improve the Bill and make it fairer.

First, he could get rid of the arbitrary decision made by the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection that if one registers now or in a week's time, one will not receive the grant. That is unnecessary and stupid. Second, he should give a very clear directive that, rather than saying a never-never pay bill which does not solve the problem for those who are out of cash, there will be funding made available and a directive given to community welfare officers to the effect that, where they think water charges are putting a burden on household which cannot be carried, they will have discretion to make an exceptional needs payment. Third, there are people who are being foolishly advised not to register and not to pay. This vulnerable section of the community, many of whom are highly concentrated in local authority housing estates, will, I presume, wind up with fines for not registering. They will lose the €100 grant and receive a full bill. The State is patient and in two or three years time the Minister will send a summons and seek an attachment of earnings order in court. That is the game; that is the way it works. At that stage, those who have told them not to register will not be outside the court or standing before them - most will not go to court because very few people like going to court - writing cheques for them and apologising, saying it was their bad advice that had cost them this huge sum of money.

The Minister is adding to the problem. He knows that this is going to happen and is planning for it to happen. Why does he not do something about it?

I have tabled amendment No. 11 to amendment No. 21. The way the Bill is being produced is unusual. I have never seen it done in this way in all my time in the House and I have seen Bills produced in many ways but one learns something new every day. My amendment is reasonable. Deputy Brian Stanley and others have raised legitimate concerns about the fact that we are not quite sure of the outworkings of the landlord and tenant provisions and the effect they might have on a tenancy. We all know that the law of unintended consequences is a major concern for everybody putting legislation through the House. The Minister should look into his own heart and say he recognises that unintended consequences are a major challenge when trying to steer legislation through.

We have suggested the Minister include a statutory provision that this section and its impact on tenancy terminations will be subject to review by the Private Residential Tenancies Board, PRTB, after it has come into operation and the report should be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas within not less than 12 months and not more than 14 months. The idea is that we will not sail off into the sunset, having passed the legislation, and hear that it is having an effect without having obliged the State agency responsible for landlord and tenant law to make a formal report and an independent assessment on behalf of the State. If there is an impact, the Minister could bring forward amending legislation to deal with the issue. Otherwise it would fester on, be put on the long finger and people might suffer unintended consequences. It would be a safety valve.

If we were debating this Bill in the proper manner on Committee Stage, at the very least the Minister would say he would consider the amendment and respond on Report Stage. His colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Simon Coveney, is quite good at dealing with legislation. I have arguments with him about other matters, but I grant that when it comes to legislation, he follows very good processes and takes on board amendments tabled by the Opposition, reads them and, in many cases, has come back and given a rational explanation for not accepting them or come back with alternative wording from the Parliamentary Counsel that gives effect to the genesis of the Opposition amendment. Since the Minister does not have that option to come back, I ask him to accept amendment No. 11 to amendment No. 21 as being a reasonable provision that would provide a safety net to deal with unintended consequences in the case of landlords and tenants. I hope he will give me some comfort about what he will do for a very vulnerable group who will get caught up because the legislation he is bringing forwards exacerbates the risks of fines, penalties and charges, as well as the lack of a grant when they are caught in the net.

I acknowledge the very positive and constructive contribution made by my colleague from west Galway, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív. On the interaction earlier between him and Deputy Jerry Buttimer, I have to say Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív has always acted on behalf of all the interests of his constituency, regardless of age, colour, sexual orientation or religion. He has always acted without fear or favour. In fairness to Deputy Jerry Buttimer, he did say it was not part of Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív’s political ideology.

The Minister and his colleagues in the Labour Party could have chosen a different course after the 2011 general election. They could have occupied the seats opposite and engaged in the political rhetoric we have heard from Sinn Féin, some of the Opposition groups and the Independents in the recent past., but they chose not to. They chose to put the country first. Although we have made very difficult decisions and people have had to make great sacrifices, as a result of the courage of the Minister and his colleagues in the Labour Party, the country is in a much stronger place today than it was in 2011.

There were six divisions between last night and this morning on the scheduling of the Report Stage debate; Members objected and wanted more time. There is one member of Sinn Féin present, Deputy Brian Stanley. There is no member of Renua present, even though it strenuously opposed and voted against the Order of Business today.

They have gone to a press conference.

Many fair-minded people have had reasonable concerns about water charges. The amendment about the Bill’s effect on landlord and tenant relations is an example of these concerns. Deputy Brian Stanley mentioned the metering issue. There are provisions in the leases signed by landlords and tenants on outstanding Electric Ireland bills and meter readings. We are not reinventing the wheel. There are standard and straightforward procedures and practices in place to deal with the Deputy’s valid concerns. Before the full details of the scheme were revealed, when fear and misinformation were allowed to fester in the absence of facts, there was anxiety about affordability and concerns about the fairness of the scheme. The debate we had yesterday and again today feeds that anxiety.

There is a cohort of militant protestors, guided and incited by some of the Members present in the House, who have no regard for rule or for reason and do not represent the majority of people, either for or against the introduction of these charges. We saw it here yesterday at Leinster House, where Members were intimidated and refused entry to the Houses of Parliament. I met Senator Paschal Mooney, who was leaving yesterday afternoon to attend a hospital appointment. The man was shaking when I met him on the plinth. He was arriving back in from his car, having attempted to leave the campus after having been instructed to do so. He rolled down his window to try to engage with the protestors outside and to explain to them he had a hospital appointment to attend, and it was the worst thing he could possibly have done because the intimidation only increased.

It is scandalous.

That is outrageous behaviour for Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas to have to endure. This kind of animalistic and anti-democratic behaviour that we have witnessed at the gates of our own national Parliament is similar to events that befell the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the President and Ministers. It is a most troubling and sinister development. Not since the earliest days of our democracy have we had a situation where parliamentary groupings have had militant wings doing their bidding outside the walls of this House.

Was that not Fine Gael?

The rhetoric of certain Deputies has poured petrol on the flames of the demonstrations, which has been nothing short of a disgrace. Describing the scenes faced by electoral representatives here yesterday as peaceful protest is like describing a lover's tiff as the Trojan war.

Will the Deputy stick to the amendment?

It brings shame on this Parliament and I think Members like Deputy Paul Murphy, who is present, the pied piper of these protests-----

Could we speak to the amendment, please?

When is he off to Greece?

The fact is, as Deputy Buttimer said, they have refused to condemn these actions of violence in a manner that would seem brass-necked to even the Teflon terrorists in the House.

Sorry, Deputy. Could you speak to the amendments, please?

That is unparliamentary language. I think he referred to me as a terrorist.

Sorry, I am chairing the sitting and I do not need any more interruptions.

I think he just referred to terrorists in the House.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin, not for the first time-----

Will the Deputy please withdraw the statement about terrorists?

-----has demonstrated remarkable hypocrisy throughout the extensive debate on this issue.

I was repeatedly referred to as ISIS. The Deputy, I think, is referring to me as a terrorist.

I never mentioned that term at all.

He referred to Sinn Féin. I am the only Sinn Féin Deputy in the House at the moment, so he referred to me as a Teflon terrorist.

I am only beginning my remarks in regard to Sinn Féin. Anything I have said heretofore-----

I ask him to withdraw that. I am an elected Member of the House. He cannot refer to me as a Teflon terrorist.

Will Deputy Stanley sit down?

I never made any reference whatsoever to Sinn Féin. Am I to be allowed to continue?

I ask Deputy Stanley to sit down and I will deal with the comments.

I ask him to withdraw the remark.

I thank Deputy Stanley and Deputy Murphy. I will try my best to chair the sitting. I ask Deputy Walsh to refer to the amendments and not comment on anything beyond that. That would be very helpful. Thank you.

I believe the debate on this amendment is instilling a huge amount of fear in the minds of vulnerable people. The Members opposite have correctly described many tenants throughout the country as being some of the most vulnerable people in society. However, some of the language and some of the narrative we have heard over the course of the past two days in this debate is feeding on that fear and is seeking to capitalise on people's fear to make political gain. That is simply what is happening.

Sinn Féin opposes water charges here but, in government in the North of Ireland, where these arrangements are in place and where the tenant pays for the consumption of water through the arrangements with their landlords-----

The Deputy does not have a clue.

Deputy Stanley is the one who does not have a clue if he does not agree with that.

If we did less name calling and stuck to the amendments, it would be better.

He is giving false information.

They already charge for water as part of a domestic rates regime that costs on average €950 per year. It is very clear. They have installed a whole plethora of water meters over the past 12 months in the North of Ireland.

More than 30,000. Why are they doing that?

I will come back to the Deputy on that.

That has been extensively reported on. I will tell the House why they are doing that. They are doing it because they will be introducing a direct charge for water in Northern Ireland in the near future. Under that arrangement, the tenants of these properties in the North of Ireland will be paying directly. That is as the system should be. I would not object in any way to what Sinn Féin is doing in the North of Ireland. It is the correct process and the correct arrangement to have in place.

It seems, however, that the policies that are good for the North are only good for the North, and there is no united Ireland when it comes to policy-making. The only thing that Sinn Féin members in the North of Ireland see fit to transfer south of the Border are their sex offenders.

Sorry, Deputy. I have asked you to speak to the amendment. You are not speaking to the amendment. I think you need to withdraw that remark. Please just speak to the amendment.

He has not withdrawn the previous remark that I am a Teflon terrorist.

I am chairing the sitting. If Deputy Stanley will sit down-----

He is calling me a Teflon terrorist. I am asking the Chair to ask the Deputy to withdraw that remark. He has made a number of false assertions which I am happy to deal with when I speak again. Beyond Newry, he has not got a clue what he is talking about. He has shown how partitionist and how Free Statist he is.

The Deputy must be joking. I am in the North more than he is.

If I go outside the front gate here, if I was allowed out, Deputy Murphy's people would-----

I am asking for that remark to be withdrawn.

I have not named Deputy Stanley.

Can I speak, please? I am not a referee. I did not hear anyone name anyone specifically but I did hear and ask the Deputy to withdraw what he said just now. I think it is wrong. Can we stick to the amendments, please, if the Deputy is going to speak?

I withdraw my reference to it but that is the reality of the situation.

That is good. Carry on.

That has been widely reported and it did not require me to say it. If I was to go outside the front gate of Leinster House, if I was allowed out, if Deputy Murphy's mob was not outside the front gate, obstructing me from exiting-----

Is that unparliamentary? I do not have a mob. Will the Deputy withdraw the statement?

I drove North-----

I do not have a mob. Will the Deputy withdraw the statement?

Will Deputy Walsh continue, please?

I drove North and drove a short distance north of the Border.

I do not have a mob. Will the Deputy withdraw the statement?

I could see what Sinn Féin in government is doing in regard to this specific issue we are discussing today.

I do not have a mob. Will the Deputy withdraw the statement?

The Sinn Féin Members present are speaking out of both sides of their mouths on this issue. They have one rule in the North of Ireland and one rule down South. If their advice had been followed when this Government came to office, they would have transformed the prevailing economic crisis into a humanitarian crisis and we would have seen on the streets what we are witnessing now in Greece.

Has the Deputy even read the amendments?

Sinn Féin was among those who celebrated, as did Deputy Murphy, the emergence of Syriza in Greece, a party whose obstructionist and isolationist policies somewhat mirror those of their own here in the Republic. The appalling vista that has since come to pass, where people are going hungry and unable to access their own money, public pay bills going unpaid-----

They are mopping up after Fine Gael's sister party.

It is what Sinn Féin would have wished for us. If their policy of telling the troika to go home and take their money with them had been followed, a similar fate would have been foisted upon us.

What is being proposed in this amendment is reasonable, namely, the user of the water pays for the use of the water.

That is not in the amendments.

I do not share the concerns that Deputy Stanley has expressed in regard to metering. There are already systems in place to deal with that under existing landlord-tenant law and existing leases. I do not believe it is an issue that will cause huge concern for tenants.

I would urge tenants, landlords and home owners not to follow the advice of Deputy Murphy, Sinn Féin and some Independent Deputies by boycotting this charge. I have seen what can happen. Two ladies attended my constituency clinic in recent weeks who wished to avail of some grant assistance to work on their homes and they find that the property charge, which was modest initially, has now escalated. In one case, the lady took the advice of her son not to pay the charge and she ended up paying considerably more than she would have paid if she had registered.

The same will befall those who refuse to pay the water charge. A very reasonable charge has been introduced. For a single person who registers, a fee of €160 applies, minus the €100 water conservation grant, giving a net cost of €60 per year. That equates to one ATM withdrawal in Greece. It is a very reasonable figure and I urge homeowners and tenants to ignore the advice being presented by Opposition Members. They should register and pay the charge. Ultimately, they will end up paying it one way or another.

Will the Deputy's mob make them pay it?

If they take the Deputy's advice, they will end up paying a lot more. I support the Minister on the amendment.

I will respond to points made by Deputies, although some of them have left the Chamber.

