Today in Leinster House: October 17, 2012

COMPARED TO YESTERDAY’S relatively sedate schedule, there’s quite a few interesting features on today’s schedule…

9:30am – Committee on Transport and Communications – The day begins in Room 4, where the transport committee will play host to Dublin Bus, the National Transport Authority, and the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland. They’ll all be discussing Bus Eireann’s national routes, and the impact that a renewal of its public service obligations could have on the private sector.

10:00am – Committee on Education and Social Protection – Room 3 plays host to officials from the Department of Social Protection and SIPTU, who will discuss the role and impact of community employment schemes.

10:30am – Leaders’ Questions – It’s Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams, someone from the technical group, and a Ceann Comhairle who gets frustrated about the timetable being ignored.

10:30pm – Order of Business – The Seanad gets 75 minutes to discuss its agenda, allowing contributions on all matter of subjects…

10:51am – Order of Business – …but the Dáil only gets 30 minutes, so its discussion is much more restricted.

11:21am – Educational and Training Boards Bill 2012 (second stage resumed) – The mid-morning is wrapped up with debate on the legislation to consolidate and merger many of Ireland’s VECs.

11:45am – Statements on Alcohol Consumption – Alex White’s first parliamentary outing in his new status as Minister of State for Primary Care (‘the new Roisin Shortall, as it were’) will see him lead a Seanad discussion on Ireland’s grá for alcohol and the dangers it poses.

2:00pm – Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform – Unusually, all three finance ministers are in room 4 for this one: Michael Noonan, Brian Hayes and Brendan Howlin (in that order) will go before members and tell them how much they’ll need for their own departments in Budget 2013.

2:00pm – Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence – Alan Shatter’s in Room 2 at the same time, discussing amendments to the legislation setting up the National Vetting Bureau for children and other vulnerable people.

2:30pm – Questions (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) – Eamon Gilmore’s taking Dáil questions at the same time; he’ll be dealing with inquiries on anti-social behaviour on cross-border roads, the imprisonment of Marian Price, treatment of Irish-trained doctors in Bahrain, and a two-state solution in the Middle East.

2:30pm – Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2008 (committee and remaining stages) – Brendan Howlin will be nipping out of the committee meeting whenever he has a chance; he’ll be guiding the Seanad through amendments to legislation extending the powers of the Ombudsman.

3:45pm – Topical Issues – Four topical issues are debated for 12 minutes apiece.

4:00pm – Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions – Members meet in Room 3 to discuss how to deal with the latest batch of petitions submitted by members of the public.

4:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Seán Barrett] - Mortgage Credit (Loans and Bonds) Bill 2012 – Private time falls for the first time to rookie TCD senator Sean Barrett, whose legislation matches his financial background. His bill proposes:

…to create and regulate a mortgage-credit loans and bonds system, for the purposes of the orderly operation of the market for mortgages, such that economic activity is encouraged and property is improved via a system of mortgage-credit loans and mortgage-credit bonds.

If the bill is opposed by the government, it’ll be voted on at 6:30pm.

4:33pm – Educational and Training Boards Bill 2012 (second stage resumed); Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 [Seanad] (second stage) – Debate continues on legislation to merge the VECs; if they’re done before 7:30pm, there’ll also be debate on legislation to regulate the price of prescription medicines.

6:30pm – Matters on the Adjournment – And once that vote takes place, three other miscellaneous matters are discussed before the Seanad turns the lights out for the night.

7:30pm – Private Members’ Business [Sinn Féin] – Motion re Home Help Hours – The Dáil’s night is wrapped up with the resumption of debate on the Sinn Féin motion calling on the government to reverse the cut of €8 million in spending on home help hours. There’s a government debate in, so there’ll be a vote on that at 9:10pm, the amended version shortly afterward, and then everyone goes home.

All of the day’s business can be viewed on our streams: