Order of Business

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 4

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The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It is proposed to take No. 15, Competition (Amendment) Bill 2011 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 16, Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 — Second Stage (resumed). Private Members’ business shall be No. 39, motion re community employment schemes (resumed), to conclude at 9 p.m., if not previously concluded.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  There are no proposals to be put to the House.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Last evening, an appalling situation was revealed by the “Prime Time Investigates” programme on RTE, which dealt with prostitution and the illegal trafficking of women for prostitution in this country. The story that was portrayed was an horrific one, which represents a blight on our society and also has a strong European dimension. What we witnessed was a fundamental denial of the most basic human rights for women, much of it organised by various rings of people engaged in trafficking. There is endangerment and enslavement of women, as well as health and safety issues. The programme for Government lists the criminal law (sexual offences) Bill, which is intended to implement the EU directive on trafficking. Will the Taoiseach give Members a timetable for the publication of this Bill, because it would help address some of the issues raised in the programme yesterday?

[570]Another important Bill in this regard is the criminal justice (proceeds of crime) Bill. This aims to strengthen the Criminal Assets Bureau, which has an important role to play in pursuing the organisers of these trafficking rings who are deeply embedded in prostitution. Can the Taoiseach indicate when the Government intends to publish that Bill? Is he satisfied with the resources available within the Garda Síochána to tackle this issue? Very low numbers of gardaí are involved directly in this area.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Although I did not see the programme referred to by the Deputy, I believe it showed the appalling abuse of women throughout the country. The Minister for Justice and Equality is considering criminal law in this area. The criminal law (sexual offences) Bill is due to be introduced to the House later in 2012. The Ruhama group, which works with women who are exploited and other persons so affected, is to be complimented on what it does. The Minister is also considering a number of structures under which the purchase of sex can be criminalised, as is the case in Sweden and a number of other locations. The programme makers are to be complimented on bringing this into the public domain. The use and abuse of these women by Irish men seems to have been extraordinarily prevalent. The Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Bill will be introduced later in 2012 and the Minister is actively considering several options that might be available to him in that regard.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  What about the second Bill I asked about, the legislation on the proceeds of crime to strengthen the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB? It is also in the programme for Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I will forward the Deputy an update on it.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Tá cúpla ceist ar dtús faoi reachtaíocht atá fógartha. On 26 January, the Tánaiste told the Dáil the Government is not considering legislation to introduce a system of attachment orders, which would allow money to be taken from wages or social welfare payments so the Government can implement the punitive household and septic tank charges. However, in a written reply to my colleague, Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, the Minister for Justice and Equality said that such legislation is being prepared. Can the Taoiseach clarify this? Does the Government intend to bring forward such legislation? Will there be a facility to collect fines through attachment of earnings or reductions in social welfare payments? Has there been any consultation between the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Social Protection? If this Bill is to be published, when does the Taoiseach expect that to happen? Is the Tánaiste aware of this and, if not, will the Taoiseach tell him? Perhaps as Leader of the Labour Party he is too ashamed to admit it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There is no legislation contemplated here, but the Minister is examining a more efficient way of collecting fines. I will have the situation clarified for the Deputy but, as I understand it, the introduction of such legislation is not contemplated. There are some constitutional difficulties with it but the Minister is looking at a far more efficient method of collecting fines where they are properly levied by the courts.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  I am advised that the Minister for Justice and Equality said that this would be part of the Fines Bill. I look forward to receiving clarification from the Taoiseach on that.

The other issue is that the Taoiseach has promised on a number of occasions to meet with Opposition leaders to discuss the constitutional convention. I have written to him in some detail about that. Second, the Taoiseach will be aware that all Senators and Deputies, including [571]members of the Taoiseach’s party, from the region served by Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda have signed a request to the Government to institute an inquiry into allegations of abuse in that hospital. The Taoiseach also promised to meet with us about it, but there is no sign of any meeting.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I did. There are questions down for answer in the Dáil next Tuesday regarding the constitutional convention. We discussed this in the Cabinet yesterday and I hope to brief Deputy Adams and Deputy Martin in the next couple of weeks. I will be able to expand on it in replying to next Tuesday’s questions. My schedule is a little busy during the next three weeks but I am conscious that I gave an undertaking to meet Deputies and Senators from the north-east region. I will do that as soon as I can fit a two hour section into the schedule.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  When will the promised legislation to allow previously self-employed people to claim social welfare be introduced? They are now in limbo through no fault of their own. The legislation was promised by the Minister for Social Protection. These people not only paid taxes all their lives but they also acted as tax collectors for the State.

