Order of Business (Continued)
Dáil Éireann Debate
Deputy Timmy Dooley: Recognising that solar energy has the potential to be a significant component of our renewable energy mix, when does the Government intend to bring forward the tariff structure which would allow that potential to move towards becoming a reality?
Deputy Mattie McGrath: It is a pity the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, is imithe. Paragraph 7 on page 47 of the programme for Government contains a commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities. It is very sad that the previous Government cut the mobility allowance for people with disabilities to convert their cars and that it still has not been reinstated. It is vital for all people with disabilities, and certainly for people in rural Ireland who cannot access transport services, to have their cars converted. We need it to be reinstated immediately.
The Taoiseach: I was asked the question several times and I have asked the people who are working on the matter for a meeting. It has been four years since it was stopped. I will come back to the Deputy. It is complicated.
Deputy Anne Rabbitte: A number of months ago, I asked the Taoiseach, regarding the programme for Government, what was the schedule for the access inclusion model, AIM, programme. It is 15 November and the AIM programme is up and running. Regrettably, however, some parts of it are not, particularly the therapeutic aspect that is aimed at children with Down's syndrome. Yesterday, I met people protesting outside for better pay. Regrettably, some of them on the AIM programme have not been paid for ten weeks. Where is the schedule?
Deputy Carol Nolan: The programme for Government contains a very clear commitment to provide regulation and planning guidelines for wind farms. It is a major issue for rural communities. The absence of guidelines is giving big wind energy companies a free run in rural counties such as my own, County Offaly. There is a serious problem in Cloghan, where a planning application was opposed by an inspector who raised serious concerns. I would like to know about the level of consultation throughout the country, given that it has not happened in my county. When will the guidelines be published?
The Taoiseach: It is an important part of the Government's response to climate change and a valid question. During the term of the previous Government, it was not possible to get agreement between the then Ministers, former Deputy Alex White and Deputy Kelly. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten, and the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney, are having real discussions about it and it is a focus of a considerable deal of attention from the Minister, Deputy Denis Naughten. I expect that he should be in a position to conclude his discussions reasonably soon. I do not want to put a date on it.
Deputy Eamon Ryan: I fear the Taoiseach may have inadvertently confused the House earlier in his response to Deputy Martin on the provisions of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014. The question the Minister, Deputy Denis Naughten, faces is whether he will refer a particular acquisition to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, given that it has an interest in the effect it might have on the overall broadcasting environment. This is the key thing he has to consider, not whether there will be a retrospective effect on the particular company in question. Can the Taoiseach confirm that my interpretation of the legislation is correct?
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty): Sorry to be disruptive. We are at risk of the discussion on promised legislation turning into a very extended Leaders' Questions. I will raise this matter at the Business Committee this week. The purpose of this debate is to talk about legislation that is on the way, not to bring up any topic that anybody wants to bring up. That is why we have Topical Issues.
Social and Affordable Housing Bill 2016: First Stage
That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend various enactments with a view to improving the supply of social and affordable housing and to provide for related matters.
This is a comprehensive Bill addressing a number of areas relating to the supply of housing, which is a crucial issue of concern to everybody in the House. The Bill contains a number of measures including one regarding the amount of compensation made in the compulsory acquisition of land and proposes the implementation of the recommendations in the Kenny report of 1973, following on from the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, which examined the proposals in 2004 and found that they did not contravene the Constitution regarding the balance between private property rights and social good. The Bill contains controls on the amount of profit vulture funds can make when they acquire distressed properties. It also deals with reference rents for various parts of the country which the PRTB would set based on average rents in different parts of the country.
Ministerial Rota for Parliamentary Questions: Motion
That, notwithstanding anything in the Order of the Dáil of 6th May, 2016, setting out the rota in which Questions to members of the Government are to be asked, Questions for oral answer, following those next set down to the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, shall be set down to Ministers in the following temporary sequence:Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marinewhereupon the sequence established by the Order of 6th May, 2016, shall continue with Questions to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
Presentation and Circulation of Further Revised Estimates 2016: Motion
That, notwithstanding Standing Order 182(1) or (2) of the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business or the Resolution of the Dáil of 7th July, 2016, the following Further Revised Estimates for the Public Services for the year ending 31st December, 2016, be presented to the Dáil and circulated to members on 15th November, 2016, being a date later than that prescribed for the presentation of Estimates, and that the Further Revised Estimates be referred to Select Committees, as appropriate, pursuant to Standing Orders 84A(3)(c) and 182(3).Vote 29 — Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Further Revised Estimate).
Sixth Report of the Committee of Selection: Motion
That Dáil Éireann approves the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee of Selection in accordance with Standing Order 27F, copies of which were laid before Dáil Éireann on 10th November, 2016, and discharges and appoints members to Committees accordingly.
Changes to Standing Order 148: Motion
That, in accordance with the recommendation of the sub-Committee on Dáil Reform under Standing Order 107(1)(a), the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business be amended in Standing Order 148 as follows:With effect from 15th November, 2016 (and only in respect of Bills which commence their second reading on or after that date), in paragraph (2) of Standing Order 148, to delete all words from ‘shall not exceed thirty minutes’ down to and including ‘not exceed twenty minutes.’, and substitute the following:
Ceisteanna - Questions
Constitutional Convention Recommendations
3. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the Constitutional Convention recommendation on economic, social and cultural rights subject to the maximum available resources to be inserted into the Constitution. [35169/16]
The previous Government responded in the Dáil to all nine reports of the Constitutional Convention. The reports contained 38 recommendations, 18 of which would involve change in the text of the Constitution. The main recommendations for referendums and the response to them were as follows.
In its first report, the convention recommended that the age threshold for candidacy in presidential elections be reduced from 35 years. A referendum on this was defeated on 22 May 2015. A recommendation to reduce the voting age to 16 was accepted but a referendum was not held on the matter. There are no proposals to proceed with such a referendum.
In the convention's second report, the reference in Article 41.2 of the Constitution to "a woman's life within the home" was considered. The programme for a partnership Government commits the Government to holding a referendum on this issue.
In its third report, the convention recommended an amendment to the Constitution to provide for same-sex marriage. A referendum on marriage equality was held on 22 May 2015 and was passed by a majority of 62.1%.
The convention's fourth report made recommendations on the electoral system. A recommendation for a referendum to permit the appointment of non-Oireachtas members as Ministers was not accepted, given that the Constitution already allows the Taoiseach to nominate as Ministers two persons who have not been elected to the Oireachtas but have been nominated to the Seanad. The recommendation that Ministers be required to resign their Dáil seats on appointment to office was not accepted. The convention did not put forward proposals on how the resultant Dáil vacancies might be filled.
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