Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

We move to questions on promised legislation. Before I call Deputy Calleary, I ask Members to reflect on the time allocated.

I beg the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's indulgence to mention that this is a significant day for five of our colleagues. For Fianna Fáil, it is particularly significant for Deputy Kelleher who marks his last day as a Member of Dáil Éireann. It is also a significant day for Deputies Fitzgerald, Clare Daly and Wallace and Senator Grace O'Sullivan. We send them every good wish as they move to the European Parliament. Like the Tánaiste, they may come back at some stage. I thank them for their contributions. In particular, I thank Deputy Kelleher for his service to my party as a Member of the House. I wish all of them well.

Last night's "RTÉ Investigates" programme was enormously distressing. The treatment of greyhounds was, frankly, disgraceful. Deputy Cahill, in particular, has been working on this matter for some years. While we acknowledge the strength of the new legislation on animal welfare, there is a difficulty with enforcement. There is no consistency in enforcement nationally, in particular, at local authority level. I ask the Tánaiste for his reaction to last night's programme as a former Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and that a clear signal be sent from the Government that this behaviour is not tolerable and will not be allowed to continue and that those engaged in the disgraceful and disgusting actions highlighted will be brought to justice.

I ask the Leas-Cheann Comhairle to indulge me also. I congratulate the four Deputies who are heading to the European Parliament on their last official day as Members of the Dáil. I wish them well. The new European Parliament will meet for the first time on 2 July and Ireland will be well represented. I hope that if they want to come back, they will be able to do so. There is nothing wrong with gaining a little experience in the European Parliament and coming back to put it to good use here.

I have not seen the "RTÉ Investigates" programme yet, but I have seen some clips. I will watch it and expect that when I do, it will make me very angry. The Government and its predecessor have taken the issue of animal welfare very seriously. With the support of all parties in the Oireachtas, we introduced the most extensive ever animal welfare legislation. We agreed to review in detail the greyhound industry and how it was run. To that end, an Indecon report was commissioned and its recommendations were acted on. New legislation is in place on the back of it to change structures within the industry to ensure traceability can be delivered with no excuses. I promise the House, having spoken to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine this morning, that the illegality evident in last night's report will be followed up and that we will look to secure prosecutions where we can. Just under 80 prosecutions have followed the introduction of the new animal welfare legislation, but there are other things on which we need to follow up, too. If Irish greyhounds are being sent to the United Kingdom to be exported to parts of the world where we cannot guarantee their welfare, we will speak to the United Kingdom about it to try to shut it off. People expect assurances and transparency on animal welfare standards in Ireland and expect prosecutions when it is not delivered. Last night's programme was a wake-up call that all was not right, even though legislation is in place to secure prosecutions. We will follow up on it.

Before I call Deputy Jonathan O'Brien, with the Ceann Comhairle, I wish to be associated with the good wishes extended to Deputies Kelleher, Fitzgerald, Clare Daly and Wallace. I am one who has been there and done that. I was, of course, homesick at the time. Both the Tánaiste and I came back. Having been there, I know that all of our MEPs will wear the Irish jersey on behalf of the people. Go n-éirí an geábh libh go léir.

I too wish the four Deputies the best of luck. Deputy Kelleher does not have to worry as Deputy Barry and I will have Cork North Central well looked after in his absence.

I refer to the cancer care programme and the Government's commitment to the provision of oncology services. The Tánaiste will be well aware of recent media reports on the number of consultant posts which remain unfilled at Cork University Hospital, CUH, and the impact on outpatient appointment waiting lists. There are 25,000 people waiting for appointments at CUH. What movement has there been and what efforts are being made by the Government to fill consultant posts in general and, in particular, to ensure the provision of oncology services at CUH?

I have been sent a note reminding me to mention Senator Grace O'Sullivan, who is also heading to the European Parliament. I wish her well.

It is important for me to say that last week, I opened a new oncology unit in Cork University Hospital which involved an investment of €40 million. A further €25 million has been invested in mental health services in the hospital to facilitate the development of the oncology unit. We are investing heavily in cancer care. There are staffing challenges in some specialist areas. The number of additional consultants taken on in the last year is quite significant, but there are still gaps and I accept that. The HSE has assured us that it is actively pursuing a recruitment programme to fill those essential gaps as soon as it can.

I join Deputies in wishing our four departing colleagues every success in their new roles in the European Parliament. I wish our Seanad colleague, Senator Grace O'Sullivan, similar success in the important work she will now be undertaking.

Eir has claimed that it can deliver rural broadband for approximately €1 billion, one third of the Government's current cost outline. I understand from what the Taoiseach said yesterday that the Government has written to Eir to seek further information on this. The immediate reaction of the Taoiseach yesterday struck me as more about defending the current position than being fully open to exploring all options. In essence, his immediate reaction was to doubt that Eir could connect homes and businesses at an affordable cost. He also doubted that it could cover the 25-year maintenance costs. Both of these issues have been disputed by Eir. I have two direct and simple questions. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will genuinely explore alternatives to the current Government plan that will speedily, efficiently and at a lesser cost to the taxpayer provide rural broadband? Will he give the House a commitment to the House that no contract will be signed until that exploration has been fully completed?

We need the Minister's microphone switched on.

-----the terms and conditions under which state aid would be provided to bidders to provide a national broadband service that ensures 25% of the population is not left behind were published. Under that procedure, as the Deputy knows, Eir went through the pre-qualification stage and agreed to the approach and it submitted a bid of €2.7 billion. That was in accordance with state aid rules, public expenditure rules and the proper oversight and governance of how State money would be provided. Eir subsequently withdrew from the process. It has indicated in hearings this week that it believes this could be done at a much cheaper cost. However, it seems that Eir does not envisage that its approach would submit to the requirements of the state aid rules that were set out. As the Taoiseach indicated yesterday, we need to explore precisely what Eir is proposing. As the Deputy knows, we undertook a procurement process. That was done with every bidder treated in the same way. We reached a point at which a preferred bidder was appointed.

There was just one bidder at the time.

We are now entering into the period during which we will have to decide whether a contract will be signed. If we decide not to proceed with the procedure that has been put in place, we will have to start a completely new procurement procedure.

Is the Government open to having a look?

The rules should be changed.

-----procurement procedure under state aid rules could involve conferring an individual company, particularly a company with a substantial incumbent position, with a subsidy-----

Does the Minister have a fixed view?

-----without going through a procurement process that was seen as fair and compliant with state aid rules. That is the position.

That does not sound like an openness to explore.

Of course we are open to hearing any information that comes to us that would alter our view on the contract approach we have taken.

It does not sound like it.

We would have to end one procedure before we could start another.

More than 200 households in Cork are hurting hard this morning. There is anger, upset and devastation. Last night's news of the closure of the Cork mail centre came as a bombshell for An Post workers. They have been told that this has to happen because the demand for letter delivery services has decreased by 7% year-on-year. However, demand for parcel delivery services has increased by 60% in the last two years. There is a real opportunity here for An Post has to diversify, to grow its business and to save jobs. It is madness for to sell a major valuable premises and to axe more than 200 jobs when this opportunity is facing An Post. I ask the Minister to join me in calling on An Post to put this plan to one side - on the shelf - and to allow real negotiations between representatives of the workers and the company to see what can be done to diversify, to grow the business and to save the jobs and pay packets on which many households depend.

On the same issue, I reiterate what Deputy Barry has said. I raised this in 2018 and the Government told us that nothing had been decided. From my own sources, I am worried that this was decided in 2017 when the McKinsey report was compiled. Is it possible for that report to be given to us so that we can see it? My sources say in the decisions to be made, Cork was not the priority for closure under this report. Can we get a copy of the report?

This is a very difficult day for An Post workers, their families and for the wider Cork area with confirmation that the mail centre in Little Island will have closed by March of next year. The closure will take place on a phased basis from September onwards. I assure the House that An Post and the Government will do everything possible to ensure each of the 240 individuals affected by the closure will be given every possible support. This decision was made by An Post, not by the Government and it is important to say that. I spoke to the CEO of An Post, David McRedmond, last night or the night before to seek reassurance on the terms and conditions and to try to understand why An Post has made this choice. Understandably, many people are very unhappy about it. It is important to give some reassurance to staff. The impact on the staff will be mitigated by a strong voluntary exit package for people who want-----

What about the jobs?

I will come to that.

What about the jobs?

If the Deputy listens for a second, I will answer the question. It is an important issue. Many families want to have information.

The Tánaiste should be heard without interruption.

There is a strong voluntary exit package of six weeks' pay per year of service, up to a maximum of two years' pay. Redeployment opportunities within An Post networks in the Cork area are a real option. An Post employs over 1,000 people in Cork. Further reskilling and education grants of up to €3,000 per person are available. If people want to chose the option, there will be support and help in terms of a jobs fair and other outplacement supports. I asked the CEO the question that Deputy Barry asked. An Post is committed to investing over €15 million in parcels infrastructure in Cork over the next two to three years. I asked why the current premises could not be used to facilitate parcel delivery etc. I was told it simply is not suitable as a piece of infrastructure to do that in terms of scale and make-up. A very difficult decision has been made which was required of An Post in return for modest pay increases over the last number of years.

There have been and continue to be ongoing discussions with the Communications Workers Union representing the workers. The Government will monitor closely the supports available for the workers and the redeployment opportunities within An Post, in particular, but it will insist also that An Post follows through on its commitments in terms of the investments being committed to the next number of years.

What about the jobs?

No supplementary questions are allowed. I am moving on to the Independents 4 Change group.

I did not even get an answer to my question.

I could follow up on that.

I join colleagues in sending our best wishes to Deputies Kelleher, Fitzgerald, Clare Daly and Wallace. All four made a distinguished contribution to this House. Our technical group in particular will miss the contributions of Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, in particular, during the remaining period of this Dáil.

I wish to briefly ask the Tánaiste about a matter that was raised earlier. He was Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for five years. We are a nation of animal lovers. Most people throughout the country were disgusted by what they saw on the “Prime Time Investigates” programme last night which seemed to indicate a major wanton slaughter of greyhounds, numbering up to 6,000, year in year out, simply because they were not fast enough. Also, there is the issue of the licensing of knackeries as the conditions in them seem appalling. What actions will the Tánaiste and the Minister responsible take in response to the reporting of these matters? Many people throughout the country are outraged and want urgent action taken. We have the new Act and I have the Welfare of Greyhounds (Amendment) Bill on the clár, which deals with the export of greyhounds. We seem to have been told a pack of lies about such exports. Greyhounds are being exported to countries with deplorable animal welfare conditions and nothing is being done about it. Given that the Tánaiste held that portfolio for a long time, what will he and the Minister, Deputy Creed, do about this matter?

The Minister, Deputy Creed, is also here. We spoke about this issue this morning before Leaders' Questions. We will act on the basis of the evidence that was put forward in a very helpful but very graphic way from what I have been told about the programme last night. It is not acceptable that greyhounds that are to be put down because of injury or whatever other reason are not put down in an appropriate manner with the supervision of a vet. The days of sending a dog to the knackery or to the abattoir are long since over or they should be. Illegal activity will be pursued. We have the animal welfare legislation in place and new legislation for the greyhound industry to be able to ensure we have a proper transparent system that tracks where dogs are, who owns them, where they travel to, to whom they are sold and so on. If there is over-breeding within this sector, which I suspect perhaps there is, that is also something the Government needs to look at from a policy perspective. This is a sector the State significantly supports financially. It is an important one. It needs to be supported but it also needs to stamp illegal activity or animal welfare concerns, which were outlined last night.

On behalf of the Rural Independent Group, I also wish Deputies Clare Daly, Wallace, Fitzgerald and Kelleher the very best. We certainly will miss Deputies Wallace and Clare Daly from the Independent benches. I suggest the Leas-Cheann Comhairle might give them an induction course given all his experience in Europe.

It is already done.

Good man. I knew that would be done in good spirit.

It is a sad day in Cahir town today with the regional Craft Granary for the south east closing its doors. I raised this issue with the Minister some weeks ago. The south-east arts strategy is rich in its support for arts centres but this craft centre will close its doors today. I thank the management, staff and board members for their work over the years. It provided a great outlet to craftspeople, those involved in the arts and many other groups to display their wares and to help stimulate small businesses and small local craft enterprises. Will the Minister convene a meeting with the council and other interested people, some private people, to see if a rejuvenated craft granary can be reopened in some other part of the town, because this is a bleak day for Cahir?

