Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2009: Committee and Remaining Stages.

SECTION 1.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, after line 35, to insert the following:

""enactment has the same meaning as in the Interpretation Act 2005;".

This is a technical amendment which seeks to bring clarity to the Bill in terms of to whom it is supposed to apply. The word "enactment" is used in paragraph (g) of the definition of a public service body but is not defined in the Bill or in Schedule 1 of the Interpretation Act 2005. The amendment is, therefore, required because the definition of “enactment” in the Interpretation Act applies only for the purposes of that Act.

There is a serious problem running through this Bill in terms of to whom exactly it applies. When we first received the legislation, as drawn up as required by the Minister, it applied to anybody who is a civil or public servant not working in a commercial semi-State body. The Bill also cast the net much wider to apply to anybody who worked in an institution or any type of body paid for out of public funds. I raised with the Minister yesterday the question of whether, for example, under section 39 of the Health Act 2004 this included home help providers and people working in partnerships, family resource centres and similar bodies funded out of public funds. It seems to me we are no clearer regarding to whom exactly this Bill applies. In terms of the amendments submitted by the Government and others we have not yet seen, it would appear that this applies to a public service body where there is provision or potential for a pension scheme. It does not matter whether the individual is entitled to a pension by virtue of his or her contract of employment, for example, part-time workers or cleaners on very low wages who may work a limited number of hours and, therefore, do not have an entitlement according to the terms of their contract.

It disappoints me that no information has been forthcoming from the Department of Finance to whom exactly this "enactment" will apply. This is fundamental because the Bill includes powers to take 5% from persons on the lowest level of wages. As I pointed out yesterday, the lowest level is those earning under €30,000, but a part-time cleaner earning €15,000 or €18,000 does not pay any tax because the person's personal credits and allowances will not place him or her in the tax net. Such persons will pay a full 5% gross, whereas the reduction in the pay of somebody earning €30,000 or €35,000 who pays tax will be allowable for tax purposes and such a person will end up paying a smaller amount than the person on the lowest level of public sector pay.

It was obvious in the debate yesterday that neither the Minister for Finance nor the Taoiseach had properly read their own legislation. Clearly, they handed it over to the civil servants. There has been no opportunity to discuss the full remit of this Bill. From previous experience in the Dáil, when legislation is rushed to the degree that this legislation is being rushed without proper examination and scrutiny by the relevant Minister, the Taoiseach and the Ministers at the Cabinet table, we end up with a mess. That, I predict, is what will happen with this Bill.

To illustrate further the point Deputy Burton made in respect of her amendment No. 1, it came to my attention yesterday that within the teaching profession, which is a group of 57,000 of the 300,000 workers affected by this Bill, a small enough group work on a temporary basis for perhaps five, ten or 12 hours a week. They are not in the same category as permanent pensionable teachers in the primary or post-primary sector. They work X number of hours or classes per week.

My understanding, which the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, might be able to confirm and which certainly is the view of some of the teaching unions, is that those working in a temporary or even a temporary whole-time capacity are subject to this across-the-board 5% cut. Such teachers gain nothing by way of pension and have no standing within their profession because they work purely on a temporary basis, and yet the full rigours of this 5% cut affects their pay. Will the Minister of State confirm that because it goes exactly to the point Deputy Burton makes in respect of those employed on a part-time basis within the public service?

When it comes to secondary teachers, it is on average 27 years before persons are made permanent. It is less so in the primary sector. One is dealing with a cohort of post-primary teachers, who do not have any standing within their school because they work on a temporary hourly basis, who will be also subject to this 5% cut. In the context of Deputy Burton's interpretation amendment, will the Minister of State confirm that for the information of the House?

Is the Minister of State stating the Bill now applies only to those who were subject to the pension levy imposed earlier in the year?

To deal with the technical aspect of the amendment before any broader issues, this is a drafting issue on which advice was sought from the Parliamentary Counsel. The word "enactment" is used twice in paragraph (g) of the definition of “public service body”, but both with the words “by or under”. It is also used in the definition of “relevant provision”, but in the context of “pursuant to”. These are normal-type reference without defining the word enactment. The Interpretation Act 2005 had to define it for the purpose of that Act itself but it is not of general application, as has been already noted. In this context, there is no need to define the word for the purposes of this Bill. In view of the considerations and advice of counsel in the matter, I do not propose to accept the amendment.

On amendments not being received, I am not sure to what amendments Deputy Burton referred. The amendments from the Government were circulated by mid-afternoon and some of Deputy Burton's amendments were received only mid-morning today. I do not know what other amendments she has in mind. There are no other amendments coming from the Government.

We were promised an amendment on the inclusion of the Central Bank. The Minister stated that the board of the Central Bank had offered to be included and I am not clear where that amendment is. Is that amendment included? I do not see within any amendments the Central Bank being deleted from the list of exempt bodies. It is on the list of the exempt bodies in the appendix but I do not see it being deleted by name.

It is in the amendment to the Schedule, amendment No. 26. It states:

In page 12, line 28, to delete paragraph 22.

Home helps are included where they have a public service pension scheme, as some of them do. Part-time workers' pay is set having regard to full-time workers' salary scales and the rate is then appropriately applied to part-time workers. If a worker works 50% of the equivalent full-time worker rate, his or her pay will be reduced accordingly.

That is an important piece of information. The view of the unions is now the Minister of State's view as well, that those working in a temporary capacity within the schools, often on five or six hours a week, will find their pay slashed by 5%. The Minister of State has just confirmed that for the information of the House.

Is it fair and reasonable that a group of people, who have no standing, who have no pension entitlement, who have no status or standing within the school where theirs is a week-by-week, month-by-month contract, and who want to become full-time eventually and have all of the resulting advantages, must face an across-the-board cut in their temporary pay at the same rate of other workers? Can the Minister of State justify that to a range of persons, particularly those within the education sector who are five or ten years out of college and who still cannot find a full-time permanent job within the sector and are unlikely to do so given the Government's curtailment in the number of new teaching posts in the next three years?

My party's legal advice is that this applies to any body or institution where provision of a pension is possible, irrespective of whether such pension is provided. As Deputy Brian Hayes stated, that applies in the educational sector. As the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, acknowledged, that can apply, under the HSE and the Health Acts, to the wide range of persons such as home helps.

I put it to the Minister of State that many home helps who earn only between €10,000 and €20,000 a year, and in some cases less, bear the full brunt of a gross 5% cut because they do not pay tax, whereas for those on the higher incomes there is a net deduction because of their personal tax allowances, etc., and it is those at the very bottom of the scale who will take the highest cut.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

The point I was making before we broke for the sos was the full extent or remit of the legislation is very unclear from the Bill. I made the point in respect of those on a very low wage in a contract with a body which has a pension scheme. Such people do not necessarily have a public service pension but it appears likely they will be caught under the remit of the Bill.

I refer to one specific group of people who will be caught by the Bill and to the considerable consequences for the country. There are people in all our universities, institutes of technology and other research institutions who are contract researchers in departments at the cutting edge of the so-called Irish knowledge economy, most of whom do not have tenure. They work on contract and as a result, normally do not have pensions as such because they do not hold a permanent tenured position in the institution. Many such people are Irish and have been wooed back home. They are in a very competitive situation in respect of fourth level research.

Many such people have been brought back to Ireland in the past four or five years and, where they could afford to do so, bought houses at the very peak of the market. These are people between their late 20s and middle 30s and are shipping water. They are very bright and include PhD and post-doctorate researchers. They are very skilled and work at the cutting edge of the Irish knowledge economy. As a result of the way in which the Government has drawn up the Bill, it does not distinguish between such people and a person in the public service with a permanent, pensionable position who, when he or she ultimately retires from public service, will have the benefit of that public service pension.

In statements made on RTE this morning the Minister declared his intention to exclude such categories of people from the remit of the legislation. However, I put it to the Minister of State, that while this amendment does not deal directly with this issue, there is time for officials in the Department of Finance to check the validity of the legal points made by the Labour Party such that the Bill can be amended before it is too late.

The same argument applies to those working in home help. The Minister has confirmed that those working in the home help area will also be subject to the legislation. Such people may be part of an institution which has the benefit of pension arrangements but they may not get the pension or may be only small beneficiaries of any such arrangements.

It is very difficult to have to contrast this treatment with what is happening to those at the very top of the commercial semi-State sector. Yesterday, I gave the example of the chief executive of Coillte, who is earning in excess of €450,000. Today, the newspapers are full of examples of other heads of commercial semi-State organisations in the same happy position. They are not affected by this legislation. The Minister has promised he will hold discussions with such people because their salaries fall within his remit. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Ryan, suggested this would be addressed quickly.

However, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, have stated in no uncertain terms that they were waging a war against public servants, including people working in home help, fourth level researchers in our universities who were attracted home and people in schools on indeterminate contracts, part-time contracts and low wages. Guess what? They are not waging war with the people at the very top of the commercial semi-State organisations.

There is a further set of people about whom there is no discussion whatsoever, namely, those in Anglo Irish Bank. It is now a fully State-owned bank. According to the Minister's earlier reply, it is not even considered as a semi-State organisation. It is a nationalised bank. Guess what? The top people in this bank earn vast salaries and the Minister might be able to provide some indication in this regard. Yesterday, no less a person than Professor Honohan, the Governor of the Central Bank, stated that Anglo Irish Bank is not a systemic bank, thus upholding the view of the Labour Party since the night the bank guarantee was introduced. This bank is the cause of many of our difficulties and troubles but it is not systemic. There are people on salaries of many multiples of €100,000 working in a failed bank that has brought grief and ruin to each of the four corners of Ireland. Those affected include nurses, gardaí and everyone else who is suffering because of the budget. These people are suffering on behalf of Anglo Irish Bank.

Lo and behold, we have a Bill that proposes to cut the wages of public sector people and others paid by the public sector or who may have part-time contracts with an agency paid from the Exchequer. They will all pay this levy, but Anglo Irish Bank will not commit a red cent to it. People may refer to fairness and public servants are realistic. They realise we must try to get the economy back into shape. However, when the perpetrators of the greatest crime against the Irish economy for several generations along with their masters in Fianna Fáil are exempted from this but those who work as cleaners pay a levy or have their pay reduced by 5%, where is the fairness in that? It is completely inappropriate.

I will try not to labour this point but we need some clarity on the matter. In a response on Second Stage the Minister of State, Deputy Carey, remarked that the rule of thumb which would apply to this Bill is that those affected would be those who pay the pension levy. Earlier, I cited a groups of teachers who do not pay the pension levy. Typically, these are young people, recently out of college who cannot find permanent, temporary, whole time or any work in the education sector to which a contract applies. These are referred to broadly as substitute teachers and are the life and soul of the education sector. If a given teacher is not in today, a substitute teacher is found by tomorrow. Ostensibly, they are young people trying to get some experience in the sector while also trying to make some money one or two days per week. They do not pay a pension levy. They have no terms of contract and work as substitute teachers.

Will the Minister indicate in respect of this category of worker within the education sector whether he is suggesting to the House that the hourly rate of pay for post-primary teachers will be reduced by 5% and the daily rate of pay for primary teachers will be deduced by 5%? These are very simple questions which require a simple reply. Is the position I have put to Dáil Éireann correct? If so, then the Government is flouting the fundamental principle as espoused by the Minister of State, Deputy Carey, in response to this debate on Second Stage earlier today. He led the House to believe the only group affected is those paying the pension levy. Is what I have suggested actually the case? Will the meagre income of a group of substitute teachers in primary and post-primary education be slashed? That is only one group of workers. An entire group of people in the semi-State sector, at top, bottom and middle levels, will not have any reduction. Will the Minister of State give a definitive answer to that question?

I agree with the comments of the previous two speakers. People on community employment schemes might end up facing these cuts under the current structure of this Bill. It is bad enough as it is — scandalous — but that would be altogether outrageous. People on FÁS programmes might be caught in this net too and if that is the intention, the Government really has a lot to answer for.

I agree entirely with Deputy Hayes's comments regarding temporary and part-time teachers. There are other categories, but this is an excellent example of what is going on. I hope the Government will deal with this because it is a very important issue with people on very low incomes being hammered. If the Minister of State does not deal with it, will he at least make an effort to try to ensure that those Members of this House who will still hold teaching posts after one full term resign their positions and allow temporary teachers to gain full-time employment and access to pension entitlements, etc?

The debate has ranged extraordinarily widely over what is, after all, only a technical amendment. Deputy Burton raised a legal point very early on in her contribution before the break. I can no longer remember what the point was but her interpretation was correct.

It was an important point.

The Minister of State should not have said that.

This Bill applies to anybody in the public service area for whom there is an available pension scheme. It applies to all staff and people employed whether they actually receive a pension entitlement. In the statement issued overnight on RTE, the Minister said the Government was to produce an amendment today which would confine the reduction——

I want the Minister of State to reply to the first round rather than——

——to those who had a pension and were subject to the pension levy.

This is wider than that.

This is much wider and includes university researchers on contracts, teachers on part-time and temporary contract work, home helps employed by public bodies that have a pension scheme and a range of other people who, essentially, work for a body that has provision for a public pension scheme whether enacted or not.

I shall call the Deputy again. I want the Minister of State to reply to the first round of comments.

The general rule of thumb is that the definition of a public servant is the same as that which applies to the pension levy. There might be a situation where a person is below the exemption limit for the pension levy but is covered by this Bill.

Is it not——

I shall call the Deputy again.

There are many points to be made. As the Minister stated, the cut proposed for persons on the very lowest pay is progressive and its effect on the pay of the lowest paid is reduced. Substitute teachers are on a special rate of pay that reflects the nature of the work they do. The legislation will affect their rates of pay, but the broad intention is to limit it to those who pay the pension levy.

I do not accept Deputy Hayes's point that a 5% cut slashes people's pay. It is not of that order and the fall in the cost of living has been approximated. These are painful decisions and nobody wants to make them, but they must be made so that those who are paid, whether on social welfare or on the public pay bill, can continue to be paid and the cheques made out to them honoured. I am a little puzzled. I am sure the Deputy will hasten to correct me if I am wrong. The Fine Gael budget proposals included reducing the threshold of the health levy from €26,000 to €13, 500, which, in the rhetoric of this debate, is called impacting on the poorest of the poor. I wonder how much consistency there is.

I must declare an interest with regard to Deputy Burton's point about contract researchers. I have a daughter in precisely the position she described. She came home within the past four years and bought a house, not quite at the peak of the market but not a million miles past it. She is on a substantial level of pay. Given the money that was put into scientific research, although most contract researchers do not have tenure, they are paid reasonably well while researching. I do not in the least deny there are problems and I will hasten to assure my daughter that Deputy Burton is defending her cause.

We must be careful on the subject of fairness. Is it fair to treat part-time workers differently and more favourably than full-time workers simply because of their absolute levels of pay? One could be in danger of creating an entire new set of inequities if one was not careful.

A number of Deputies raised the issue of those whose income is low because they work only a certain number of hours. It is not possible to exempt any group from the impact of these pay reductions and in many cases we are only reversing the last couple of pay rises because we have imposed a low rate of reduction on those with salaries below €30,000. The reductions are progressive and the point was made that if people at the bottom are exempted, the progression is made very sharp. Obviously, I do not accept rhetoric such as "war on public servants". I hasten to add it is not really relevant to this amendment but the debate has ranged extraordinarily widely.

That was the Minister for Finance's term. He used it.

There was a golden era of public service unions and public servants. I quoted some figures in my contribution yesterday. If the Deputies care to pick up the pay rates for any job in the public service they care to name, whether low, medium or high paid — I accept these are skewed towards the medium and high paid and include all Members of this House among the high paid variety — they will see, at minimum, substantial increases and, in many cases, a doubling of income in ten years. Unfortunately, because of circumstances, those increases have not proved sustainable and to keep the ship afloat we must make these adjustments. Nobody likes doing this but it must be done.

I remind the Minister of State there is a fundamental difference between what he proposes today and the public service pension levy. In that case at least provision was made to differentiate between people on very low wages of €18,000 and under and others. This measure does not distinguish between anybody on any wage. As I stated in my comments on the Bill, if a person earns €10,000 a year as a part-time cleaner he or she will have to pay the 5%, which from that person will be a gross full 5%. There are a few men involved but most people in that position in the public services are women. People meet them in the offices early in the morning. However, for people such as the Minister of State, other Members of the House and other people in higher-paid occupations in the public services, the reduction in wages will be effective and will carry through with regard to their tax liabilities because as their wages go down, their total tax bill will go down. The impact of these measures are particularly onerous and harsh on the lowest paid people in part-time work. It is foolish to continue, as this Government has done in the budget, creating and widening poverty traps.

The Minister of State referred in somewhat technicolour terms to the golden era of public services.

Public service unions.

Public service unions represent public servants. People do not have to be a member of a union. They choose to be a member of a union. I remind the Minister of State that societies do best where people are paid well, conditions are fair——

——and the gap between the very poorest and the very richest is moderated. We have had all of the examples and long studies done over 30 years of different economies where that prevails.

There was a debate in the past about Berlin or Brussels versus Hong Kong and so on. The reality is——

Boston versus Berlin was another debate but Hong Kong is a better example. There are huge numbers of people tolling away on extremely low wages in Hong Kong; Dubai is another example. There are then people at the upper echelons, including ex-patriots, who live very well. Hong Kong and other societies like that may do very well in international financial terms but many of the populations in those countries do not, and the countries which have better outcomes are countries like the Scandinavian countries where there is a decent level of public services, health and education and where the difference between wealth and people on lower levels of income is not as extreme as it is in many developing countries. That is a reality and there is proof of that.

The intention behind this Bill, and from the Minister of State's talk about the golden era of public service——

The Deputy is expanding the terms of the amendment.

There is no doubt that the intention behind this Bill is to reduce the minimum wage and drive down wages in the economy generally, with public servants as the prelude.

The Minister of State appears to have conceded a point that is different from that made by the Minister of State, Deputy Carey. The Minister of State, Deputy Carey, stated clearly that people who were not in the pension levy net would not be caught. We now find that temporary teachers who are not eligible for a pension are being brought into this net. Only a few minutes ago the Minister of State, Deputy Carey, gave us the impression that they would be exempted. The reason they would be exempted is easy to understand. They are not qualifying for anything. They are not getting the benefits of job security, pension or any of the benefits that have been the basis for the Minister deciding that this was a justifiable claim. Does the Minister of State wish to consult with Deputy Burton?

I was looking for a copy of the speech of the Minister of State, Deputy Carey.

Apparently they are not being released.

We were promised it.

We were, yes. It seems strange——

He was speaking on behalf of the Government.

Does the Minister of State want to respond to that point?

I have no problems about getting the Minister of State, Deputy Carey's comments circulated. I understand he did not complete them but I believe he promised that he would circulate them. Perhaps we could get somebody——

That might be arranged in due course.

I was going to raise a point of order during the presentation by the Minister of State, Deputy Carey, but it was so close to the time I did not like to interrupt. I thought he might have concluded.

The speaking note will be circulated and the matter can be raised then.

I hope it will be circulated.

I do not want to hold up the debate but it is important that we address the interpretation provisions and understand the justification.

The Minister of State appears to be somewhat stung that people would suggest that those earning €21,000 should be asked to contribute. He is saying this is a necessity but he will recognise that when Fine Gael put forward proposals we deliberately excluded people at that level. We had a conscious view that public servants earning below a certain level of income have been asked to contribute already and they do face difficulties. It is worth saying that a person on €21,000, which is the equivalent salary of someone on the cleaning staff here in the House, is paying 20% income tax, the 2% Lenihan levy, so to speak, 4% PRSI, the 4% health levy, the 6% pension levy introduced in February and now they are to contribute again with a levy of 5% on their earnings. It would be folly for the Minister to suggest that the people on low earnings who are in this category do not make a contribution, that they have broad shoulders and are able to bear the adjustment in the economy.

The Minister of State is right. We face grave challenges but the question being raised is not whether we face grave challenges but the way that burden is shared. Should people on very modest income by the standard of the Minister of State or any of the Deputies debating this Bill be asked to pay a contribution that, on their after tax income, is greater in many cases than people on far higher income? It does not seem fair when one considers that the Government had all the wisdom of the Minister of State and his senior colleagues sitting around the table and deciding how they would share this burden of adjustment in a way that would be fair. I cannot fathom how they came up with the notion that people on the lowest income should make the biggest proportionate sacrifice. It is difficult for the people affected who are trying to keep families fed and mortgages paid. It is very difficult for them to understand and there is a great deal of fury among the people who are caught.

The Minister needs to justify before the dock of his colleagues the reason he has made this selection when there were other ways he could have dealt with this issue, and other parties have offered ways of dealing with that. The Minister may quibble with what we are doing — there is always room to quibble — but the principle that he asked the highest proportion of contribution from those on lowest pay is one he would not ask if he was on this side of the House. He would rise up to his full height and use all the immense eloquence at his disposal to excoriate a Government that was doing it.

And the Deputy would be saying what I am saying if he were on this side of the House.

No, because we have been tested and found that we did not come up with that proposal. We deliberately exempted people who were earning under €30,000.

What about the health levy proposal?

The health levy was on people who do not pay 20% tax, a 4% health levy, a 4% PRSI contribution——

What about the €13,500?

——7% on the pension contribution the Government asked of them and now a further 5%. The Minister should top up those figures because it means he is asking someone on €21,000 to pay a 43% marginal tax rate. Riddle me that and I will give you a pipe, as my mother used to say. How did the Minister come up with that? How does all the wisdom that is assembled on that side of the House come up with the notion that the highest paid people in the country, as far as their tax is concerned, will be paying virtually the same marginal tax rate as those people at the very lowest level? How did they come up with that wheeze?

Before I call Deputy O'Donnell, I am anxious to make progress on two other amendments because time is constrained in this debate and we are having a broad-ranging and, therefore, an unfocused debate on what is a technical amendment.

A Deputy

It is important.

Everything is important, Deputy.

To follow on, when the pension levy was introduced the Government saw fit to exempt the lower income groups within the public sector. What has changed? If I allow the Government some latitude, it clearly saw this would have a penal impact on a lower-paid group within the public sector. However, this budget will apply a pay cut to the first euro earned by every person in the public sector, regardless of his or her income. People who earn €21,000 or slightly more are worried because they do not qualify for a medical card. They qualify for nothing from the State. Suddenly, such people have lost between 10% and 12% of their income on foot of the last two measures introduced by the Government. Nothing has been increased in respect of limits or qualifications for benefits such as medical cards or GP-only cards. What has changed? Although a budget should satisfy the twin requirements of being equitable and fair, this budget fails both criteria. Why the change?

First, it is worth pointing out that the cleaners in this House, for example, would not normally be public servants. These days, it is probably the exception that cleaners would be public servants.

On a point of order, with regard to the work these women and men do in the House, it should be acknowledged with gratitude that Members have in-house staff doing these jobs.

Yes, but they are not affected.

First, that is not a point of order——

The Minister of State should deal with the point in hand.

——and, second, it is not relevant to the current debate.

One should be employed by a contract cleaning firm rather than by the State. That is an interesting phenomenon.

It has been suggested that this legislation will serve to increase inequalities in the public service, while the opposite is the truth. I refer Members to, for example, examples 7 to 9 from the supporting documentation provided with the budget, which shows clearly that the percentage change in net income since the budget of 2008 and not just this budget ranges from 5% to 31% at the top level, with quite a sharp increase once one gets above €35,000. Consequently, it is highly progressive.

I again wish to raise the point that was taken up by none of the Members opposite, namely, whether it is fair or equitable to treat part-time workers more favourably simply because they have a lower absolute level of income. In certain cases, one can be a part-time worker in more than one employment. Is it fair to treat them more favourably than full-time workers? I believe this will create an entire range of new——

Will the Minister of State give way to a point of information?

There is no such thing as a point of information.

Will he give way?

We are on Committee Stage.

The Deputy may not agree with me, in which case he can vote against this amendment or any other or indeed the entire Bill, if so he wishes. However, I wish to make that point.

I wish to pick up on a point made by Deputy Burton. I regard myself as belonging to the social democratic tradition.

That is because the Minister of State has two pensions.

I have more affinity myself with Berlin than with Boston, although I accept that may not be true of everyone on this side of the House.

Is the Minister of State comfortable with this budget?

However, I believe there are merits in both systems and the Government has been trying, particularly through the social partnership system, to try to combine the best aspects of both systems. The American system may have been regarded up to now as being more dynamic, while the European model may have been regarded as being more socially caring. I refer to what is called the social market economy.

The point has been made, perhaps more outside the Houses then inside, that this is a plot against the minimum wage. Absolutely no changes are being announced or, in so far as I am aware, are under consideration in respect of the minimum wage. One of the merits of the minimum wage is that it gives people an incentive to work whereas if one permits the minimum wage to be driven down or if no minimum wage exists, there is little incentive to take up low-paid employment.

I am anxious to make progress. How stands Deputy Burton's amendment?

I will press it.

I wish to make a single comment.

I was afraid of that.

I was looking at the table to which the Minister of State drew Members' attention. I refer to example 5 in table D. It shows that the impact on people with different levels of income is approximately -7%, -6%, -5% and -1% for those with incomes of €15,000, €20,000, €25,000, and €250,000, respectively. The Minister of State is completely wrong. This budget asks for seven times the contribution from people with the lowest income than from those who have the highest income in proportionate terms.

The Deputy should indicate the table to which he is referring.

I refer to example 5 in table D 10 on the effects of the budget changes on different categories of single and married income earners. The Minister is——

I do not want a technical debate. Deputy Brian Hayes, briefly.

The Minister of State asked whether part-time workers should be treated differently from other workers who have pensions.

No, with regard to pay.

The answer is we did. Is the Minister of State aware of the part-time workers' directive, under which the State was taken to court in respect of part-time teachers? On 10 November last, the Department of Education and Science was obliged to pay back a sum of €11 million to those 600 part-time teachers who had received the wrong rate of pay for the past ten years. This is the example to which the Minister of State referred and he must read up on his brief from the Department of Education and Science.

The Minister of State simply does not get the basic point, which is that someone who earns approximately €10,000 is not liable to taxation and, as a consequence, he or she is paying a full gross net 5%. Therefore, the burden of this adjustment and reduction in wages absolutely is borne more heavily by them than by the other categories, who are higher earners and who will have tax allowances deducted and who will, therefore, have a net, as well as a gross, deduction.

I do not know what school the Minister of State has been attending but the budget has an economic effect which the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, has admitted is highly deflationary. If the Minister of State believes that cutting the wages of the lowest-paid people, such as part-time cleaners, constitutes a major boost to the economy, I assure him it is not. As for part-time contract workers, the Minister of State must have seen the recent coverage in the newspapers of young people getting ready once again to leave this country, together with their qualifications. The stop-gap for the last two years for graduates and others coming out——

We are well beyond the terms of the amendment now. Please, Deputy, we are on amendment No. 1.

No, the Minister of State is trying to claim that cutting the wages of low-paid part-time contract workers is a great advance. I do not know in what economy he lives and do not know whether he has heard of the concept of economic stimulus that appears to be in fashion with everyone else in the world. However, the budget presented by the Minister for Finance is highly deflationary, as is cutting the income of the lowest-paid people in society. As the Minister of State may remember, people on very low incomes spend most of their money into the local economy and, therefore, are valuable to local shops.

Does the Minister of State wish to make a brief response?

Briefly, Members must revert continually to the background to this legislation and to the budget. Do we wish to manage our affairs ourselves or not? Alternatively, do we wish to show ourselves incapable of so doing so and let someone else take over?

The Government has shown this already. The Government is incapable.

It is a pity the Government was not doing this for the past four years.

This is about the solvency and economic independence of this State and whether we will be able to honour the cheques we write. These are necessary but painful measures and while the concentration has been on cases of low-paid or part-time workers and so on——

No, Members will be moving on to better-paid people in the debate on the next amendment in a minute

——it affects more than 300,000 people, the majority of whom do not fall into that category.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, very briefly——

I have asked Deputies——

I promise to be brief and have not contributed overmuch.

——and particularly Deputies who have come into the debate——

I have not contributed. I am afraid I am being provoked by the Minister of State to make a very brief contribution.

Can you not control your provocation?

His rhetorical concern about the solvency of the State would have some credibility if he and his colleagues in Fianna Fáil had been more concerned about this issue earlier. We are in the mess we are in because the Taoiseach——

We are discussing a specific technical amendment.

——will be proved by history to be the most incompetent Minister for Finance since the foundation of the State and probably the most incompetent Taoiseach. The manner in which this Bill is being dealt with contributes to that.

I absolutely disagree.

(Interruptions).

That contributes to and confirms that perception.

The Deputy will take his seat. The Minister of State will wait to be called in this House.

We would like to hear from the Minister of State.

The Minister of State can make a brief reply.

The Taoiseach will get immense credit for having had to take extraordinarily difficult measures.

For destroying the economy.

Deputy Shatter, please.

He took on the challenge in a way the Government of 1982-87 did not. It failed the challenge.

He created the mess. He made it worse.

The question is that amendment No. 1 be made.

Your mentor, Mr. Haughey, was the architect of the period 1980-87.

(Interruptions).

Fianna Fáil has a unique——

Is there is no opposition to the amendment?

How many seconds did the Leas-Cheann Comhairle give the Minister of State to say "No"?

He was being distracted.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, line 13, before "does" to insert the following:

", subject to the right of any of the following persons to notify the Minister that the person's remuneration should be treated as if the person were a public servant within the meaning of this Act,".

It is a relief to move to the very highest paid in the land. They are the kind of people with which the Minister of State is familiar and he will be much happier discussing them. They are our distinguished judges — the members of the Judiciary — and so on. Nobody could say this group of people are not very highly paid. As the McCarthy report pointed out, not only are they highly paid but, because of their intense brain power, they accumulate a pension at a speed which does not apply anywhere else in Ireland.

They are well-paid and well-apportioned. I understand they have what is, as I understand the term, "tip staff" working for them as personal assistants in and out of court who will be paying the full 5%. In courts all around the country presiding judges will be sitting in front of courtrooms with people such as gardaí coming in to give evidence and public servants who record and facilitate the proceedings of courts. All of those who are not on the judicial benches will be taking the cuts in full. Not all cleaning is contracted out. Fianna Fáil may have thought the situation was different, but cleaners are still directly employed by some parts of the public service.

We need a cleaner to clean Fianna Fáil out of Government.

The part-time cleaners in the courts, the gardaí, the tip staff and clerical staff in the courts will all be taking the hit. The judges will have a choice. They will receive what may be termed a "sweetie-pie" letter from the Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, whenever he recovers, suggesting that they might think about making a contribution to the State's coffers.

We are all aware of the provision in the Constitution stating judges should never be put under pressure by politicians who are or are not in power regarding influencing their judgments. They are meant to be independent and should act independently. We have a Judiciary which has always acted without fear or favour towards any politician, political party or group of politicians, which is as it should be.

The protection afforded to the Judiciary in the Constitution against their pay being arbitrarily reduced is to stop an over-weaning Executive punishing a judge because he or she made a judgment which goes against its wishes, following which it may seek to restrain him or her. We are not discussing such a situation, which is what the Constitution provides for. We are examining a situation whereby judges — at least 50% of whom share this general view — no less than those who work with them in the public service are willing to take their share of the burden of pain and adjustment which has to be taken to get us out of the economic mess created by Fianna Fáil and its banker and developer friends. That appears to be the position of a majority of our judges.

It is wrong that there is no provision in the Bill to explicitly encourage judges, as the Labour Party amendment seeks to do and is therefore perfectly constitutional, to consider their position and the appropriate response from people who are very well paid, looked after and appointed. Judges are a core part of the democratic functioning of our State. Nonetheless, they ought to share in the burden of adjustment given that they are well paid and looked after in terms of their pay and pensions.

The Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, and the Taoiseach have suggested that the Government has received opinions from the Attorney General that it is not possible to touch the pay of judges. The Labour Party amendment seeks to acknowledge that, nevertheless I have outlined the reasons why I believe judges' pay can be addressed. This is belling the cat. The Minister of State is very willing to be tough on contract workers and low-paid part-time workers and has said how good such a tough approach is. However, there is a softly-softly approach to the Judiciary.

There is a simple remedy open to the Government, that is, to legislate for this measure and allow any judge who wishes to do so to take a legal challenge. They, more than almost every other person Irish society, are well-equipped to launch a legal challenge to overturn a pay cut for judges, as there is for everybody else in the public service. If that happens, we will then have a definitive view on the constitutional position regarding the proper protection of judges from an overbearing Government seeking to interfere in judicial functions.

It is possible to have judges take the same general terms and conditions which apply to other workers, such as income tax and capital tax. They are not treated as special individuals rather, they are treated the same as the general body of citizens. The Government has run away from this issue. If it is put into law judges can, if they so wish, contest it. If such a contest leads to a ruling in favour of the Judiciary, we will need to amend the Constitution. However, that is not necessary. It was cowardice on the part of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, that he refused to allow an opt-in measure for judges in this Bill that would allow them to demonstrate what is true regarding a majority of them, namely, that they are prepared to share the same burden imposed by this Bill on their fellow citizens employed in the public service.

