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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 23 Mar 2010

Vol. 705 No. 1

Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 108, inclusive, resubmitted.

Poverty Statistics.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

109 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach the reason for the delay in publishing a breakdown of the number living in persistent poverty. [12754/10]

The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) in Ireland is a household survey covering a broad range of issues in relation to income and living conditions. It is the official source of data on household and individual income and also provides a number of key national poverty indicators, such as the at risk of poverty rate and the consistent poverty rate.

The ‘at-risk-of-persistent-poverty-rate' refers to the percentage of persons at risk of poverty in a given year and in at least 2 of the preceding 3 years. By its nature the ‘at-risk-of-persistent-poverty-rate' can only be calculated for persons in the sample for a 4 year period. As a rotational sample design is used for SILC, whereby one quarter of households are replaced each year, a small proportion of total households remain in the sample for 4 years.

It is the CSO's view at this point that, given the small number of households, a reliable estimate of persistent poverty cannot be calculated. However, the CSO is continuing to study the problem with a view to producing a reliable estimate.

Departmental Properties.

Seán Connick

Question:

110 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Taoiseach the number of buildings his Department are renting within the State; the rental costs of these rentals in 2009; the average length of the leases of these buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12294/10]

My Department does not rent any buildings within the State.

Departmental Agencies.

Richard Bruton

Question:

111 Deputy Bruton asked the Taoiseach the number of staff in his Department and any agency under his remit who are primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12308/10]

The information requested in relation to my Department is set out in the table (all figures are whole-time equivalents):

Payroll

Financial Management

Human Resource Management

Means Assessment

Procurement

ICT

0

3

5.8

0

0

9.6

It should be noted that procurement is undertaken as required within individual sections in my Department and no member of staff is primarily employed in this area.

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only agency under the remit of my Department. While there are members of staff in the NESDO who work in the areas identified in the question, no member of staff is primarily employed in any of these areas.

Poverty Statistics.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

112 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach if he will push for the adoption by the European Council at its meeting on 25 and 26 March 2010 of a commitment from each member state to reduce by 25% the number of its own population living in poverty by 2020 as a core target to be contained in the EU 2020 Strategy. [12622/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

113 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach if he will push for the adoption by the European Council at its meeting on 25 and 26 March 2010 of annual or biannual poverty reduction targets leading up to 2020 in the EU 2020 Strategy. [12623/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 113 together.

One of the agenda items for the discussion by Member States at the forthcoming Spring European Council at the end of March is the proposed successor to the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, often referred to as EU2020 or the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Following a consultation process the European Commission published a Communication on this strategy on 3 March. The Commission Communication aims to guide the European Union out of the economic crisis and turn Europe into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. The Commission's proposed approach includes the reduction of poverty as one of the five headline targets.

Detailed analysis of the implications of the proposals under consideration is being undertaken and discussion is ongoing in the lead-up to the Spring European Council. It is not clear at this stage therefore what will be tabled for discussion at the Spring European Council. Ireland supports inclusion of a target to capture progress towards greater social cohesion. The precise position will depend on what emerges from the ongoing analysis and preparatory discussions.

Departmental Expenditure.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

114 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Taoiseach the estimated cost in relation to foreign travel, accommodation and related ministerial and official costs associated with St. Patrick’s Day 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12823/10]

I visited Chicago, Silicon Valley and Washington from March 12th to March 18th, 2010. I carried out over 25 separate engagements in the course of my visit.

I met with major multinational companies who have invested billions of euro in Ireland. I also took part in a trade mission involving Irish companies with significant business in the United States. These companies support thousands of jobs in this country and could potentially create more jobs here in the future.

I also met with President Obama, Vice President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, Congressional leaders from the Republican and Democratic parties, the Governor of Illinois and the Mayors of Chicago and San José. The estimated costs of the visit were:

Hotels

Chicago €1,764 (average cost per room per night was €126).

San Jose €1,128 (average cost per room per night was €161).

Washington €3,972 (average cost per room per night was €189).

Equipment €2,139.

Car Hire

Chicago €2,610.

San Jose not yet available.

Washington not yet available.

Gifts €2,127.

Other costs €1,610.

I expect some relatively small additional costs will arise as payments are processed.

Census of Population.