The second question relates to the local government reform Bill being brought forward by the Minister for septic tanks. Is the Government aware of the very serious situation with An Bord Pleanála?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Does this relate to legislation?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  Yes. The board of An Bord Pleanála should have nine members but at present there are four members of the board dealing with all the cases referred to it from all over the country.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That is not a matter for legislation.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  Only two are required for a quorum so there could be a situation where very important planning matters are being dealt with by only two people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Deputy, that is more suitable for a parliamentary question.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  No, it is not.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I call the Taoiseach to reply on the first issue.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  He should reply on the second issue too, because it is important.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  On the first question, I am advised by the Minister for Social Protection that the advisory group on social welfare is examining the question raised by Deputy Healy-Rae. It will report later in the year with a number of recommendations covering a range of issues in the social welfare area, including this matter. The Deputy’s remarks about An Bord Pleanála are not relevant in the context of pending legislation.

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Can the Taoiseach give an indication as to when the promised legislation on the national vetting bureau will be brought before the House? It is a matter of great importance. Can he also clarify the position on it because there has been publicity about some of the potential shortcomings in that area? Some people are considered to be exempt such as bus drivers, school caretakers and so forth. Over the years some people have been in a very privileged position and have had ease of access to children and, tragically, in some cases that resulted in the widespread abuse of children. Can the Taoiseach allay our fears and ensure some of those categories will be dealt with?

[572]The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  A great deal of work has been completed on this and the entire spectrum has been covered. That Bill is expected to be published in this session and I expect there will be a comprehensive discussion on it by all Members when it is before the House. The issues the Deputy correctly raises will be addressed in the legislation.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Apropos the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Micheál Martin, this is an acknowledgment of something all Members have raised in the House in the past. There is urgent necessity for legislative measures and I compliment the Taoiseach on his response.

There is another issue I have raised repeatedly in the House, including from the Opposition benches five, ten and 15 years ago. It is the growth of organised crime. Every time we read the newspapers or listen to the news we see increasing evidence of its growth.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  The bankers.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is inexorably growing in one direction. It is something the Deputy might learn about in time.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Is legislation promised on this?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Yes, a plethora of legislation is promised. For some reason, there appears to be difficulty in taking organised criminals off the streets. They cannot be put out of action, decommissioned or drawn to the side. They are at liberty to pursue their crime. It is the only industry that is growing.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Speak on the legislation, Deputy.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  There is promised legislation on bail. I have repeatedly raised this issue. Ultimately, something will have to be done to take such people off the streets permanently.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is a matter of the greatest concern. There is no fixed date for the introduction of the bail Bill. Obviously, the Minister for Justice and Equality is acutely aware of the impact of organised crime on the country. That is partly why the Government approved the appointment of 33 senior Garda officers yesterday. I hope that will lead, in some way, towards getting information that will deal with the situation so that people can be brought before the courts and put behind bars if the courts so decide.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  I have two questions for the Taoiseach. Tá a fhios agam gur cuireadh ráiteas amach inné dtaobh an Bhille Gaeltachta. Cén uair a mbeidh an Bille seo foilsithe, cén uair a mbeidh sé ag dul trí Thithe an Oireachtais agus cén uair a thuigeann an Taoiseach a mbeidh deireadh le Bord Údarás na Gaeltachta mar atá sé tofa go daonlathach agus go mbeidh séá cheapadh? An féidir leis an Taoiseach eolas a thabhairt don Teach ar an cheist sin?

The second question relates to the promised legislation to extend the remit of the Freedom of Information Act to a number of bodies. I wish to focus in particular on the extension of freedom of information to the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA. It is crucial that this is brought before the House as soon as possible. I would hazard a guess that no party or Deputy would oppose the extension of freedom of information to NAMA, given that the agency is handling billions of euro worth of assets on behalf of the State. It was revealed a fortnight ago that NAMA would set up another agency — a qualified investment fund — within itself. Yesterday Deputy Gerry Adams revealed that in the last two years €27.5 million had been spent by NAMA on legal advice. NAMA will now set up another agency within itself [573]which will be able to acquire assets from the agency which in the first instance it acquired from the banks. These assets will all have to be revalued by the same legal professionals. Arthur Cox was paid €3 million in legal expenses and we know it carried out work for the banks that had not even been tendered for. We know the Department for Finance has given money to other agencies for work that was not tendered for. There is, therefore, a need to lift the hood on NAMA. When will the promised legislation to extend the Freedom of Information Acts to NAMA be brought forward and why does the Minister not sign a ministerial order to give effect to it immediately?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Tar éis an díospóireacht a bhí ag an Rialtas inné, tá cead tugtha ag an Aire glacadh leis an mBille nua maidir le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta agus beidh sé tugtha isteach sa Teach sar i bhfad. Tá an obair sin ar siúl faoi láthair. Ba cheart go mbeadh an Bille achtaithe sula mbeidh na toghcháin le bheith ann.