On the question on data exchange, there are no legal issues. Landlords have been providing tenant details for Irish Water, in accordance with section 21 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act. The Data Commissioner is fully aware of this and Irish Water has been in ongoing contact with the commissioner about all of its activities to ensure it is in accordance with the Acts.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger put forward a novel proposal, demanding a guarantee that there would be no evictions as a result of non-payment. If she had listened to what her colleague Deputy Paul Murphy had said, she would have received a response because he guaranteed that there would be no evictions.

What is the Minister's response?

I will give it to the Deputy, if he gives me a chance. It is standard practice in residential leases for tenants to pay their utility bills. They include their water bills. Therefore, there is no basis on which to predict a landlord will seek to evict tenants for not paying their water bills, over and above the non-payment of any other utility bill. Tenants have the full rights of the PRTB process provided under the Residential Tenancies Act. It should also be noted that when evictions happen, it is usually down to non-payment of rent or antisocial behaviour.

Deputy Brian Stanley and others raised concerns about tenancies. Once it is established that there is a tenancy, the relationship between Irish Water and the tenant is for the duration of the tenancy. Where it changes, the tenant has a number of choices. The outgoing tenant can read the meter - the Irish Water website explains in simple terms how he or she can do this - or he or she can contact Irish Water to close the account or ask it for a reading. The incoming tenant can also read the meter. This is simple to do and the instructions on how to do it are on the website. Ultimately, if there are problems, they can be referred to the CER, if not resolved satisfactorily. There is a process to deal with issues raised. The meters can be read by customers.

It is very easy - just go out, pick it up and look, in the same way one reads any other meter.

It is not as easy as reading the ESB meter.

It is easy. The Deputy has a laptop with him in the Chamber and there are details on the website on how to read the meter. The Deputy can look it up and let us all know how to do it.

A valid question was raised about some student accommodation owners looking for additional deposits from students. There is no basis for this practice which is unacceptable. There is no basis for asking for additional deposits for student accommodation.

They are doing it in Athlone.

The legislative provisions in this and previous legislation clarify where liability rests. Student accommodation is generally classified as being part of the non-domestic sector; therefore, charges are made through that process. I expect the model for charges in that sector to be examined for the future.

Deputy Thomas Pringle asked about class A fines. This category of fine only applies to offences where false, misleading or malicious information on occupancy of a dwelling is provided for Irish Water. There is no class A fine for not registering. Deputies asked about non-compliance and what would happen if people did not register. If they do not register, they will receive a bill and be fined if they do not pay it. This is all documented. Subsequently, through the legislation that will be introduced by my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, tomorrow, a process will be in place to manage and deal with the debt. Unfortunately, Deputy Paul Murphy will be away and not in the Chamber tomorrow to deal with that legislation. I hope he enjoys his trip to Greece to see one of the biggest climb downs in the history of Europe. It is true that nothing will happen initially, but something substantial will happen. I do not always agree with Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, but he was right to ask about this issue. With the misguided information Deputy Paul Murphy has given to many people on not paying, I am looking forward to seeing his cheque book come out in a couple of years when those who took his advice come up to ask how they are going to pay their bill.

On the amendment brought forward by Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív who was not here when I spoke earlier, I have already said I oppose it. It proposes that the provisions outlined in section 23A be subject to review by the PRTB. Section 23A does not impose a new obligation on tenants; therefore, I will not accept the amendment. Tenants retain all of the rights they have in the PRTB process provided for in the Residential Tenancies Act.

Some Deputies referred to the issue of deposits. My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Paudie Coffey, and I intend to bring forward legislation in the near future to protect people's deposits.

I wish to address a number of issues raised by Deputy Brian Walsh regarding this amendment. He is, obviously, unaware of some matters. On the meters in place in Northern Ireland, he is, obviously, unaware that legislation is required to stop their installation. I believe he is also unaware that Sinn Féin tried to introduce legislation to prevent them from being installed. Some 30,000 meters were fitted, which was a waste of taxpayers' money.

In getting ready for the charges.

The Ulster Unionist Party has the relevant Ministry.

Deputy Stanley has admitted it.

Some Government Deputies, in particular from your party, Minister Coffey's, if you could stay quiet for a moment-----

Deputy Stanley should speak through the Chair.

I am sure you have strong links in that party and perhaps you could convince them to bring forward the legislation. The Unionist Minister showed some interest in the Bill prior to the election and I hope he continues with it because Sinn Féin is anxious to get the legislation through.

A system of charges was put in place by the British Government prior to the re-establishment of the Assembly and Executive in 2007. We gave a solemn commitment that we would do our level best as part of a multi-party government - it subsequently became a five-party government - under power sharing. The Ministers will be aware that the way the system works is different to here because of the different circumstances. We used the influence we had to prevent water charges from being introduced. The Sinn Féin Minister, Conor Murphy, succeeded in that regard and thus far, the situation has held up and the other parties, including the SDLP share our position. The Social Democratic Labour Party, SDLP, is a sister party of the party of the Minister, Deputy Kelly. It shares our position on the matter and we have worked very well together on it-----

I am glad to hear it.

-----to ensure it works out and will continue. Northern Ireland Water is not a perfect beast by any standards but the Minister should note that it is directly under the control of the Assembly and the Executive. That is a far different arrangement to what was done by the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, and the previous Minister, Phil Hogan. They pumped money into Irish Water and continue to do so. It is an entity over which we have no control. The Minister of State criticised Fianna Fáil about IBRC, banking bailouts and various other issues, including money going into institutions over which we have no control. He has done the same thing with Irish Water. The situation in the North is not perfect but at least the water company is a public body and it is under the direct control of the Minister and must report to him, the Executive and the Assembly. Sinn Féin is only one of five parties involved.

How much do people pay in rates in the North?

I can tell the Minister of State what they get for it because I have family there.

Deputy Stanley should put that on the record.

I have family living there.

I can rattle off all the statistics. Deputy Coffey should not get hot under the collar. He should know the full list of services.

Rattle it off so.

I should be allowed to speak without interruption.

The Deputy should be allowed to speak.

I need the protection of the Chair.

The Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, should please let the Deputy speak.

There is a lot of heckling coming from the Government benches. Could you ask the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, to calm down?

If you had stayed for long enough in the afternoon-----

Deputy Stanley did not answer the question.

-----the false assertions you made-----

Will Deputy Stanley stop addressing the Minister of State? He is supposed to address the Chair.

You would have heard every one of them being roundly and flatly turned on its head.

Deputy Stanley should give us the rates.

In the first few years following the establishment of Northern Ireland Water, the Sinn Féin Minister ensured £1 billion was invested in water services in that small six-county statelet, in addition to domestic charges being shredded and put to one side.

In relation to the boycott, I refer to the tactic of some of the Government backbenchers whom we do not see too much in the Chamber except during a division. We saw it this morning from that young man from Limerick. I do not know his name.

Curly O'Donovan.

Yes, Deputy Patrick O'Donovan.

On a point of order-----

Deputy Stanley should hold on a moment.

Any Deputy who is elected has a mandate to represent his or her constituency and has a right to come into the Chamber.

It is unfair of the Deputy to say that about a colleague, irrespective of what party he or she is from. Given their mandate, when Members comes into the Chamber they are entitled to have their say. I ask Deputy Stanley to withdraw his comment.

I ask the Deputy to stick to the matter under discussion at the moment.

Deputy Stanley should refer to the Deputy by his name.

I fully respect that, but I refer to the manner in which it is being done. Government backbenchers run in, make a pile of false assertions to give you a bit of cover and a little breathing space.

Cover. I do not need any cover.

He was a centre-back for Waterford.

Then they run out again before a response can be made. They do not even stay around to hear the answer. In relation to the boycott-----

In relation to the boycott, you will have noticed-----

The Deputy must address the Chair.

----- that our party leaves it up to people to make that adult decision.

Deputy Stanley should speak through the Chair.

Thank you, a Chathaoirligh. We leave it up to people to make that adult choice themselves, but Deputy Brian Walsh is evidently not aware of that and unfortunately he is not present to hear my response.

What is the charge for rates in the North?

That is the correct position. The bottom line is-----

-----that in relation to this specific amendment, No. 21 - I know the Minister, Deputy Kelly, has probably done his best to try to answer the question - it is a fact that the Bill will run into serious difficulty in the area of private rented accommodation, in particular situations where there is a quick turnover of tenancies. Those who will get into trouble are those who move from one accommodation to another. The Minister said it is easy to read the meters. It is not. I looked at the one outside my house and I will try to figure it out again but I have not worked out how to read it.

Deputy Stanley should start with the website.

I will go on to the website later. Apart from that, even if one is able to read the meter, Irish Water will not sort out the account in time for a tenant to get his or her deposit back. If one leaves No. 40 Bridge Street this evening and moves to No. 20 Forest Avenue in a matter of an hour, one will not have a deposit in one's hand. Minister, you probably lived in private rented accommodation in America-----

Deputy Stanley is not to address the Minister.

I am sorry. The Minister has probably lived in private rented accommodation in another jurisdiction. I do not know. I know he lived abroad.

Does Deputy Stanley consider Cork to be another jurisdiction?

I thought the Minister was in America for a while.

It is a different country.

That is okay. Fair enough. Someone who lived in private rented accommodation would know how difficult it is to get a deposit back. If there is any little upset at all, one will not get the deposit back.

I apologise. I lived in Brussels.

I knew you were overseas.

Does Deputy Stanley understand English? He must not address the Minister or have a private conversation with him.

The Minister keeps engaging me in conversation.

It is a rural thing.

There is a pair of you in it.

I was looking at you, Acting Chairman, but the Minister kept distracting me.

All I can say is Deputy Stanley is easily distracted.

If there is any bit of a problem then the deposit will be withheld. I foresee considerable problems in that regard. Even at this late stage, I urge the Minister to withdraw the amendment.

I have a lot of points to which I wish to respond that have arisen in the course of the debate. It was good to see the pat on the back from Fine Gael for the Minister to thank him for not going on a different path. The Labour Party could have but it decided to go along the Fine Gael path to implement the water charges in contravention of its mandate.

I am sorry. Does Deputy Murphy mean I got a pat on the back?

Yes. Fine Gael patted the Minister on the back.

I speak through the Chair, as is appropriate.

Unlike the Minister.

The difference is that the Labour Party has broken its electoral mandate. That is something Labour Party members have a problem with in terms of Syriza, that its members are trying to stick to their electoral mandate and apparently that is not how things are done.

I wish to respond to some of the points made by Deputies opposite in terms of the cohort of militant protesters - the mob that I was alleged to control without regard for rule or reason. I place on record that I control no mob whatsoever-----

The Deputy tells the mob what jobs he wants done.

-----and that the non-payment network in which I am involved, the We Won't Pay campaign, and the Right2Water campaign, are made up of anti-water charges campaigners, protesters, ordinary people involved in their local communities who have all regard for rule and reason. They are people who have been pinned to their collar and in some cases cannot afford to pay the water charges and in other cases refuse to pay on principle, but are part of the biggest social movement we have seen in this country for decades. The irony should not be lost on the House and the public of Deputies opposite referring to anti-democratic behaviour at the gates of the Parliament. Never mind the gates of the Parliament, let us look inside the Parliament and the way that this debate is being conducted. The debate will be guillotined at 9 o'clock. We will not get a chance to get through all of the amendments, but even if we agreed to stick to five minutes discussion on each and to get through them all, the point is that it is not proper scrutiny.

The point is that the amendments are not being scrutinised in any sense seriously. By not allowing a committee to examine them properly, the Government is not allowing space to scrutinise them. It is anti-democratic. The introduction of water charges, in contravention of the Labour Party's mandate, is also anti-democratic.

While amendment No. 21 places a legal obligation on everybody to register, the Minister's response is not 100% clear and I would like 100% clarity. His response suggests, incredibly, that the Government is introducing a legal obligation that carries no penalty for non-registration. I will deal with the penalties for non-payment, etc. later. I am not sure if it is normal to have a legal obligation that carries no penalty for non-compliance. Normally, laws go with sanctions for breaking them. I am interested in the Minister's returning to the point, not referring to other penalties that may apply. Although the amendment introduces a legal obligation to register with Irish Water, the amendments we have seen so far which effectively constitute a new Bill carry no penalty for non-registration. I would like 100% clarity on the matter.

It suits the Government to give the impression that water charges can be deducted from tenants' deposits. However, I asked the Minister to clarify - he did not answer - that where the bill was in the name of a tenant, the bill would follow the tenant. The bill cannot be deducted from the tenant's deposit. The landlord will not take it, has no incentive to take it and legally cannot do so. We need clarity on the matter before we vote on the amendments. The exception is a circumstance in which the landlord has not handed over the tenant's name or where the landlord puts the bill in his or her own name in short-term tenancies of a few months. In such a situation, in theory, it could be taken from the deposit under the tenancy agreement, but we need clarity. Where a landlord hands over the name, which he or she would have an obligation to do under the legislation, the bill will be in the tenant's name and, from then on, the landlord will have nothing to do with it and cannot reach in and deduct it from the tenant's deposit. As I suggested, the bill would follow the tenant without any reference to the landlord. I would like an answer from the Minister.

