Finance Bill, 1981: Report Stage (Resumed).

Does Deputy Bruton wish to move amendment No.3?

No, Sir, I do not.

Amendment No.3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 8, in the Table to section 2, between the references to sections 138B and 141 to insert the following:

“Section 139 and 140 (housekeeper)

165

495

Section 142

95

285”

This amendment is concerned with increasing the tax allowance available in respect of a housekeeper and in respect of the maintenance of a dependent relative. Section 142 of the Income Tax Act 1967 covers the situation of a dependent relative. Basically the position is that if, in a year of assessment, a claimant proves that he maintains at his expense a person who is a relative of his, who is incapacitated, or who is a relative of his wife, who is incapacitated, he may obtain an allowance against his income tax liability of £95, the princely sum of £95. That allowance was introduced in 1949 by the Inter-Party Government and Minister for Finance, Deputy Paddy McGilligan, at a figure of £60 which was increased to its present level of £95 by another Minister for Finance belonging to the same party as Deputy McGilligan, Deputy Richie Ryan, in 1975-76. This allowance for a dependent relative has never been increased under the ministry of anybody other than Deputies McGilligan and Richie Ryan.

I feel very strongly that families should be encouraged to maintain dependent people who are incapacitated in one way or another in their own homes. I believe that this allowance assists in that direction. Certainly it is a great encouragement to people to maintain their relations rather than allowing them to become a total charge on the State. Of course that is something, from a utilitarian point of view, the State might wish to see. But, from a social point of view, it is better in every way that people who are in a position of incapacity should be maintained to the maximum extent by their families, in the sense that they will realise that, in their incapacity, somebody cares sufficiently about them to take care of them financially and materially. Whereas if they are put in an institution operated by the State, no matter how ample may be the conditions of life in that institution, there is not the same sense of personal concern as is demonstrated in a situation in which an incapacitated person is cared for by a member of his family. I believe this allowance should now be increased from the very inadequate figure of £95 to a still inadequate one of £285. Indeed, when one bears in mind the very substantial allowances — in excess of £1,000 — available to a person who may maintain his spouse, and compares that with the allowance available for maintaining a dependent relative, in this case an incapacitated one, at £95 only, and when one compares that with the fact that the costs of maintaining a dependent person who is incapacitated are likely to be considerably greater than the costs of maintaining a spouse who is in full health, the fact that a very substantial tax allowance is available to someone towards the support of his spouse, and such a meagre allowance of £95 is available to a person who maintains a dependent relative, one will see the need for an amendment.

I think one will recognise also that the allowance should be more generous in a situation in which a voluntary decision is taken by the taxpayer whether or not he or she will maintain the dependent relative. In the case of a spouse one spouse is legally required — within the terms and spirit of the marriage contract into which they have entered — to maintain the other spouse if that spouse is not capable, or is not in a position, for one reason or another, to maintain himself or herself. There is some legal responsibility there anyway. It is a decision which is not a discretionary one as far as the maintenance of the spouse by the taxpaying spouse is concerned. Because of the existing contract anyway perhaps there should not be the need to provide a tax allowance to encourage an earning spouse to maintain a dependent spouse.

Where a taxpayer decides to maintain a dependent relative, it is a voluntary decision. To get people to take that decision I would argue that the allowance — far from being one-tenth only as generous as that for maintaining a spouse — should be considerably more generous. Yet it has stood at £95, having been introduced in 1949 at the figure of £65. If this allowance had kept pace with inflation since 1949 it would be somewhere in the region of £500 instead of the £95 which it now is or the figure of £285 which I propose.

The other allowance I propose to increase is the housekeeper allowance which is basically designed to assist single parent families where the single parent, in order to make an adequate living for the family, must work outside the home. An allowance of £165 is available in this case to the taxpaying single parent for the employment of a housekeeper. The dependent relative allowance was introduced in 1956 and the housekeeper allowance was introduced in 1949 at £100. This allowance was increased by Deputy Richie Ryan, as Minister for Finance, to £165 in 1975-1976, the only occasion on which it was increased. In modern circumstances there are more cases of single-parent families and there is a strong argument for increasing an allowance such as the housekeeper allowance which assists these families in what must be the very difficult task of bringing up and maintaining children without the benefit of both spouses. This allowance has not kept pace with inflation. This is a very reasonable amendment to seek an increase in this allowance to £495.