This is an important issue in that people look up to or ought to look up to the judges as being fair and independent in the way they deal with every case. It is regrettable that judges now find themselves in a category where rules that are being applied to everyone else are not being applied to them. I do not believe that was ever the intention of those who wrote our Constitution, an issue that has been dealt with by others, including by a very eminent lawyer in a recent contribution toThe Irish Times. The intention was that no Government would seek to victimise judges in a selective way. I do not believe either the pension levy or the present deduction would victimise judges. The Judiciary stands a much greater risk by being seen to stand apart from the rest of the community than by being a part of it. It would be regrettable for judges to come into public disrepute because of their standing apart from rules that apply generally. Judges have been dealt with particularly generously in respect of pension eligibility. They establish pension eligibility after a very short service and also have very generous buy-back and other opportunities to build up their pensions. That is an acknowledgement that they are taking on a very important duty and in some cases are taking pay reductions from their practices elsewhere.

We must avoid judges ending up being seen to be above the laws applied to anyone else. Unhappily the judges are being seen to be above this law and the one that preceded it. On behalf of Fine Gael, Deputy Shatter has drafted an amendment to the Constitution that would remove the pretext the Government has had to use to exempt judges from these pieces of legislation. The Minister should accept our amendment and put the issue to the courts so that judges, if they wish, could test it to ascertain the interpretation of the existing restriction and whether it is, as many people feel, that judges cannot be singled out for unfair treatment. The courts would then rule whether what would be done by our amendment is fair or, on the contrary, the courts could support the Government's view. One way or the other the Minister should either accept our amendment and let this go to the courts to be tested or alternatively accept Deputy Shatter's Private Members' legislation and let it be decided by the people. We should not drift along with judges being treated as if they are outside the law that applies to every other citizen.

I support the proposed amendments on this matter. While I do not wish to repeat what has been said, I do not believe the late President, Éamon de Valera, when he was drawing up the Constitution ever intended that it be interpreted in this way. However, I suppose he never anticipated that his own party would ultimately bring about such a situation in the economy resulting in the need for us to cut public servants' pay in a manner such as this. One way or the other, we should proceed, let a challenge be taken if people want to do so and let the courts decide. It is a fanciful interpretation of the Constitution to interpret that cutting judges' pay, as is happening for every other public servant, is not permitted in accordance with the Constitution. I would include the President in this. However, I acknowledge that the President and some judges on a voluntary basis have taken a pay cut. However, all of us public servants, from the President to the low paid in the public service, should be included.

Why should a military judge also be excluded? Where does the Constitution specify that a military judge should be excluded? It brings resentment and does not do any good to the office held by these individuals. I am sure that the individuals in question do not want this and would prefer to be treated like everybody else. As has been pointed out, in a courtroom the gardaí standing at the door or giving evidence will have their pay cut and the person sitting on the bench will get no cut. The clerk sitting in front of the judge is taking a pay cut. It is ridiculous and unsustainable. I suggest that everybody be included and as Deputy Bruton has said if somebody wants to take a challenge, so be it.

A very important principle is involved here. In addressing that principle those of us in this House should be careful about how we approach it. An essential cornerstone of our Constitution is that the independence of the Judiciary is preserved, that the Government does not put the Judiciary under pressure on any particular issue and that the Judiciary is not perceived as giving into Government pressure. A second important aspect is that the Judiciary should not be seen to give in to pressure from Members of this House to do something that is unlawful.

Another very important principle is that the public respect for the Judiciary is maintained. There is a difficulty in this area, which derives from Article 35.5 of the Constitution which states in a very straightforward way: "The remuneration of a judge shall not be reduced during his continuance in office." That provision is not unique to this jurisdiction and reflects constitutional and legislative provisions in place in democracies across the world. The reason is to ensure that a government or Parliament that disapproves of judgments or decisions delivered by members of the Judiciary does not seek to take revenge on the Judiciary by reducing salaries and that it does not seek to reward judges who deliver decisions with which the Government agrees or with which the majority in Parliament agrees.

In addressing this issue we should not deal with it on the basis of any criticism of the members of the Judiciary themselves. However, what is utterly wrong is the manner in which the Government has approached this issue and the pension levy issue, which is related to it. We were equally told that the pension levy could not apply to the Judiciary because of this provision in the Constitution. Arguably, imposition of the pension levy on members of the Judiciary would not have been a reduction in their remuneration. It would have been a levy applicable to them commensurate with the levy applied across the public sector to require them to make a payment towards the pension fund from which they will benefit in future years. There is an argument to be made that the pension levy could have applied to the Judiciary, but because of the manner in which the courts have interpreted this provision in years gone by, I can understand why the Government would have been reluctant to have applied the pension levy to the Judiciary for fear that it would become embroiled in difficult and unpredictable litigation in the courts.

Whatever about the possibility of applying the pension levy, Members of this House should not be under any illusion that it is open under the existing constitutional provision to apply what is a straightforward reduction in remuneration to members of the Judiciary. If applied to the Judiciary, this legislation would do exactly what the Constitution precludes this House and the Government from doing. We should be under no illusion about that.

It is also very dangerous and should not occur that we read in the newspapers either by leaks through the Department of Finance or by express statements by the Revenue Commissioners as to how many members of the Judiciary have contributed to the pension levy. I believe the levy should apply to members of the Judiciary, but there is a problem with possible constitutional difficulty. It is wrong because this suggests it is possible to use public pressure to force members of the Judiciary to make decisions to apply to themselves legislation that this House has not applied to them. That is only a short way from suggesting that this House or the Government can use public pressure to require the Judiciary to deliver decisions in our courts, and the perception on the part of the general public would be that the Judiciary is no longer independent but has become the plaything of Government, the Houses of the Oireachtas, or the political system. That is a dangerous slippery slope which we should not be going down.

Among many outside the House, quite understandably, it is perceived to be grossly unfair that the public sector wage reduction does not apply to members of the Judiciary. I believe it is unfair that they are excluded from it and it was equally appropriate they be included within the pension levy. It is important to maintain public respect for the Judiciary. At a time of economic emergency they should be seen to make a similar contribution towards solving the problems of the State to those made by everyone across the public sector. As the law stands at present, that cannot happen. There is a serious danger that not only will the Judiciary be damaged by being excluded from this, but it will also be brought into disrepute within the public mind. A good point was made by a previous speaker that almost everyone in the courtroom, including members of the Garda Síochána and court staff, will be affected by the legislation, while the judge is immune.

There is only one way in which this issue can be properly addressed. I put this to the Minister of State. Does he believe it would be fair — leaving aside the constitutional difficulties — if the public sector provisions detailed here, which apply, as has been eloquently explained, to the very low paid, applied equally to the highest paid, within which designation falls the Judiciary, from District Court to Supreme Court? The pay of a District Court judge is at least 50% of the pay of a Deputy in this House.

Yes; I am sorry. It is 50% more than the pay of a legislator in this House, no matter how many years he or she has been here. If the Government believes it is fair that this be extended to the Judiciary, we should bring to an end calls on its members to voluntarily contribute to pension levies or hand back a portion of their salaries. What we should do is to put the necessary constitutional amendment to the people in a referendum.

Such an amendment was published by me, on behalf of Fine Gael, in the Twenty-ninth Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2009, which seeks to ensure the independence of the Judiciary is protected. Its general provision is that the remuneration of a judge shall not be reduced during his continuance in office. However, it provides an exception "save where it is necessary to address a serious threat to the State's economy, there is a compelling need to stabilise the State's finances and as a consequence it is necessary to effect a reduction in public service remuneration; in such circumstances any reduction in the remuneration of all public servants or in the remuneration of a class of public servants may be applied to effect a comparable reduction in the remuneration of all members of the judiciary". The effect of that would be that in times of economic emergency, if there was a general reduction of pay across the public service, it could apply to the Judiciary. This means any such reduction would not be seen to be targeting the Judiciary in any way.

In addition, if there was a reduction in the pay of a comparable class of public servants — such as everyone in receipt of a salary of more than €100,000 per year — this would also apply to the Judiciary. However, it would not allow for the targeting by the Government or the Houses of the Oireachtas of the Judiciary for a pay reduction because it disapproved of some judgment or decision delivered in the courts. It is crucial we preserve the independence of our Judiciary and that we as politicians — and the Government — do not try to create a public perception that the Judiciary will respond to public or political pressure with regard to the manner in which its members conduct themselves. We must now create the constitutional space to implement fairness in this area and facilitate the Judiciary in making the contribution necessary to tackle the economic emergency, as is being done by everyone across the public sector, including Members of this House.

I ask the Minister, in the context of this debate, to indicate whether the Government will support this Bill. Will it agree to put it to a referendum in the new year? A total of €3 million has been set aside in the Estimates for the Department of Health and Children for a constitutional referendum on children's rights next year. The Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children will report by the end of January and is on the verge of resolving certain issues. I believe it will ultimately present this House with the opportunity of a constitutional amendment Bill.

That is not relevant to this Bill.

In the context of this issue, a referendum could be held on the same day at minimal additional expense to update our constitutional provisions to deal with the current economic difficulties. We need a proper constitutional mechanism to address this issue. We should not play games with it, nor should the Government. It is the Government's responsibility to address this issue and with the Bill that is now being published, it has the opportunity to support it by providing time for it to be debated in the new year and facilitating the necessary referendum. I ask the Minister to confirm that the Government will do this.

It is my misfortune to have to comment on this Bill after Deputy Shatter, who has a detailed legal understanding of the constitutional issues involved. As a lay person, I find it is one of the most infuriating aspects of the endeavours to bring order to our public finances that a section of our society, whose members are well paid even by international standards, are exempt from the provisions of both the previous pension levy and this Bill. We are led to believe this is on the basis of advice received from the Attorney General, but that is a mask of convenience for the Government. While I appreciate that the advice will not be published, I feel it should be. It is advice that has been criticised and debated, with alternative views promulgated, in both the public arena and academia.

There are differing opinions on the matter. What is important is the purpose of the constitutional provision in question. It was obviously to ensure the independence of the Judiciary. However, in respect of both the pension levy and the pay reductions provided for in this Bill, it is not as though either the Executive or the Houses of the Oireachtas is seeking to single out the Judiciary for specific treatment to settle a score or whatever the case may be. It is rather the case that the exclusion of the Judiciary serves to bring it into disrepute. Its inclusion in the provision would put its members on the same basis as every other citizen in the country. While I accept that precedent will prevail and the Attorney General's advice will not be published, there is an alternative strongly held legal opinion that as long as the intention is not to single out the Judiciary or seek retribution through such measures for decisions made in court of which the Government did not approve, its inclusion within the scope of the Bill is permissible.

One of the ways this can be resolved is by passing the Bill published by Deputy Shatter. However, another equally meritorious way would be to pass the provisions of this amendment into law, which would leave it open to any member of the Judiciary or other citizen to take a court action and obtain a definitive interpretation of the constitutional provisions. I should be surprised, when we are asking everybody — the cleaner, the tipstaff, senior civil servants, chief executives — and when it is abundantly clear there is no intention of singling out the Judiciary, that it would be well nigh impossible for courts to find this was the intention of the legislation or of the Dáil.

I support the amendment. I believe it should be included as a speedier way to bring resolution to this issue.

As Deputy Shatter has said, there are a number of very important principles we need to be fully cognisant of in terms of this debate. One is the separation of powers. This goes back to the foundation of the State and is something fundamental that I believe people would be loathe to tamper with. We all understand that.

Another important principle is the fact that we have been well-served by the judges, again going back to the foundation of the State, from the lowest to the highest courts in the land. They have international reputation and standing, which is justified for the excellence of their judgments, the professionalism in which they go about their work and for their impartiality. That balance is something we all accept and respect.

We need to be aware of another constitutional provision as Members of Dáil Éireann and the Seanad Éireann. Under the Constitution we cannot enact laws or make resolutions which we knowingly believe to be unconstitutional. The dilemma, as Deputy Shatter indicated as regards Article 35, is that it would seem to be a cut and dried case that we cannot reduce judges' pay. The political issue revolves around the question as to why we have allowed this issue to fester for 12 months. Two Deputies on the Government side at that time called for the referendum that Deputy Shatter has now proposed and published. I recall Deputy Niall Collins, the Member for Limerick West, publicly saying the Government should have included the members of the Judiciary in last year's pension levy, as proposed in the context of the 2009 budget. Twelve months later and no progress has been made.

Whatever about the dilemma as regards cutting the pay of members of the Judiciary, I believe a very strong case can be made for having the pension levy imposed on them. Take the case of a District Court judge on €150,000, or thereabouts, as gross pay, who loses about one third in tax, leaving take-home pay at around €100,000 a year, or about €9,000 a month net. I spoke to a young teacher yesterday with a mortgage of €1,200 a month, on a gross income of €37,000. This time last year that teacher was taking home €2,300 a month. Under the Government's proposal that has now gone down to €1,800, a drop of €500 a month in a 12-month period, yet District Court judges taking home €9,000 a month are seeing no cut whatsoever.

Did the Government not foresee this problem, knowing that it would have to seek another cut from the public sector? It has allowed this issue to fester for 12 months with no political solution to the dilemma being presented as a result of Article 35. I want to hear, not alone from the Minister of State, on this, but also from the backbenchers who publicly took to the airwaves 12 months ago to deride the Judiciary for not participating in this. We have seen many fine examples of members of the Bench who have voluntarily decided to hand back parts of their salary. Also, we have seen such an initiative from former President Mary Robinson while the incumbent, President Mary McAleese, has shown great leadership, by example, in terms of her pay and conditions. However, there is a political issue here which the Government has failed to address over 12 months, because it must have known it was coming down the tracks again, given the public furore regarding the pension levy last year. I do not believe it is fair that a young teacher loses €500 a month, thanks to Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, while a District Court judge keeps everything. That is not fair.

I support both of these amendments. I cannot understand why the Government has failed to deal with the Judiciary payment in the same way as it has with other public sector workers. I am sure any fair-minded judge would like to see the Government acting decisively instead of messing with this issue. I do not believe this should necessarily be a referendum issue. Probably, it would be a belt-and-braces matter if there were to be a referendum at some stage to deal with it conclusively, but we know it is not necessary in this case.

As previous speakers have said, any judge who disagrees should be taken to court. Why military judges are included I cannot say. I am not too sure what they do in their daily lives, but I am sure it is not something that is likely to be tampered with by the Government. I do not believe it is anything other than basic human rights and fair play across the board they look at. They are unlikely to influence any Government decisions as regards what they do.

A significant number of amendments have still to be addressed and disgracefully, there is little time left. I hope we can get to all of them before 7 o'clock this evening.

Perhaps I am a product of my agrarian or peasant roots, but——

The Deputy should not be so hard on himself.

——-I believe we need to start slaughtering a few sacred cows in this great Republic of ours. When somebody in the public service has to incur a cut of €1, 500 in his or her salary and a member of the Judiciary is exempt by virtue of a constitutional arrangement, that speaks volumes about the nature of the society in the Republic. If Ireland, as a republic, is to treat and cherish everybody equally, and if we subscribe to the French principles ofliberté, égalité and fraternité of which I am sure the Minister of State is aware, then we should have no qualms in these troubling times about reducing the salaries of the members of the Judiciary.

I believe we are unduly deferential to people who hold such positions. While we are respectful of the role they have and of the constitutional arrangements as regards the separation of powers, I do not believe they should be exempted from such cuts by virtue of a legal advice that has been given to the Government. We rely too much on such legal advice matters and hold them in too great a stock, because sometimes they supersede what is fair and equitable in terms of how the common man or woman might perceive such questions. I gladly support the amendment that has been tabled on the basis of it being equitable and right for this country at this time.

I strongly support amendment No. 2 because it is fair, just and balanced, but above all it deals with many of the fair play issues we have heard about in recent weeks, particularly as regards the broader issue of the public service.

Judges should pay, full stop. It is important to remind ourselves that this is an insult to public sector workers, particularly the low paid, those that are being hammered. In line with the spirt of the amendment I believe that an exemption for judges should never be an option.

I also want to put on the record my strong support for the public service and public sector workers. I should like to defend those teachers, nurses, fire fighters, bin workers and other public sector employees who have been attacked and vilified in recent weeks. This has caused great hurt and anger to many of them and it has deliberately divided public and private sector workers. This is a disgrace and it is not on. How many of those politicians and right-wing commentators, including Ministers and backbenchers, would last 20 minutes in an accident and emergency unit at midnight on a Saturday? How many of them could work as a teacher in a disadvantaged school where 15% of the pupils come to school hungry and without basic home support? What about a public servant on €30,000 per year with child care costs of €300 per week? Such commentators should come into the real world because those are the real issues people are dealing with.