Incredibly, although nothing is incredible here anymore, the Minister claimed that, with others leading the non-payment campaign, who are proudly calling on people to boycott as a way to win, I am misinforming people about the consequences of not paying. He should read what we write, our leaflets, articles and the new frequently asked questions on the legislation which we have published. We are always explicitly clear about the penalties and consequences of non-payment. I will outline them and if I miss any, the Minister should feel free to add to them. We deal with people and the facts and show how the penalties and charges can be defeated.

By declining to register, people will miss out on the €100 conservation grant. The grant is a con. Although the Minister alleges that it will be paid for several years, I do not believe this. It is something to get people into the system. If the water charges remain, the grant will be discontinued. We all know that it has nothing to do with conservation. If the water charges are defeated, it will also be discontinued. There will be no penalties for non-payment until approximately July 2016, when a household with one adult will incur a penalty of €30 and a household with two adults or more will incur a penalty of €60. That is it. The Bill about which we will talk tomorrow and next week-----

The Deputy will not be talking about it. He will be sunning himself in Greece.

Although I will not be here, I will be voting on it and fighting in Greece against the same austerity agenda. I have confidence in the ability of Deputies Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins to talk along the same lines as I do.

We will miss the Deputy.

The Bill that will be discussed tomorrow applies only to debts owed and judgments already given by the court of at least €500. This means that it will take two years of non-payment before the first of two court cases could take place. We are not hiding it from people. We are saying that if the Government remains in power and committed to water charges, court cases could begin at the end of 2017. There must be two court cases before attachment of earnings orders can be applied. We are telling people we can defeat water charges, given that, before penalties apply, apart from the conservation grant which is a con, we will have something called an election. We will have the unfortunate intrusion of democracy which has the European elites so scared as they consider the situation in Greece. In a context in which a huge number of people are not paying, there will be immense pressure on all political parties in an election and the Government after it to abolish water charges.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party abolished water charges previously and fair play to them for doing so. It was not because they wanted to do it or due to a commitment to providing a free, decent public water supply for everybody in the country but because they were forced to do it by the pressure of non-payment and pending elections. A future Government can be forced to abolish water charges and the election is the key time when it could happen. People can boycott the water charges at least until the general election with no negative consequences. Penalties will apply in July 2016. Even if, after the general election, we have a Government that is intent on sticking with the water charges, we can defeat court action. During the previous water charges battle there were hundreds, if not slightly more than 1,000, court cases to try to disconnect people's water supply. However, they did not break non-payment. The court cases became a focal point of protest and political pressure. The people were not abandoned, as some suggested, and water charges were subsequently defeated. Only a small number of people can be taken to court and if the others mobilise to defend them, this can become more of an embarrassment and point of political pressure against the Government.

We do not misinform but inform people accurately, as a result of which they are not scared. The inaccurate information from the Government, the headlines the Minister managed to get suggesting Irish Water could deduct payments from wages, social welfare payments and pensions, in the same way as the property tax, is the only thing that intimidates people. It is why we have not seen the amendments until now. The Government's aim is to keep a cloud over what is taking place, to give the lie that there is more of a threat than there is. The truth empowers people. It gives them the confidence to stand up to the bullying and scaremongering taking place.

I would like the Minister to confirm the absence of a penalty for non-registration and that if a bill is in the tenant's name, the landlord cannot dip into the deposit, in line with the process for other utility bills such as those from the ESB and Bord Gáis.

I think I had another question which the Minister might have noted.

Was it something to do with Greece?

Would the Minister like to respond?

Yes, we are going around in circles. One of my colleagues printed off the meter reading process published on the website, which shows exactly how one can read one's meter. Deputy Paul Murphy can use whatever language and sell whatever message he wants. It is his own business and I cannot stop him, nor do I intend to. He can say he is going to defeat this, that and the other and fair play to him, if he believes in it. I believe in peaceful protest and have different views.

The Minister had the same views before he was elected.

We have many similar views within-----

The Minister's party did. He was not here.

The Minister is on his feet.

I thank the Deputy for the clarification. It is a fair point. The purpose of the Bill is to clarify who will be liable for water bills by setting out the respective responsibilities of landlords and tenants. If the landlord does not register the premises, he or she is liable for the bill. If somebody does not register with Irish Water, he or she will lose the €100 grant.

They have missed the deadline.

The Minister is on his feet.

The Deputy was proposing this long before the deadline. I presume people have already lost their €100 grant because they followed his advice. I will not call them a gang or a cabal. His supporters or friends did not register and they have lost €100 as a result. They will get the default bill and they will not be able to beat the cap. It could also cost them an accumulating fine and this can be dealt with under the debt legislation being brought through the House tomorrow. Deputy Paul Murphy will skip that debate when he flies over to Greece to show solidarity with his friends.

I had already booked.

He is going to show solidarity with the biggest political climb-down in the history of modern Europe. I fundamentally disagree with the Deputy that he is being straight up with people by claiming they will never have to pay. I wish him luck in that regard.

It is not what I said.

I do not agree with how he has been conducting his business. He is leading people to the top of the hill and then he will blatantly abandon them. I look forward to the day when he runs out of cheques to pay the bills of all the people who come to his door because of the advice he gave them. It is all very well to say there is a possibility but the reality is that he is leading people astray by telling them they will never have to pay for something. Unless he intends make a big climb-down to sit on this side of the House in order to change the legislation, which I do not believe he does because he cannot take responsibility or make hard decisions, what he promises will never happen. I agree with Deputy Ó Cuív that Deputy Murphy will abandon his people after he walks them to the top of the hill. I am looking forward to the day when he has to answer for that. We have to manage expectations and manage people in an appropriate and fair way. It is irresponsible to lead people up the garden path. The majority of us in this House believe that.

Deputy Murphy will not defeat this because it is the right thing to do for future generations and to provide an alternative model for water infrastructure. It is the right thing to do because it allowed me to launch a programme for 23,000 jobs today. It is the right thing to do for the people of counties Roscommon and Tipperary who have been on boil water notice for many years. Did the Deputy ever sit down with the major industries which are water dependent? I would like an answer to that question.

I sat down with their workers.

The Deputies can laugh but if major industries cannot plan on the basis of reliable and clean water supplies over the next 30 years, they will not invest in this country. That would impact on jobs and real people's lives. Would the Deputies feel a sense of responsibility to those people?

I am averse to debates on the rural-urban divide because I lived for many years in Cork and Dublin.

He is going to anyway.

I have to acknowledge that people in rural Ireland -----

He said all this already.

----- work in an important agriculture and food production industry.

Is he to be allowed to be repetitive?

I am not repeating anything. I am answering Deputy Murphy's questions. I never saw him speak to rural people. I would be surprised if he even knows how to find the countryside.

I heard him say that before.

I have not seen him speaking to large employers or those who work in water dependent agri-industries. I have not seen him visit group water schemes. In fact, I have not seen him pass the Red Cow roundabout.

He must have said that five times already in this debate.

This is the first time I said it.

I have heard it many times before.

It is the first time he heard me say it in this debate.

I remind the Minister that the Deputy represents a rural area behind Tallaght.

I forgot that. I withdraw everything.

I ask the Minister to conclude.

The Deputy will have to take responsibility for the misinformation he is giving out. He will disagree with me on that, of course, but he will be held to account for it when he is asked to pay the bills for the people he is misrepresenting.

I agree with him in regard to deposits. We are agreeing on more than we expected. Deposits are very important. I was in the rental sector for many years. I rented in Dublin and Cork. It is vital that tenants' deposits are protected for the right reasons, although there is a minority of cases in which it is the other way around. This is why I intend to introduce legislation to protect deposits. I have committed to such legislation and I am sure the Deputy will welcome it. However, if a customer of Irish Water is a tenant, Irish Water will have to pursue him or her as such.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 59; Staon, ; Níl, 26.

  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Brian Stanley and Ruth Coppinger.
Amendment declared carried.
Bill reported with amendment.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:

"(3) Part 8 and the Water Services Acts 2007 to 2014 may be cited together as the Water Services Acts 2007 to 2015.".

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 60; Níl, 27.

  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Brian Stanley and Ruth Coppinger.
Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 10, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

“PART 3

AMENDMENT OF FINANCE (EXCISE DUTIES) (VEHICLES) ACT 1952

Amendment of Finance (Excise Duties) (Vehicles) Act 1952

17. The Finance (Excise Duties) (Vehicles) Act 1952 is amended—

(a) in section 1, by inserting after subsection (3) the following:

“(3A) For the purposes of the description of any vehicle specified in Part I of the Schedule or in respect of any vehicle specified in subsection (4), the Minister may by regulations prescribe the following:

(a) the physical characteristics required of the vehicle;

(b) the dimensions or proportions of any fittings, fixtures or attachments to the vehicle—

(i) relating to the dimensions of such fittings, fixtures or attachments themselves, or

(ii) in relation to such dimensions relative to the height or width of the vehicle;

(c) the use or uses to which the vehicle may be put or limited;

(d) any documentation required to support a claim for a particular rate of duty.”,

and

(b) in Part I (as amended by section 4 of the Motor Vehicle (Duties and Licences) Act 2013) of the Schedule, in paragraph 4, by substituting for clause (e) the following:

“(e) a motor caravan, being a vehicle which is designed, constructed or adapted to provide temporary living accommodation which has a minimum interior height as may be prescribed and measured in such manner as may be prescribed and, in respect of which vehicle, such design, construction or adaptation incorporates the following permanently fixed equipment and fittings—

(i) a sink unit,

(ii) cooking equipment of not less than a hob with 2 rings or such other cooking equipment as may be prescribed,

(iii) fitted storage with a maximum dimension as may be prescribed in regulations by the Minister, and

(iv) any other equipment or fittings as may be prescribed in regulations by the Minister,

and where such equipment and fittings comprise a proportion of the interior area of the vehicle as may be prescribed in regulations by the Minister,”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, are out of order.

Amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, not moved.

On a point of order, amendment No. 7, which I tabled, has been ruled out of order. I ask the Minister to listen for just a couple of minutes-----

The Minister has brought in legislation-----

The Deputy must sit down. This is completely out of order.

-----whereby youngsters going to college have to get a permit from the EPA-----

This is completely out of order. Will the Deputy, please, sit down?

-----to go around and sell a few bags of timber or anything like that. Will the Minister consider this issue because it is a disgrace that youngsters are being treated this way?

The Minister cannot consider it.

The Deputy is misinterpreting the legislation.

I have not misinterpreted it. I had it checked out.

What about the fellow selling strawberries?

I ask the Minister not to engage with the Deputy. He is totally out of order.

What about the fellow on the side of the road?

Will the Minister please move amendment No. 10? Recommital is necessary in respect of this amendment.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 10 to 13, inclusive.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 23, line 25, to delete “the deletion of “or” ” and substitute “the substitution of “under section 106,” for “under section 106, or” ”.

This amendment clarifies a change of wording introduced by the Bill, as initiated, to the text of section 99A of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992.

I wanted to ask a number of things about this amendment. This is clearly an industry in which there has been a history of problems. I see Deputy Lawlor is leaving the Chamber, and if one takes Naas, for example, a mountain of waste was allowed to develop and it burned for weeks before the fire brigade was called in. Remediation costs were somewhere in the region of €40 million. Are the fines adequate? It looks like there will be a reduction in the fine.

On amendment No. 12-----

We are on amendment No. 10.

I apologise. I was speaking to amendment No. 11.

We will be on to that one in a second, I hope.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 58; Staon, ; Níl, 29.

  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Brian Stanley and Ruth Coppinger.
Amendment declared carried.

Recommital is necessary in respect of amendment No. 11 and the related amendment No. 12, as they relate to the instruction to committee motion. They are to be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 25, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 10 of Act of 1996

33. Section 10 of the Act of 1996 is amended by—

(a) in subsection (1)(a), the substitution of “class A fine” for “fine not exceeding €3,000”, and

(b) in section 10(2)—

(i) the insertion of “34(1)(c), in so far as the offence consists of contravention of a condition attached, under section 34(7)(d), to a waste collection permit,

34(10A), 34A(13)” after “33(8)”, and

(ii) the substitution of “class A fine” for “fine not exceeding €3,000”.”.

Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 are related to enforcement and the strengthened enforcement regime that will apply to collectors under the new regulatory framework for the collection of household waste. Amendment No. 11 inserts a new section 33 into the Bill. This section provides for the amendment of section 10 of the Waste Management Act, 1996 to bring it into accord with the Fines Act, 2010. It also designates proposed offences by collectors, punishable by fixed payment notice, and an offence of providing misleading, false information as non-indictable offences.

Amendment No. 12 inserts a new section 34 which, in turn, provides for the insertion of a new section 10B into the Waste Management Act to provide for the introduction of a number of fixed payment notices or on-the-spot fines for household waste collectors where they commit certain offences that constitute a breach of specified conditions of a permit. Examples of permit breaches that would attract new fixed payment notices include a failure to carry a copy of the relevant waste collection permit in a waste collection truck, a failure to display a permit number on a collection truck, and deposition of waste at a facility other than the facility named on the collection permit. The fixed payment notice is to be set at €500. As with other fixed payment notice arrangements beyond the legislation, if the person chooses not to pay the fine, the local authority can initiate a formal prosecution for the offence.