Seán Barrett

Question:

115 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Taoiseach the organisations and individuals from whom representations were received regarding the inclusion of a question on autism in the 2011 census; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12942/10]

The Irish Society for Autism and one individual (name withheld) made submissions seeking to have Autistic Spectrum Disorder separately distinguished in the disability question.

Overseas Visit.

Pat Breen

Question:

116 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent visit to the United States; the issues raised with the US President; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12972/10]

I travelled to the United States as part of the traditional St. Patrick's Day celebrations. On St. Patrick's Day in Washington I met with President Obama in the oval office where we discussed the global economic situation, recent developments in Northern Ireland, European and international issues and Ireland-US relations. I also attended the St Patrick's Day lunch on Capitol Hill, hosted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ms Nancy Pelosi. Later that day I attended the White House St. Patrick's Day Reception where I presented President Obama with the traditional bowl of shamrock.

In addition I had meetings with Vice-President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While in Washington I made the keynote address to the Ireland Fund Dinner and had a meeting of US-based members of the Global Irish Network which was established following the Global Irish Forum last year.

I also met with the North's First Minister, Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness during my time in Washington. While in Chicago I attended the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago dinner and had meetings with Irish community representatives, as well as political leaders including Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard M Daley. I attended a range of business and trade promotion events in Chicago, Silicon Valley and Washington DC during the course of my trip.

Community Employment Schemes.

Seán Connick

Question:

117 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if all participants on community employment schemes with dependent children are entitled to an increased rate of payment for a child dependant; if participants on a community employment scheme in receipt of disability allowance are entitled to an increased rate of payment in respect of dependant children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12555/10]

All Community Employment (CE) participants who were formerly in receipt of Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance or are in receipt of a lone parent type payment such as a One Parent Family Payment or Deserted Wife Benefit payment and who have dependent children are eligible to receive from FÁS and additional allowance for a child dependant.

For CE participants who are currently in receipt of disability-related social welfare payments, child dependant payments continue to be paid and administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. In such cases participants receive the CE Single Adult Rate only.

Labour Inspection Reports.

Denis Naughten

Question:

118 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to publish the annual reports from 1965 to 1991 of the inspector of mines under the Mines and Quarries Acts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12644/10]

I understand that Annual Reports of the Industrial Inspectorate, in latter years (from 1977 onwards) entitled Labour Inspection Reports and, since the coming into operation of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work 1989, entitled the Annual Report of the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health were laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. These documents contain, inter alia, reports on the activities of the Inspectorate/Authority insofar as the mining and quarrying sector is concerned. The Deputy should contact the Oireachtas Library and Research Service if he wishes to access them.

Employment Subsidy Scheme.

Joe Carey

Question:

119 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of companies in County Clare that are in receipt of the employment subsidy scheme first call; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12210/10]

Joe Carey

Question:

120 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of employees in the mid-west region, in counties Clare, Limerick and north Tipperary that are subsidised by the employment subsidy scheme first call; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12211/10]

Joe Carey

Question:

121 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications that were received from County Clare based companies in relation to the employment subsidy scheme first call; the number of companies that were successful; the number of companies that applied but were refused; the reasons companies were refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12212/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 to 121, inclusive, together.

There are 50 companies in the Mid West Region who are receiving 651 subsidies under the First Call of the Employment Subsidy Scheme. These subsidies are supporting the retention either directly or indirectly of 3,772 employees.

Specifically in relation to County Clare, 26 applications were received under the First Call of the Employment Subsidy Scheme. 22 of these applications were successful and 4 companies were unsuccessful. 3 companies were unsuccessful as their applications had incomplete financial documentation and 1 company was deemed not successful by the Assessment Team, as it did not meet all of the eligibility criteria for the scheme.

Joe Carey

Question:

122 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plans she has to introduce a third call to the employment subsidy scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12214/10]

There are currently no plans to have a third call for applications under the Employment Subsidy Scheme.

Task Force Report.

Joe Carey

Question:

123 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the work that has been completed to date with regard to the implementation of the recommendations of the interim report of the mid-west task force; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12230/10]

Joe Carey

Question:

124 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if work to complete the final report of the mid-west task force is underway; when it is expected that the final report will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12231/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 124 together.

I made a detailed Statement to the House on 28 January on this issue, as did a number of my colleagues. An updated summary on the Government's responses to the Task Force recommendations is provided as follows.