Is the Minister in a position to answer in that respect?

I am happy to engage with the Deputy regarding this arts centre. It is important to stress the Government has significantly increased its funding to the arts in the budget for this year. The Taoiseach has committed to double the funding by 2020. If the Deputy would like to talk to me about it further, I can get him a proper answer in regard to it.

Last month, I gave the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, a number of sworn affidavits containing serious allegations about planning irregularities in County Wicklow. The Tánaiste would be familiar with the content of some of them because they were on his desk when he was the Minister with responsibility for this area in 2016 and 2017. I have not received a response since those sworn affidavits were handed over to the Minister. Subsequently, the Garda, which was also furnished copies of those affidavits, has opened up a criminal investigation into the allegations. These are legacy issues. They have been on the Tánaiste's desk and on the desks of previous Ministers. The Government is completely deaf to these allegations. What will it do about this? Will it lift the cloud hanging over the names of some good people-----

We have got the Deputy's question. Many other Members are offering.

-----who work in County Wicklow, investigate these issues and hold people to account if they are to be held to account?

We have got the gist of the question.

The Government's deafness to these issues is unacceptable.

Is the Tánaiste in a position to answer on that?

I have some recollection of these issues when I was in that Ministry, when there were discussions in the Department regarding those files but I would have to have a look at the detail again before I could give the Deputy a proper answer. I will certainly raise the matter with the current Minister.

In the context of the programme for Government and providing a fair and equitable welfare system, I was briefed yesterday by the National Council for the Blind of Ireland concerning an anomaly that exists with respect to people who are partially sighted and fail to acquire a driving licence, in that the criteria for the awarding of a free travel pass for those people are different from the criteria used by the driving licence department. It is only fair that if one is deemed unsuitable to apply for a driving licence that one would be assisted in getting a free travel pass. I ask the Tánaiste to look into that.

This was brought to my attention only a week ago. There is an anomaly but I am not sure I can fix it. I will do more investigation. People who get a free travel pass from the Department of Employment and Social Protection only get one if they are in receipt of another payment but there are many people who are not in receipt of a payment who might have capacity issues with regard to their sight in terms of securing a driving licence. I have to square that circle. I will come back to the Deputy on it but I am aware of that since last week.

I wish to raise the case of many people who are denied primary medical certificates. These are people with challenging physical disabilities which debilitate the use of their limbs. When they are denied a primary medical certificate they cannot avail of the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme which provides a range of tax reliefs for the purchase and use of vehicles. I have raised this matter on a number of occasions with the independent Office of the Ombudsman, that is, with Peter Tyndall. He has examined the issue and has written to me. I am sure he has also written something similar to many Deputies in the House. His letter states:

I am concerned that this scheme, as currently framed, is overly rigid and inflexible and may well be causing inequity. A change in the legislation would be required to amend the scheme. Some time ago I raised these concerns with the Department of Finance which is responsible for the ... legislation. No amendments to the scheme have been made to date. In light of the volume and nature of the complaints which I continue to receive I wrote to the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability Issues ... to express my concerns ... and to suggest that an amendment to the [legislation is required].

On the basis that the Ombudsman has stated loud and clear that an amendment to this legislation in respect of the scheme is required for people who are being locked out of the scheme, people with genuine disabilities, will the Tánaiste consider prioritising this as soon as possible?

Is there promised legislation on this?

My understanding is that the Minister, Deputy Harris, and Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, are looking at this scheme, obviously in consultation with the Minister for Finance and for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe.

They have not yet come back with recommendations to the Cabinet. I will get the Deputy more detail on it.

I call Deputy Michael Collins. I want an appropriate question on promised legislation.

In the programme for Government it was promised to reopen six Garda stations to redress some of the damage done by the previous Fine Gael-Labour Party Government through Garda station closures. In February Fine Gael MEPs, Oireachtas Members and local councillors were falling over themselves in Bandon, County Cork following the Minister’s announcement that Ballinspittle Garda station would be reopened as one of the six. The people of Ballinspittle have seen nothing since and today is 27 June. Will the Tánaiste give me an exact date for the reopening of Ballinspittle Garda station?