The fixed payment notice is being used on the basis that the punishment for a minor offence of a €500 fine should be swift and proportionate and should not require a court case which takes up valuable local authority enforcement and court resources. Other more serious breaches are not suitable for fixed payment notices and will remain indictable. For example, where a collector breaches a condition relating to the requirement to operate a pay by weight system, its permit will automatically fall for review with the possibility of revocation.

There are really three Bills in one. There is probably no difficulty with some of the provisions, but it would have been very helpful to have had a decent Second Stage debate to discuss some of the issues being addressed by way of amendments.

The waste industry has left a trail of destruction in its wake in some parts of the country and some of the problems have been very expensive to remediate. There have been improvements during the years, but I still have very serious concerns about oversight, the industry and the ability of the EPA and local authorities to monitor waste management. Essentially, remediation has cost an absolute fortune in some areas. I have referred before to the waste mountain that grew on the outskirts of Naas. It was only when it went on fire that it became an issue of national importance. The fire service was on site for three or four weeks. The then Minister, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, more or less said the authorities had better go in and do what was needed, but there had been complaints to the EPA for years, in spite of which the waste mountain continued to grow. It is costing in the region of €40 million to remediate the problem and we do not know what damage was done to watercourses.

There are similar circumstances in County Meath where groundwater was poisoned by dumping. It caused serious health problems which cannot be quantified. Therefore, it is really important that we get waste legislation right.

With regard to amendment No. 11, it seems there is a reduction in the fine from €5,000 to €3,000. Is this in line with the Fines Act? Is it a new figure or a figure that has been varied?

With regard to amendment No. 12, there is a fixed penalty. The Minister referred to a failure to have a permit and a failure to be visually compliant. I am all in favour of cutting down on administration if something can be done in a much more direct way. In this regard, I have some proposals to make on parking fines in other legislation. If a local authority does have to prosecute, will the fine be substantially more? Will it encourage local authorities to commence court proceedings? It can be so draining and expensive administratively to take the court route. However, I accept the Minister's point that this is about ensuring compliance or, at the very least, visual compliance.

I support the amendments. There is nothing that Deputy Catherine Murphy said with which I would not agree. Her points were very relevant and pertinent. In some ways, I have similar comments to make.

I congratulate the Minister on the overall legislation, including this amendment. He has been extraordinarily proactive and grasped very difficult issues in his Department. He has done so with extraordinary deftness and success. These are issues that, for the sake of the people, we have a responsibility to address. Issues include providing clean water on demand for all citizens and having a proper waste management system. Even if it is unpopular to implement proposals in this regard and it does not appear politically smart at the outset, we must do what is right. Ultimately, that is what we are in government to do. This Minister is an extraordinary good example in that regard. Having served in Seanad Éireann with him for five years, I am not surprised that his calibre is reflected in his ministry.

I am in favour of the concept of the fixed payment on the grounds that it prevents unnecessary, cumbersome and expensive court cases. It prevents the waste of the apparatus of the legal system which needs to be deployed elsewhere.

The fixed fine is a very good option. It must deal with illegal dumping and misconduct by alleged contractors.

We should lower the costs of waste collection at every conceivable opportunity. We all know how burdened our people are and the sacrifices they have had to make over the past four or five years. We should lower the cost of waste collection and processing while having a fit-for-purpose regime.

I am interested in the concept of weight as a method of achieving recycling rather than a flat annual charge. I am very hopeful this will produce good results. I would be interested in hearing the Minister's comments on this. If people pay for waste collection by weight, they are more likely to recycle. I am hopeful this would be the outcome. I am not sure enough is done in composting. It is an area of recycling that offers a lot of potential and I hope we could encourage that. In my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan, we are very lucky to have very effective waste management policies and very good local authorities dealing with it. We have very good recycling centres. The town in which I am privileged to live, Bailieborough, has an exemplary and well-run recycling centre that is well used. That is the case throughout the constituency. Recycling needs to be dealt with.

The other area that needs effective action is illegal dumping. If we encourage recycling, make waste collection as cheap as possible and avoid illegal dumping, the Minister would be remembered for yet another enormous success within the Department because this is a very real issue. Illegal dumping is a threat to tourism and public health and is a crime against those who pay their charges. There have been obscene and reprehensible examples of illegal dumping in some very scenic parts of County Cavan with detrimental effects on public health. A very vigilant waste management policy is dealing with it and we have had a lot of success in that area. Will the Minister respond to me about illegal dumping, the use of fixed fines and immediate processing to get people to comply and to regard illegal dumping in the same way they properly regard drink driving, as culturally unacceptable?

We need fit-for-purpose waste collection and recycling systems, domestic recycling through composting and education in that regard. There are many good developments relating to green flags in schools and developing awareness. There are many examples of good things happening in our schools, communities and recycling centres, so there is much to be happy about. However, we should never be complacent about these things.

I am anxious that we progress waste management, get rid of the blight of illegal dumping and encourage recycling. I am very taken with the concept of the fixed charge and I look forward to speaking on the new debt Bill in this regard. The wasteful use of the courts is a pity when there are so many delays in proper cases, including criminal procedures, that should be going ahead. Where possible, fixed fines should be used and debt collection should be by attachment order. We should not waste prison spaces on debtors and the courts system on offenders in the waste area.

This is good, reforming and courageous legislation. That it is not always politically acceptable in the narrow, short-term and populist sense might be an indication that it is ultimately in the long-term good.

When I looked at this, I tried to understand why we would be lowering a fine for breaches of waste collection legislation. Who is the Minister targeting? I assume he is not talking about large waste management companies with large contracts. I had the impression on reading it that he might be directing it at smaller-scale clothes collectors and the preponderance of unofficial collecting of waste. I am at a loss as to why we would lower a fine from €5,000 to €3,000. If it is directed at companies, I would have thought something like €3,000 would not be that much of a disincentive. This question relates to amendment No. 11.

Amendment No. 12 concerns a fixed penalty of €500 for people suspected of not having a waste collection permit. Will the Minister differentiate between the two amendments and give us an idea of the kind of groups he is targeting?

One of the previous speakers mentioned composting. I am not too sure these amendments get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter with regard to waste is minimising what we produce. If we can minimise the problem we are creating in the first place, we are putting lasting solutions in place. We have not turned the waste hierarchy 360 degrees yet in that the first thing we start talking about is recycling. Recycling, or at worst landfill, deals with waste at the end. Recycling is only the second worst option but it is obviously a better option than just disposal or incineration. We should be working the other way around. It should be waste minimisation at source.

A suggestion was put forward yesterday about universal-type bottles that could be agreed. Every company that produces paper produces it in A4 size. There are other good examples. It would be good if we could make some progress on this and reduce the amount we are producing. For some reason, much of the drinks containers that are disposed of are Coca-Cola containers. I am not too sure why this is the case. I know that a lot of Coca-Cola is consumed. Most people who drink Coca-Cola dispose of the containers properly but many bottles and other containers are just dumped out of car windows all over the place. One can see them on the slip roads coming off the motorways and local authority personnel have to pick them up. Tidy Towns committees and residents' associations like the one in which I am involved also have to keep picking this stuff up.

The Minister talks about a fixed fine. In general, a fixed notice is okay but the problem I see is that a fixed notice of €3,000 is a severe enough penalty for a small operator or someone who commits an offence under this section or section 10 of the 1996 Act. It could be argued that it might be a bit over the top in some cases. We have heard about and seen some terrible cases of dumping in all counties and waste being transported between jurisdictions.

We all want to get on top of this and to stamp it out. Amendment No. 12 proposes at subsection (1), paragraph (b): "the person may, during the period of 21 days beginning on the date of the notice make to the local authority concerned at the address specified in the notice a payment of €500 in respect of that offence, accompanied by the notice,". My concern is that the scale of the fine may not be appropriate. It needs to be matched to the crime. The fixed notice is a one-size-fits-all situation which does not always do justice.

I refer to a further provision in amendment No. 1 at subsection (4) "Moneys received by a local authority pursuant to the giving of a fixed payment notice shall be lodged to the credit of the local fund maintained by the local authority concerned pursuant to, and in accordance with, section 97 of the Local Government Act 2001 and expended in accordance with that section". Has the Minister any view at this stage of how that fund could be utilised in order to help the environment or to deal with environmental issues? The flaw in the amendments is that they do not appear to take into account the scale of the offences or the scale of the operation involved. I have come across some terrible situations relating to waste management and illegal dumps with the local authorities trying to undo terrible harm caused by many thousands of tonnes of waste - dangerous waste in some cases - disposed of in a very hazardous way and with the potential for causing pollution and causing pollution to water courses and aquifers. We want to see this stopped as well as encouraging the public to be more vigilant.

When I was in primary school which was a few years ago now-----

It could not be that long ago.

It is a while ago, unfortunately. We were taught to be vigilant about litter and the Tidy Towns committees were starting to get bedded down at the time. I recently attended the hoisting of a green flag in a number of schools. We seem to come back to the point where the amount of waste being disposed of is incredible. People throw waste out of car windows. In one car park I saw four separate piles of litter. This is an occasional occurrence on weekend mornings. A person will wind down the car windows and throw out the litter of takeaway containers and drinks containers onto the path. The scale of that practice is not the same as a big operator who is dumping thousands of tonnes of rubbish in a serious and hazardous way over a lengthy period. The mechanisms available to local authorities are very weak when they try to pursue these operators and to undo the damage. I remember hazardous waste being dumped in a rural area very close to houses. It took years to pursue that case-----

Was that anywhere near the Border because that is where it goes on?

If it was near the Border we would pursue it in the very same way. This was quite close to the Minister's county. The same rules should apply everywhere. The Administration in the North is facing the same challenges as the Minister's county council in Tipperary and Laois County Council. This problem is not confined to a particular corner of the island but we must try to deal with it and get on top of it.

The weakness in both amendments is the level of fine which may not match the scale of the offence. What has the Minister in mind with regard to the moneys received by the local authority pursuant to the giving of a fixed payment notice?

Deputy Catherine Murphy raised a very serious issue of which I am well aware. It is in the Deputy's own neck of the woods. That was a serious issue which is being dealt with. There is a learning opportunity from that and other issues. This is all the more reason to introduce this legislation. We might argue about individual components but in the broad strokes I would expect the majority of people to be in favour of the legislation.

The waste industry needs to mature and it needs to accept its responsibilities. I refer to the fly-by-night operators, the people not being responsible in the industry and the people who probably should not be in that industry or are behaving in a manner that shows they should not be in that industry. Those days are over. I have taken a very tough line with that industry because it was necessary to do so from what I have received. The industry did not live up to what was expected of it and the standards it was meant to maintain. I put the industry on very high alert that if they did not step up to the mark - I am still saying this publicly - I will look at changing the system under which they work. That option is open to me. I will look at the issue of how permits are given and I will look at a lot more aspects as well.

This legislation is very necessary. It will bring a level of maturity to the industry and it will ensure that we move in a direction whereby those who have invested in performing satisfactorily in the industry will be able to do so and those who do not will simply have to exit. From a regulatory point of view we thought it important to ensure greater oversight as a result of many of the issues which are familiar to Members. We are putting in place regional authorities across the local authorities. There will be three regional authorities which will have oversight of enforcement.

Deputy Stanley asked a specific question for which I compliment him as it is a good question. He asked where the money that is collected goes. It goes straight back into enforcement to ensure that we have greater enforcement. It is all very well having this legislation passed but there is a need for proper enforcement.

Deputy Catherine Murphy asked about the fixed fines and whether they will be lower.

They are not coming down; they are being brought in line with the Fines Act. It is as simple as that.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked about the distinction between the fixed payment fines of €500 and €3,000. By way of example, the €500 on-the-spot fine would be for not displaying proper identification or proper discs. They are similar offences that are minor in nature. The €3,000 fine applies to other offences such as if an operator is not adhering to anything included in the permit, for example, if it does not have a customer charter in place or is not adhering to the charging structure under the permit and similar offences. We already have comprehensive legislation covering this area. Obviously, we have powers to deal with people who commit these offences. On indictment we have the capacity to fine offenders up to €15 million and anything in between. Therefore, we have the capacity to deal with them.

I have said publicly that there are many problems with this industry and that it needs to mature to a level that has not previously been seen. I firmly believe those who behave in an unacceptable manner should be dealt with. My desire is to ensure enforcement is at a level to ensure that will happen. That is why we are introducing this suite of legislation on waste.

I wish to come back in on a few issues relating to enforcement. The Minister spoke about learning lessons and we have to do that. In the Naas experience it was the community, through Clean Air Naas, that demanded intervention and it came at a very late stage. Regarding the organisations that would have had responsibility, it is one thing to have good legislation, but, obviously, it needs to be enforced. Who will issue the fixed payment notices? It is included in the civil code. Presumably, they will be issued by the local authorities. Are there designated individuals? Is it part of the local authorities' workforce planning to have such individuals? Will they be chasing around after bin trucks? How does it manifest itself? If it will be done by the local authorities, they will distribute the work and will want the return on time. If only a very small number end up being fined, it may mean that it will not result in fines actually being paid. Different local authorities have varying staffing ratios which impact on their capacity to do things. I have addressed this issue with the Minister in another forum. For example, Kerry County Council has twice the number of staff Meath County Council has, even though more people live in County Meath. I often use this example because it is a very good comparator. Therefore, the ability to do the job may vary, depending on the local authority involved.

