Amendment No 1 is superfluous. As Mr Moutray said, there was a marathon debate last week on the amendments, which are largely irrelevant. Points have been reiterated, and the debate has almost become political theatre. Some parties seem to be tabling amendments and filibustering rather than addressing the reason for the legislation. In my experience, those who are fuel poor, vulnerable, on benefits or elderly are constantly asking when they will receive the money.
The Minister previously said:
“Show me the money, and I will do the business”.
People are now asking when they will receive the money — the sooner the better, I say, because people are suffering daily as a result of all this discussion, which is really of no benefit to those people at whom the legislation is aimed.
The purpose of amendment No 2 is to seek to require the Minister of Finance and Personnel and his Department to approve for other Departments money that may or may not be available. However, the Executive operate on the principle of collective responsibility, so anything that happens will be the Executive’s responsibility. No single Minister should be in a position in which he or she can hold back legislation that is most necessary.
The statutory duty sought under amendment No 3 is already in place — the appropriate Committee must consider any proposed scheme, and all proposed schemes will eventually come before the Executive. My colleagues will deal with the other amendments. I reject the amendments, which are largely superfluous and of no benefit to those people most in need. Go raibh maith agat.