The Bill relating to freedom of information will be introduced later this year. A number of areas require discussion and analysis before the Minister can move on it.

The firms which tender to give legal advice to NAMA are selected from panels established following a competitive tendering process. Individual assignments are normally awarded after the receipt of further tenders designed to ensure the most competitive pricing for the assignments. The legal costs incurred in 2010 and 2011 were related to legal due diligence on loans NAMA had acquired from the participating institutions. Arising from reviews, questions were raised about the enforceability of security in certain cases. As a result, legal discounts amounting to €368 million were imposed which reduced accordingly the acquisition cost of the loans. This relates to the first five tranches only. The saving to the State in carrying out this due diligence was a large multiple of the legal costs incurred. The legal due diligence costs are fully recoverable from the financial institutions.

The Minister for Finance has already signalled publicly that he is looking at the structure of NAMA, on which some initial work has been carried out. He hopes to have others appointed to a group which can look at what might be possible in terms of changing the structure. It is difficult to find competent people from this country who can do this work. This is a small country and persons with competence in this field may have a direct or indirect connection with a property owner or a property associated with the NAMA portfolio. The Deputy will, therefore, understand the Minister’s reticence about being too hasty. He is anxious to find people who are really competent and who do not have a connection with anyone or anything associated with NAMA.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  With regard to the Water Services (Amendment) Bill, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government stated on 26 January that the €50 charge was enshrined in primary legislation. In answering a question put by Deputy Michael Healy-Rae he said it would take a vote in the House to alter that charge. He also said that in his lifetime or in that of the Government he would not do this. Nevertheless, he came to my county of Tipperary——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Less detail please, Deputy.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  ——and announced that the charge was being reduced by 95%. With Deputies Brian Stanley, Niall Collins and others, I was in the Chamber when the Minister answered the question. What does the record of the House mean?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I will ask the Taoiseach if legislation has been promised to deal with this matter.

[574]Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Please do, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. The Minister stated clearly that it would take a vote in the House to alter the €50 charge. He has now done it on a whim and announced it in Tipperary South because he is under pressure.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Does the Deputy want to be able to drink clean water?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Of course I do.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Does the Deputy want a €100 charge?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister has made it clear that he intends to publish guidelines in a few weeks time. This will be followed by a consultation process and the guidelines will be approved by the House. The Minister was very clear when he spoke in Dundrum. He was welcomed to County Tipperary——

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Of course he was, as the Taoiseach would be.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——where he received a very big welcome from many of the Deputy’s constituents who were there to compliment him on adopting a common-sense approach towards this matter.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  The Taoiseach was not at the meeting. Deputy Hayes must have given him an inaccurate account of it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The €5 online registration charge is——

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Cá bhfuil an t-Aire inniu agus cá raibh sé inné?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Tá a fhios ag an Teachta go maith cá bhfuil sé.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Tá sé imithe.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Deputy Hayes gave an edited report.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  Who was counting that night?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Did the Deputy go around with his basket?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It is a long way from the €20,000 charge about which I heard Deputy Mattie McGrath spouting some time ago.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  The Taoiseach has not answered my question.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  He has not answered it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What kind of water does Deputy Mattie McGrath want to drink? He is campaigning for dirty drinking water. Is that what he wants?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  That is gombeen talk. I only want clean water.

Deputy Anne Ferris: Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  I wish to raise a serious issue and ask Deputies to give me time. I, too, raise the scandals and horrors portrayed in last night’s “Prime Time” television programme and congratulate the makers of the programme. I recently met Ruhama, the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the organisers of the Turn off the Red Light campaign. What is going on is scandalous. Women are being trafficked into Ireland under false pretences and forced into prostitution. They are also being trafficked around the country. I agree with Deputy Micheál [575]Martin that not enough gardaí are involved in tackling this issue. I know the Minister is involved in a consultation process which I hope will conclude soon. I intend to raise the matter at the Joint Committee of Justice, Defence and Equality. The use of websites needs to be included in any legislation introduced. Those organising the websites used are making millions every year as thousands of women are advertising on them for which they are being charged €700 a week. Legislation must be introduced to stamp out these websites.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have already commented on the appalling abuse and trafficking of women around the country that was evident on last night’s programme which I did not see but about which I heard this morning. The Garda and the Ministers for Justice and Equality and Children and Youth Affairs will be anxious to ensure something is done about this.

It is difficult to legislate for websites hosted outside the country. That is the scale of the challenges we face because of the way technology has moved and the information available worldwide. While the Internet brings potential for advancement in many ways, it also brings opportunities to engage in this kind of activity which is destructive of people’s rights and personalities. The issue will be reacted to by the Government.

Sexual offences legislation will be brought before the House later this year. I hope everyone will be able to contribute fully and comprehensively when it is debated.