As regards amendment No. 2, I strongly believe that judges are public servants and that is what they should be. We must constantly watch the constitutional issues, but it is important to realise that these judges are paid by the taxpayers. Many of them are extremely wealthy and well off. How dare anybody come in and try to hammer a lowly-paid public sector worker, yet do nothing about wealthier people in society.

I strongly support amendment No. 2. On the broader issue of the public service, however, I still think it is a disgrace they way they have been treated over the past nine or ten days, particularly by right-wing media commentators and some politicians in this House.

I would be somewhat disappointed if this debate were to continue in terms of slaughtering sacred cows——

More like fatted calves.

——and attacking members of the Judiciary. It is unhelpful and also unfair because this issue has not been caused in any way by judges. They are in a most difficult position, but it is one that was thrust upon them by the Government. The Minister of State and his colleagues must deal with this situation. I find it extraordinary that the Government has done very little to redress the imbalance. The preservation of judges' independence is essential and I hope that is a given from all sides of the House. A direct consequence of that independence is the matter of public respect and esteem, which must not be damaged or diluted in any way. We are running the risk of bringing judges into disrepute because of something for which they are not responsible. Article 35.5 of the Constitution is quite clear in stating: "The remuneration of a judge shall not be reduced during his continuance in office". That is the wording of our Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann. It is not sufficient to say, however, that just because of that constitutional impediment we should leave matters as they are, because there is a question of fairness and justice here.

It is unfair that there should be what, in effect, is a most generous exemption for certain public officials, namely judges. It is simply unfair and I do not believe that any argument the Minister of State puts forward can include an element of unfairness. This is especially so when there is a well-founded perception, or rather a fact, that judges are well paid — perhaps rightly so, given the nature of their work and the need to preserve and underwrite their independent position. Having said that, I think judges should play their part in what is a financial crisis brought about by the Minister and his policies. Why was this problem not foreseen earlier, however? Why was it not dealt with in a better way than by allowing a situation to develop where we have a weekly media circus in the form of a league table of how many District, Circuit, High or Supreme Court judges have, or have not, made a voluntary contribution? That is no way to allow the situation to develop because, ultimately, it brings the law into disrepute. If public respect and esteem for the Judiciary is damaged, it will undermine the whole basis of the administration of justice in this country. It will be damaged by having such a weekly league table. It is akin to TDs' expenses whereby journalists jockey for position in dressing up a story to make the news. It is fundamentally unfair and wrong. As well as bringing this House into disrepute, it will also affect the position of judges on the Bench as people who independently preside over the justice system.

The Minister has placed judges in a very difficult position and it is not sufficient for him to quote some legal advice as the reason behind this generous exemption. I put it to the Minister to find a solution. I believe the basis of such a solution is in the amendments. If the matter is to be dealt with comprehensively, then Deputy Shatter's amendment must be followed. There are and will be opportunities to deal with the situation early next year. It is unfair and unsustainable, however, to say that a group of people who are generously paid by public funds through the Exchequer should, in effect, have an exemption. Many of them may not wish to have such an exemption, yet they have been placed in a difficult position because of the Government.

I am glad to have an opportunity to say a few words on this legislation. Having listened to colleagues on all sides of the House, we need to keep one issue in mind. There is a grave danger that what happened over the past 12 months has divided society in a way that has never been done in this country before. The reason is that the Government now seems determined to govern by public acclamation. One cannot govern by public acclamation, however. It has been tried as far back as Roman times and it failed then. Every time it has been tried since, including during the French revolution, is also failed. It was done on the basis of people being angry because they were hurt as a result of some atrocity committed by those who governed. I do not want to be too historical in my comments, but it is a fact that every time the people got angry during the French revolution, more people were executed. Eventually, when their thirst was sufficiently sated, they decided they were no longer angry.

The great anger here has been created by the Government's failure to govern or do anything proper over the past ten years. A year ago, somebody from the Government said: "Well, I'm very sorry folks. Things have gone a bit wrong and have come unstuck, so we should take some measures". It called first for Dáil Deputies to make a sacrifice because it should start at the top. In all my time in this House I never knew that I was at the top. I am glad to know now, at last, that I was not at the top at any stage. There are several people in the queue who are well ahead of the ordinary Dáil Deputy or Senator.

I resent the fact that the Government has used this division in society to promote its own ideas and objectives over the past 12 months. It could not care less about the consequences. I have to agree with my colleague, Deputy Charles Flanagan, that we are not, and should not be, in a position to comment in this House on the way judges think or act. That is not our job. In fact, there is a provision in the Constitution which clearly separates the functions of the Houses of the Oireachtas from those of the Judiciary, for very good reasons. Occasionally we trespass, but when we do so we err and get a bloody nose. I would warn against going into that area too quickly or too often.

The Government's mantra is that everybody must pay, it must be spread right across the board, and that these tough decisions must be made. It never says anything about the right decisions being made though, it refers to hard decisions. This is based on the Adlai Stevenson theory that there is no gain without pain. As we know, it will be all pain and no gain for the people.

Let us consider what has happened. For the second time in 12 months, we have been treated to the same mantra and have been told we must make sacrifices. For the second time in the same year we have been told there is more pain to come and things will get worse before they get better. In the same breath we have been told that the revival is around the corner. Where have we heard that before and what in God's name are we playing at? The Government has been codding the people and is continuing to do so. It is codding them now in the House, just before Christmas. In the past week the Government has decided to go around with the begging bowl and take from the poor. It intends to take from the most vulnerable in society and to hammer and beat them. If they were not angry already, they will be angry now. However, certain groups of people will not be included in this punishment. Where did the Government go wrong? Why did it get its projections wrong in the first place? What has it been talking about for the past 12 months?

With regard to the amendments before us, the people are looking for encouragement, leadership and fairness. They want fair play and are questioning what is happening every day. I am sure the people are asking the questions of Members on the Government side of the House as well as asking them of us. I am sure e-mails are pouring in to those on the Government side. The people are saying, as Deputy Flanagan mentioned, that they did not cause the problem, rob the banks or create the bubble in the property economy. The people who did this — or those who supervised it — are sitting on the Government side of the House. They have successfully avoided accepting responsibility or any blame for what has happened, but have now proceeded to call upon the multitudes to ask what they should do next — governance by public acclamation. This is an appalling situation. The divisions being created in society now are being created deliberately. They will be long-lasting divisions and we will live with the consequences for many years to come.

This kind of thing has happened before and I and others have raised this in the House previously. In the past, across Europe and the globe division has been created in society, leading to hatred, begrudgery and envy. This is a very dangerous route to take. I hope those on the Government side know what they are doing. Unfortunately, I am afraid they do not. Based on what we have heard over the past 12 months, I dread what the next 12 months will bring. If we go by the record of the past, we will have cuts for all, particularly for those most easily targeted. Those people who have been most easily targeted in the past 12 months will be equally the easiest targets in the next 12 months. However, it seems those who have managed to avoid being hit by the cuts or who are seen to be beyond reach, whether in banks, property companies, elsewhere or in Government, will not have to pay the same price as they are seen as an elite. Elitism is something this country cannot afford at any time, least of all now.

Like Deputy Flanagan, I regret we have reached such a pitch that we must discuss the Judiciary in this manner in this House. I suppose it is a pointer to where the Government, with Fianna Fáil as the dominant partner, has brought us that we are back here for the second time this year cutting the pay of public servants. This is happening against a background where the Minister for Finance has, on a few occasions here, spoken about the incomprehension on the Continent that he managed to cut the pay of public servants by almost 8% last April and we did not end up with people protesting on the streets. Madame Lagarde, apparently, is aghast at the effectiveness of the Minister for Finance here. The Minister, apparently not satisfied with that, has now come back for a second bite. One is left with the impression that it is inconvenient of us even to detain the Government for a short number of hours to discuss the issue.

I understand that approximately half of the members of the Judiciary have, on a voluntary basis, contributed the same or similar concession. We should record our appreciation of the manner in which separation of the Legislature and the Judiciary has operated in this country and of the manner of discharge of their functions by members of the Judiciary. However, we are thrust into a debate where one cannot avoid focusing on the issue of fairness. Just before I came into the House today, I opened a letter I received from a teacher who stated his income was down by approximately €6,000 because of the decisions of the Government in the budget, by €6,500 as a result of the pension levy, €1,800 due to the increase in the health levy, by €2,100 from the income levy and by €1,000 due to the increase in PRSI, but as a class D PRSI contributor this additional tax was of no personal benefit to him. It is almost beyond belief that we are here in this House of Parliament discussing for a second time such cuts in the pay of the people who work for the State and that last week we finished a Bill through which the Government was proud to advance a measure that, effectively, kicked away the stick from the blind man and from people with disabilities. The Government is back for more this week and we are expected to bend the knee in its favour. People on €30,000 or less are expected to accept an increased pay cut of 5% again.

We must consider the Judiciary in this context. Members of the Judiciary are well paid. If one does a comparison of the relative progression over recent years of members at the base grades of the public and Civil Service with those at the very top, the gap has widened significantly. In those circumstances, it is fair and reasonable to expect that highly paid public servants, in whatever office, would make the contribution. One wonders why we need discuss this at all. I have great respect for the Office of the Attorney General and for the current holder of the office, but there is a contrary view. The contrary view has been enunciated by a number of legal experts. The contrary view has also been expressed by former Supreme Court judge, Mr. Donal Barrington, to the effect that there is no constitutional impediment in the way of this deduction being applied.

If one looked at the preface to the Bill, one would think we were either facing a war situation or a famine, there are so many "whereases" in the preface of the Bill about the national emergency. The Bill is entitled "Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest". That is a hell of a way to list pay cuts, but there we are. If this is a financial emergency affecting the State — and I concede it is — we are being led to the edge of ruin by the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, and his colleagues. If it is a financial emergency, it is fair and reasonable to expect all highly paid members of the public service to be asked to pay their fair share.

Many people in the media are feeling hurt themselves at present. Many media corporations have been cutting back and are imposing cuts on their staffs, who are not overly well paid. Some obviously believe it sells papers to chase around for the next victim of pay cuts. Semi-state companies are the ones in the media eye this week. I suppose it will be the bishops next week in so far as it can be said we are funding them. It should be worth devoting a front page to the matter to see if they will accept a reduction. I do not really have much time for this approach, yet it must be remembered we are dealing with a Bill that proposes to reduce the pay, for a second time, of people on very modest incomes. If people on superior incomes are seen not to accept their fair share of the burden, there is no fairness in this measure.

I hope that in the very limited time available, we will be allowed to discuss why the lowest paid will be subject to a 5% cut. I believed there would be a floor or threshold, just as there was a threshold, albeit miserable, in the case of the income levy. People on the bottom are e-mailing Deputies on both sides of the House about how difficult it will be for them to survive in 2010. In this context, it is fair for us to expect higher-paid public servants to make a fair and proportionate contribution.

I have listened with respect to what has been an important and substantive debate, particularly to the views of Deputy Shatter, who has a reputation as a legal and constitutional expert, and to those of other Members, including one or two with a legal background.

Contrary to what was insinuated at the beginning, and at the risk of my falling into what the Taoiseach calls the trap of denial, I submit I am not socially most familiar with judges, with the possible exception of three, whom I knew long before they became judges. One was a former Oireachtas Member and member of the Labour Party.

The Minister of State is taking a trip down memory lane.

Otherwise, my ambition is to avoid appearing before judges. I have only twice appeared before a judge, one a German judge and the other an Irish judge, and I did so as a consular official.

Judges are well paid as a means of guaranteeing their independence. Over the years, a factor has been the money it is possible to earn at the bar. In the context of tribunals and in other contexts, this is a matter for discussion, albeit at another time.

I agree with Deputy Charles Flanagan that a great many judges would prefer if there was no exemption for them. A very real issue of fairness arises. It is difficult to disagree with most of the points that have been made. The review body indicated that if it had been open to it to make a recommendation, it would have recommended a reduction. It was not open to it constitutionally to make such a recommendation.

The Government stated it will not increase judges' pay during its lifetime. I accept this only addresses a small part of the point.

I ask the Minister of State to give way for a moment.

I listened in total silence to many contributions. Can I finish mine, after which the Deputy may comment?

When the Minister of State concludes, the Deputy may comment.

I ask the Minister of State to give way.

Deputy Barrett——

I just want to ask a question on a point he raised.

The Deputy may ask it when the Minister of State is finished.

I am not being disorderly.

Regrettably, both of the proposed amendments conflict with the constitutional position of the Judiciary because they would reduce the rates of remuneration of judges generally or specifically and cannot be legally accommodated within the Bill. The emoluments and allowances of the President cannot be diminished during her or his term of office. The Constitution states: "The remuneration of a judge shall not be reduced during his continuance in office." It is not qualified by any reference to circumstances.

It has been underlined forcibly, particularly by Deputies Charles Flanagan and Alan Shatter, that the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law are key principles in our democracy. That is the reason for the clear constitutional provision. The Government intends to abide by the Constitution. In its opinion, the amendment proposed by Fine Gael is not constitutional and cannot be incorporated into the Bill.

On Second Stage yesterday, it was acknowledged that a referendum would be needed to modify judges' pay. It cannot be modified through this Bill. I have been reminded of Deputy Shatter's Bill, which is before the House but which has not yet been debated. I cannot pre-empt the Government's deliberation on it but can state it is logical from what I have been saying that a constitutional amendment would be required if, in an economic or financial emergency, judges' pay were to be reduced and to be commensurate with that of all other public servants.

The amendment proposed by Deputy Burton would allow the President and members of the Judiciary to volunteer for the pay reductions to apply to them. This is unnecessary as there are existing voluntary waiver mechanisms in place. The President and members of the Judiciary have already waived portions of their salary in respect of the pension levy. The Minister for Finance announced that a mechanism will be provided in the forthcoming finance Bill to facilitate such waivers. However, it will not be singling out the Judiciary. For the aforesaid reasons, neither amendment is acceptable.

On a point of order, the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Deputy Pat Carey, assured the House some hours ago that his comments in reply to Second Stage would be circulated. Have they been circulated yet?

Copies of the speech will be circulated.

We need to wake up and smell the coffee. A judge of the High Court has an annual salary of €243,000 according to the remuneration of higher public servants review published by the Minister for Finance last Friday. That is the third highest rate of pay for those public service officeholders examined in the study. It should be borne in mind that other public servants at that level have already taken pay cuts averaging 9%. It is now proposed to implement a further cut of up to 15% to this group's pay. The two highest Secretaries General, in the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Finance, have volunteered cuts of 20%.

Some weeks ago the Minister for Finance said we are in a war situation. On last Sunday's "The Week in Politics" he said he did not want to open a war on another front with the public service. The Minister has on two occasions been minded to describe the country's situation as an economic war. In war, everyone must share the burden. We have heard at length from the Minister how low-paid workers such as cleaners will have to put their shoulders to the wheel in the war effort to restore the economy. What about the judges?

It is regrettable judges have to be singled out in this debate. However, it has to be done. There is a remedy to this problem in the legislation which is to make provision for the Judiciary. Distinguished members of the Judiciary have set forward their understanding of the constitutional position regarding their pay. It was framed by de Valera to prevent, correctly, an angry government taking out its revenge on a judge who may make an adverse judgment against it. In today's world of 24-hour media coverage, the provision ensures a judge's decision will not be affected by media pressure. These protections are important for maintaining the independence of the Judiciary. In Italy, for example, there has been an ongoing campaign against reforming anti-corruption judges by certain elements of political life, including high officeholders.

No one wants to see such developments in Ireland. However, there are judges, probably more than 50% of them, willing to shoulder the burden along with their fellow citizens. They are being put in an invidious position of being asked to do nothing while the poorest people in the public service have taken relatively large hits between the pension levy and the further imposition provided for in this legislation.

The Labour Party amendment has been framed, as the Minister of State rather grudgingly acknowledged, to be precisely constitutional to overcome these protections. While I believe it could have gone much further, it has been restrained.

The Minister for Finance told us the banks were going to be restrained in the last Finance Act when claiming back tax losses. So far this year, the Government has paid over €1.6 billion in tax refunds, one reason the tax take is down. I discussed this with the Minister for Finance at the time of the emergency budget. The Minister did nothing about it because once again he sought not to disturb a very powerful and positioned group in society — the banks, the financiers and the oligarchs.

I believe most judges are anxious to be full contributors in dealing with our economic difficulties. Whether they are, it is open to the Government to address the issue. The Labour Party is offering a way of positively including judges in this legislation without giving rise to any constitutional issues, as the Minister has acknowledged. It would be better for Irish democracy if the Minister were to accept this amendment as it would make a positive provision for judges offering to take part in the deduction.

