Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Rent Certainty Bill 2016: First Stage
 Header Item Restoration of Bills to the Order Paper: Motion

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 911 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] The city council will deal with both the strategic plan and the concerns mentioned by the Deputy.

In respect of school transport, obviously a report has indicated a review is to be conducted in the next school year in regard to implementation, if applicable, in the following academic year. People will say that just because there is a review does not necessarily mean certain outcomes. School transport has been an essential part of the education system since its introduction back in the 1960s. Clearly, the Minister will be careful in his review so students will continue to have the opportunity to travel to school and receive a proper education. It is for some time in the future.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne On the same issue, the briefing the Minister got in the Department of Education and Skills pointed out there was significant work under way already with Bus Éireann with a view to making the changes that are proposed. This is even before a review. There was a review announced in the programme for Government but before that announcement there seems to have been significant work going on. Is it likely to happen? The programme for Government refers to a timescale before the budget this year.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Minister for Education and Skills will answer any questions about this. If the argument is about downsizing buses, there are locations in the country where 50-seater buses may be carrying three or four pupils. It might be on a second run, or otherwise. It is a question of whether there is a way of making-----

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne The issue concerns concessionary students on those buses.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Is there a way of making it more efficient or effective? It is no harm to carry out a review of some of these elements.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Ten Members are offering and very little time is remaining. I ask Members to be very brief.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae At the outset, I have to declare that I have a small company operating in Kerry. I have to make the Dáil aware of this because it could be construed by some that I have a conflict of interest. However, I want to highlight concerns by small subcontractors in many parts of the country who are being put under severe financial pressure and are struggling to survive. Some are going under because large payments of VAT and other taxes due to the principal contractor-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Does this relate to legislation or the programme for Government?

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae It is on jobs and rural development, on page 42 of the programme for Government. Large payments of VAT and other taxes due to the principal contractors whom the subcontractors work for are being delayed, in many cases for long periods, by the Revenue Commissioners. The delay is rumoured to be caused by a shortage of staff in the Revenue departments. This is causing a vicious circle whereby the smaller operator at the end of the line is waiting too long for his €2,000 or €3,000 to pay wages to staff or make other payments. Such people cannot survive and are going under.

New regulations from June 2015 mean that subcontractors cannot be paid until the principal contractor logs the details with the Revenue Commissioners. How can one log in, in rural Kerry or other rural areas, when one has nothing to log in to? There is no broadband available there.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Let us go to the Taoiseach. The Deputy has made his point.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Regional action plans for jobs are being implemented. Clearly, they are designed to assist small companies, both start-ups and those expanding their business. If Deputy Danny Healy-Rae has a particular problem with some of the smaller companies in Kerry, he should bring it to the attention of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation so an effective system of early settlement of payments due can be put in place.

Deputy James Browne: Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne I wish to refer to the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and, in particular, the supply and pricing of medical goods under it. Last week, the HSE indicated to pharmacists that it would no longer fund a drug called Camcolit. This drug prevents manic episodes and it is a mood stabiliser for people suffering from bipolar disorder. It arrests aggressive and self-harming incidents. The HSE has recommended an alternative drug called Priadel, which it says is interchangeable. However, eminent psychiatrist Dr. John Hillery stated it is not interchangeable due to the pharmacokinetic differences in the drugs. This is a reference to how the body deals with, absorbs and releases the drug.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl This might be more relevant to a matter on the Adjournment. What is the Deputy's question?

Deputy James Browne: Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne The question is on the stoppage of supply of the drug. There is urgency and an obligation regarding the drug as this matter is affecting people. Does the Taoiseach agree that supply of the drug should continue until such time as the matter is reviewed?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That is suited to a matter on the Adjournment, I suspect. Does the Taoiseach wish to say something briefly on this?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I can have the Minister for Health respond to Deputy Browne's question.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I am sorry I was not present yesterday when the Taoiseach outlined the legislative programme. I was at a meeting of the housing committee. With regard to the legislative programme, is the Charities Act 2009 fully operational at present? Have all sections of that Act been signed into law?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I cannot answer that question but I will respond to Deputy Durkan today.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Taoiseach will remember that, over the past two years, I have asked him repeatedly when the outgoing and current Governments would publish the new wind energy guidelines. Submissions have been sought and thousands have been made to the Department, yet we are still awaiting the new guidelines. In the meantime, the Minister has written to Westmeath County Council refusing to take on board the wishes of the democratically elected members of that council regarding the county development plan, stating their amendments are premature pending the publication of the wind energy guidelines. Two years after promising the publication of those guidelines, we are still waiting for them. Perhaps the Taoiseach will update the House on when we will actually see them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We might get an answer if the Deputy gives the Taoiseach a chance.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Agreement was not reached between the former Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Alex White, and the former Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly. This is now a matter for consideration between the Minister responsible for housing, planning and local government, Deputy Simon Coveney, and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Denis Naughten and they will discuss it. I hope the guidelines can be published within a couple of months.

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan: Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan When will the legislation announced yesterday on the Criminal Assets Bureau be published? The Taoiseach referred this morning to the terrible events in the north inner city. I agree with what he said. He also said that in Limerick, the problem was stopped by putting in additional resources. Those additional resources, 100 extra gardaí, came after the publication of the Fitzgerald report in 2007. In Limerick, those resources have depleted to a level of one extra garda from the 100-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That is a matter for a parliamentary question.

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan: Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan The legislation is important to Limerick. When will it be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Some of that can be introduced by regulation by the Minister, and some will require legislation. I expect the Minister will bring a memorandum to the Government next week on what she can do by regulation and when, and on the drafting of whatever legislation is necessary.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That concludes the Order of Business. Again, I apologise to those Members whom we have not been able to accommodate.

Rent Certainty Bill 2016: First Stage

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to provide for rent certainty in the private rental market by linking changes in rent arising from a rent review to the Consumer Price Index.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Bill being opposed?

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

The amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act is very straightforward. It seeks to ensure that future rent reviews are linked to the consumer price index. This is an issue on which the last Government deliberated but, unfortunately, it chose not to address it. I appeal to the Minister responsible for housing to reconsider this matter as part of the action plan for housing. We have tabled the motion because we are seeking to introduce change through legislation.

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Which Bill?

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin The Rent Certainty Bill. It is of great importance, particularly to stop the flow of families into homelessness because of the spiralling cost of rent. I urge the Minister to give it active consideration.

  Question put and agreed to.

Restoration of Bills to the Order Paper: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 165, the Bill which lapsed on the dissolution of the 31st Dáil, and are set out in the Schedule to this motion, shall be restored to the Order Paper at the stage specified in the Schedule below.
SCHEDULE
Bill Title:To be restored at:
Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016Order for Second Stage
Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016Order for Second Stage
National Shared Services Office Bill 2016Order for Second Stage
Single Resolution Board (Loan Facility Agreement) Bill 2016Order for Second Stage
Minerals Development Bill 2015 [Seanad]Second Stage
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 [Seanad]Second Stage
Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Bill 2016Order for Second Stage
Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2014 [Seanad]Second Stage
Road Traffic Bill 2016 [Seanad]Second Stage
National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015Committee Stage
Public Sector Standards Bill 2015Committee Stage
Technological Universities Bill 2015Committee Stage.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Labour Party motion in relation to the amendment to this being moved in light of the earlier agreement?

Deputy Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan I would like to speak briefly to the amendment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Deputy cannot speak to it unless he is going to move it.

Deputy Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan I move amendment No. 1:

To add to the Schedule:

"Educational (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage."

This is a very important Bill. It is a year since Deputy Jan O'Sullivan published a Bill that will bring an end to charging fees for applications for admission.


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