I am not sure if the EPA has an involvement. If it does, it can be very good on the technical side, but I question if it has the hands-on capacity required. It may not have a role in this issue. It has an expanded role in climate legislation, meaning that its workload has been expanded. I ask the Minister to address the issue of enforcement.

On the scale of the offence involved, the Minister referred to operators not adhering to what was included in the permit or the waste licence. That could be a major matter or involve a number of major matters in terms of non-compliance. If there are major issues and the operation is of a substantial scale, a fine of €3,000 will not frighten a large operator that could run it to the edge in the hope it would not get caught and if it did, it would not be the end of the world, given that it would be a fixed charge of €3,000. Its one-size-fits-all nature will not do justice in terms of what should happen if a contractor is found guilty of an offence.

I have noticed that all small waste collection operators have been squeezed out. I know of one small operator who has managed to keep going, but he has another job also. He undertakes waste collection in a very small way and has a permit from the local authority. He provides a Friday evening and Saturday bag collection service. Such operators are finding it very difficult to continue operating, with most of them having been squeezed out. The operator mentioned is for providing segregation of waste, which we support.

Legislation in the first instance on minimising the waste we produce has been very weak. I have not seen evidence that we are trying to ramp it up in order that we deal with issue before waste is produced. We could save money in having to dispose of it. For environmental purposes, creating all of this waste is a waste of energy, as well as money. It imposes a cost on householders and retailers in having to dispose of it. A fine of €3,000 for not adhering to the requirements of a permit or waste licence will not terrify the daylights out of the biggest waste operators in the State.

Notwithstanding what has been discussed about waste, there is another definition of it. We have more of an issue with what might be classified as waste that has been removed from development sites. This is becoming a serious issue in my area and others. Much of this waste is covered under Article 37 where the developer decides to move from one site to another and makes a self-determination as to what the waste is. There was an incident recently where material was brought from a development in town to the Kerdiffstown site that Deputy Catherine Murphy mentioned. However, there has been a very slow response from the local authorities and the EPA. The EPA always washes its hands of it and gives it back to the local authority.

This arises where there is self-determination by the developer or the waste removal company, mostly of inert material. The EPA dictates that certain inert materials cannot be moved from one area to another that it is not compatible with. That leads to fierce problems for those who operate proper licensed waste facilities. I am talking about inert material, not the material this Bill deals with. Who takes control of it? Local authorities are very slow to remove it but when the EPA is contacted it refers it to the local authority. We need to do something about this quickly because there is a lot of unauthorised dumping because we do not have the facilities to take the subsoil and material like that from construction sites. In certain cases it is not tested and no one knows what kind of contamination there may be in it. I see it being moved to unauthorised sites daily. There is one site adjacent to the Kerdiffstown site and the local authority has had difficulty getting the operator to cease the movement. Will the Minister comment on how to dispose of that inert material, how to licence landfills quickly and monitor it?

There has been a problem for several years about those who are authorised to collect waste and those who are not. It is necessary to ensure that the system of penalties for those in breach of the licensing regulations is accurate. I am involved with Liberties Recycling which recycles clothes. It is mainly a community employment project which also tries to "recycle" people, namely, those who have suffered from drug addiction. The company has a waste collection permit because when collecting second-hand clothes we end up collecting waste which we must then off-load. We have come across several sharp operators with no licence who cost us because they were continually robbing our clothing banks and those of many charities. In some ways, however, this amendment will make no difference to them because the charities regulation was never fully in place. People are familiar with the stickers that come into their letter boxes saying this or that charity will collect clothes. No such thing exists; it is often a fraud. This undermines those who go through the licensing process while those who try to comply with the law pay more for a small infringement than those who rob charities and others.

I heard it said earlier that a fine not exceeding €3,000 would not cause much worry to some of the big operators. I understand the logic behind it is that the penalty has to be commensurate with the possibility of a three, six or 12 month conviction. What action will be taken against companies which continue to breach the regulations? I understand what the Minister said but these companies often change their name and directors. Another company ends up being fined. As we have seen lately, some companies in Ireland seem to operate on several fronts at the same time although the general public sees a single company.

I am not saying there is no merit in this. These amendments should have been made to a different Bill where there was the opportunity to bring the stakeholders before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht to go through this. I know the Minister and the Department have examined this and that it has not come out of the blue but it is still a bad process.

There are other waste issues that need to be addressed. They are not addressed here and this is probably not the right place for them but in this city there is a huge amount of asbestos. There are small portions of it in houses built by Dublin City Council yet if a householder wants to remove it he or she must get a waste collector licensed just to collect asbestos, which requires a higher standard than the collection of normal waste. That means, however, that there is an extra cost involved and those people will break down the sheet of corrugated asbestos, creating a danger to themselves and everybody else, and dump it with their normal rubbish. There has been no specific programme by any Government to try to target the areas where there is asbestos in houses or in sheds beside those houses, or in old buildings. The owner of the house has to pay to remove the asbestos. In many cases people have bought houses from the local authority without knowing that there may be asbestos in them. I do not know whether if they were found to be dumping asbestos mixed with other waste it would be enough to say they did not know it was there and the maximum fine would be €3,000. There are differences in the nature of the breaches but the penalty is the same. For many companies €3,000 is not a huge amount of money. The €3,000 is to replace class A fines. I have argued with various Ministers for Justice that fines should be index-linked. This Minister might consider that too.

We have seen, when we have replaced laws that are over 20 years old, that the fines seem ridiculous because we have moved on in terms of money. The level of the fine set by the Minister here, which is €3,000, is not enough in some ways and is too much in others. However, in ten years time it will probably be minuscule as a fine yet the Minister is setting it in stone rather than looking to the future.

I hope the Minister will have the opportunity to respond to some of those questions. A lot more needs to be done in terms of ensuring whatever waste is collected is segregated properly. We must also do more in terms of recycling in Ireland, given much of the material is sent abroad for recycling, so that it is somebody else's problem. I know the companies pay for it-----

Like tyres. There is a huge market for tyres. If one talks to the tyre companies, they will say how many they produce. However, the companies that recover tyres are asking where the tyres have disappeared to. They are not all on Orange bonfires so that means we have a problem in that somebody is dumping them somewhere. In the countryside, we can see them on hay bales and so on.

There are many on top of silage.

There is no problem with that because they are visible. However, the problem is those who are dumping them at scenic sites around the country or burning them, whether in the city or not. In my area, fires are regularly set by different groups, although it is usually not tyres but other material they are burning, such as electrical wires and the like in order to get copper from them. In some areas this is at epidemic proportions and it sometimes means gardaí have to be called to stop it because it is affecting the community, particularly if there are elderly neighbours. That is one of the problems.

There is also the question of glass. I remember as a child bringing glass down to the Irish Glass Bottle Company in the city in order to get pocket money, and we would go door-to-door to collect the glass. The Minister should try to encourage more groups to set up in order to recycle specific material that was previously sent abroad. There has been a huge debate about the incinerator in Dublin. One of the problems we will now have is the attempt to keep the incinerator going, if it is ever built at Poolbeg. We might end up having to supply it with material which previously would have been recycled because the incinerator's appetite is so vast that it might require waste from outside the city or some of the recyclable materials to be fed into it. That is a serious concern although it is a debate for a different day and I will not rehash it now.

I thank the Deputies for their contributions. Deputy Catherine Murphy is correct that enforcement is much needed. As I said in my earlier contribution on this amendment, we are bringing in a structure across the country for which the local authorities are responsible and which they will have to enforce. We cannot continue as we are in regard to enforcement and we need a completely new regime. My colleagues have been working on this with me over a period of time. We will have three key regional authorities which will supervise, for want of a better phrase, all local authorities within their remit in regard to adhering to standards and a level of enforcement. That is necessary. I do not know yet what form the three local authorities will take because there is a shared services competition underway at present to find out in what way they will be set up.

With regard to staffing, as Members are aware I have allocated many more staff to the local authorities in recent times, in particular because it was necessary to ramp up in regard to housing, planning, engineering and so on. However, we are also looking at the whole area of enforcement and the environmental section. I want to make that point.

With regard to how we deal with this on a practical level, an environmental officer will supervise waste trucks on the route and will stop the trucks, if necessary. Through the regional and sub-regional regime we are putting in place, there will be a consistent process for doing this. Therefore, waste collectors need to know they are going to be supervised and inspected. They should remember that if they get three fixed notices, they will be automatically reviewed and can lose their permit. I believe that is a good thing. It is not about the €500 alone; it is about the fact they will be reviewed if they are caught three times. Everyone should welcome that.

With regard to the contravention of the permit and the €3,000 fine, we have brought everything in line with the Fines Act. If somebody is indicted on an offence such as this, they will automatically be reviewed. In that scenario, there is quite a strong possibility that somebody will fail the fit and proper persons test and, obviously, they then cannot operate.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh made reference to the position of directors, which is a very valid point. If directors operating in this area go through this process and their permit is taken off them, they are all in that boat. I believe that change is welcome. To be fair, it is an issue that has been raised with me by a number of people. We are putting in place an infrastructure of enforcement in tandem with this Bill and the award in regard to the regional authorities will be completed very soon.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh also raised the issue of those who are collecting rubbish and undertaking activities in a way that is inappropriate. There is no yellow card in this scenario. They should simply be dealt with by the local authorities under the enforcement structure I spoke about. They are not licensed and they should be dealt with - it is as simple as that. I agree this is about enforcement and having the resources around enforcement to deal with this problem. In this whole area, there needs to be a dialling up of enforcement. That will happen and I have said I am committing to it.

With regard to cleaning up this industry, it is an industry that has a lot of issues, including labour issues, with which the Minister of State, Deputy Nash, is dealing. This whole industry needs to move in a direction based on the legislation, regulations and changes in enforcement that are now being brought through, working through the various agencies and the local authorities. If the industry has not got that message, Members should please help me to give it that message. Trust me, this is going to happen and it is happening in a real way. In my role, I will not tolerate the behaviour that has gone on in the past. There has been completely unacceptable behaviour by many of the collectors in many different facets of what they do. We are going to deal with every single one of those.

Deputy Lawlor asked a very valid question in regard to end-of-life waste criteria.

The work in regard to streamlining that process is ongoing, but it will come to a conclusion soon. The timelines in that regard are not what they should be and need to be dealt with. A decision will be made soon.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 28, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“Fixed payment notice for certain offences relating to waste collection permit

34. The Act of 1996 is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 10A:

“10B. (1)Where an authorised person has reasonable grounds for believing that a person has committed an offence under section 34(1)(c), in so far as the offence consists of contravention of a condition attached, under section 34(7)(d), to a waste collection permit, the authorised person may give to the person a notice in writing (in this Act referred to as a ‘fixed payment notice’) in the prescribed form stating that—

(a) the person is alleged to have committed that offence,

(b) the person may, during the period of 21 days beginning on the date of the notice make to the local authority concerned at the address specified in the notice a payment of €500 in respect of that offence, accompanied by the notice,

(c) the person is not obliged to make the payment specified in the notice, and

(d) a prosecution of the person to whom the notice is given in respect of the offence will not be instituted during the period of 21 days beginning on the date of the notice and, if the payment specified in the notice is made during that period, no prosecution in respect of that offence will be instituted.

(2) Where a fixed payment notice is given—

(a) the person to whom it applies may, during the period of 21 days beginning on the date of the notice, make to the local authority concerned, at the address specified in the notice, the payment specified in the notice accompanied by the notice,

(b) the local authority concerned shall receive the payment and shall, upon receipt of the payment, issue a receipt for it and any payment so received shall not be recoverable by the person who made it and the local authority shall retain the money for disposal in accordance with subsection (4), and

(c) a prosecution in respect of the alleged offence shall not be instituted in the period specified in the notice, and if the payment so specified in the notice is made during that period, no prosecution in respect of the alleged offence shall be instituted.

(3) In proceedings for an offence under section 34(1)(c), in so far as the offence consists of contravention of a condition attached, under section 34(7)(d), to a waste collection permit, it shall be a defence for the defendant to prove that he or she has made a payment, in accordance with this section, pursuant to a fixed payment notice issued in respect of that offence.

(4) Moneys received by a local authority pursuant to the giving of a fixed payment notice shall be lodged to the credit of the local fund maintained by the local authority concerned pursuant to, and in accordance with, section 97 of the Local Government Act 2001 and expended in accordance with that section.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Recommittal is required in respect of amendment No. 13 and the other related amendments, as they relate to the Instruction to the Committee motion. The amendments are amendments Nos. 14 and 15, inclusive, and amendments Nos. 18 and 19.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 28, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 34 of Act of 1996

35. Section 34 of the Act of 1996 is amended by—

(a) in subsection (1)—

(i) in paragraph (a), the substitution of “collect or transport waste” for “collect waste”,

(ii) in paragraph (aa), the substitution of “the functions under this section or section 34A in relation to waste collection permits or review of waste collection permits” for “the functions under this section in relation to waste collection permits”, and

(iii) in paragraph (b)—

(I) the substitution of “collection or transport of waste” for “collection of any class or classes of waste”, and

(II) the substitution of “collection or transport” for “collection” in the next 2 places where it occurs,

(b) the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (1):

“(1A) In this section—

‘waste’ means different waste, including household waste, or a class or classes of waste as may be prescribed;

‘household waste’ means different household waste or a class or classes of household waste as may be prescribed.”,

(c) in subsection (2)(a), the substitution of “collection or transport of hazardous waste” for “collection of hazardous waste”,

(d) the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (4):

“(4) A local authority shall not grant a waste collection permit unless it is satisfied that—

(a) the applicant is a fit and proper person within the meaning of section 34D to hold a waste collection permit, and

(b) the activity concerned would not, if carried on in accordance with such conditions as may be attached to the permit, cause environmental pollution, and that the grant of the permit is consistent with the objectives of the relevant waste management plan or the hazardous waste management plan, as the case may be, and the implementation of that plan.”,

(e) in subsection (5)(a)—

(i) the substitution of “(3) and (4)” for “(3), (4) and (6)”, and

(ii) the insertion of “under section 34A” after “may be revoked”,

(f) the deletion of subsection (6),

(g) the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (7):

“(7) (a) Conditions attached to a waste collection permit shall specify the requirements to be complied with by the holder of the permit (‘permit holder’) in respect of the activities to which the permit relates (‘activities concerned’).

(b) Conditions may, or, if the Minister so prescribes under paragraph (e) or subsection (11)(b)(v), shall be attached under paragraph (a) to a waste collection permit specifying requirements in relation to the following:

(i) weighing of household waste collected or transported;

(ii) reporting of the weight of household waste collected or transported to the person who presents the household waste for collection being either the original waste producer or, as the case may be, the person who arranges, on behalf of more than one original waste producer occupying apartments, duplexes, maisonettes or any combination of such dwellings for collection of their waste (‘person who presents household waste for collection’);

(iii) subject to paragraph (f)(i) and (ii), charging of fees for household waste collection or transport services;

(iv) in relation to collection of household waste, preparing and publishing a customer charter and its form and content;

(v) providing information to the person who presents household waste for collection that identifies the vehicle used for that collection;

(vi) requiring that waste is segregated before it can be collected or transported;

(vii) providing separate receptacles for different household waste;

(viii) collection or transport of different household waste at specified frequencies;

(ix) with regard to persons from whom household waste is collected by an authorised waste collector, providing the following information to the local authority, when requested to do so under section 18, regarding collections of household waste from those persons—

(I) details of the collection of separate classes of household waste,

(II) details of persons who choose not to partake in the collection of separate classes of household waste,

(III) details of when household waste was last collected, and

(IV) written confirmation of the structure of the fees being charged to the person from whom the waste is collected, including, where appropriate, billing information which indicates the pay by weight charge element of the fees charged for the collection of household waste.

(c) Conditions may, or if the Minister so prescribes under paragraph (e) or subsection (11)(b)(v), shall also be attached under paragraph (a) to a waste collection permit specifying requirements in relation to the following:

(i) waste which may be collected;

(ii) separate collection of waste;

(iii) prohibition of certain practices by a permit holder in order that waste which has been segregated prior to collection or transport does not become unsuitable for recycling or recovery;

(iv) the place to which waste is required to be delivered for preparation for reuse, recovery or disposal;

(v) methods, receptacles (including skips and skip bags) and vehicles to be employed by a permit holder in the collection or transport of waste, including requirements regarding dimensions of receptacles, care and disposal of the contents of the receptacles, the periods during which receptacles may be left in a public place, the locations from which different receptacles may be collected, the supervision by the permit holder of their use and the restriction to such persons as may be prescribed of the placing in or removal from any place of receptacles;

(vi) the display of identifying marks or colours on a receptacle or vehicle referred to in subparagraph (v);

(vii) complying with technical, environmental, inspection or safety measures or standards (including standards regarding the presentation, segregation, weighing, packaging or labelling of waste);

(viii) keeping and preserving of records and supplying information to the local authority, or any other person as may be prescribed, in relation to the activities concerned;

(ix) effecting and maintaining a policy of insurance insuring the permit holder as respects any liability on his or her part to pay damages or costs on account of injury to a person or property arising from the activities concerned;

(x) matters consequent on measures that may be taken under section 35;

(xi) matters consequent on measures that may be taken under Part II;

(xii) matters consequent on giving effect to Community Acts;

(xiii) information to be furnished to customers (including providing information to customers on the presentation, segregation, packaging or labelling of waste or the charges payable for its collection or transport);

(xiv) matters consequent on the implementation and demonstration of the implementation of the waste hierarchy referred to in section 21A;

(xv) undergoing specified training in relation to the activities concerned;

(xvi) inspecting and acceptance of waste by a permit holder;

(xvii) effecting and maintaining an environmental management system, within the meaning of section 27, in respect of the activities concerned;

(xviii) the hours between which waste concerned may be collected in specified areas;

(xix) effecting and maintaining a customer complaint management system;

(xx) preventing the occurrence of littering from vehicles in the course of the activities concerned;

(xxi) having information, in such form as may be specified in a waste collection permit, to accompany and be carried in the vehicle transporting the waste;

(xxii) as respects contamination that may be caused by the incorrect separation of household waste from other waste in receptacles for segregated household waste—

(I) monitoring by a permit holder of levels of contamination,

(II) recording and maintaining specified data on levels of contamination,

(III) training to be provided for staff of a permit holder in relation to monitoring contamination, or

(IV) protocols and procedures where contamination is detected by the collector, including for informing the person who presents household waste for collection or non-collection of the receptacle.

(d) Conditions shall be attached under paragraph (a) to a waste collection permit specifying requirements in relation to the following:

(i) collection only of a European Waste Catalogue waste type specified on the waste collection permit;

(ii) deposit of waste only at a facility specified on the waste collection permit;

(iii) use only of a vehicle specified on the waste collection permit for the collection of waste;

(iv) carrying of a copy, in a form specified in the permit, of the waste collection permit on each vehicle;

(v) display of the permit holder name or number on promotional material, vehicles, skips, receptacles or bags of the permit holder;

(vi) submission of specified information on a periodic basis to the local authority in such form and at such frequency as may be specified on the waste collection permit;

(vii) where a weighing system is used to determine weight-based collection charges, submission of confirmation of an annual inspection of the weighing system used by the permit holder in accordance with the Legal Metrology (General) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 323 of 2008), in such form that may be specified on the waste collection permit.

(e) The Minister, where he or she considers that it is necessary for waste management in accordance with the principle that the costs of that management shall be borne by the original waste producer or by the current or previous waste holders, shall make regulations prescribing a requirement for attachment of a condition to a waste collection permit that a permit holder shall charge fees for the collection or transport of household waste.

(f) Regulations under paragraph (e) shall provide for the means by which fees for collection or transport of household waste shall be calculated by a permit holder and shall require a permit holder to—

(i) charge a fee for each kilogramme of household waste collected or transported which fee shall only be calculated by reference to weight of household waste collected and transported, and for the avoidance of doubt, methods of calculation of a fee based on pay by lift or throw, tags or a flat-rate shall not be considered to be calculated by reference to weight of waste collected,

(ii) charge a service fee, as considered appropriate by the permit holder (including a nil fee), in addition to the fee referred to in subparagraph (i),

(iii) demonstrate by prescribed means if the fees charged for collection or transport of waste incentivise household waste prevention and household waste segregation, and

(iv) furnish to an authorised person, information in a prescribed form, regarding the billing system used by the permit holder in respect of fees referred to under subparagraph (i) or (ii).

(g) (i) For the purposes of paragraph (f)(i), the Minister shall prescribe the minimum amount of the fee required to be charged for each kilogramme of household waste collected or transported and that minimum fee shall be based on the approximate cost per kilogramme of managing segregated household waste, including its collection from the person who presented that waste for collection, its delivery to an authorised facility by a permit holder and its final treatment, which in any event shall not exceed an amount of 30 cent per kilogramme of household waste.

(ii) The Minister shall review the costs of managing household waste, on which the minimum charges prescribed under subparagraph (i) are based, at least every 12 months and may amend the amount of the fee prescribed under subparagraph (i).

(iii) The Minister following a review under subparagraph (ii), once and only once in each financial year beginning in the financial year that he or she first prescribes under subparagraph (i), may substitute for the amount of the fee prescribed under subparagraph (i), an amount which does not exceed the amount so prescribed by 5 cent.”,

(h) in subsection (8)(b)—

(i) in subparagraph (i), the deletion of “, or amend any conditions that it has attached to,”,

(ii) in subparagraph (ii), the deletion of “, or revoke,” and

(iii) the deletion of “or its holder, as the case may be,”,

(i) in subsection (9)—

(i) in paragraph (a), the deletion of “, or the holder of,”, and

(ii) in paragraph (b), the deletion of—

(I) “or revocation”, and

(II) “or the amendment of conditions attached to such a permit”,

(j) the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (10):

“(10A) A person who, under this section furnishes information to a local authority which is to his or her knowledge false or in a material respect misleading, shall be guilty of an offence.”,

and

(k) in subsection (11)(b)—

(i) the insertion of the following subparagraph after subparagraph (i):

“(ia) prescribing a class or classes of waste or household waste for purposes of a waste collection permit or conditions that may or shall be attached to that permit, including by reference to the nature or quantity of the waste, its presentation for collection or whether it is to be segregated;”,

(ii) the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (v):

“(v) requiring a local authority to attach specified conditions to a permit, including a condition referred to in subsection (7)(b) or (c);”,

(iii) the insertion of the following subparagraph after subparagraph (vi):

“(via) for the purposes of subsection (7), prescribing any matter referred to in that subsection as prescribed or to be prescribed;”,

(iv) the deletion of subparagraph (vii),

(v) in subparagraph (x), the substitution of “application;” for “application.”, and

(vi) the insertion of the following subparagraph after subparagraph (x):

“(xi) such incidental, supplementary and consequential matters as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of this section and the regulations.”.”.

This group of amendments provides for a reform of our system of household waste collection and for introducing new operating conditions for kerbside collection of household waste. The amendments also provide for further strengthening of the waste permitting system. Amendment No. 13 inserts a new section 35 into the Bill, providing for significant amendment of section 34 of the Waste Management Act in regard to waste collection permits. It provides for the introduction of the core new permit conditions for collectors of household waste. This is a critical new provision in the Government's new regulatory passage for household waste collection.

The key new requirements are the obligation for all collectors on a "pay by weight" basis for all bin types, with charging on a "pay by throw" or flat rate basis specifically precluded; to charge on a basis that encourages the segregation of household waste and discourages the mixing of recyclable waste with residual or organic waste; the requirement to provide a three bin service in line with the requirements of the Household Food Waste Regulations 2013 and collect at certain minimum frequencies; and the requirement for collectors to maintain a database of customers and a mandatory customer charter. The obligations on collectors are set out clearly under subparagraphs 7(b) and 7(e) and the section also provides for a legal basis for the Minister to set a minimum per kilogramme charge for each of the three bins - residual, recyclate and organic. It also specifies that in order to operate a waste collection permit, the applicant must be a fit and proper person. The criteria for the fit and proper person's test is set out in a new section 34D.

Amendment No. 14 inserts a new section 36 in the Bill. This section provides for the introduction of the new section 34 into the Waste Management Act. The new section 34A sets out a new process for the review of waste collection permits. It provides an explicit new power for a local authority to review an existing waste collection permit, not just at the permit holder's request, but at any time, particularly where the local authority believes the permit holder has breached or is breaching a condition of his permit. Certain more serious breaches spark the review process after just one offence, while the less serious offences prompt the review process after three breaches. This is the so-called "three strike-one strike" approach which will add considerably to the armoury of the local authority waste enforcement system in tackling the incidence of inadequate performance by waste collectors.

Amendment No. 15 introduces a new section 37 to the Bill providing for the insertion of three further new sections, 34B, 34C and 34D, into the Waste Management Act. The new section 34B relates to the transfer of a waste collection permit. This section sets out the process for the transfer of a waste collection permit from one operator to another. Where an existing operator intends to transfer the collection permit to another person, the two parties are required to make a joint application to the local authority. If the application is successful, all liabilities, requirements and obligations held by the first original permit holder transfer to the new holder. The detail of the application process, including the application form, the information to be submitted with the application, the means by which the application is to be made available for public inspection etc. will be prescribed by the Minister in regulations under this section.