The Task Force completed an Interim Report which was presented to me by Mr Brosnan last July. Since then the Government has been responding to the recommendations under the various headings. Last September, I sent the Task Force a report on responses up to that time. I have now completed a broad consultation, taking account of Ministers' budgets for 2010, with other Ministers and all relevant Divisions and agencies in my own Department, and I expect to send a further report to the Task Force very shortly.

In relation to regional issues, the Dáil Statements and my reports to the Task Force indicate that:

Throughout 2009, a multi-agency response to the Dell-related job losses has been taking place at two levels, providing information & services to individual employees facing unemployment to facilitate them to re-train, to re-educate or to start a new business, and delivering specific initiatives to indigenous sub-supply companies in the Mid-West to explore alternative markets, products and business opportunities.

These measures are now being continued and expanded up to September 2011 under a successful application which I made last June under the EU's European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which has been approved at EU level and is being put into effect.

In relation to industrial employment in the Mid-West, 1,100 new jobs are now coming on stream in Limerick and Clare in eight projects approved by IDA and Shannon Development in 2008 and 2009. Five new High Potential start-ups were established in the Mid-West in 2009 with Enterprise Ireland support, and a €26m Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund supported by Enterprise Ireland and the University of Limerick Foundation to invest in start-up and early stage companies has recently been announced.

Shannon Development has begun the further development of the National Technology Park in Limerick into a more strategic site for the attraction of industrial investment from Irish and foreign companies.

I asked IDA in its recently published Strategy to make a renewed stronger job-creation effort in the regions, including the Mid-West, and particularly the broader Limerick area, which have recently fared less well in industrial employment.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is now carrying through arrangements to develop the Governance structures in relation to the broader Limerick area and to implement regeneration in Limerick City.

In relation to Shannon Airport, the Lynx Cargo Group and the Dublin Airport Authority are now completing an examination of the feasibility of developing a major cargo facility at the Airport.

In addition to the national Tourism Marketing Fund of €44.25 million in 2010, Tourism Ireland will engage in cooperative marketing campaigns with air carriers to promote ease of access and to stimulate demand for travel to the Shannon region from key source markets. Shannon Development will continue its annual Tourism spend in the region, a support which is not available to other regions.

In relation to Roads, the region has recently seen the completion of projects such as the N18 Ennis By-pass, the N85 Western Relief Road and the N7 Southern Ring Road Phase 1. The NRA work programme will see further extensive development to the road network in the region, including routes such as the N7, N18 and N17, the M20 to Cork, a number of link and by-pass roads close to Limerick City, as well as the Northern Ring Road.

Apart from initiatives relating specifically to the Mid-West region, Government has been responding to the economic downturn generally and has taken numerous initiatives. Many of these respond to Task Force recommendations, and the Mid-West has already benefited from them:

Our cost competitiveness and our wage competitiveness have been significantly improved.

The price of energy for industry has been significantly reduced.

The Enterprise Stabilisation Fund has helped to keep viable businesses going and to keep jobs in place. 148 companies were approved for funding of €59 million by the end of 2009.

The Government has supported more than 80,000 jobs under the Employment Subsidy Scheme.

The referral capacity for FÁS employment supports were doubled in 2009 to 147,000 places.

The recent Budget also announced a new Jobs stimulus measure for this year under the Employer Jobs PRSI Incentive Scheme.

The recommendations of the Mid-West Task Force have been very helpful in focusing the response of Government, Departments and Agencies, both at regional and national level. I shall continue to keep the Task Force informed on the Government's work on matters covered in the interim recommendations. The Task Force has identified a number of issues for further study in its Final Report, which I look forward to receiving shortly.

Departmental Properties.

Seán Connick

Question:

125 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of buildings her Department are renting within the State; the rental costs of these rentals in 2009; the average length of the leases of these buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12287/10]

My Department and the 8 Offices of my Department are currently occupying 11 buildings within the State.

With the exception of a building in Shannon occupied by the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), none of the buildings or premises occupied by my Department and the 8 Offices of my Department is rented or leased by the Department or the Offices concerned. In general, all buildings and premises occupied by my Department and its Offices are provided by the Office of Public Works (OPW) without any cost to the Department or the Offices. In many of those cases the buildings/premises are rented or leased by the OPW and the information requested by the Deputy, in relation to any rental costs in 2009 and the average length of the leases for the various buildings, could only be supplied by the Office of Public Works.

NERA's Shannon accommodation is held under a four-year licence agreement between the OPW and NERA on the one hand and Westpark Shannon Limited on the other. The licence agreement commenced in February 2009. The licence fee, which was payable by NERA in 2009, amounts to €156.08 per square metre, subject to a maximum charge of €32,480 per annum (exclusive of VAT). Since 1 January 2010 the OPW has assumed responsibility for the payment of the licence fee costs for NERA's Shannon accommodation.

Departmental Agencies.

Richard Bruton

Question:

126 Deputy Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff in her Department and any agency under her remit who are primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12309/10]

The table outlines the number of staff in my Department primarily employed in pay roll, in financial management, in human resources management, in means assessment, in procurement, and in ICT Services.

With regard to the Agencies under the aegis of my Department the breakdown of staff under the various categories is a day to day matter for the Agencies concerned. I have asked the Agencies to respond directly to the Deputy with the information sought.

Category

Number of Staff

Pay Roll

6 (full time equivalents)

Financial Management

29.73 (full time equivalents) in Department

1 (full time equivalent) in Companies Registration Office

1 (full time equivalent) in Patents Office

Human Resources Management

22.9 (full time equivalents)

Means Assessment

0

Procurement

1 (full time equivalent) employed in the Procurement Co-ordination Unit*

ICT Services

31 (full time equivalents) in Department

3 (full time equivalents) in Companies Registration Office

5 in Labour Court

All staff are engaged in ICT support, development and related activities

*Purchasing functions are distributed throughout the Department. The role of the Procurement Co-ordination Unit is to assist the Business Services Unit in the procurement of goods and services, in line with public procurement legislation and guidelines. The Unit also provides an advisory service to those staff of the Department and its Offices who are involved in the procurement process.

Procurement Procedures.

Phil Hogan

Question:

127 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in relation to the recent reply, she has made representations to FÁS in relation to, or on behalf of, an undertaking or individual, seeking to procure goods or services into FÁS; the identity of any such undertaking or individual; if they subsequently became a supplier to FÁS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12322/10]

Contracts awarded to individual(s) or companies for services carried out on behalf of FÁS are subject to normal public sector procurement procedures. The question of representations to FÁS by any representative of this Department on behalf of any individual(s) or companies in the context of seeking to procure services into FÁS, therefore, does not arise.

Companies Register.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

128 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment with regard to a residential or owners' management company which is struck off the companies list, the person who has ownership of any money held by that company in the form of a sinking fund and the person who owns any other assets; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12351/10]

The State Property Acts make provision, among other things for the devolution of property of dissolved and struck off companies. This legislation is the responsibility of the Minister for Finance.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is currently at Committee Stage in the Seanad with the Multi-Unit Developments Bill 2009. That Bill provides for changes in the law relating to the ownership and management of the common areas of multi-unit developments, the fair, efficient and effective management of bodies responsible for the management of such common areas and related matters, including, sinking funds, service charges, annual charges, dispute resolution, mediation and the restoration to the Companies Register following strike off.

Community Employment Schemes.

Joe McHugh

Question:

129 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the percentage reduction in payment for community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12382/10]

The basic allowance payable to Community Employment (CE) participants in 2009 was €228.70. In 2010 the allowance paid is €216.00. This represents a reduction of 5.6%. The adjustment was necessary in order to fund increased activation measures in 2010 including an additional 500 CE places to bring the total number of places to 23,300.

Redundancy Payments.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

130 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons that have applied for redundancy payments for each year between 2005 and 2009 in tabular form; the number that received redundancy payments between the years 2005 and 2009; the number that were advised to take a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal due to the fact that their employer had not provided adequate information to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12419/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

131 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount that has been paid out in redundancy payments for each year between 2005 and 2009 in tabular form; the amount that has been reimbursed to employers who have paid redundancy to employees and who are seeking to recover 60% from her Department for each year between 2005 and 2009; the amount that has been paid out directly to employees of companies who have not been able to pay them directly for each year from 2005 to 2009; the amount that has been recovered by her Department from such companies for each year from 2005 to 2009; the amount that her Department is seeking to recover from companies where it paid redundancy to employees; the amount that her Department is seeking to recover some or all of that from the company for each year from 2005 to 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12420/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