It is possible to go further. If a disaffected judge believes the levy and the reduction should not apply to him the same way it applies to a nurse and a teacher, he has the remedy of going to the courts. If he wins in the courts, we will obviously need a constitutional referendum. Everything I read, however, indicates we will not need one. There is a strong judicial opinion in this respect, including the previous case in which the courts found judges were liable for income tax because it applies to citizens.

Why is the Minister pussyfooting around this amendment? This is like the emergency budget — tough on poor people but not on those in the upper echelons. There is a series of exemptions from this legislation ranging from Anglo Irish Bank to the bosses of the semi-State companies, all on over €400,000 a year. The people in the top echelons in a war, to use the Minister's words, are the generals who give leadership. Following on from that, judges are akin to generals. Why are they exempt from this legislation?

Every public servant who serves a judge in court, be they gardaí, clerical officers or tipstaves, will be taking this pay hit on their modest incomes. In common with Deputy Rabbitte, I have received sad letters and e-mails from nurses married to gardaí with two or three children explaining what the hit will mean to their incomes. As they are younger they are taking a further large hit with negative equity in their homes. By the end of next year, when mortgage interest rates go up, they tell me they will be sunk. However, a particular category will be exempted from this hit.

While I do not want to be singling out the judges, the Taoiseach has said we are all in this together. Fianna Fáil's position shows we are not. Certain categories, such as the fat cat bankers who have ruined this country and the bosses of the top semi-State companies, are specifically excluded by Fianna Fáil from this legislation.

For the benefit of Members, the next speaker is Deputy Doyle, followed by Deputies Shatter, Barrett and O'Donnell.

I was asking the Minister of State to give way to clarify a point and was not seeking to make a Second Stage speech. I want the Minister of State to clarify — I did not mean to be disorderly when he was speaking — if, as he said, it is unconstitutional in his eyes to impose a reduction in salary on judges, how then he can justify the Minister saying in his speech that he has decided that there will be no increases in judges' pay during the lifetime of this Government and that future Governments may choose, as in the past, to continue this source of action. Surely, that is discriminatory——

Thank you, Deputy.

——and must, therefore, be unconstitutional. The Minister is saying where similar grades get an increase, we will discriminate against judges, which is the same as imposing a pay cut on them.

As Eamon de Valera did it in the 1930s, it has an impeccable origin.

The Government cannot have it both ways. Surely legal advice was obtained in regard to what the Minister would say in his speech. If the Government can say it will not award increases to judges despite the fact that others in similar grades will be awarded them, then that is discrimination. That is the point I wanted to make. My final point——

No, no one can have it each way. I have allowed the Deputy to raise a point of clarification.

Judges are having it each way.

I will call the Deputy when it is his turn to speak.

I signalled my wish to speak on the amendments.

I do not have the Deputy's name on the list.

Amendment No. 3 is in my name.

I call Deputy Doyle.

Although the Minister of State referred in his response to all the legal references to the Constitution he just about mentioned fairness. I will give the layman's position on this. The Constitution appears to protect the privileged. While justice is about fairness, unfortunately, it does not seem to win out in this case. The Minister of State said the whole purpose of protecting judges against a pay cut is to protect them against any undue hostility or reward from the Government of the day. However, the Government has singled them out here. All Members of the House have received correspondence in regard to the two Bills recently introduced in this House in respect of pay cuts, namely, the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Bill 2009 and the Bill now before us. I vouch that next week they will be contacting us about what is happening in regard to the banks and the privileged, namely, judges. It will be difficult for judges to sit in their courts and sentence people in respect of minor or major indiscretions and so on, as in the case of the clerical hierarchy of this country to say, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Respect for the Judiciary will be lost. It is unfortunate that this issue has come before this House for discussion in the manner it has. Taking this to its logical conclusion, it appears to me that the Minister for Finance could come into this House in the future and say he or she is raising the rate of tax by 2% on the marginal rate and will be excluding the Judiciary in that regard. Perhaps the Minister of State will clarify that point.

I call Deputy Bruton on the basis that he has tabled amendment No. 3.

I am happy to go on the end of the list.

I want to return to what has been said by other contributors. While I heard the Minister of State's contribution today I recall that in an earlier contribution he praised himself and the Government for the action they are taking in the context of this legislation. This has the level of credibility of a pyromaniac who sets fire to a building and then seeks praise for calling the fire brigade. In so far as praise is being sought, as has been said by other speakers, this issue we are now discussing arose at the time of the introduction of the pension levy and was not an unexpected issue in the context of the legislation before the House.

I find it extraordinary to hear the Minister of State representing the Government in this House now say he cannot pre-empt what the Government might decide on whether there should be a constitutional referendum on this issue. The Government has been aware of this problem. If it did not realise it before imposing the public sector pension levy, it has certainly been aware of it since then. On the basis of the Attorney General's advice, whether disputed or not, the Government excluded application of the pension levy to members of the Judiciary. I listened with interest to what other Deputies said and to the references to the former and distinguished member of the High Court and Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Barrington, who has spoken on this issue. I remind Members of the House that my understanding is that his speaking on this issue applies to the pension levy and not to what is a direct reduction in a judge's remuneration about which the Constitution is enormously clear. I do not believe that when Eamon de Valera presented the 1937 Constitution to the Parliament of this State and ultimately the people he anticipated that a future Government, in particular a future Fianna Fáil-led Government, would essentially completely and utterly destroy the Irish economy and create that which this legislation recognises is a financial emergency.

We are dealing with a Fianna Fáil created financial emergency and a constitutional provision drawn up by someone whom I presume in those days had some ideals in terms of what might be achieved by Governments in this State and did not anticipate the complete, total, utter and gross incompetence of the Taoiseach when Minister for Finance and his continuing incompetence. An indication of the level of continuing incompetence is that this constitutional issue has not been addressed by Government. I accept when the Minister of State says — I know colleagues on this side of the House are sceptical about this — that for good or ill there is a constitutional difficulty in applying this public sector wage decrease to the Judiciary. On occasion, we, as politicians, come under so much heat it is fun to shoot verbally at other people. While it is on occasion fun to shoot verbally at the Judiciary in this House, it does not add to public respect for the Judiciary or our court system.

The truth is a problem exists, of which the Government has been aware for some time. My colleagues, Deputies Brian Hayes and Charles Flanagan, asked why the Government has ignored this problem up to now. I appreciate, as the Minister of State said, that a constitutional problem arose and that the Government may be thinking about this. The Bill I introduced on behalf of the Fine Gael Party was first distributed just under four weeks ago. The Government has had just under four weeks to consider its content. Within that four week period it has had its internal budget debates, its external budget leaks, its announcement of the budget and this legislation, which was under preparation. No one acknowledged there was a problem and asked what was to be done in respect of the judicial exemption in times of a financial emergency. I agree with all speakers on this side of the House who said that non-application of this remuneration reduction to members of the Judiciary is utterly and grossly unfair but there exists a constitutional barrier to its application. As legislators, we have a duty to uphold the public esteem of the Judiciary and to protect its independence. As suggested by Members on this side of the House voluntary contributions to a pension levy are a charge imposed by way of contributing to the creation of one's pension fund which arguably may not be cut under Article 35.5. I, too, have argued that possibility although I understand the Government's difficulty with it. I understand from where Mr. Justice Barrington is coming on that issue. It may well be that there are significant numbers among the Judiciary who take the view that there was no constitutional barrier to having the levy imposed on them and that is why they are voluntarily contributing to it, but there may be a constitutional barrier to members of the Judiciary, under pressure from Government, this House and the general public, agreeing to hand back a portion of their salary because that, in effect, is bringing about a reduction in judicial remuneration by public pressure. This is an issue which, in fairness to the general public and to the Judiciary, should be addressed.

Deputy Mansergh is here as Minister of State representing the Government.

He is not here on a solo-run representing himself. He is here based on his remit to implement Government policy collectively made at Cabinet within the constitutional framework of the State. There is no reason a decision could not have been made during the course of the Cabinet's deliberations announced on Budget Day that a referendum will be held to extend, in times of emergency, the possibility of a public sector wage reduction to members of the Judiciary in the interests of fairness, nor is there any reason that announcement could not have been made in the House. The lame contribution of the Minister for Finance in saying he will set up a procedure to facilitate judges to contribute voluntarily to a pension levy and then remaining silent on the issue is yet another indication of the incapacity of the Government to join up the dots, to examine the issues comprehensively, to apply principles of fairness and do what is right.

I again ask the Minister to give the House a pledge that the Government will agree to hold a referendum on this issue in conjunction with the children's rights referendum and that the wording that will be put to the people will be that proposed in the Fine Gael Bill or a similar wording to ensure two matters, namely, that the independence of the Judiciary continues to be protected but, in times of economic emergency, the same wage, salary or remuneration reductions can be applied to them as are applied across the public service to those in receipt of an income of similar or identical nature to the Judiciary. It is a straightforward question.

If the Minister of State is telling us that the Cabinet has not even considered this issue almost a month after the Bill was published and got a first reading in this House, it is an indicator of how out of touch and incompetent is the Government. If the Minister of State has no riding instructions on this issue, perhaps he would send out for them. Perhaps a message could be sent to the Taoiseach asking that he clarify Government policy on this issue based on the debate that has taken place in this House to ensure that fairness applies, the issue is addressed and at the same time we protect judicial independence and the public esteem the Judiciary deserves in the context of the difficult and, on occasions, dangerous job we ask them to do.

Everyone is in agreement that there is an anomaly whereby judges who are on high pay fall outside the normal rules that apply to civil and public servants. I refer to Article 35.5 of the Constitution, which states, "The remuneration of a judge shall not be reduced during his continuance in office." We all want an independent Judiciary. Deputy Shatter, who is an authority in this area, asked the Minister of State to give a commitment that the Government will hold a referendum on the matter in conjunction with the constitutional referendum on children's rights. It would be normal practice that such a referendum would take place on the same day. My understanding is the Government has already provided funding in the current Estimates for the referendum on children's rights to take place. It is important this measure be put in place to preserve, in the eyes of the general public, the integrity of the independence of the Judiciary.

I note the Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey stated in his speech that "Ministers of State will take a permanent reduction of 10%", and yet in Table 1 the figure for a Minister of State is "8 per cent of remuneration". The Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, might deal with the inconsistency in terms of what is being put out in the public domain. The Minister of State did not answer the question as to why the Government felt it fair and reasonable to exempt the lower paid in the public sector from the pension levy and does not see that the same rules of fairness and equity should apply to a pay cut. He needs to explain that measure.

The key matter is that the Minister of State take on board the views of Deputies Bruton and Shatter, who produced a Private Members' Bill on the issue which is a practical measure. From the Minister of State's comments, it would appear he agrees there is a need for a constitutional referendum. Will he give a Government commitment on that?

I am not content with the Minister of State's response. Basically, he accepts that the judges should take a cut in their pay, he cites the remuneration group as evidence in support of that, and he states he will facilitate a voluntary cut in the Finance Bill.

Deputy Charles Flanagan, who I thought the Minister of State was including in his praise for persons with a legal background, made the worthwhile point that we do not want a league table of judges produced which will list judges who have given up their pay voluntarily and others who have not. If the Government wants to create a situation whereby the Judiciary comes into disrepute, one creates a sort of voluntary pay-up scheme, which clearly is unsatisfactory.

We should be clear-cut on this. Either we accept the Fine Gael amendment and we take our chances in the court or we accept the alternative, which is Deputy Shatter's constitutional approach, which is clearly much more robust.

We are left in the unsatisfactory position trying to debate with Government an issue that we have signalled. The Minister of State knew we were tabling this, knew we had to respond to it and comes back in here with this clearly unsatisfactory solution — voluntary surrender in respect of, as I understand it, only the pension part, not the entire contribution, which at this stage will be probably 25% of judicial pay.

The Minister of State is not adequately briefed to deal with the issue, as I understand it. I am persuaded by listening to other colleagues that the voluntary route he is offering is not a satisfactory solution. It leaves the Judiciary in an invidious position whereby league tables will be created. Deputy Barrett also makes an important point, namely, that if we are so ginger about what general provisions ought apply to judges — in my view, it was never the intention of the authors of the Constitution that judges would be immune from general provisions of law that affect categories of which they were only a tiny proportion — and if we take the view that we cannot touch judges in that way, surely the signal the Minister of State has given, the notion that judges should now be put into a category where they will get no further pay increases, is in breach of that principle. That certainly singles them out for treatment.

I am not persuaded by the defences the Minister of State offered. Has the Government held discussions with representatives of the Judiciary to establish exactly its perception of Government policy in this area? Does it see the hazards that others in the House have referred to in respect of voluntary contributions and lists of those who are in and those who are not? Is the Judiciary four square behind the Government and its view? We ought to know because the vehicle the Government is offering to deal with judicial pay is so strange. What consultation has taken place? I am persuaded that we should run with our proposal. Either the Government should accept our proposal or we should deal with the matter in the way Deputy Shatter has pointed out.

I take Deputy Bruton's argument about the implications of singling out the Judiciary for no pay increase during the lifetime of this Government. The precedent for this rests with Mr. de Valera in the 1930s, although it is fair to say in 1932 Mr. de Valera had greater prospects for holding office for a longer period than the Minister of State, Deputy Martin Mansergh, has at present. However it works in theory, in practice it will probably mean the Judiciary will not forgo a great amount in the months ahead.

Will the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, put on record a simple answer to a simple, straightforward question, please? Do I understand correctly that the terms of this Bill apply to everyone working in the public service who was a victim of the pension income levy and no one beyond that group?

Two issues arise in respect of these amendments. The point Deputy Richard Bruton makes regarding the issues of consultation is important. It would be perfectly normal for the Attorney General or very senior officials in the Department of Finance or elsewhere to tick tack with either the President of the High Court or the Chief Justice concerning the general feeling among the Judiciary about this proposal. The Minister of State should put on record what, if any, consultation occurred between the Government and representatives of the Judiciary on this issue. It is now placed in a difficult position whereby if its members do not give up the voluntary cut, there will be endless speculation regarding which judges have taken it. That is not in the interests of the Judiciary nor does it serve the purpose of the separation of powers. The Minister of State should address this issue. What, if any, consultation has occurred between the Judiciary and the Government on this issue? There is a historical precedent for such consultation to occur.

I refer to the point raised by Deputies Pat Rabbitte and Alan Shatter concerning the views of Mr. Justice Barrington. He has made public remarks during the past 12 months on the imposition of the pension levy on the public service. He believed Article 35 of the Constitution does not apply directly to judges on the issue of a pension levy because people would contribute to a pension scheme from which they would ultimately draw. I can understand to a degree the difficulty last year and the problem presented in the muddle of the budget at that stage when the matter of how judges would be dealt with was overlooked. However, why was it not possible to include a pension levy proposal for judges in this legislation, even if there is legal uncertainty as to whether they can be included for a pension levy? As it happens, I agree with Deputy Shatter and others that simply cutting their pay is virtually impossible to impose. Such a move would be legally and constitutionally defective and the Government would not get away with it, even if it wished to do so. However, there has been doubt about the Government view of pension contributions and the pension levy, to which Mr. Justice Barrington and others have referred. Why not include that retrospective issue in the legislation before the House? I seek clarification on these two issues.

Once again there has been an interesting debate on a number of points. I refer to Deputy Burton's amendment related to the Minister's clause in the finance Bill on the waiver system. That measure will draw more broadly, rather than simply from the Judiciary. It will achieve the same effect as the Deputy's amendment, but without running into constitutional problems.

There are no constitutional problems.

In respect of Deputy Barrett's point, the Constitution expressly prevents a reduction in judges' remuneration. It says nothing about increases in remuneration and in years gone by there would have been periods during which no increase was applied to the remuneration of judges and other categories of public servant. It is not discriminatory to take account of past events in setting future rates of remuneration. Indeed, this is what the review body does when considering variable rates of adjustment to the pay at higher levels in the public sector. As indicated by the Minister for Finance, the Government route will be to establish a waiver system. On behalf of the Government, I put on record that I hope everyone concerned will take up that waiver. It has been reflected in the discussion and I have pointed out already that the fairness issue was dealt with by the review body and the difficulty in this regard relates to a constitutional impediment given the way in which the Constitution exists in its current format.

I am not empowered to pledge a constitutional referendum but there is nothing to stop the people on the opposite side of the House from tabling a question to the Taoiseach to establish whether it is his intention to hold a constitutional referendum on any matter. Any such matter would be addressed by the Government when an Opposition Bill reaches Second Stage. I presume that will take place early in the new year, but that is a matter for the Opposition.

The Minister of State is more influential than he believes.

Deputy O'Donnell referred to a matter related to Ministers of State and this will be dealt with in amendment No. 16. The matter will be covered.

