The Minister for Education has told the Dáil that the Government would not flinch from addressing the tracker mortgage scandal.

Richard Bruton said any failures by the banks would be "ruthlessly pursued". 

He was responding to Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary during Leader's Questions, who said the individuals affected did not need tea and sympathy. 

Mr Calleary said one person was overcharged for four years and was still waiting for redress or compensation.

The Minister said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was clear that any powers the Central Bank needed would be provided to them and the government would not be afraid to introduce other measures, such as enhancing the bank levy.

The Governor of the Central Bank, Philip Lane, has told the Oireachtas Finance Committee that the number affected by the scandal will reach at least 20,000.

Earlier this morning, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said that moral persuasion was not going to be enough to force the banks to compensate their customers who had been wrongly removed from their tracker mortgages.

Speaking on Today with Seán O'Rourke, Mr Howlin said that the Central Bank had the power to direct the banks to begin the redress for those affected.

He said robust legislation was in place "so let's see that dog bark" rather than, he said, "let the banks set the pace for the redress".

Mr Howlin said: "The Central Bank has the power to direct redress that should be given to customers. So anybody who has been adversely affected by this since August 2013, the power is there put that right now, because the real cost that we've heard in all the individual cases is to the families that have been so cruelly treated and we need more than moral persuasion for them to be required to put this right."

Mr Howlin said the Taoiseach needed to demand a full public redress for people to be compensated within a number of weeks.  

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has said that farmers were still facing a trebling of stamp duty for consolidating farm land, despite measures to remove the age limit for inter-farm transfers.

Martin Kenny said farmers were already struggling, and the Government had not thought through the implications of increasing the stamp duty on commercial property transactions in the Budget.

Mr Bruton replied that a group of measures had been introduced to meet the needs of farmers, including exemptions for young farmers and lands being used for housing purposes.

Government loses motion votes in the Dáil

Separately, the Government has lost a vote on a private member's motion put forward by the Rural Independent Group on county boundaries.

The Government's amendment was defeated by 49 votes to 44, with 35 abstaining. 

The motion said there would be a detrimental effect of extending the city boundaries on rural areas. 

The Government was also defeated on their amendment to a Fianna Fáil motion to reverse the 2012 changes to the state's contributory pension scheme, which reduced the entitlements of thousands of workers. 

The Government's counter motion was defeated by 85 votes to 44, with 1 abstention. 

TDs are also to vote on a Sinn Féin amendment to the motion.