There is nothing to indicate that this is an appropriate question on promised legislation. Is the Tánaiste in a position to answer it?

I am not in a position to give an exact date. I do not think the Minister of State is either.

We will bring the matter to the Minister’s attention and get a response.

After many years of negotiations, the Mercosur deal is near to conclusion. When the concessions on beef imports were given, European beef producers were in a completely different scenario from the one they are in today. Brexit will make the European Union 116% self-sufficient in beef, while climate change will pose significant challenges to sustainable food production in Europe. European beef producers cannot understand how South American beef could be allowed into Europe to displace European products.

The Government shares the Deputy’s concerns about the Mercosur trade deal, particularly the volumes envisaged, the product mix, as well as environmental concerns. We have been active in communicating these concerns to all parties involved and building alliances with other Europe Union member states. Concern is escalating, but the negotiations have not yet been brought to a conclusion.

Yesterday the Minister for Health signed legislation to allow for the operation of the medical cannabis access programme on a pilot basis for five years. The purpose of the programme is to facilitate compassionate access to cannabis for medical reasons. Some parents travel to Holland to obtain medical cannabis, under licence, on a three monthly basis. When will they be able to access the drug in Ireland? In the Minister’s press release yesterday he stated pharmacists would be able to dispense cannabis for medical use, as set out in the legislation, once suppliers made the specified controlled drugs available in the Irish market. Do we have any timeframe for when the parents in question will be able to access these products?

I know that operational guidance on the medical cannabis access programme will be available shortly for patients, suppliers, importers, medical practitioners and pharmacists. They are valid questions. It was confirmed and the legislation was launched yesterday, but clear guidelines will be published shortly to answer all of the practical questions about access.

I will accommodate the rest of the Members who are offering, but I want them to be brief and to the point. I call Deputy Thomas Byrne who I know will be brief and to the point.

On the programme for Government and the HSE’s current budget, is the Minister for Health aware that there are 3,529 individuals waiting for an orthopaedic appointment in Navan hospital? Is he aware that 1,277 of these individuals have been waiting for 12 months or more for an initial assessment? Is he aware that for routine, follow-up appointments, as consultants describe them, there is a 27-month wait and a 17-month wait for urgent orthopaedic appointments? Does he believe this is acceptable? Does he have proposals to change this to relieve the suffering of those waiting?

It is welcome that on a monthly basis the number of people waiting for hospital operations or procedures is fallling consistently, thanks to the investment we are making. Regarding the situation at Navan hospital, I will ask the National Treatment Purchase Fund if more can be done to deal with the issues raised. I will revert to the Deputy directly.

The programme for Government contains a commitment to enter into a new contract with consultants, as well as a commitment to reduce waiting lists. Last week, in response to a question I put to the Taoiseach, he said there was a recruitment surge in the HSE. However, one in five consultant posts is vacant. The Taoiseach expressed his uncertainty about from where the figures had come. Many posts are filled by agency staff which costs a large amount of money or by people acting up who are not specialists. This is just filling a gap, rather than addressing the issue. If one does not recognise that there is a problem, one cannot fix it. Waiting lists are a function of the lack of consultants in the system. Will the Tánaiste or the Minister for Health identify where the recruitment surge is because none of the colleges can?

It is a statement of fact that there are 125 more consultants working in the health service today than there were 12 months ago and 500 more than five years ago. That is not to suggest there is no challenge in recruitment and retention, as the Tánaiste outlined. The Government has shown an ability to engage on a new nurses’ contract and a significant addition to the GP contract. We will find a way to engage in a process to explore the recruitment and retention issues with consultants. We will do so in the context of Sláintecare and the important work we will have to do under the de Buitléir report.

In speaking about the summer economic statement the Minister for Finance twice said the cost of the social welfare Christmas bonus this year was included in the base. I am rather surprised by that because I certainly cannot find it in the accounts of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The Minister did not mention the Department’s Estimate but just said “it is in the base”. If it is not included in the accounts of the Department, where is it included? Will the Tánaiste reassure pensioners, lone parents, carers and people with disabilities that the Government intends to pay the Christmas bonus and explain from where it will be paid? The most recent Irish Fiscal Advisory Council report stated that in 2019 provision had once again not been made for the Christmas bonus. In a footnote to the report, it is stated the current practice is a poor approach to managing the public finances. Where is the Christmas bonus provided for? Will the Tánaiste confirm that the Government does not intend to abolish it and that it will pay it?