132 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of companies which have claimed an inability to pay redundancy for each year between 2005 and 2009 in tabular form; the number of employees that were affected for each year from 2005 to 2009; the number of these companies which failed to provide sufficient information to her Department to allow their employees to be paid redundancy each year from 2005 to 2009; the number of employees that were denied redundancy or asked to take a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal as a result of such failures by their employers each year from 2005 to 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12421/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

133 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the timeframe employees seeking redundancy from her Department but were asked to take a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal are waiting for their cases to be heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal; the timeframe they are waiting for redundancy payments from the date of application for each year from 2005 to 2009; if she has reviewed this problem in view of the fact that such employees are being penalised for the actions of their employers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12422/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

134 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she takes to recover money from an employer, when that employer has refused to pay redundancy, but has been unable to prove that they are unable to pay redundancy and when the employees involved have secured a decision from the Employment Appeals Tribunal that they are entitled to redundancy and this has been paid by her Department; the number of employers that fall into this category; the amount that her Department is seeking to recover from such employers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12423/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 to 134, inclusive, together.

I must advise the Deputy that the level of information requested in the questions is extremely detailed and would consume considerable resources within what is currently a very busy area of my Department to provide the information requested. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that the main focus of the Redundancy Payments Section currently is to dispatch redundancy payment claims to individuals and businesses as quickly as possible.

Under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2007, the objective is to ensure that statutory redundancy payments, due to eligible employees on being made redundant, are made in accordance with the legislative provisions. The legislation places the onus, in the first instance, on the employer to discharge the obligation to pay redundancy entitlement to employees. In so doing, the employer is entitled, by virtue of pay related social contributions made to the State, to recover a 60% rebate on the amount paid out in redundancy payments to employees.

In the case of liquidations/receiverships/examinerships and in cases of informal insolvency where the employer provides proof of inability to pay the redundancy entitlements to employees, the Department pays the redundancy lump sums directly to the employees from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) and then seeks to recover 40% of the amount paid out as this is the company's share of the liability of the employees' statutory payment.

In circumstances where proof of inability to pay on the part of the employer is not provided, or the employer refuses to pay the redundancy lump sum payments to employees, it is the case that the Department refers those employees to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) to obtain a determination of their right and entitlement to a redundancy lump sum. Where a positive determination is obtained from the EAT, this enables the Department to pay the employees directly from the SIF and the Department then endeavours to recover from the employer the amount paid out from the Fund — 40% in the case of employers where proof of inability to pay could not be provided and, in the case of employers who refused to pay the redundancy entitlements in the first instance, the Department seeks to recover to the SIF 100% of the amount paid out.

Under Section 43 of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 (as amended) amounts owing to the Fund are recoverable as debts due to the State and, without prejudice to any other remedy, may be recovered by the Minister as a debt under statute in any court of competent jurisdiction. The Minister's claim has preferential status under Section 42 of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 (as amended).

The Department does not collate information regarding the number of cases in which it has advised employees to have recourse to the EAT owing to either insufficient proof of inability to pay on the part of the employer or, refusal by the employer to pay the entitlements of employees.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. It deals with claims under 18 different pieces of legislation. I am informed that it is not currently possible to disaggregate the numbers of claims received under the different pieces of legislation — it is possible to disaggregate once the claims are dealt with. Overall, the numbers of claims to the Tribunal have shown a marked increase in the last two years in particular, from 3,173 in 2007 to 5,457 in 2008, and rising to 9,458 in 2009.

The degree of increase in the number of claims received has naturally placed considerable pressure on case processing timeframes before the EAT. However, a number of steps have been taken to relieve this pressure. These include increasing the allocation of administrative resources to the Tribunal in the past two years, increasing the numberii of sittings per day, to a total of 924 in 2007, 1,304 in 2008, up to a total of 1,437 in 2009.

Efficiencies introduced in the Tribunal have increased the rate of throughput of claims from 2,807 in 2007 to 4,007 in 2008 and rising to 4,680 in 2009. Included in these figures are claims dealt with under the Redundancy Payments Acts as follows:

2007 — 546

2008 — 1,038

2009 — 1,420.

