Thursday, 26 June 2014
Order of Business
It is proposed to take No. 9b, motion re membership of committee; the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 has now been completed, so that will not be resumed; No. 9a, Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2014, motion to instruct the committee; No. 23, Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2014 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 2, Friendly Societies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad]- Second Stage.
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 9bshall be decided without debate.
Earlier today at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Health and Children there were several groups representing people who have been adopted, including the Adoption Rights Alliance and the Adoption Authority of Ireland, among others. One issue that came up among all contributors was the lack of progress in respect of the adoption (information and tracing) Bill. This legislation would give people a basic fundamental right, the right to an identity. This legislation was a top priority for the Government upon coming to office. The Government is now in three years in office and we are still awaiting publication of the Bill. Perhaps the Minister could advise the House of the progress of same.
My second question relates to the interdepartmental group which was set up following the report into the Tuam mother and baby home. I presume the Department of Education and Skills is central to that group. The group was to report back to the Government, I understand, at the end of this month - that is, Monday 30 June. Can the Minister confirm whether that report will be discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday morning?
I am told that because of the Constitution and legal constraints around privacy and access, the right of people who were adopted to trace their birth parents is still being considered, because there are legal implications and difficulties. These have, unfortunately, caused a delay in legislation that we all want to see enacted as quickly as possible.
In respect of Deputy Troy's second question, I will find out whether the relevant report is now ready. As Deputy Troy said, we were due to have it by the end of this month. I am not currently aware of any document that has been brought to my attention in my Department but I will find out and I will write to Deputy Troy directly on the matter.
I wish to ask the Minister about legislation which, I understand, has come before the Cabinet in respect of the granting of medical cards to women who survived the Magdalen laundries. When will that legislation be published? When does the Minister envisage its being put on the Statute Book? I understand the legislation will not take account of women and survivors who live outside the jurisdiction. Can the Minister tell us what methodology will be employed to ensure that these women get their entitlements under the Quirke redress scheme?
On several occasions the Taoiseach has made a commitment to a joint party motion in respect of the families of the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre. Can the Minister tell us when it is proposed to bring forward the wording of the motion and when we might have sight of it?
Deputy McDonald should correct me if I am wrong, but I understand she will have a meeting next week with either the Minister or officials in the Department on the matter.
The Cabinet agreed earlier this week to the heads of the Bill and it is the intention of the Minister to try to enact legislation providing for medical cards for the survivors of the Magdalen laundries, with the co-operation of both Houses, before the end of this session. That is the intention. That is the information I currently have.
I do not have information with regard to the Ballymurphy massacre but I will get the Taoiseach's Department to write to Deputy McDonald.
I wish to raise an issue in respect of scheduling with the Minister. It relates to the Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill. A motion will be moved in the House which allows for an hour of contributions, but the "others" grouping cannot contribute. In the House yesterday the Taoiseach facilitated the "others" grouping in the pre-European Council debate. Will the Minister ensure that this is facilitated today? I have contributed to Second and Committee Stages and I have tabled Report Stage amendments, including an amendment to the relevant section that is being debated in the motion, yet I am excluded from contributing. I hope that the Minister can facilitate us in this respect.
I was not in the House yesterday when the Taoiseach responded, but I gather that, subject to the agreement of the House, if time is available it can be shared between the Technical Group and the others, if that is agreeable. However, it is a matter for the House to decide.
There is a difficulty. I am sure the Technical Group has allocated speakers on the motion. This was brought in. I spoke with officials in the Ceann Comhairle's office yesterday and they were unaware of the detail before it was moved in the House. I was unaware of the detail. I have actively participated in the debate and I have tabled amendments to the relevant sections that are being debated in the motion. I believe I should have a right to contribute, as do other Members. Deputy Shortall has also tabled an amendment.
That sounds reasonable to me. I suggest that Deputy Naughten bring the matter directly to the Whips to see if space, time and agreement can be found to do it.