It was never the intention that names or references to which judge claimed the waiver would be mentioned but rather the aggregate numbers and amounts would be recorded. Another question related to whether the Government's amendments would apply to persons employed by bodies with a public service pension. As I have stated already, the application of a pension levy is a rule of thumb. The Minister has stated there are many individuals who are in an anomalous position and if this is the case, they can be considered under the Minister's various powers under the Bill and it is just and equitable for him to do so.

What about the issue of consultation?

I accept I did not deal with that question. The voluntary waiver system with regard to the pension levy was set up not merely by consultation, but by agreement between the Chief Justice and the head of the Revenue Commissioners.

Was there consultation on the second round?

Will the Minister of State reply to Deputy Rabbitte's question? Is his interpretation of the Bill, namely, that it is confined in its application to persons——

I replied to that question.

Sorry, the Minister of State did not. The question is very simple. Does this Bill apply only to persons to whom the public service pension levy applies? Will the Minister please indicate yes or no?

I will repeat the exact reply I gave and will not deviate from it. If the Government's amendments——

Keep repeating the above, if pressed.

——are passed it will apply to persons employed by bodies with a public service pension scheme. I said the application of pension levy is by rule of thumb and there may be individuals in an anomalous position. If so, they can be considered under the Minister's various powers under the Bill and it is just and equitable to do so.

Is that a yes or a no?

That is a reply to Deputy Rabbitte's question.

I will be brief in my reply to the Minister of State because I wish to move on to the next amendment which relates to Anglo Irish Bank and is very important. The Minister of State acknowledged formally on the record of the House that the remit of this reduction in public sector salaries is far broader than the pension levy because it will apply to bodies where there is a pension scheme even though people employed or paid for by those bodies may not themselves be in receipt of a pension or be part of a pension scheme. In other words, this applies to people such as contract teachers, part-time staff and contractors in other situations who do not have access to a public service pension or are not so entitled. There are many such examples throughout the public service.

However, by contrast with the provisions of these amendments, and despite the Minister of State's description of a war situation, unfortunately, a High Court judge on a salary of €250,000 is not being asked — or given the opportunity as would happen with the Labour Party's amendment — to offer to share positively the burden of his or her fellow citizens. Fianna Fáil is putting the Judiciary in an invidious position simply because it wishes to create categories of exemption in order to continue to defend and protect its friends in the banks, particularly in its own bank, Anglo Irish Bank, and its, friends, the developers who are being bailed out and for whom public servants are paying the price.

We received the speech of the Minister of State, Deputy Carey. There is a gross inconsistency in the cases of people on very high pay although I do not in any way impugn the integrity of judges. However, if one looks at the third page of the Minister of State's speech, he states, concerning to whom the pay cut will apply: "In order to pin down this issue, therefore, the Minister for Finance published amendments last night to the draft Bill to clearly define who is affected by the pay reduction by linking it to their access to a public service pension scheme". Clearly, the relevant amendments are Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8.

The speech continues: "The rule of thumb therefore will be if one is affected by the pension levy the reduction to the rates of pay will also apply." An effective interpretation of the amendment would be in respect of which a public service pension scheme exists or applies or may be made. That appears to be inconsistent with the fact there might be people in part-time or temporary employment or temporary full-time employment who do not qualify under the pension schemes, such as teachers. The Minister of State and Chief Whip, Deputy Carey, said the pay cut will apply only if the pension levy applies. Will the Minister of State clarify this point?

Once again it goes back to the lower paid. The Minister of State still has not answered my very simple straightforward question, the one being asked by the ordinary public servant. If an exemption was given under the pension levy, why is the Government not extending that to the pay cut, in terms of consistency and fairness? What was the Government's thinking? Was it just a crude measure containing no policy and no thinking, the result of sitting down two days before the budget and asking,"What will get us the money in the quickest possible way?"

Governments are there to lead and bring people along collectively, not to divide and conquer, an agenda this budget clearly pushes, particularly with regard to a division between the public and private sectors, especially the lower paid.

Will the Minister of State deal with the inconsistencies, namely, what the Minister of State, Deputy Carey said less than two hours ago in this Chamber and what the Minister of State said just now?

I shall be brief. I wish to return to what the Minister of State said about consultations. He said there were consultations between the Judiciary and the Revenue Commissioners. Were these between the Chief Justice and the Revenue Commissioners? Who was engaged in the consultations? Will the Minister of State say which Minister talked directly to the Judiciary about the pension levy? Was there any indication from the Judiciary that its members did not regard the pension levy as something that fell within Article 15.5 of the Constitution? On what basis were such discussions regarded as appropriate? Was it simply to put in place a mechanism or was something said to put the Judiciary under pressure to make voluntary contributions? Leaving aside the pension levy, what discussions, if any, have taken place between Government and either the Chief Justice or representatives of the Judiciary with regard to the public sector wage decrease? Have there been such discussions?

There has been talk about this. I agree with the views and concerns expressed by my colleagues, Deputies Flanagan, Bruton, Hayes and O'Donnell with regard to the publication of the numbers of judges, who, percentage wise, are contributing to the pension levy and the new mechanism to be put in place. That creates a league table. If we discover that only 30% of District Court judges are contributing to it, as opposed to 60% of High Court judges, there should be greater public esteem for the High Court. How would this work? Regarding the mechanism to be put in place by the legislation, will the Freedom of Information Act be excluded from it? If only percentages are to be published what access will there be to ascertain the names of individual judges? Are we going to create some sort of public Star Chamber in which judges are pilloried because they have not contributed to this? Are we going to allow a situation to develop which will be so fundamentally at variance with the intent of our constitutional provisions as to drive a coach and four through them?

Like every other Member of this House, I receive letters from teachers and low-paid people in the public sector who feel they have been victimised by this Government. Many of them cannot understand why people with high incomes are to contribute less by means of these emergency measures- or, in the case of the Judiciary, nothing at all — to meet the current difficulties in which the State finds itself, having to reduce public sector expenditure and our current expenditure bill.

The Minister of State said it is for Fine Gael to bring a referendum Bill before the House. We will do so. The Bill may come before the House early in the new year but the Minister well knows this Government has an automatic knee-jerk reaction to any legislation that comes before the House from the Opposition side. It lets it go through First Stage so that a discussion on Second Stage can take place but 99 times out of 100 it automatically votes down everything that is dealt with in Private Members' time. If it lets a Bill slip through in Private Members' time, it never gets dealt with in a committee. It is controlled by the Government TDs and it never goes any further.

The real question is not to let Fine Gael bring the Bill before the House but whether the Government recognises, in the interest of fairness, that we need a constitutional change to address this issue and whether the Government will support in principle the holding of a referendum with appropriate wording being put to the people because there is no monopoly of wisdom in the drafting of it. Different wording could have been used to achieve the same result. I do not believe, when it comes to constitutional referenda, that there are words formed on a tablet of stone that are so perfect we can never have a variant of them. Any half decent lawyer knows that the same thing can be said half a dozen different ways to achieve exactly the same outcome.

The real question is whether the Government is committed, in principle, to a referendum to address this issue so that there will not be a build-up within public opinion that it is grossly unfair that the Judiciary is excluded from application of the public sector wage decrease and that we will not see a degree of public outrage unfairly directed at the Judiciary because of the incompetence of the Government in addressing this issue.

Could the Minister help me in my work? How can the Judiciary be exempt when lower paid public servants who are contacting all of us in this House are being penalised in this Bill? For example, I received over 100 signatures today from ordinary paid workers in the Department of Defence in Renmore, in my own parish, who cannot understand why they are being penalised while higher paid servants like the Judiciary and others seem to be exempt? I ask the Minister if he could help me in replying to the representation I am getting on this issue. I was asked to give the signatures to the Minister, which I will do after the debate, and express their concern and disgust with the penalty the Government is imposing on them. I refer principally to those 100 employees in my own locality who work in the Department of Defence in Renmore.

As stated previously, the Judiciary and any other such category is being given an opportunity to contribute under the Finance Bill and that will achieve precisely the same end as Deputy Burton's amendment.

With regard to what the Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey, said I added an amplification to that, not a contradiction of what he said.

Can the Deputy please hear me out?

I did not hear the Minister of State.

I amplified the remarks of the Minister of State, Deputy Carey.

He contradicted them.

Deputy O'Donnell, please——

I did not contradict them. I added to the reference to rule of thumb that there may be individuals in an anomalous position. If so, they can be considered under the Minister's various powers under the Bill and it is just and equitable to do so.

What exactly does that mean? That is not sufficient.

As far as the constitutional issue is concerned, it is not entirely the case, and Deputy Shatter would know this better than anybody, that the Government always rejects legislative proposals from the Opposition. The fine separation Bill in 1988——

But not since 2002.

I do not believe that is the only Bill that originated with the Deputy that ended up on the Statute Book.

No, absolutely, but there has not been a single Bill since 2002.

I will not presume or pre-empt what the Government's attitude would be, and sometimes when a Bill is rejected it is because the Government is promising to bring forward a Bill of its own——

A better one, but it never does.

——dealing with the same subject but perhaps in a slightly different way.

With regard to the question of consultation, I fully agree with what Deputy Shatter said about considerations of appropriateness having to be taken into consideration. What happened in the case of the pension levy was that the Chief Justice approached the Revenue Commissioners to devise a system whereby the Judiciary could contribute the equivalent of a pension levy on a voluntary basis, and I do not see anything inappropriate about that.

There are two amendments before the House and we need to dispose of them.

May I come in briefly?

The Deputy must be very brief.

In terms of clarification of the point made by the Minister of State, Deputy Carey, under section 6 of the Bill the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, is now stating that any individual not subject to the pension levy will not now be subject to the pay cut.

I have nothing to add to what I have already said.

Is Deputy Burton pressing her amendment No. 2?

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 77.

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lee, George.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, line 13, to delete ", a member of the judiciary".

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 65.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lee, George.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 4 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4(a):

In page 4, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

"(g) Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Limited,”.

The purpose of this amendment is to include the nationalised Anglo Irish Bank in the remit of Fianna Fáil's proposed deductions in public service pay. It is an unbelievable situation for most public servants in the country. We were informed earlier by the Chief Whip that the average rate of pay for the majority of public servants is approximately €50,000. It is a good, but not exceptionally high, rate of pay. It is a moderate rate of pay——

The House will come to order for the Deputy.

——with which somebody can provide for a family and have some hope of acquiring a home of his or her own, as is right.

It is extraordinary that in this Bill Fianna Fáil has used all of the ingenuity available to it, via the parliamentary draftsmen, to include in the remit of the Bill very low paid public servants, including people such as cleaners working on a part-time basis. They will be hit with reductions in pay of a minimum of 5%. However, when it comes to Anglo Irish Bank, the Government has used the powers and cleverness of its parliamentary draftsmen to exclude its staff from such reductions. There has been considerable talk by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance about fairness. As I said in the discussion on the previous amendment, the Minister for Finance has talked about war and said that we were in an economic war. On Sunday night he said that he did not want to open a second front in the war against the public service and he did not want that war to extend to the commercial semi-State bodies.

It is very difficult for most people here, including Members of this House, who are taking significant pay cuts and paying pension levies along with all the other people paid out of the public purse to have the people who are largely responsible for the cause of the war exempted by means of parliamentary cleverness. Earlier the Government Whip said:

Neither Anglo Irish Bank nor NTMA is subject to the levy. The former does not come within the definition of a public service body covered by the Bill as it does not have a public service pension scheme.

Nothing in this legislation would prevent the addition of Anglo Irish Bank and the Labour Party has obtained senior legal advices to that effect. This is a conscious political decision by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in government to target nurses, gardaí, clerical assistants and everybody in the public service bar members of the Judiciary — which we have already discussed — and employees of Anglo Irish Bank. Where is the fairness in that for the Minister? Where are Fianna Fáil's republican credentials for the men of no property when the people at the very top of Anglo Irish Bank, who have had a cap on their salaries of between €300,000 and €500,000 put in place, are to a significant degree responsible for the plight we are in? Where is the fairness and justice in that?

If the Government wished, it could seek to extend the remit of the legislation to the other banks because in the various banking legislation dealing with the credit institutions and dealing with the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and NAMA, but particularly in the legislation relating to the covered institutions, the powers of the Minister for Finance are almost completely limitless. In law he is a tsar of the covered institutions. He is even more of a tsar in terms of his control and power over Anglo Irish Bank.

Let us remember the Minister has gone around the world claiming that unlike in France and other countries, the public service in Ireland has taken these cuts on the chin, with only small demonstrations and small strikes for a day yet on the other hand there is a major commitment by the public servants themselves and public service union leaders to say they recognise that the economy is in a difficult place and they want to play their part. The Government claims that the only falling out it has had with public servants is over the mechanism by which that burden would be shared by everybody, including public servants.

However, what do we find in this legislation? We find that Anglo Irish Bank is excluded. Shame on Fianna Fáil for imposing a cut on nurses, teachers, special needs assistants, doctors, clerical officers, assistant principals, principal officers and Secretaries General, but excluding Anglo Irish Bank. Where is the logic in that? Where is the fairness in that? It is almost as though the Minister for Finance wishes to test the resolve of public servants by trying to find out how much they will take without protesting so that he can go to France and point to the traditions of 1798 and the French Revolution but claim that we do not have that in this country. He can claim that our public servants will take almost anything yet we will exempt Anglo Irish Bank. In France and other countries, even the UK, there has been a serious attempt to impose restraints and conditions on bankers who have transgressed.

We are not talking about the bank staff at counter level, many of whom were duped by the leaderships in their banks into putting their life savings into bank shares that are now worthless. We are talking about the top echelons, the Seánies and others in Anglo Irish Bank, who were so friendly with the former Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, and who rushed to the Galway tent and every other Fianna Fáil function to say "There is one motherland and one fatherland". We have Fianna Fáil on the one hand, and Anglo Irish Bank and the developers on the other hand. This is the golden circle. The Bill protects the golden circle yet again.

Many Anglo Irish Bank staff members have lost their savings because they were invested in the bank's shares. When I questioned him at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, Donal O'Connor, the chairman of the bank told me that people at senior management levels in the bank are heavily compromised because at the height of the property boom they became players and were taking stakes in the bank's unwise property developments.

We read in today's newspapers — I wish that the Minister could deny it — that the person who has been the internal auditor at Anglo Irish Bank since 2005 has been reappointed to that position. Perhaps that particular auditor consistently blew the whistle internally in the bank but was not listened to by his superiors in the bank. However, it seems extraordinary given that the Government has taken control of this bank. The bank is not permitted by the European Central Bank to lend until next July other than on roll-over projects to developers. So we have a zombie bank and have committed ourselves to €24 billion in NAMA bonds for this bank. We have already invested €4 billion, which we have informed the European Union and the European Central Bank is money that is gone. We are being asked to pony up some time after Christmas — probably in late January — at least another €4 billion and up to €6 billion into a dead bank.

As I have said previously, the Labour Party's reservations about the guarantee centre on two banks, Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society — a tiddlywink building society that is in for €8 billion of rescuing and €2 billion of a cash injection shortly when its special meeting is held. Is the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, serious about excluding the party that has led to the core collapse in the reputation of Ireland internationally? If one follows our bond spreads every day, one will find they are way over what they ought to be. Even with the extreme financial reduction measures we are discussing today, our bond spreads are considerably higher than Italy's bond spreads because the international bond markets know that we have a mess that we have retained and Fianna Fáil has kept to itself, in Anglo Irish Bank, a bank we are nurturing along and pouring money into as if it were a dead drain.

Now we find that nurses and teachers are to bear this reduction in salary while those in Anglo Irish Bank get away scot free. If the Minister said he felt terribly sorry for the young people who went to work in Anglo Irish Bank in the last ten years, worked hard, did what they were told and were not really responsible for the mess, but he would apply the reduction to the higher paid in Anglo Irish Bank — for example, anyone earning more than €100,000 or even €150,000 — I could understand it. One might feel sorry for the staff on the lower levels who were not responsible for what went on. Instead, the top directors, the chairman and everyone else in Anglo Irish Bank are being protected.

This Government ought to recognise the difference between right and wrong in terms of governance. This further protection of Anglo Irish Bank is a step too far and the Labour Party is proposing that Anglo Irish Bank be included in the list of organisations to which these provisions will apply. It is owned and totally controlled by the State. The Bill should be amended to include those in Anglo Irish Bank in the measures being inflicted on a range of public servants to reduce their salaries.

Professor Honohan yesterday indicated that he would favour a parliamentary inquiry along the lines of the DIRT inquiry, together with an oversight commission, as I suggested during the debate on the NAMA legislation. This would bring in outside experts to tell us what went wrong in this and other banks. What Professor Honohan has to say is welcome. Here is the proof of whether those in Fianna Fáil can recognise financial right from wrong. Why should everybody in the public service take the hit? It is those in the public service, and every other taxpayer in Ireland, who are at the moment paying dearly for Anglo Irish Bank.