Section 34C, information required by authorised persons or a nominated authority, sets out the obligations collectors will have in regard to maintaining a database of their customers. It provides that local authorities may seek information from collectors on households so that local authorities in turn can build up a register of households that are signed up for collection services. Under later sections, they will be able to add to that register the households that do not use a kerbside collection service but avail of civic amenity sites or pay to use compactors, PTUs, or who bring their waste directly to a landfill. The composite register can then be used by the local authorities to target their enforcement activities towards those households that are not on the register who are implicitly not using any of the above services.

Like the new section 34A, section 34D will be an important means of driving compliance and further professionalising the collection industry. It provides a statutory footing for a fit and proper person's test. As set out, section 34 provides that a local authority may only grant a permit to a fit and proper person. Section 34D then details the fit and proper person's test, providing that a person can only be considered to be fit and proper where neither they nor anyone employed by them has committed any indictable offence under the Waste Management Act, the Air Pollution Act, the Local Government Water Pollution Acts or EPA Acts. Similarly, to pass the fit and proper person's test, the applicant and any employee cannot have committed certain summary offences under the Waste Management Act. In addition, the permit holder must satisfy the local authority that they have the requisite technical knowledge or qualifications to carry on the activity in accordance with the requirements of the Act. They must also be in a position to meet any financial commitments or liabilities in the event of ceasing to trade and they cannot be considered a fit and proper person if they have had a permit revoked at any time in the past.

Amendment No. 18 introduces a new section 40 to the Bill, providing for the amendment of section 50 of the Waste Management Act in regard to fees. As the Act stands, a local authority may only charge a fee for an application for the grant of a waste collection permit. The amended section will allow a local authority to charge an applicant in respect of an application for a review or transfer of a collection permit, as well as an initial application for a grant of a permit.

Amendment No. 19 inserts a new section 41 into the Bill. Section 41 then inserts a new transitional and saving section 77 into the Waste Management Act to provide that any applications for waste collection permits, authorisations or licences that are made, may not be determined before commencement of the new arrangements, which will be dealt with under the existing framework.

This is a substantial round of amendments. In many ways, from the Minister of State’s point of view and that of the previous Government, this is the logical conclusion to the removal from local authorities of waste management. It is now in the hands of private operators who operate it as a business rather than a service, but up to now they have had very little interest in regard to the concerns of the public. Their aim has not been to satisfy the public, other than to try to hold on to them as customers.

We saw some of that in companies such as Thorntons and Greyhound. There have been a multitude of disputes between companies in Dublin and their workers. The only company left in the city that was half-unionised was Greyhound. The collection of waste had been within the remit of local authorities for many years, and the companies that were set up to benefit from the change to private-sector waste collection were set up in order to benefit the interests of directors and shareholders. We have ended up with a ridiculous situation in which, on some very narrow roads in Dublin – I presume the same is true outside Dublin, but that is outside my area – three or four refuse trucks can arrive on the same day, often at the same time, and one truck must wait until the other one has reversed out of a cul-de-sac before it can enter. That can sometimes go on for some time. In some cases, companies that had failed to make their collections chanced their arm and arrived late at night, in spite of the restrictions on their licence.

In some ways, the logic behind the proposals is to regulate a market that was created by the Government. The problem in amendment No. 14 is that the Government is introducing penalties, for example, in terms of the charge being based on weight of kerbside collection. One would be penalised for compacting waste. In the past I could throw everything into a black bin and fill it up and it would have a certain weight, but if I compact all of the waste in a black bin then the number of lifts is reduced. The new regime will ensure all lifts are based on weight. That might have some logic for waste that is going into landfill, but not for a brown bin or green bin. In the case of recyclable material, one is creating a resource for the waste management company, and people should not be penalised in any way for compacting recyclable waste. I accept that different local authorities use different colours for their bins, but the bins to which I refer contain food waste or other recyclable waste. People should be encouraged to recycle, not penalised for doing so, but that is a problem when one goes down the route of this Government or other governments.

The question I asked the Minister in the context of the previous amendment is also relevant to incineration. The illogical basis of the incinerator that was promised for Dublin city was that all waste from the Dublin City Council area would go for incineration. If one separates waste, as has been done by households since, the recyclable waste is divided between green bins and brown bins and then there is not enough waste remaining in the black bins to satisfy the hunger of the incinerator. Then it would be up to an operator to buy in waste. The logic of incineration must be taken into account, or we will end up paying twice for waste in the sense that Dublin City Council would have to pay for the service.

I note the introduction of standards. One of the required standards is that a company cannot operate if it is anti-union. Companies must set standards in terms of workers. The frightening aspect of some of the sharp practices that have gone on in the city is that some the refuse trucks have become a danger. Some of them are overburdened because there are not enough checks on them. I accept that the intention is to have weight limits on the amount of waste that can be transported. That can already be done, but it is not being done. That is the problem. The RSA is supposed to be responsible for ensuring refuse trucks are suitable for the job. The operators have been chancing their arm and not investing in proper equipment or repairs. Dangers currently exist.

When discussing the previous group of amendments, the Minister said he was adamant about the need for enforcement. This group of amendments also require enforcement, but enforcement has been left to local authorities, in many cases because they grant the licences. However, unless local authorities are properly resourced, which has not been sufficiently clarified, then the effect of the amendments, which are likely to be accepted, will be somewhat meaningless. In effect, the poor householder will be the one to suffer, because if his or her bin does not come within the remit set out by the Minister in the Bill or that set by the refuse collection company in its contract with the householder, it will be left behind, and the householder must suffer the consequences in the following week or two weeks before the next collection. Some of the measures are aimed at getting the householder in order in terms of waste receptacles and ensuring that waste is segregated, but from what I have seen, the problem in that regard does not lie with the householder but with the waste collection companies. One of the key aspects of waste collection is whether we are 100% sure that the waste collected that is intended for recycling is recycled, or, in the case of food waste or green waste, is used in an appropriate way to benefit society. Much of the waste in black bins still goes into landfill, but thankfully it is a lot less than before.

The Minister referred to air pollution. I welcome any commitment that puts a restriction on waste companies to ensure they comply with air pollution regulations if they are storing waste in an area. There has been an ongoing battle in my area for many years between residents and a local waste management company which separates waste on-site. Thorntons is reported to have spent €250,000 on abatement measures and equipment at its plant in order to ensure its neighbours were not plagued by various smells at certain times of the year. Anybody living in the area is aware of the difference in air quality if the equipment breaks down or is switched off. In general, much more enforcement is required.

The problem is that by the time one has managed to call the Environmental Protection Agency it might be the next day before they reach the site, by which time the smell is gone and the machine has been switched back on. A quicker response is required or the investment of more monitors in the vicinity of such large-scale developments. They are not small factories with a few people separating waste but huge companies that have a lot of money behind them and that are willing, every now and again, to save a few bob by flouting the law. Companies in breach of the regulations may be fined or lose their licences, which is welcome. Local residents can hold it over the companies if they breach regulations in the future. The main parts of the amendment are logical, if one takes the logic that private companies should manage waste collection on the scale which they do.

One of the concerns about the process is that the major focus of attention was on the amendments that were related to water. This area required a great deal of scrutiny and I cannot overstress how frustrating the inadequacy of the process is. People have changed their habits. I know people who have reluctantly ended up with an ordinary bin and the benefit was that they received a recycling bin that would allow them to reduce their general waste. There was a particular mindset in establishing this behaviour and the Bill will change it. The amendments require thinking and consideration, which we are not giving them. They may reverse some of the behaviour and create resentment in the way Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh outlined. People will feel they are doing something towards the responsible disposal of waste but will now be charged individually. It is not an insignificant change in terms of habit forming and it is not receiving the consideration and scrutiny it requires.

Some provisions regarding the behaviour of some of the waste collection services could have been included. In my area it is a constant source of complaint. People say they cannot get a night's sleep because different waste collectors come at different hours of the morning, perhaps at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., or, perhaps, to pass each other out. It might have been possible to deal with the matter in the context of the Bill. It would have been nice to have been sure by having a proper Committee Stage debate on it. When the service was transferred to the private sector, the waiver scheme that had been in place where there had been a local government charge took account of people who were unable to pay. As disposable incomes have declined, the amount of waste in ditches, byroads and rural areas has, unfortunately, increased. I do not need to tell the Minister of State who comes from a rural constituency that it is very expensive to remediate. While I will not defend anybody dumping, when people are given no options, it happens. It is very costly to clean it up but also in terms of the visual and environmental damage to the countryside.

There is not one recycling centre in the whole of Kildare North which has a population of 120,000. The services are not available, even in places that have a decent population. Owing to this inadequacy, people do not all have a choice to do something about disposing of waste in a responsible way. A mapping exercise needs to be undertaken to examine the issue in a more formal way rather than leaving it to the luck of a particular town that may be associated with a recycling centre. The amendments required more explanation and scrutiny, which a Second Stage and a Committee Stage debate could have facilitated. The Minister made a number of positive comments on the last group of amendments and the new regime to be implemented. While I am far from saying everything in it is negative, habit changing provisions that might be detrimental to what the Government thinks it is trying to achieve have not received enough scrutiny.

In these amendments we are dealing with the other Bill being rammed through in the pre-existing Bill that has nothing to do with water charges or waste. It is a substantial piece of work which deserves its own process of scrutiny, not the 40 minutes we have been allocated, after which it will be law. The Government is dealing with the fruits of bin charges and the privatisation of waste collection services. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh has referred to the crazy situation in which multiple trucks travel down the same small streets, on the same or different days. It is thoroughly inefficient and anti-environmental and there is an anti-worker race to the bottom in this extremely cut throat industry. It is an attempt to put some laws in the jungle that is the waste industry. However, amendments Nos. 14 and 15 are missing a number of important aspects.

Amendment No. 14 outlines the rules whereby local authorities can review waste collection permits and some vital provisions are missing, in particular, the power to review waste collection permits for a breach of workers' rights. I ask the Minister of State to comment on the reason for the omission and whether she agrees it should be in place. As Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh said, there has been an incredible race to the bottom in the industry.

The Greyhound dispute was a clear example of a unionised workforce being attacked in a brutal way with massive pay cuts and being forced to fight tooth and nail to resist. After an heroic struggle, the workers managed to push back against the company but it was part and parcel of the race to the bottom in the industry. The companies involved in this sector compete on the basis of wages and working conditions. It is vital that local authorities are given the ability to review waste collection permits for breaches of workers' rights. Local authorities should also be able to vary the pricing mechanism applied by waste companies. Amendment No. 15 provides for a requirement to respect workers' rights, which unfortunately is missing from the legislation as it stands.

The Bill obliges waste collectors to charge a fee based on weight, which could result in significantly higher prices for some people. What is the justification for that provision? I recognise the environmental argument but is this the fairest way to charge people for waste?

During the debate on earlier amendments, a number of Deputies referred to the notion that the campaign for the non-payment of bin charges, with which I was involved, somehow led to the privatisation of waste services. They claim that the campaign of non-payment of water charges is giving rise to a similar danger that water services will be privatised. I will take this opportunity to skewer that line of argument. If the campaign of non-payment of bin charges had been successful, waste collection would not have been commodified because companies would not been able to make money out of this area. The necessary precondition for the privatisation of waste collection and the jungle that the industry has become was the introduction of charges for bin collection. We heard exactly the same arguments with the then Government, which tried to assure us bin charges were unrelated to privatisation and would remain at a relatively low rate. The rates massively increased soon afterwards, the waivers were quickly forgotten and privatisation created the disaster that now blights the industry. The blame for that disaster lies with the then Government rather than those who campaigned against bin charges.

Research indicates that pay-by-weight on a per kilogramme basis is the single most effective charging system for reducing the amount of waste produced by households and increasing the amount diverted from landfill. It has the potential to reduce average household waste by almost one third and to divert almost 500,000 tonnes away from landfill.

I take Deputy Catherine Murphy's point about culture change and introducing something new when people are already doing the right thing. However, I think there is a willingness to reduce, reuse and recycle. The issue of collection hours is covered by the collection permit. An interdepartmental group is currently examining the waiver scheme and it will report in a couple of weeks' time. In regard to people who have to drive long distances to recycling centres, curbside collection should reduce the need to bring material to recycling centres or landfill. This legislation aims to improve standards in this area. Large swathes of the population will no longer need to drive to recycling centres because curbside collection will be available to them.

I remind Deputy Paul Murphy that we are considering environment legislation. The Bill does not deal with industrial relations.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

As the Minister, Deputy Kelly, pointed out, the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Nash, is doing good work in this area.

I remind Deputy Ó Snodaigh that the Minister is determined to clean up this industry, if the Deputy will excuse the pun.

This legislation is driving better and higher standards in the area of waste collection. We want to encourage people to reuse and recycle, so there will be lower charges for green and brown bins, while charges will be higher for landfill. We are not introducing a new charge for people who are already paying for green and brown bins.

While this is environmental legislation, the Minister of State, Deputy Nash, is doing a lot of work in the area of industrial relations. However, it is not complementing this particular environmental area. Some €7 million from the environment fund will go towards providing 144 local authority enforcement officers.

I think those points address the amendments before us.