Deputy Patrick Nulty: Information on Patrick Nulty  Zoom on Patrick Nulty  The Taoiseach will be aware that much of the work of the Residential Tenancies Board which regulates the private rental sector is taken up by disputes between landlords and tenants regarding deposits. Many of the tenants involved, owing to the inadequate supply of social housing, are on low incomes. In that context, when will the promised legislation to reform the Residential Tenancies Act be brought before the House and will it include a deposit retention scheme for which organisations such as Threshold have been calling for some time?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  That legislation is due to be published later this year. However, I cannot give an exact week.

Deputy Pat Deering: Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  What is the timescale for the introduction of legislation to update the law relating to motor taxation and provide for the continuous licensing of mechanically propelled vehicles?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  That Bill will be brought forward soon. I will ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to give the Deputy a more accurate date for its introduction.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  What is the status of the further education and training authority Bill which is required to set up Solas? The Taoiseach has acknowledged this morning that the biggest challenge facing the country is presented by the jobs crisis. Crucial to tackling that is an organisation which is fit for purpose to ensure people get the training they need. I recently met some local officials that would be involved in the set up of this new organisation and they are really up for it. They really want to do a fine job for these people and give them the hope and support they need, but for that to happen this Bill must be in place.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It is due later on in the year. This is an absolute priority of the Government. Next week the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation hopes to launch his jobs action plan and that will be followed by implementation of the Pathways to Work programme by the Minister for Social Protection. FÁS is being discontinued and there is a movement towards Solas and the NEIS programme under the Department of Education and Skills.

[576]The Deputy has rightly identified this issue as being absolutely critical for young people in particular. He will hear more about that in the near future. I cannot give him an exact time for the legislation, but we are starting work on making this happen.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  The issue of social protection entitlements for the self-employed was raised earlier. That matter is a priority of the social protection committee, of which I am a member. Any Member of the House is welcome to attend such meetings to discuss the issue if he or she feels it is a priority. I would like to ask the Taoiseach to row in behind that issue and give support to our efforts.

Would it be possible to set aside some time to discuss the desperate humanitarian situation in Syria at the moment? It is a terrible situation and it would be worthwhile discussing it in the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I think you should take that up with the Whips.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The review group on social welfare is looking at the issue of the self-employed. This matter has been raised for quite some time. The situation might have been beneficial when times were good for the self-employed, but obviously when things get bad, it is not so easy.

The Tánaiste is in Washington today talking to people associated with the illegal emigrant issue and a number of other issues. He is also due to meet the UN Security Council. I have read the reports from the Middle East about the abomination that is taking place in Syria, where people are being abused, murdered and raped. All of the evidence from the city of Homs speaks for itself. This is something that has been decried by Europe, where a number of countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Syria. It is an issue of strategic focus by the US Secretary of State. It is an issue of grave concern internationally. I hope the pressure being brought to bear will lead to a resolution to this conflict as soon as possible. These people are being murdered in their own country and what is going on is an abomination on mankind.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  The Finance Bill is being published today. What is the precise timetable for the Bill?

Would it not be appropriate to table an amendment to the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011 to deal with the issue the Taoiseach addressed earlier, namely, the contempt shown to workers by the likes of the Vita Cortex and La Senza bosses? Apart from the contempt and disgraceful abuse of workers, does the Taoiseach not find it humiliating that the political establishment at the very top in this country is forced to humiliate itself, begging these people to do something when they should be compelled to do it by law or face the consequences?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister for Finance will hold a press conference later today on the publication of the Finance Bill, and he will provide details of the schedule involved.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Can we come?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have already said that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement examined the evidence in its possession in respect of Vita Cortex and it found that it was insufficient to take legal action against the company. When the social protection Bill is published, it will provide an opportunity to the Deputy and everybody else to make these points.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  So the law is too weak.

[577]Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Given that cancer figures in Ireland are predicted to rise by 72% by 2030, can the Taoiseach provide a definite date for the publication of the public health (sunbeds) Bill? I have inquired about this Bill on a number of occasions. In fact, I raised it almost exactly two years ago, on 7 February 2010, and I was told that legislation was forthcoming. To date, nothing has happened and I would appreciate an update on when this important Bill is coming before the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  In so far as I can bring any sunshine in here, I understand this is due by the middle of this year.

Deputy Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler  Zoom on Ray Butler  Where is the regulation Bill on subcontractors? Many subcontractors have got on to me, stating that the figure of €200,000 in the Bill is very high in light of the direction the economy has taken. One could build many houses now for €200,000, given the way things have gone. The figure should be brought down to €50,000 or €100,000 to protect these subcontractors.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, is dealing with this. I had a discussion with him recently about it. I cannot give the Deputy an exact time for it, but we will report on the progress that he is making about it.


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