In respect of both of those allowances I introduced amendments in the last two Finance Bills. I made all these arguments on those occasions. I obtained a sympathetic hearing from Deputy Colley, as Minister for Finance, and I had the impression that something would be done. Something was done in respect of some aspects of the problem but the basic allowances were not increased. I am repeating my call to increase these allowances. These allowances are concerned with helping families to help themselves rather than encouraging them to seek help from sources external to the family. A tax allowance to that effect would promote social responsibility and cohesion and should commend itself to this House and to Members of all parties.

Listening to Deputy Bruton one could bury one's head in the sand and take any item in the tax system and make a weak case for it, not looking at the overall position. Deputy Bruton should not try to compare the tax performance of Deputy Richie Ryan as Minister with the performance of this Government because it would be pathetic to do so. Deputy Bruton would take a long time to convince the people. Deputy Bruton's case in supporting that Minister in what he did in the area of income taxation is certainly weak.

This amendment is typical of the Fine Gael Party and the type of people they continually felt most needed their support. The people affected most by the housekeeper allowance are those in the higher income brackets. How does Deputy Bruton compare comments by some of his colleagues, particularly his party leader immediately after the budget, with the case he is making now? Deputy Bruton is clearly supporting those in the higher income brackets.

The social welfare increases in this year's budget are of more benefit to the less well off than would be the increase in the housekeeper allowance. There is much less need nowadays to increase the housekeeper allowance since, in addition to that allowance, there is available a one-parent tax allowance which was introduced in 1979 by Fianna Fáil, was doubled in 1980 to £500 and was increased in this year's budget to £650. Deputy Bruton chose to ignore that. The cost of the proposed amendment is estimated at about £1.6 million in 1981 and £2.4 million in a full year. The dependent relative allowance, if increased as proposed, would cost in the region of £9.7 million in a full year. That means that we were talking about a cost of £12.1 million. Deputy Bruton has not suggested where that money might be raised and his colleague, Deputy John Kelly, is nightly parading centres in this city saying that public expenditure must be cut. How does one justify the lip service now being paid by Deputy Bruton when one takes into account the statements being made by Deputy Kelly?

The amount of money made available for increases in personal tax relief this year has been allocated by sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Bill so as to benefit to the greatest extent possible the greatest number of taxpayers, including persons in receipt of dependent relative's allowance. Any increase in this allowance and in the housekeeper allowance would require an additional outlay and it would be selective. In this year's budget the social welfare allowance for child dependants, widows, deserted wives, prisoners' wives, single parents and the rates of children's allowances were increased——

Why not the dependent relative allowance?

——and these moneys catered for most of those who would be entitled to the housekeeper allowance. Deputy Bruton should be honest. The Deputy's party has a number of kite-fliers who fly different types of kites as the occasion demands, as he is doing here this afternoon. The second point is that in advocating an increase in the allowances, the Deputy is taking cases in isolation. In the areas which I have mentioned, most of those people would be in receipt of those allowances.

(Cavan-Monaghan): When Deputy Richie Ryan became Minister for Finance the highest rate of income tax was 77p in the £ and when he left office that had been reduced to 60p in the £. Furthermore, I want to remind the Minister that he is using the Capital Acquisitions Tax Act to gather in much more money that it was ever intended to take in and from people from whom it was never intended to take it——

That will sound hollow, even in Cavan-Monaghan. They will not even believe that there.

(Cavan-Monaghan):——by refusing to honour the undertaking given in this House that the threshold would be increased to keep level with inflation. So much for that.

The Minister surprises me very much in saying that Deputy Bruton's amendment in some way or another is calculated only to benefit the rich. In other words, the Minister seems to think that only the rich have dependent relatives, that only the rich look after their aged or incapacitated relatives.

I was referring to the housekeeper allowance, as the Deputy well knows. The Deputy should not be twisting my words.

(Cavan-Monaghan): Perhaps since the Minister became Minister for Finance he has stopped holding clinics.

The Deputy must not twist what I said. I referred to the housekeeper's allowance.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I would not be surprised that most Fianna Fáil Deputies were reluctant to hold clinics at the present time.

My clinic is far bigger than those of your party colleagues in the city.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I know, from my experience of meeting people who are claiming dependent relative allowances, that many of them are on very modest incomes indeed.

I even hold clinics at my home for people who have made an appointment.

(Cavan-Monaghan): The old people whom they are looking after are living on non-contributory old age pensions, which would suggest that they are in very poor circumstances. Therefore, this dependent relative allowance is in no way related to wealth. It affects people on very modest incomes.

What about the housekeeper allowance? That is what I was talking about.

(Cavan-Monaghan): We will come to that in a moment.

All allowances have the same characteristics so far as the well off are concerned.

(Cavan-Monaghan): People of modest incomes become widows and have to get somebody to look after their families. That does not only affect the rich.

Did we not introduce the single parent family allowance in 1979?

(Cavan-Monaghan): Those tragedies do not only afflict the rich. Many on modest means, it could be said, are more likely to become widows than people of great wealth, because people of great wealth can get better medical attention. A look at some of the hospitals around about would prove this at present.

The Minister's argument that this amendment benefits the wealthy is absolutely silly and does not stand up. In regard to the dependent relative allowance, people should be encouraged to look after their ageing or incapacitated relatives at home. This is in keeping with their Christian traditions and with the Irish way of life. Even on hard economic considerations, even looking through the glasses of the Minister for Finance, there is a lot to be said for this amendment if it would encourage people to keep at home their dependent relatives rather than send them to the old people's home.

I had occasion to put down a question in the House within the last 12 months to find out what it costs the State to keep an old person in an old persons' public health board home. I am speaking now from memory and I believe it costs between £50 and £60 a week. If every one of those people who are kept at home is a substantial saving to the State, I would regard it as good business and good economics. The Minister is giving an allowance of £95 a year. At the time that was fixed it took two old pence to post a letter. It now costs over 30 old pence to post a letter. At the time that this allowance was fixed at £95 you could buy a daily newspaper for two old pence. It does not make sense to keep this dependent relative allowance at £95. It is an insult. From my experience in dealing with my constituents at my clinic in my home, with or without notice, I find that a lot of the people concerned are people who are just in the income tax bracket and who are being given this paltry allowance in respect of their relatives.

In regard to the housekeeper allowance, many people on modest incomes have to rely on housekeepers and it goes harder on them to have to pay a housekeeper to look after their children. They are less likely to have wealthy relatives who can take them and look after them. Again, this allowance was fixed back in the late forties or early fifties at £165. It is entirely inadequate. I refute the suggestion that this is an amendment in ease of the rich, that this is an amendment, under either section, that benefits only the rich. It affects everybody who has been widowed and everybody who has dependent relatives once they are in the income tax net. Paying income tax is no sign of affluence and no sign of having money to spare. The Minister is compensating these people with 1950 allowances, under raging Fianna Fáil inflation.

What about the one parent allowance?

(Cavan-Monaghan): He is giving them 1950 allowances, just as the farmers are getting European prices and suffering Fianna Fáil inflation. That is what he is doing and that is the situation.

I told the Deputy how things were going in Cavan-Monaghan.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I will look after Cavan-Monaghan.

I think that it will be hard enough for the Deputy this time.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I will look after Cavan-Monaghan when the Minister clears up the mess in Cork and when he removes the anger of the people of Cork over the disgraceful treatment in which the Minister participated in throwing out Deputy Jack Lynch on his head. I will look after Cavan-Monaghan.

I wonder could both sides get back to the amendment, please?

I was obviously pressing on a corn. I heard that the Deputy was in trouble.

(Cavan-Monaghan): The Minister should not be shouting. He has a lot of restitution to make to Deputy Lynch and the people of Cork for the mess that he has made.

Would the Deputy get back to the amendment, please?

Leave the people of Cork to me. The Deputy hates the people of Cork.

Cavan-Monaghan): The Minister will be busy enough looking after Cork. The people there know about the way you treated that decent man in order to bring about the promotion for yourselves.

I do not think that the people down there would believe that.

(Cavan-Monaghan): Having regard to the mess the Minister is making of Finance, he might have been better in Labour.

From what I hear it looks as if the Deputy will have a long Seanad campaign.

We must get back to the amendment.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I conclude by suggesting that even 50 allowances would not be of any use in terms of Fianna Fáil inflation.

The Minister for Finance has no basis for saying that either of these allowances, if increased, would benefit the well off to a greater extent than they would benefit anyone else unless he is going to say also that he should not have increased any of the allowances that were increased in the current budget, such as the basic tax free allowance, because all tax-free allowances benefit more the better off since the greater the part of one's total tax on which one is paying at the rate of 60p, the more valuable is an increase in an allowance. This is because it saves the taxpayer from paying 60 pence in the pound whereas if one is not paying 60p tax on any of his income, the saving is only 35p in the pound.

What about the one-parent family allowance that has been in existence since 1979?

(Interruptions.)

(Cavan-Monaghan): The Minister might as well resurrect the trivial industries document.

We are on Report Stage of the Bill. Deputy Bruton, without interruption.

I cannot continue speaking if we are to have this sort of interruptions.

What about the single-parent allowance?

Will the Minister please be quiet? The position is that all tax-free allowances on being increased, benefit the better off more than they benefit the less well off for the reasons I have explained.

Perhaps the Deputy would explain those reasons to his leader.

The Minister has no basis whatever for claiming that the allowances in question here will, by reason of their being increased, benefit the well off any more than any of the other allowances that he has increased substantially will benefit them. He has not given any indication as to why the dependent relative allowance has not been increased from £95. I concede that there is a single-parent allowance. This applies in many of the cases in which the housekeeper allowance applies also but that in itself is not an excuse for not increasing the housekeeper allowance in line with inflation. That allowance does not apply and neither is there any other allowance which applies to people who are maintaining dependent relatives specific to their condition. It is very wrong for the Minister not to recognise the case being made here for increasing the dependent relative allowance. When I put that argument to Deputy Colley, when he was Minister for Finance, while he was not in a position at that time, nor subsequently for other reasons, to increase the allowance, at least he indicated some degree of sympathy towards the situation of people who are maintaining dependent relatives and also single-parent families who find it necessary to employ housekeepers.

That is why he introduced the single-parent allowance.

The Minister is not displaying any sympathy in such cases and is endeavouring to portray the people concerned as being well off and not in need of any special allowance. That is a distortion of the facts as indicated to the House by Deputy Fitzpatrick. From his wide experience he knows that in most of these cases the people concerned are in receipt of only modest incomes and that the impact of this allowance would be to help people in relatively poor circumstances. As a result of the allowance I am proposing there are many people who would no longer be paying tax but who are paying tax this year. I say this because the increases I am proposing would put the allowances of many families — single-parent families and families maintaining dependent relatives — above the level of their incomes and, consequently, would remove them from the tax net.

I am confident that in such circumstances many thousands of families would be removed completely from the tax net. The Minister may say that that effect will be achieved by an increase in the general allowances, by increasing the personal allowances but the case for increasing the allowances I am talking of rather than for increasing the personal allowances is that they are discriminatory and are directed particularly to cases of genuine hardship.

Increases in personal allowances benefit people regardless of whether they are in a difficult situation. In this way everyone benefits regardless of whether he is supporting a family or whether he has a dependent relative. Consequently, the increase loses its point, but the allowances I am talking about help people in identifiable, difficult and exceptional family circumstances and as such there is a far stronger reason for increasing them than there is or ever was for increasing the basic tax-free allowances which are indiscriminate. In these circumstances I argue strongly that the allowances in question should be increased now and I am sorry that the Minister has not seen fit to support the amendment.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 32; Níl, 59.

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Boland, John.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cosgrave, Michael J.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • D'Arcy, Michael J.
  • Deasy, Martin A.
  • Donnellan, John F.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan-Monaghan).
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • L'Estrange, Gerry.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Toole, Paddy.
  • Taylor, Frank.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Treacy, Seán.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Kit.
  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, David. Andrews, Niall.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Cogan, Barry.
  • Colley, George.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Coughlan, Clement.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Morley, P. J.
  • Murphy, Ciarán P.
  • Nolan, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donoghue, Martin.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • Farrell, Joe.
  • Filgate, Eddie.
  • Fitzgerald, Gene.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin South-Central).
  • Fitzsimons, James N.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Dennis.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Keegan, Seán.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Killeen, Tim.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lemass, Eileen.
  • Leonard, Tom.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Loughnane, William.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Woods, Michael J.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies L'Estrange and M. Cosgrave; Níl, Deputies Moore and Briscoe.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 5 not moved.

Are they withdrawing it?

No. It has already been discussed and cannot be moved.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 8, in the inserted Table Part I, to delete "The first £1,000 ... 25 per cent." and substitute "The first £2,500 ...20 per cent."

Is Deputy O'Leary not here?

This is an amendment in the name of Deputy M. O'Leary who is not here for reasons of a family nature. His father is not well, and I am proposing to move the amendment with his permission. Amendment No. 6 is designed to reduce the rate of tax on the lowest band of taxable income and, therefore, is a measure which will benefit specifically lower income tax payers. I feel that it is a justifiable amendment and ought to be supported.

Are amendments Nos. 6 and 7 being taken together?

I am sorry, amendments Nos. 6 and 7 may be taken together by agreement. Does Deputy Bruton want to say anything further?

Amendment No. 7 is going somewhat further than amendment No. 6 but they are both designed to reduce the level of tax paid on the first part of taxable income and hence are more beneficial to lower income tax payers relatively speaking than increases in the width of other bands would be. I merely wish to move the amendments.

These amendments are the same as those put down by Deputy O'Leary on Committee Stage and they deal with the rates of tax chargeable for 1981-82 and subsequent years. Following a brief discussion on Committee Stage it will be remembered that the first amendment was withdrawn and the second amendment was not moved.

The rates of tax were last restructured in the 1980 Finance Act and section 3 of the present Bill proposes to alter those rates by increasing the standard rate 35 per cent band from £4,000 to £4,500 for single and widowed persons and married persons assessed as single persons for tax purposes, and from £8,000 to £9,000 for married couples assessed on the basis of their combined incomes. The cost of the increase is estimated at £9.7 million in 1981 and £15.4 million in a full year. The Deputy's amendment proposes to reduce the reduced rate of tax from 25 per cent to 20 per cent and to increase the bands of income chargeable at that rate from £1,000 to £2,500 for single and widowed persons and married persons assessed as single persons, and from £2,000 to £5,000 for married couples.

The cost that I gave on Committee Stage for this amendment was £100 million in 1981 and £154 million in a full year. I wish to tell the Deputies that I regret an error in calculation in those figures. In fact the figures are substantially higher. The revised estimated cost of the proposed amendment is now £174 million in 1981 and £267.5 million in a full year. The figures that I gave the Deputy on Committee Stage represented the cost of extending the rate bands as proposed by him and did not take account of the proposal to reduce the lowest rate from 25 per cent to 20 per cent. In other words, I am now telling the House the estimated cost of the amendments as before the House, and the Deputies will appreciate that these are very sizeable costs when you talk about £174 million in 1981 and £267.5 million in a full year. As I have said in relation to other amendments, no Deputies have suggested how this extra revenue may be raised.

I have just moved the amendments for the purpose of having them discussed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 8, before line 12, to insert the following:

"—Notwithstanding anything in the Tax Acts, the amount of rent paid by an individual on a principal private residence, which exceeds £10 but not greater than £50 per week, shall be deducted from the total income of that individual for the year 1981-82 and any subsequent year of assessment.".

This amendment is concerned with introducing a tax allowance for rent. It is in order to bring about analogous conditions for people living in rented accommodation to that which obtains in the case of people who are living in a house on which they are paying interest payments in respect of the purchase price which they have paid. At present tax allowances are available to people who purchase their houses, but no equivalent allowance is available to people living in rented accommodation.

This amendment, which was moved by Deputy Michael O'Leary on Committee Stage and which on that occasion I heartily supported, I heartily support again. It will encourage the making available of rented accommodation, which has diminished very rapidly in supply in the last 30 years. There is about half as much rented accommodation available to people looking for it now as there was 30 years ago. The main reason for this is because people find it more profitable to buy rather than rent a house. It is more profitable to buy because the tax code is distorted in favour of purchasers of a house by virtue of the fact that the tax free allowance is available on interest payments associated with the purchase of a house. There is no tax free allowance available for rented accommodation.

As the Deputy said, this amendment is a slightly modified version of that put down on Committee Stage by Deputy O'Leary. The difference between the present amendment before the House and that on Committee Stage is that the Deputy now proposes to place an upper limit of £40 per week on the amount of rent which would be allowed as a deduction. In other words, it would be £50 minus £10.

The estimated cost of the proposed amendment is in the region of £40 million in a full year. There are a number of practical grounds on which the revised proposals could not be accepted, in addition to the budgetary considerations. Despite the £50 ceiling which the Deputy has now introduced the implementation of the proposal would give an unjustified tax relief at the high rate of tax to those who pay big rents for luxury accommodation. Obviously they would also get the allowance on the £40, as proposed by Deputy O'Leary. I do not think that is justified. I do not think people in luxury accommodation should get an allowance even to the extent of £40 on rented accommodation. That is a practical reason why I could not accept it.

I do not have to go through the various tax bands. The Deputies are well aware that this could assist people who rent luxury accommodation. I made the point on Committee Stage that there is a serious question mark in regard to whether a tax deduction for rent paid would benefit the tenant. I have some reservations about that. It might never be passed on to the tenant. Except in the case of rent controlled dwellings, it is likely that many landlords would increase their rents by an amount equivalent to the tax relief. They would be in a position to do this because rented accommodation is in short supply. The demand, inflated by the £40 million cost of the proposed relief, would result in an upsurge in rents. I am not sure that it would benefit the tenant. These are practical reasons why I could not accept the amendment.

The administration of such a scheme would be expensive, not only from the point of view of the State but from the point of view of employers and taxpayers. A large number of taxpayers' cases would have to be reviewed every year. There would be a large number of amended certificates and the scheme would involve a massive amount of documentation. As I said, I am not sure the benefits would reach the people that I appreciate the Deputy would like to have the benefits accorded to. For those reasons, I cannot accept the amendment.

I support the amendment tabled by my colleague. I am not quite sure what the Minister alludes to when he talks about people living in luxury accommodation gaining any benefit from that type of relief. In my constituency every day of the week I have young housing applicants coming to me seeking help. Some of them are living in a 12 ft. by nine ft. room in Dún Laoghaire and paying £15, £20 or £30 per week for this accommodation. A one-bedroom flat, with a miniscule kitchen, and a small nine by nine living room costs about £25 per week in Dún Laoghaire.

The Deputy is missing the point. That benefit would also have to be passed on to those in rented luxury accommodation.

I accept that, but I do not think it is beyond the capacity of the Revenue Commissioners to work out something in terms of an income ceiling in relation to such a relief.

Is the Deputy not surprised at his colleague being interested in people in luxury accommodation?

I do not understand the Minister's allusion. There are manifest anomalies in relation to mortage interest relief in the same context. One can have a situation where individuals are obliged to pay rent but will never own their own dwellings. They feel they are being discriminated against within the tax code. They feel that strongly, since private rents, private residences and private flats have escalated enormously in the past ten years. The motion which we are now about to take in Private Members' time has highlighted the fact that, in the absence of any form of rent control in respect of private tenancies, that kind of situation has escalated. It would not come as any great surprise to the Labour Party if we saw Fianna Fáil adopting a formulation close to this, because the Fianna Fáil Party, presumably in their manifesto permutations, have run out of every possible system of relief that could be devised.

I regard that as a compliment.

If we could flush out the Government in relation to an amendment of this nature, it would be a matter of great interest.

Debate adjourned.