As regards amendment No. 13, I heard what the Minister of State said about pay-by-weight being an effective way of reducing waste volumes. There is a concern that the collection of green waste will continue to be charged for. Green waste has a value, so we should examine how it is being used in other countries with a similar population profile to this State. For example, New Zealand, which has a large agricultural sector, has revolutionised the use of waste.

In recent years, we have been moving away from peat harvesting, although perhaps a little too quickly in some cases because of the EU directive on the preservation of bogs. Some bogs do need to be preserved, but there is an argument about whether we should try to preserve bogs where there is not much left to preserve or that would be impossible to preserve. On the other hand, every household is producing organic waste that has the potential to replace or supplement peat by generating compost. We have the landmass in which to do it. The Cul na Móna plant near Portlaoise, which is on the N7-N8 junction, has thousands of acres that could be used. Why is the Department not using that facility? The Government should involve other Departments, such as the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, under Deputy Bruton.

Green waste takes up space and one cannot deal with it in town centres or up a side street. We rightly support waste segregation and must encourage more people to separate waste. In addition, I try to reduce what we produce. When I began to hand back boxes and bags in local shops, people looked at me as if I was a strange character, but now everybody is doing it. Similarly, when I started bringing my own shopping bags people thought it looked a bit funny, but it is now the done thing.

There is a consensus that people's habits can change quickly. In the late 1990s, I was part of an environmental group that was trying to ramp up awareness of this issue. When we did presentations on it, it was said that Irish people would not go to the trouble of segregating and recycling, but they have done so. We are now one of the most successful states in Europe in this regard, but we need to go a lot further. Segregation is great and we need to drive it on.

The Minister and Ministers of State should push the issue of reduction. There are major opportunities to reduce the volumes we are producing, particularly of harmful waste. I referred earlier to drinks containers and, while I know it cannot be done overnight, there is nothing to stop us from having a universal container that can be continually reused.

These amendments cover the use of civic centres or other collection points for segregating waste. Some counties have very few such centres, although County Laois has approximately 49. That means that every parish and village has one, while the larger towns have a few. Such collection points provide an opportunity for people to recycle a lot of waste.

Amendment No. 13 refers to litter from vehicles carrying waste, which is a good point, although the amendment falls down in other respects. I live within 100 yards of an orbital route used by many vehicles going to a major landfill site. Unfortunately, many vehicles carrying waste to that site drop bags which must be picked up either by local people or by local authority staff. Such vehicles should be required to cover and secure their waste loads properly. As I understand it, gardaí have the same powers as a litter warden, so they should be vigilant. Where waste is hanging off the back of a lorry or trailer, they should make the driver secure the load by covering it properly before proceeding.

Some people may compact household waste to make it smaller in volume, but it must still be weighed, which takes away the incentive to compact. In addition, it creates a problem for low-income households consisting of large families. A one-parent family with four children - for example, somebody who has lost a partner through death or divorce - is on the princely sum of about €307. An adult and four children will create a substantial volume of waste, so the waste collection bill becomes a challenge for them on top of other costs, yet no allowance is made for this.

The programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce a waste waiver scheme for collection charges, but I have not yet seen it. The Minister of State said it would come in over the next couple of weeks.

I have raised this at different points over the past four years, particularly on the Order of Business and with parliamentary questions. The initial answers were that an interdepartmental group was looking at it but the last time I asked the answer was that it had basically gone off the radar and the Department was no longer looking at it. The Minister of State said it could be in place within a matter of weeks so can she confirm what will be done with it before the summer recess? If a single parent with four children and €306 in household income is in a local authority house and pays €65 in rent under the differential rents scheme, it brings his or her income down to approximately €240. She has to do everything, including feeding himself or herself and the children, paying the water charge, paying for schoolbooks to send the children back to school and the ongoing utility costs such as electricity and heating, as well as repairing everything that needs to be repaired, for that money. One would want to be a very good manager of money to do that. One would want to be Houdini.

It has become more difficult for such people to get an exceptional needs payment from the community welfare officer. One would want to take the Lord down from the cross and get him to plead one's case to get an exceptional needs payment from the CWO these days. If we adopt payment by weight and penalise these people further, we will put an unmerciful burden on the backs of those people. That is not the way forward.

In the North in the past year, local authorities got money from the waste collection companies for the waste they collected so some kind of income stream came back. I was told about it by colleagues in Stormont and I must find out more about it. The Minister of State said she could not deal with working conditions in these companies because it was an industrial relations matter, but it is a sad state of affairs that people working in the waste collection industry are poorly paid, work in poor conditions and are put to the pin of their collars trying to do the huge collection rounds they are given in the shortest period of time. They are given more and more work with more and more streets to be covered and more and more bins to be collected.

In the housing estate in which I live, there are four separate collectors driving in and out. What kind of a carry-on is that? We have spoken about reducing our carbon footprint but these are huge trucks with 250 horsepower engines and all they are doing is collecting a few bins. It makes no sense whatsoever in terms of environmental policy. Hopefully we will come to the Climate Change Bill soon because it is only when we take some small steps to bring some sanity to how we do business in this country that we will tackle the issue of climate change. It is beyond me that on the one hand the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government says we need to reduce our carbon footprint and we will be buying carbon credits while on the other hand the State puts local authorities into the position where several collection trucks burn up diesel, pollute the atmosphere and break up the roads. One large four-axle lorry came into the estate and damaged the kerbs, owing to it being in a hurry and just too big for the estate. There needs to be a bit of sanity which we do not have at the moment. Something needs to be put in place so that centres of population are serviced by civic centres. In my neck of the woods, there are a considerable number of civic amenity sites and recycling centres near community halls and elsewhere, though there is always room for more.

There is a race to the bottom in the industry and this needs to be dealt with. I hear that the minimum wage might be increased by €1 per hour. That is fair enough but the problem is that I have also heard it might be done in three instalments over a three-year period, which will mean 33c per hour extra for these people, many of whom are on the minimum wage, and it will not do much for them. It will be an increase of some €13 per week before USC is deducted so I appeal to the Minister to talk to those colleagues of hers who have responsibility for these things to address wages and working conditions.

Amendment No. 15 relates to the transfer of permits. We need to be careful with this for a number of reasons. Local authorities have now become the regulator, not the provider, and they are even moving out of landfill but they do not have an income stream from waste. The plastic bag levy comes back to them, however, and Deputy Murphy called on local authorities to use that income to provide recycling centres and drop-off points for recycled waste. If they do not do that, the Department and county councillors should find out how much they get back from the levy and demand it be used for the drop-off points referred to in these amendments. If we do not have drop-off points we will not be providing the opportunities for people to recycle their waste, particularly those living in multi-unit complexes and who do not have their own bins. Many people live in apartments and would appreciate recycling centres nearby to drop off and segregate waste but it would appear that some local authorities are not stepping up to the mark in this respect. The Government has a role in this but so do we, as elected representatives, and councillors are demanding that local authorities use the money they get to provide such centres.

There have been many casualties of the privatisation of waste collection. I believe if one has to pay for it, one should pay the local authority for it. One can see the difference on both sides of the Border. North of the Border waste is not dumped in bags, over gates and in gateways or shoved into corners in derelict sites around towns and villages. Here, if one is walking along country roads, what one sees is very revealing. After Christmas, when the growth on each side of the road recedes, one can see lots of bags and other things. We do not always see them while driving but when walking they are only too apparent. Rural constituents tell me all the time how they get up on a Sunday morning to bring in cattle, do jobs on the farm or just go up the road for a walk only to find the gateway at the far end of their house has been filled with rubbish from the night before, such as mattresses, bags of rubbish and so on. There is a myth that the people who do this are poor people on low incomes but if one watches the people being brought before the courts to be charged for these offences they do not all drive ten, 15 and 20-year-old vehicles but rather cars registered in 2014 or 2015, and I do not mean Micras or little Toyotas either.

Many of them are big vehicles. This needs to be clamped down on and we need to try to reduce the amount of illegal dumping. What is happening is shocking. Our party is very concerned about this issue and our councillors, in conjunction with the local authorities, are trying to get on top of the problem. One thing we want to do is ensure people are not picking up someone else's rubbish out of their gateways and laneways.

The Minister of State designates special areas of conservation. A natural heritage area has been designated between Portlaoise and Mountmellick. Thousands of tonnes of rubbish are being dumped in the laneways in that NHA. It is mountains of rubbish and there is no excuse for it. The sad part about it is that when one walks along this area, 80% of the rubbish can be recycled in the civic amenity centre half a mile away across the road. It can be recycled for €3. A person can drive in and recycle all the waste he or she has - a tonne of it - for €3. I know there is only so much Government can do and I recognise that every one of us, even if we were never in this House, as a private citizen has a responsibility to ensure this does not happen and to try to stamp it out. It is done by a small minority but if one household is dumping two bags of rubbish a week, that is 104 bags a year. Some mess is created by 104 bags. Why they are dumping rubbish that can be recycled is beyond me. It is lazy, filthy, dirty and unfair to the majority who have to pick it up, be they members of a Tidy Towns committee or local residents. During Clean Up Laois Week, the local authority encourages local groups of people to get out and do it in rural and urban areas. Tens of tonnes of rubbish are gathered by people. Sometimes they come together informally in rural townlands and urban centres to pick up the rubbish. We need to get on top of the problem but this legislation does not do that. Legislation needs to be brought forward to strengthen what is there at the moment.

I gave the example of a one-parent family to illustrate my big concern about the pay by weight system, but it could apply to a two-parent family as well. We need to bring an end to poverty and we need to start making things a bit more equal in this society, but the poorest people I have come across, the single parent with three or four children, are in a very tight corner. They perform the miracle of the loaves and fishes every week. We need to stop requiring that of them. It is not fair on them or their children. We have a responsibility in this House to speak up for them, whether in opposition or on the Government benches. However, the Minister of State has a particular responsibility not to put a heavier burden on them.

The Minister of State noted there is evidence that the pay by weight system removes a significant amount of waste away from landfill. The point I was making is that if a person has a municipal bin and is paying for it and is getting a bin for the other, non-compost, waste, the person will separate it out. If a person has a compost bin, he or she will separate out that waste. The household is doing the job when it behaves that way. If the Minister of State introduces this change and starts charging by weight for all those bins, what will stop people putting the whole lot in the one bin? Will they not revert to their previous habits? That is the point I am making. The approach is counterproductive.

The Minister of State in her response said, on recycling centres, that it will all be collected at the door by having these three bins. The difficulty is that there are things that will never be collected such as large quantities of green waste, hazardous waste such as paint and other household waste. There is an inadequacy in terms of where recycling centres are located. They need to be mapped to see where the gaps lie. There are locations where the need is not being met, including my area. There is no such recycling centre in the whole of north Kildare.

I would value the Minister of State's response to the amendment tabled which concerns the database and privacy. I think it is amendment No. 19. I was at a committee meeting yesterday - perhaps it was Tuesday; I am losing count of the days of the week - at which an official from the Data Protection Commissioner's office spoke about designing privacy into a system. Increasingly, we will have to do that because we are running into data protection issues all the time. Data have become a commodity and quite a valuable one. How data are collected, databases are used and data protection issues intersect is quite important in respect of these changes as well, and I would like to hear what the Minister of State has to say on it.

In the UK, where they went for a competitive tendering model, they retained the apparatus, the landfills and all the trucks and such things. Essentially people tendered to run the service. That gave an income to the local authorities to deal with, for example, closed landfills, which can be very expensive to maintain. Perhaps they were very old landfills without proper lining and there is leachate which needs to be converted into gas and abstracted from the site and so forth. We have gone a completely different route which has left the local authorities even more exposed as they have to deal with the residual problem of the closed landfills but without any income stream to do so. Those are the key points on which I would like to hear from the Minister of State.

I will begin with Deputy Stanley who is to be commended on his conscientiousness in this area. I have visions of him going with his shopping bag to the local shop for his groceries. It is a valuable thing to do and I wish many others would follow his example. He is to be commended on it. Civic amenity sites have a huge role to play in the overall waste management plan. I cannot stress enough that this is environment legislation. I am not dealing with industrial relations legislation.

On the pay by weight system, under the proposed new system, all customers will be charged on the basis of pay by weight plus the standing or administrative charge. The pay by weight element of the charge will cover cost of bulking, processing, transfer and treatment of the household kerbside waste collected. The pay by weight element will apply to every kilo produced, at a rate per kilogram, with each bin being weighed as part of the lift mechanism on the rear of the collection trucks.

The rate will vary depending on the bin, with higher rates applying to the residual bin than to the brown bin which, in turn, attracts a higher per-kilogram charge than the mixed-dry recyclables. While it is not considered appropriate that rates would be set either through regulations or as a condition of collection permits, it is proposed that collectors would not be allowed to charge below certain rates, which will be specified.

I am now required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and not disposed of, including those in respect of which recommital would in the normal course be required, are hereby made to the Bill, that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and that the Bill is hereby passed." Is that agreed?

Question put.
The Dáil divided by electronic means.

Since this is such an important matter, I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

Question again put: The Dáil divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 34.TáNílButler, Ray.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 34.

  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Éamon Ó Cuív and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Question declared carried.