Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
88. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the legislation to protect sub-contractors will be progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11178/12]
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce new legislation to protect small building subcontractors that have been denied payments from bigger companies. In this regard, my colleague Minister of State Mr Brian Hayes has been working with Senator Feargal Quinn to develop the Senator’s private member’s Construction Contracts Bill — which had passed all stages in the Seanad and had moved onto the Dáil order paper — into a robust piece of legislation.
In order to address a number of issues that were raised during the consultation on the Bill a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) was carried out. The RIA was completed and published on 27 September. The Report is available on my Department’s website: www.per.gov.ie/reports.
The RIA examined issues relating to payment practices in the construction sector and assessed the need for legislative intervention. It found that legislation is desirable to improve payment practices and to allow swift resolution of payment disputes by way of adjudication, allowing projects to be completed without wasting time and money in litigation. In addition, the RIA examined the main proposals to amend the Bill that were raised during the Seanad debate and subsequent consultation. It found that there were merits to considering amending the Bill in a number of respects e.g. to bring lower value contracts within its scope and to make the adjudicators award binding in payment dispute cases. It concluded that any such amendments should be formulated in such a manner that would protect the taxpayer.
Following the RIA, Minister Hayes has now prepared proposals to progress this legislation and these are now being brought to Government for approval. It is essential that the solution to this issue needs to be balanced so as to avoid imposing regulatory or cost burdens on parties in dispute, the State or others.
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