As a former Minister for Social Protection for five years, the Deputy should know that the practice has not changed one single bit since she was in the Department.

The Minister for Finance said it was included in the base. Where is it in it?

Did the Deputy listen to the answer just given?

I call Deputy Aylward.

It is a legitimate question. Where is it?

(Interruptions).

The position has not changed since the Deputy was in the Department.

Where is it in the base?

(Interruptions).

The programme for Government states we should use the strengthening economy to become a leader in the provision of world class education and skills. Last week the Union of Students in Ireland made a pre-budget submission. Members of my local branch, Carlow IT Students Union, recently contacted my office to highlight some of the major issues facing students. They spoke about the importance of the SUSI maintenance grant in assisting many students in meeting day-to-day costs of third level education. Despite a significant increase in the cost of living, the SUSI maintenance grant has not been increased since 2012. It is also unfair that students are being penalised for earnings from part-time work. Will the Tánaiste investigate the possibility of raising the threshold for the grants scheme ahead of budget 2020? Will he also look at excluding seasonal work from the evaluation of student income in assessing entitlement to the grant?

While they are valid issues, they are matters to be considered in the context of the budget.

The Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2019 proposes to apply the Magdalen redress scheme to women who worked in the institutions covered by the scheme but who resided in certain adjoining institutions. When is it likely to be brought before the House?

I understand that it is moving on to its Final Stages in the Seanad. If it is amended, it will come back to this House for final approval.

Deputy Durkan has given us an example of an appropriate question.

Page 65 of the programme for Government refers to mental health. The post of clinical lead in the national clinical programme for those with dual diagnosis has been open since late 2018. Will the Government provide an update on recruitment for this post?

I thank Deputy Neville for raising this important issue. This is a key post which we funded in the budget for the development of our mental health services. The HSE is progressing with recruitment for this post. I will get the Deputy a written note in that regard.

The New Zealand State Services Commission has reported on the actions of Mr. Gabriel Makhlouf, incoming Governor of the Central Bank. It has found that he did not act reasonably in continuing to focus on the conduct of those searching the Treasury website, rather than on the Treasury's failure to keep budget material confidential. This would appear to be a case of seriously bad judgment in a crisis. Does the Tánaiste still have confidence in Mr. Makhlouf?

Yes, the Government and I still have confidence in him.

I would like to make something clear to Deputy Danny Healy-Rae. If a Deputy represents his or her grouping at Leaders' Questions he or she cannot come in a second time. Otherwise-----

The Order of Business is a different thing altogether.

The Deputy has been in during the Order of Business.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle has been here longer than I have, but that is not how this has operated every other day.

That would mean that every leader could come in twice.

Deputy Calleary came in twice.

The Deputy's man came in in his place. What is the Deputy's question? It is to be a question, not a statement.

People on the housing list are being thrown off because their family income supplement puts them over the income threshold for social housing. If people are poor enough to be on family income supplement, that money should not be considered as income for the purposes of throwing them off the housing list. A couple who have been on the housing list for 12 years are being thrown off because-----

The Deputy is to ask a question, not make a statement.

-----their family income supplement puts them over the limit. That is not fair.

The Minister is reviewing the income thresholds.

I made a major mistake. Deputy Eugene Murphy was in the Chair prior to me and I overlooked his question. I call on him to put a concise question.

Last Thursday, I asked the Tánaiste about the industry funding levy for credit unions. I mean no disrespect to him because, in fairness to him, he always tries to answer the questions correctly but I did not get a correct answer. The information I have received from the horse's mouth is that there has been no consultation with the credit unions on this issue since 2015. Prior to that, the last consultation was in 2012. This levy will be increased to 50%, raising the amount paid from €1.8 million to €8 million over a number of years. There are already five levies on credit unions. I do not know how many people realise that. We cannot underestimate the benefits of the credit unions and the social role they play in society. If some of the levies could be got rid of and this one brought in over ten years, this would be acceptable to the credit unions.

I will get the Minister to come back to the Deputy on this issue directly.