I support this amendment. Professor Honohan, the Governor of the Central Bank, yesterday appeared before the Joint Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs, whose Chairman, Deputy Moynihan, is in the Chamber. At the meeting, I asked him a number of questions, one of which was specifically about Anglo Irish Bank. I asked whether Anglo Irish Bank was of systemic importance in the Irish banking system and, furthermore, whether the Irish banking system could survive without it. His answer to the latter was an unequivocal "Yes." The Irish Government has poured €4 billion of taxpayers' money into Anglo Irish Bank. We supported the bank guarantee scheme, but when it came to the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank, we opposed it. There should have been an orderly wind-down of the bank. The Government continues to talk about a wind-down, but I am talking about an orderly wind-down. These are two totally different things.

Anglo Irish Bank is not of systemic importance to the Irish economy. The ordinary person or public servant is wondering what has happened to Seán FitzPatrick, the former CEO and chairman of Anglo Irish Bank. Why is he not being held accountable? The transactions that went on between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society involved funds being moved between both balance sheets over a two-month period. People find this impossible to understand. A total of €80 million in directors' loans were kept off the balance sheet of Anglo Irish Bank at the year-end.

Professor Honohan said yesterday that he would apply the public sector pay cuts to staff at the Central Bank and the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Furthermore, they should apply to the National Treasury Management Agency, which is fully State-owned. Some 5% of the money paid to the banks by NAMA, or €2.7 billion, will be in the form of subordinated debt, but Professor Honohan stated it should have been treble that figure — 15%, which represents another €5.4 billion on top of the €2.7 billion. However, the Minister for Finance led us to believe Professor Honohan was in total agreement with what was being proposed.

What we need here is fairness and equity. Anglo Irish Bank is fully owned by the State. It is effectively a Government Department — a very expensive one. We introduced a reasonable amendment, No. 18, through Deputy Bruton to deal with the issue of salary reductions, although we will probably never reach it, more is the pity. Its effect would have been to exempt the first €30,000 of the salary of any public servant from the reduction. Thus, anyone on €30,000 would be fully exempt, while those in receipt of a salary greater than that amount would have a reduction applied to the balance. The pay cut should apply to the higher-paid staff in Anglo Irish Bank, but not to the many employees at the bank who are relatively low-paid.

The Minister still has not answered my original question. In the last budget, the pension levy was not imposed on the lower paid, but the Government is now imposing pay cuts on public servants earning any salary.

The Deputy is regressing to a previous debate.

I am trying to bring——

Exactly. I am trying to give context to the debate and underpin it with thought.

I support this amendment, which should apply to both Anglo Irish Bank and NAMA. We are told NAMA should be self-financing. We should not be paying exorbitant salaries which will take away from the bottom line. Those working for the agency should be paid reasonable salaries. There should be consistency throughout the public sector, which includes NAMA.

I support this Labour Party amendment, which exposes the fact that Government cronyism is alive and well even after the scandals in the banking sector and the property bubble which it allowed to continue. The Government has adopted the tactic of saying Anglo Irish Bank is a commercial entity and therefore it cannot have a proper public sector pension scheme.

Perhaps the Minister of State should tell us about these banks and bankers. Does he have any idea when the inquiries into Anglo Irish Bank will be complete? Does he know whether charges will be brought against certain people? Does he have any information on the status of what is our bank? Can he tell us when the large amounts of money — in excess of €83 million in the case of Sean FitzPatrick — will be repaid? Can he give any information to the taxpayer about these matters?

The last time I spoke about this issue in the House, which was last year, I outlined the case of a constituent who had ended up in Mountjoy Prison for four days for not buying a dog licence. Yet again I have had the unfortunate experience of finding a constituent hauled off to Mountjoy Prison for a similar offence. He was arrested in the first instance and brought to the Garda station by two gardaí. He was then transferred to a further two gardaí to bring him to Mountjoy where he was committed by five prison staff who wrote up the committal forms and so on. This was all for the sake of the price of a dog licence, which is around €16. The gross injustice in this case is that the poor man did not receive the information because he is in a relatively new housing estate and An Post admitted there had been major mix-ups with the post. The Minister of State and his Government are standing over this — a hard-working, decent man being hauled off to Mountjoy Prison for the sake of a dog licence — while these characters in Anglo Irish Bank do not merit a word. I hope the Minister of State recognises the injustice of what is going on and can address it for us.

I hope there is a good excuse from the Government for its decision not to ensure that those in Anglo Irish Bank — our bank, a public bank — fall into the category of proper public servants. Perhaps the Minister of State can tell the House when they will be recognised as public servants in the full meaning of that term.

The factor running through, this, as with earlier amendments is the question of fairness. It highlights again in a dramatic manner how unfair the terms of the Bill are. I have a great deal of sympathy with the majority of staff in Anglo Irish Bank. I presume it is a fact that they had no hand, act or part in the skulduggery that went on there, which has brought the banking system to its knees and exacerbated an economy already in a downward spiral.

It is amazing what the Minister can choose to include and ignore. Can anybody in the House remind me of an occasion when a Minister brought a Bill before the Dáil and could not outline its scope? I do not ever recall being presented with a Bill where the Minister did not know to whom it applied, but offered to give the House a "rule of thumb". Let us re-read, for example, what Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey has to say. He said:

The simplest way in this legislation to define a person who is a public service employee, and to distinguish those persons from private sector employees, whose employment is helped by State funding, is to use the approach taken when applying the pension related deduction to link their employment to their current or potential access to a public service pension scheme.

I am not sure what a potential pension scheme is and I am not sure from that definition who is included and who is excluded — the paragraphs that preceded that quotation deal with the number of people employed in the community sector, for example, who are part-funded by the State. Whether they are included remains a mystery. Then he goes on to summarise:

In order to pin this issue down, the Minister for Finance published amendments last night to the draft Bill, which will clearly define who is affected by the pay reduction, by linking it to their access to a public service pension scheme. The rule of thumb, therefore, will be: if you are affected by the pension levy, the reduction to the rates of pay will also apply.

I apologise to the Minister of State for having had to leave the House for a few minutes to attend to another commitment. However, does that not appear to answer the question I asked the Minister of State as regards who is covered by this legislation? That would seem to indicate everybody who took the hit on the pension levy is covered by the terms of this second bite, but only those people.

I do not believe it is good enough for the Minister of State to hope to get through this debate without telling the House who is included and who is not. Here we have an amendment that would encompass some of the high fliers now being paid by the State, and who brought this country to the edge of ruin, and they are excluded. However, people in humble public service positions are included and the Minister of State cannot put us in a position to reply to the e-mails we are getting from an array of organisations that want to know whether they are included. We are now diverting these e-mails to the Minister of State's Department and apparently, the Department cannot answer them. Will the Minister work it out over Christmas or is this a matter of making it up as he goes along?

It is simply not acceptable for the Minister of State as a rational person to tell the House, in effect, "Here's a rule of thumb, and sure after that, we'll make it up as we go along". Who is included and who is not? Deputy O'Donnell raises a wider question, which is such an appalling vista that I do not want to look at it before Christmas, namely, how to get this albatross from around our necks. How can we wind down in an orderly manner or otherwise this institution that has done such damage? We included the subordinated debt holders and did not even negotiate with them as regards their taking part of the hit, and we are now stuck with Anglo Irish, like the albatross around the neck of the ancient mariner. This economy is sinking under its weight and that still has to come at us in terms of its full impact. I do not know who will be around to pick up the pieces, but in the interim the Minister of State should at least be able to tell us who is covered by this Bill and who is not.

I support this amendment fully. We are talking about the entire public sector, from the most lowly paid to the highest, all of whom will be affected by the cuts. The most lowly paid, up to €30,000, will face cuts of 5% and there was no attempt, good, bad or indifferent to have a threshold that might poverty-proof in any way the legislation we are putting through.

The public sector has always said it is not in any way responsible for the economic crisis, but its members are not the beneficiaries of NAMA. Its provisions extend only to those who were the cause of the economic crisis. There is no bailout for the public sector while there is for those who caused the crisis. Here is an opportunity to look at one of the institutions which caused the economic collapse, namely, Anglo Irish Bank. This bank, because of its culture, was largely responsible for what happened within the Irish financial system. Everybody in the financial world was in a "keeping up with the Joneses" mode, and the "Joneses" of the day was Anglo Irish Bank.

Anglo Irish was doing its thing in a fraudulent fashion, hiding and moving money around the place, operating in a manner that corrupted itself, other banks and indeed the docklands in its operations. Now Anglo is a State-owned bank, into which the State has injected €4 billion. Is there any reason we should not include Anglo Irish Bank within the parameters of this legislation? It simply should be done. Symbolically, it should be done. At least the message would go out as regards the people who were, to a large extent, responsible for the culture that brought about the bubble and the collapse, not to mention the people on the Government side who aided and abetted it. I am not talking about the ordinary workers but the people in the dysfunctional boardroom of Anglo Irish, who were pulling the strings. Why should they not now be included within the remit of this legislation? It would seem to anybody who believes that some element of justice should be done that they should be included — for that reason alone, apart from having some element of sanction in place for all that they did.

Almost €28 billion, nearly 50% of the money we are talking about as regards NAMA in terms of portfolios and loans, relate to Anglo Irish Bank. That is a colossal albatross, as Deputy Rabbitte has said. Those who earn €1 to those who earn €100,000 plus must buy into the payments that the Government is inflicting on us. However, we cannot extend the remit to include the higher paid staff and board of directors of Anglo Irish Bank. We should go a step further by accepting the Opposition recommendations of an Oireachtas inquiry into that particular bank. If things were done properly, the Criminal Assets Bureau should have been knocking on the door at an early stage. The public will have to bear the brunt of the €1.3 billion in savings that the Government has targeted in the public and social welfare sectors. It is not too late for this House to send out the message that Anglo Irish Bank, which introduced the culture of corruption into the banking system on a large scale, should now be a recipient of the provisions of this legislation.

I was intrigued by the Minister's statement last night when he was explaining what he was doing and why he was excluding certain commercial bodies. He said it was because the pay of those bodies is funded through their own commercial efforts. That is some explanation as to why Anglo Irish Bank is being excluded. Anglo Irish Bank is on a drip-feed from the taxpayer. It would not be in existence but for the taxpayer. It is wrong to pretend that in some way a distinction is being drawn because this company is standing on its own two feet, exercising its commercial muscle and is subject, as the Minister said, to the disciplines of the market.

It could not even produce a set of accounts, as is normally the case.

It is hard to credit the arguments we are being offered to explain the exclusion of Anglo Irish Bank and NAMA from the obligations here. It raises a wider issue, which is that we are singling out the public service for pay cuts. The Government has decided that it will not address the commercial State bodies because it feels their industrial relations muscle is too great to take on. Is the Government going to confront the rip-off that is occurring throughout many operations in this country? It is not going to confront excessive commercial rents, which are killing businesses. Nor will it confront the prices that are being paid for public utilities. No new regime is being offered for regulators that would address how we will secure competitiveness, but there is a new regime when it comes to ordinary public service staff at the very lowest level. Where is the equity or even the sense that we are all united in a common purpose to become competitive again? That would allow Ireland to become an export-led economy again with strong performance in our export markets based on being nimble, adaptable, low-cost and quick to respond to opportunities. It is simply absent. It is not just the unfairness of low-paid people having to take cuts, but also the unfairness of not confronting the much greater obstacles that lie in the way of Ireland's economy recovering.

Soft targets are being chosen here, which belies the fact that the Government is not willing to frame a vision of the deeper change that has to happen in Ireland. That change involves confronting competitiveness on a wide front, as well as confronting reform in the public service and not just cutting pay. The Minister has set out an agenda that requires €2 billion in further cuts next year and €2 billion in cuts the year after and €1 billion in taxes. Perhaps it is €3 billion each year. In 12 months' time will he ask the same people he has taken 5% off now to take another 5% then? He must confront the issue of how Ireland will get out of this hole. What is the medium-term plan to transform Ireland's politics, public service, economy and utilities? That is the agenda he must work on, but that is where he has signally failed. That is why there is so much resentment.

The Deputy is straying well beyond the Bill.

It is the context for this. The chief executive of the Central Bank, which is listed among these agencies which are exempt, has decided that there is an emergency in this country and that he will ask his staff to take a cut. It is not just himself and the director of the Financial Regulator — he is taking himself right out of the exemption limit that was available. The Minister will be confirming that with a later amendment. Where is the same sense that we are in an emergency from other agencies on that list? Why do we decide that there is an emergency when it comes to the public service? Why is an emergency status volunteered by the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator, as well they might because they were caught completely flat-footed when it came to regulating the banking sector? Where is the same sense of emergency in Anglo Irish Bank, which was at the heart of the web of destruction that occurred? If we are genuinely in an emergency, there must be a more broadly based effort to confront this than the narrow base offered in this Bill.

I support Deputy Burton's amendment, but I also believe that in a true emergency we must confront costs that apply well beyond the public service. That must be led in a concerted way by the Government, which we simply have not seen. If that happened, there would be some sense that at least the sacrifice that is being asked of public service workers would be matched by others and would contribute to a greater purpose. That is what has been singularly missing from this debate.

It is the Government's intention to apply pay reductions in the public service pay Bill for the purpose of saving money of the order of €1 billion. It is not punitive and does not single out organisations. It is simply a necessity driven by our finances. For that reason, the commercial State-sponsored bodies are not included.

What is commercial about Anglo Irish Bank?

The pay of those bodies is funded through their own commercial efforts.

How many commercial loans did Anglo Irish Bank give this year?

With the exception of chief executives, the Minister for Finance does not control the pay of the staff of those bodies. They have not been covered by the public service element of pay rounds in the past——

No, they took much more.

——and have taken an independent approach.

Members will have an opportunity over 40 minutes to ask a series of questions, so they should please allow the same courtesy to the Minister of State.

I listened to the debate in total silence.

Perhaps the Minister of State might deal with the questions.

They have not been covered by the public service element of pay rounds in the past and have taken an independent approach to controlling their pay bills. The same is true of Anglo Irish Bank, which is run on an arm's length commercial basis by the board.

Its employees are not public servants. Of course, the top echelons who were involved in the horrendous problems that have been described many times this afternoon and previously are mostly no longer in place. The phrase was used about everyone else in the public service, but employees of Anglo Irish Bank are not in the public service.

The State owns it.

The Deputy will be called again.

The board is currently overseeing a full cost review at the bank, which will seek to reduce costs across all areas of the bank's operations, including pay costs. As Deputies will be aware, the bank has recently introduced the first phase of its redundancy programme targeting up to 230 departures across the bank. As the employees are not public servants, they have no public service security of employment. I do not know whether it is the Opposition's belief or intention that they should be included and receive that benefit.

It is a State bank, however.

In addition, Anglo Irish Bank has recently submitted its restructuring plan to the European Commission. The plan considers all options for the future of the bank and a detailed evaluation of the plan is now under way. The process will involve extensive consultation and dialogue between the Irish authorities, the European Commission and the bank to agree a restructuring plan for Anglo Irish Bank which will achieve the best possible outcome for the State from the process. The outcome of the restructuring plan process will determine the future for the bank, including its required staffing levels and its staff retention and redundancy objectives, and the bank's pay levels will be determined by the board accordingly.

It is clear, however, that any future strategies for Anglo Irish Bank will involve further redundancies at the bank and further cost reductions. The bank staff do not enjoy any public service privileges in that regard. I should stress that in seeking to reduce its cost base, Anglo Irish Bank is acting in a similar fashion to other commercial State bodies that are planning their way out of the current difficulties. It is not the intention of the Minister to cut across any of these vitally important processes for Anglo Irish Bank, and for the State as the shareholder in the bank, in the current legislation.

As Deputy Burton will be aware, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is engaged with events and with those with responsibility for what led to the events of last year.

It took ten years for it to bring in Jim Lacey.

We should remember the old saying that the wheels of justice grind slowly, but grind exceedingly small.

Not if it is a dog owner without a dog licence.

They grind very slowly.

The owner of "Nemo" in Dundalk went to prison for not having a licence.

Justice was not slow for him.

Please allow the Minister of State to continue, without interruption.

There is no protection for those responsible for what happened. As a former Senator nominee of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, I was many times in the Galway tent, but I never met the gentleman to whom the Deputy referred. I am not saying he was not there, but I never met the person referred to by Deputy Burton in my life. I hold no brief, and never did, for any of his activities.

I was talking about Seánie.

With regard to the comments made by Professor Honohan, the Taoiseach dealt with that matter on the Order of Business and I have nothing further to add. The Minister invested €4 billion in Anglo Irish Bank in the summer ——

Invested? He blew it.

