Thursday, 16 February 2012
Order of Business
Maurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
Senator O'Brien asked about an amendment to financial services legislation to name financial institutions and I will consult the Minister for Finance about that. He proposed the use of the warmer homes scheme as a job creation mechanism and said he would raise that matter with the Minister when he takes the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 in the House. I support what the Senator said in this regard. We should do everything we can to get people back to work and that is the Government's plan. If there is a restriction, the scheme should be examined again.
Senator Bacik asked for greater liaison between committees and the Seanad regarding business. I am willing to debate reports from the various committees in the House and we will do that, if necessary. The Senator called for a debate on higher education, as she did yesterday, and I have asked the Minister for Education and Skills to come to the House for such a debate.
Senator Mullen mentioned the debate on food waste and food production. The debate will be resumed but a few matters must be thrashed out with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It was an excellent debate yesterday but it was a pity more Members were not in the House to listen to it. Approximately 20 Members were breaking down the doors calling for HSE plans for the south and everywhere else around the country to be debated in the House but only ten were present for the debate with the Minister for Health. Members shout and roar for debates but when they are held, only a handful of Senators are present. It does no good for the perception of the House among the public .
Senator Landy referred to the issue of fines for not displaying NCT discs. I am sure common sense would be applied in this regard. If motorists have arranged a test, they can go to the body that issues the fine to say they have done so. Common sense should apply and the fine should be dropped. I do not see why these cases should go to court.
Senator Quinn inquired about the use of food stamps. I am sure there would be a great deal of opposition if we decreed how people should spend their benefits. However, the matter should be discussed.
Senator Jim D'Arcy raised an important issue about wastewater treatment and the office of environmental enforcement. It is an issue we should address and I am sure the relevant Minister will be willing to come to the House to debate it.
Senator Cullinane referred to the household charge. He mentioned that it will increase year on year but that will not be the case. We will have what he asked for, which is a progressive property tax, and the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government stated that this will happen. I hope we will have the full support of the Senator when that progressive property tax is put in place. He is on record as saying he supports such a tax to be used for local government and so on and I welcome that. Oireachtas Members and local authority representatives should not advocate breaking the law in regard to the household charge.