I would like to see Deputies facilitated in this House. I understand that there is not an offer from the Technical Group, as we speak, for a speaking slot. Perhaps the Deputy present in the House could confirm that. There is no objection on our side to Deputies being able to speak.
No, we are not having a debate on this issue. An order was passed yesterday. If there is a problem and if I can assist in any way with the co-operation of the House, we will sort it out.
I think it is time people realised the purpose of this exercise. There is no point in our finishing early in the day if people are prevented from speaking. With a little co-operation we can work these things out, but we cannot do it on the floor of the House on the Order of Business. Can I ask that these discussions take place behind the scenes? The Chair will be only too pleased to facilitate any agreement reached.
I was thanking the Ceann Comhairle for his co-operation and help in all matters. I am sure the Minister appreciates that.
The Minister for Health is obliged under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 to lay a report before the House of the notifications he has received by the end of June each year. Will the Minister present indicate whether that report is ready? The end of June is approaching. It is a commitment in the Act under section 20(4). Will the report be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas by next Tuesday, 1 July?
The Minister's colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, has indicated on several occasions that he plans to bring in legislation to deal with mandatory testing of drivers for drug use. This is a major problem which needs to be dealt with on a scale similar to the way alcohol was dealt with - we know of the problems in that area. I believe the Minister intends to bring in the changes under the road traffic Bill. Can the Minister, Deputy Quinn, tell us when this will be brought before the House or if the Bill has been considered?
A couple of weeks ago, under the international tax agreement Bill that is on the floor, I raised an issue that Deputy Troy raised earlier today. It was brought to my attention and to the attention of the Minister, perhaps, by members of the south-east Dublin branch of the Labour Party originally. I understand that we have a hidden economy committee. Is there any intention to put that on a legislative basis?
Has the Cabinet instructed Revenue and the Department of Social Protection-----
Tá ceist agam faoi dhá phíosa reachtaíochta atá fógartha. First, will the climate action and low carbon development Bill be debated in the Houses before the summer recess? Second, the Government made commitments under Construction 2020. Today, a State bank, AIB, began a social network campaign aimed at young people telling them not to wait until pay day to buy their Electric Picnic tickets and instead to use AIB credit cards. No terms or conditions were mentioned in the adverts.
It is a throwback to the problems that got us to this point. Under Construction 2020, the Government is committed to introducing an insurance or guarantee scheme to increase to up to 95% loan-to-value ratios for new mortgage participants. Is it still the intention to continue with this hair-brained idea? Does the Government need to legislate to bring it about? If so, when will that legislation be published?
I am told there is already an insurance Bill, but I do not have an answer to the Deputy's question. If he submits a specific parliamentary question, he might get more information.
It has been reported that the Cabinet decided on Tuesday to assign additional duties to the Minister of State at the Department of Defence. Does the Government propose to amend the Ministers and Secretaries Act, given the speculation by some media outlets about the Department of Defence being assigned to-----
Some time ago, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, gave a commitment in the House that any State body under his Department that had its name changed would be given an Irish language name. Recently, he published SI 287 of 2014 proposing to change the name of Bord Gáis Éireann to Ervia.
Is it intended to debate that order in the House? Can we have that debate? Many people believe State companies should have Irish language names and that this move is rowing back on a solemn commitment given on the floor of the House.
I will make inquiries. I do not know whether there is an English translation for "Ervia", let alone a Gaelic one. It might be a non-linguistic name. I will find out for the Deputy.
When is publication expected of the noise nuisance Bill to extend and improve the powers available to enforcement authorities to prevent, reduce and abate noise nuisance through on-the-spot fines? We all encountered this major issue when canvassing in estates recently. Three or four dogs could be kept in houses with no gardens or facilities. We must introduce laws, as this is an issue of cruelty. I am sure many Deputies would agree.
I share Deputy Butler's concerns and have been the victim of that sort of uncontrollable noise, which becomes irritating after a while. Unfortunately, I have no date as to when that legislation will be introduced.