He has indicated that if necessary, he may invest more, but that is a decision to be made at that time. No figure was indicated and he declined to speculate.

Deputy O'Donnell raised a question which obscured different questions. He asked about letting the bank fail and whether it was systemically important. That is, potentially, a different question in September 2008, January 2009 and December 2009. Therefore, I do not want to pre-empt any further answers there may be on that subject. The situation has changed, moved on and evolved since September 2008 to a considerable extent.

It is a lot worse for public servants.

The pay cuts and pension levy are different things. With legislation on any subject, it is always the case that there are points at the fringes, grey areas of definition that must be tied down. This Bill is no different from any other legislation in that regard.

This is a novelty.

Is this the Edinburgh fringe?

That was part of the grey area.

Allow the Minister of State to make his contribution.

Deputy Burton referred to the men of no property. One of the achievements of this State and of my party, but not my party exclusively, is that up to 80% of the men and women of no property have become men and women of some property. That has been the achievement of independence.

They are the friends of Fianna Fáil.

Approximately 80% of people own their homes.

That is some statement.

A correction is needed to the record. When the Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey, was responding to the Second Stage debate his notes inadvertently stated that the staff of the NTMA were not subject to the pension levy. That is incorrect. They are subject to the levy.

(Interruptions).

Allow me continue. That is only the preamble.

Would they all——

Please allow the Minister of State to make his comment.

However, they will not be subject to the reductions in pay rates. This is because, exceptionally, they set their own pay rates and it was considered inappropriate to apply the pay rate reductions to them. However, the pension levy is appropriately applied as they will benefit from a public service pension scheme. The NTMA is——

Will the Minister of State give way?

There is no giving way on Committee Stage. However, I will call the Deputy again.

On a point of order, what the Minister of State is saying is completely illogical.

That is very interesting, but it is not a point of order. The Minister of State, without interruption.

That was my preamble.

The Deputy may argue the point when I have finished.

I will call the Deputies again, if we have time.

The NTMA staff are excluded from the pay cuts, although they are covered by the pension levy. Pay in the NTMA is determined in a manner similar to the excluded commercial State bodies and there is no Government control of pay rates. Therefore, it is not appropriate to make the cuts. If Deputies wish to know why the NTMA sets its own pay rates, it is because it was established as a designated debt management agency in the 1980s, outside of the Department of Finance. This was at a time when there was serious competition for specialised staff. In order to retain staff and reward them appropriately, it was necessary to give the NTMA flexibility to set pay rates in accordance with the market, rather than be constrained by Civil Service pay rates.

I am almost sorry the Minister of State has sat down. He spoke about fringes and grey areas and spoke about Anglo Irish Bank at arms length. The only way to use the word "arm" when referring to Anglo Irish Bank is to say that the bank has the poor unfortunate taxpayer and public servant in an arm lock. It has its arm around the necks of every public servant and taxpayer in the country. It is in the process of strangling whatever bit of economic life is left in the public servants and taxpayers. The Minister of State described the issues around Anglo Irish Bank as a grey area or a fringe event. It seems at times we are talking——

I did not use the term in that context.

The Minister of State used the terms "grey area" and "fringe". The only fringe that comes to my mind when discussing Anglo Irish Bank is some kind of fringe tragi-comedy festival of theatre. Perhaps in his other hat, as Minister of State in the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy Mansergh is thinking of his theatrical experience.

Without doubt, Anglo Irish Bank deserves a film of its own to recount the skullduggery and events there. On or around St. Patrick's Day 2008, when the Anglo Irish Bank share price collapsed, everyone in the senior echelons of Fianna Fáil knew that the party was over. What people did not know then was that all of us, public servants, cleaners, teachers, nurses, doctors, etc., would have to pay for it. That is what the Government is doing. In a democracy, a sense of proportion and fairness is essential to retain the consent of the people to being ruled by a Government. The Government is bankrupt of ideas and is still seeking to protect its pals in Anglo Irish Bank and its developer pals.

The point is that Anglo Irish Bank is the developers' bank and Fianna Fáil is the developers' political party. They comprise the golden triangle. One should bear in mind the aftermath of the St. Patrick's Day massacre that affected Anglo Irish Bank's shares and the incapacity of the Quinn family to meet the calls on the contracts for difference in which it had dabbled. It made a loss of approximately €2 billion, according to itself. The "Maple 10", "Maple 12" or golden circle are now sitting on tax losses of €460 million and will be able to reclaim them at some stage.

The discussions between the Government and the unions apparently broke down because of the incapacity to define the 12-day lay-off due to the suggestion that it could be claimed back easily, yet the golden circle in Anglo Irish Bank has its own claim-back facility worth €460 million in respect of an unreal transaction. As far as we can make out, it is a made-up, fake transaction on foot of which those concerned will be able to claim back €460 million associated with tax losses from now until they have made sufficient profits. The Minister for Finance confirmed this to me in response to a recent parliamentary question. This is like living in the world ofAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland where words mean what one wants them to mean. Fianna Fáil will knock public servants and hold Anglo Irish Bank dear to its little heart and ensure that it is protected because it has a commercial mandate.

Earlier, the Minister of State referred to the golden era of public service trade unions and implied the era is over. Partnership is over but the golden era of Anglo Irish Bank is not. Some time in the next ten years, we are to hear from the Director of the Office of Corporate Enforcement. I am sure he is doing his best to proceed with speed but, at present, the procedure is very slow.

In the United States, there was a Madoff moment and people who have been identified as having done wrong must face the courts of that country and accept the consequences of their actions. The Irish public has endured huge cuts to social welfare, public servants have had a huge cut in their wages, there have been very many laid off in the private sector, and companies are starved of credit nationally. Today, Fianna Fáil is dishing out more pain and one should consider this in light of its golden era of golden connections with Anglo Irish Bank and the developers. The new motto for Fianna Fáil is not "A nation once again" but "Cherish Anglo Irish once again".

The Minister of State, Deputy Martin Mansergh, stated the cuts did not apply to the NTMA but that the pension levy did, yet the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Deputy Pat Carey, stated: "The rule of thumb will be that if one is affected by the pension levy, the reduction to the rates of pay will also apply." This is a complete contradiction. Once again, clarification is required. The Ministers of State are either making it up on the hoof, do not know exactly what they are doing or are doing a couple of solo runs.

I refer the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, to section 1(g)(ii), which states——

We are discussing amendment No. 4a.

I know, but it seems like a long time since the amendment was moved.

It is extremely relevant to Anglo Irish Bank.

We will bear with the Deputy.

Absolutely. The legislation states: "under the Companies Acts in pursuance of powers conferred by or under another enactment, and financed wholly or partly by means of money provided, or loans made or guaranteed, by a Minister of the Government or the issue of shares held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government." Anglo Irish Bank fits that bill. The Government's amendment No. 5 states: "in respect of which a public service pension scheme exists or applies or may be made." Anglo Irish Bank falls very much within the remit of this Bill.

Just as the Government acknowledged it made a mistake in raising the VAT rate from 21% to 21.5%, will it state it made a mistake in nationalising Anglo Irish Bank? It should have carried out an orderly wind-down of the bank. The bank is now effectively a bottomless pit and another €4 billion is required. The European Commission is on record as saying it wants the Government to outline what it is doing to get off the pot in respect of the bank. It must decide whether to keep it in operation or have an orderly wind-down. The bank has not lent a red cent and will not do so. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent the imposition of the cuts on the higher-paid staff in the bank.

The Minister of State did not state to whom the pay cut applies. Both Deputy Rabbitte and I raised this matter. The Minister of State should explain why the Government changed its approach since imposing the pension levy. Although it exempted the very low paid from the pension levy, it did not exempt them from the recent pay cut. The Minister of State is present to represent the Government. Telling us he has no further comments on this matter or any other matter is not good enough. His job is to answer questions on behalf of the Government and we need answers. Consideration of this Bill is to conclude in just over 20 minutes and we are entitled to answers.

I want to return to the question of who is covered by the Bill. It is simply not acceptable that we should conclude all Stages of it without receiving an answer from the Minister of State. There seems to be very little point in prosecuting the Anglo Irish Bank amendment. The Government has decided to treat Anglo Irish Bank like the drunken uncle who turns up on St. Stephen's Day, gets at the bottle early and is locked away in the spare room to keep him out of sight of decent relatives.

They keep him for the rest of the year also.

Anglo Irish Bank has been put into the shade by Fianna Fáil, which wants to pretend it does not exist. In telling us the bank is conducting its business at arm's length on a commercial basis, what does the Minister of State take us for? As Deputy Bruton stated, the bank is on a drip feed from the taxpayer.

The Government, by not wanting to include Anglo Irish Bank in the legislation, has only succeeded in muddying the waters further. We believed we had at least established that those who had the pension income levy applied to them would now have the pay cut applied to them. We want the Minister of State to say "to them and to them only". It is very important that he do so. The Minister of State is retracing his steps and saying the Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey, was wrong about what he said about the NTMA in his speech this morning. The Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, stated the staff of the NTMA had the pension levy applied to them, but will not have the pay cut applied to them.

The only progress we have made on clarifying who falls within the ambit of this legislation has now been withdrawn by the Minister of State. It would appear there are cases where the pension levy applies but not these proposed pay reductions. For the life of me, I cannot think of what kind of people have a link to a potential pension scheme. Everyone, potentially, has that link but it is a meaningless definition.

The Minister of State has given us the facts of his thoroughbred background and no one on this side of the House questions his pedigree.

The Deputy is being very smart.

No, I do not question the Minister's pedigree; instead I am complimenting him.

Are we talking about horses?

The least we can expect from a pedigree Minister is an answer to a simple question. Who is covered by the Bill? Otherwise, we will all be down in the courts, like the staff of the Central Bank recently, as the three months of the new year go by with the Department laterally deciding X, Y and Z are included in the Bill's ambit. Other queries will emerge with chief executives of agencies being asked why they did not pass on the pay reductions.

The Central Bank staff have already contested the decision. I wonder did this influence the Government exempting them from the legislation. The board decided the bank was in the eye of the storm, for reasons we will not go over now, and the pay reductions would apply to its staff. The Government has taken away the exemption from the legislation and the Central Bank staff will be included. Presumably, they will now proceed to the courts with double the commitment. How many others will?

The Minister cannot let the clock wind down by telling us amusing stories about not encountering Seánie in the tent in Galway. The Minister is a lucky man because if he had encountered Seánie he would have probably thrust a loan upon him which he would be now repaying at exorbitant rates.

He would not have to repay it now.

These stories are quite irrelevant to this legislation.

Amusing anecdotes can be resumed later on in the bar. However, they are not relevant to who is covered by this legislation. Can the Minister tell the House if it is people who pay the income pension levy and only them? Can the Minister get a formula from his departmental officials? If they were able earlier to correct the Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey's speech, they must be able to give us a definitive formula at this stage. The Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, is asking us to pass legislation, yet we do not know the full scale of its import.

For the outsider looking in, having a good pedigree has got much to do with whether one is on or off this list. The judges are off it as they have excellent pedigree. We are expected to believe the reason the National Treasury Management Agency is exempt is because it has secrecy in what it pays itself. It sets its own rates in secret and the Oireachtas does not oversee it so it cannot cut its pay rates. That seems a bizarre test for exemption.

The test seems more to be one of deciding whether the cut will ruffle feathers the Government does not want to ruffle. Substitute teachers get no pension but they are determinedly in the cuts. Their meagre daily allowances will be cut by 5% while the National Treasury Management Agency's staff pay rates will not be touched and are so high they must be kept secret to save the employees' blushes.

There needs to be some clarity in this matter. Last night, we were treated to the view that it was those subject to market discipline that would be outside the reductions. Today, we find the Minister unwilling to consider Anglo Irish Bank as the most manifest case where market discipline has failed to curb its activities, yet it will be exempted.

This is a levy that applies to very ordinary people. It seems public servants with access to revenue flows, such as those with the national lottery company, a monopoly with a State mandate, are to be exempted. How can it be conceived that they are not protected by the State guarantee of a pension? They are equally in the same category as all the other public servants. There is a sense of unreality about all of this. The Government is not willing to apply some sort of scrutiny with principles of fairness and robustness.

These grey areas, however, that the Minister claims legislation never tidies up would be made mincemeat of by the courts. I cannot imagine the Minister of State saying in court: "Your honour has to remember these were the grey areas that we had to leave untouched in the Legislature."

Not to mention the rule of thumb and the salmon of knowledge.

I know, unfortunately, we are straying from this and we do not have a chance to reach the substance of the Bill. Although the Ceann Comhairle made this ruling, we tried to stay within the order of the House by offering savings in one area to exempt the low paid. We were informed the amendment was out of order even though it would have secured more than enough to prevent the cuts for low-paid workers.

The application of that rule may be looked at in the future.

I would have liked an opportunity to vote on an amendment that would have exempted the low paid.

That is a matter the Deputy could raise with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Perhaps the Leas-Cheann Comhairle could raise it on my behalf.

I am not a member of the committee.

We have heard it all now. The Government has admitted this legislation has a grey fringe. To tell the truth, I have a grey fringe myself. When I first came in here seven years ago, I was six foot six with a head of jet black hair down to my shoulders. I might as well say that because that is as good a bull as the Minister of State is giving us.

First, he tells us about the various criteria and how, if one determines one's pay rates, one can avoid paying this levy. One is not exempt if one has access to a public service pension scheme or a potential public service pension scheme, as Deputy Rabbitte pointed out. Then we discover the National Treasury Management Agency does have access to a public service pension scheme but it will still be exempt from the reductions. What will the Minister do now?

This is make-it-up-as-we-go-along, back-of-the-envelope stuff. Will some Members here a bit longer than me tell me has it always been this bit of a joke in here with not defining legislation and explaining it as a grey fringe? How does the Minister believe he will get away with that?

Will those Members longer in this House explain — later on over a cup of tea will do — was it for this that I advocated changing Sinn Féin policy to recognise the Dáil? I am actually quite concerned about this. In 1986, I was involved in a major debate within our organisation to recognise this institution on the basis that the people recognise it and here is where we need to be to do politics. Here I am now and I cannot believe a word the Minister says. He cannot give us an accurate answer to any of the questions asked.

For the last time, will the Minister clarify who will be exempt from these pay cuts and who will be liable for them? Can we have some clarity please and never mind the grey fringes?

Was it for this the Wild Geese spread the grey wing upon every tide?

One might say the same of contributions from other places. There are always decisions to be taken as to what clauses and definitions apply to legislation.

The Minister of State should deal with the substantive issue.

Deputies, please. Time is limited.

When I referred to fringe grey areas——

Time is limited. The definitions in this regard will be listened to with great attention outside this House. Please allow the Minister of State to be heard.

When I referred to fringe grey areas, I was not in the least referring to Anglo Irish Bank. It is quite clear they are not public servants and there is no grey area there whatsoever.

The allegation was made that Fianna Fáil is a developers' political party. We are a political party for all the people. The point needs to be made that, notwithstanding the gross excesses there have been, development is beneficial. All of us in this House should be about economic and social development. I reiterate the point that public servants enjoyed from 2000 to 2007, in terms of enhancement, numbers and incomes, the best period they have had since independence and are, probably, likely to enjoy again under any Government in the foreseeable future.

The golden era of Anglo Irish Bank is long over. I made an authoritative statement on the National Treasury Management Agency. It was an inadvertent error in the speech of the Minister of State, Deputy Pat Carey. The ministerial amendments which are next for discussion, amendments Nos. 5, 6 7 and 8——

To whom will the Bill apply?

Answer the question.

I will put the point raised by Deputy O'Donnell in respect of paragraph (g)(ii) beyond all doubt or ambiguity. We have not yet come to those amendments which would clearly clarify the position of the public service bodies to which pay reductions will apply.

Given the definition is that used in the legislation on the pension levy, it is the case that persons employed by those bodies will be affected by the reduction. Again, if anomalies arise — I have said this several times already today — they can be dealt with under the powers of the Minister. The position of the National Treasury Management Agency under this legislation was always clear. It has always been clearly excluded under the Schedule to this Bill. Obviously, if Deputies opposite are not satisfied with my explanations — I am sure they are not — they are free to oppose the passage of this Bill.

We did not get an answer.

We got no answer from the Minister of State.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 68; Níl, 80.

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lee, George.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan.
Amendment declared lost.

As it is now 7 o'clock, I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Finance for Committee Stage and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill, in respect of each of the sections undisposed of that the section or, as appropriate, the section, as amended, is hereby agreed to in Committee, the Schedule, the Preamble and the Title are hereby agreed to in Committee, the Bill, as amended, is accordingly reported to the House and the Fourth Stage is hereby completed, and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 69.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lee, George.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.