In addition, I have increased the pool of people available to sit on Tribunal Hearings by 9. Work is underway in relation to the IT system operated by the Tribunal in order to upgrade it and consideration is being given to the possible installation of a new IT system. The situation in the Tribunal is under constant review and further action will be taken as necessary within the constraints that exist in relation to resources.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing rebate applications submitted by post from June 2009 and those filed online from August 2009, so that the waiting time is approximately 6 to 8 months depending on the manner of filing the application. In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees in instances where employers are unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from August 2009. For the years 2005 to early 2008 the Department's target for processing claims was 6 weeks for online claims and 10 weeks for manual claims submitted by post. Since then the processing times have extended continually due to the influx of redundancy claims resulting from the economic downturn.

My Department has, in 2009, processed 50,664 claims, up 70% on 2008, and made corresponding payments totalling €336m which results in average weekly payments to the value of €6.5m being issued. In the period 2007-2009, the level of new claims lodged with my Department has increased cumulatively by 200%. This contrasts with the previous two-year period 2005-2007 in which period the increase in new claims lodged was just 10%.

Efforts have been made by the Tánaiste and myself to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community.

Measures already taken include:

the reassignment of 26.7 additional staff (full time equivalents) from other areas of the Department to the Redundancy Payments area since early 2009 with ongoing review of trends and demands. The current number of staff serving in the Redundancy Payments Section in terms of full time equivalents is 52.5;

the prioritisation of the Department's overtime budget towards staff in the Redundancy Payments Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours;

the establishment of a special call handling facility to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses who are naturally concerned about their payments, using the facilities and cooperation of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). This centre has received an average of 12,500 calls per month this year with an estimated 60% relating to redundancy payments;

The provision of better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website;

Engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate the offset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against outstanding tax liabilities with the Revenue Commissioners.

The Tánaiste and I are monitoring closely the impact of these changes against the continuing influx of redundancy claims and it is clear that additional measures are required to help reduce the backlog of claims which currently stands in excess of 39,000. The Department is currently actively engaged in efforts to secure up to 16 additional staff resources deployed to the area in the first half of 2010.

Table 1 sets out the number of statutory redundancy applications received for the years 2005 to 2009.

Tables 2 and 3 set out the total amount paid by the Department out of the Social Insurance Fund in respect of redundancy claims for the years 2005-2009.

In the years 2005 to 2009, the Department has been successful in recovering to the Social Insurance Fund amounts of €2.2m, €0.4m, €0.7m, €0.9m and €3.6m respectively as shown in Table 4.

The cumulative debt outstanding which the Department is seeking to recover to the Social Insurance Fund as it stood at each year end is €24.9m, €31.1m, €37.7m, €48.5m and €78.7m respectively as shown in Table 5.

Table 1: Actual Statutory Redundancies for years 2005 to 2009

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

23,156

23,684

25,459

40,607

77,001

Table 2: Expenditure from the SIF on Statutory Redundancies for years 2005 to 2009

Category of Claim

2005

2006

2007

2008*

2009*

Rebate to Employers

137,915,574

152,168,532

167,390,542

161,774,389

247,891,733

Lump Sum to employees

11,257,620

14,343,692

15,937,492

31,936,998

87,970,092

Total

149,173,194

166,512,224

183,328,034

193,711,387

335,861,925

Table 3: Redundancy Payments made from the Social Insurance Fund (€) including breakdown of lump sum payments made

Category

2005

2006

2007

2008*

2009*

Rebate to employers

137,915,574

152,168,532

167,390,542

161,774,389

247,891,733

Lump Sum 60%

5,985,141

7,700,138

8,721,499

17,873,894

50,906,127

Lump Sum 40%

3,991,538

5,115,416

5,842,876

11,930,101

34,569,646

Lump sum 100%

1,280,940

1,528,137

1,373,117

2,133,003

2,494,209

Total

149,173,194

166,512,224

183,328,035

193,711,387

335,861,716

Please note that rows 2 and 3 (lump sum 60% and lump sum 40%) of Table 3 split out the amount of the payments made in respect of employees in situations of liquidation or receivership or companies in informal insolvency. To find the total amount paid out the figures in both rows for each year should be aggregated and the amount which the Department seeks to recover is the 40% amount on row 3.

Table 4: Recoveries in Respect of Redundancy Payments (€)

Year

2005

2,199,478

2006

434,468

2007

657,978

2008*

948,606

2009*

3,589,802

Note the amounts recovered in each year relates to monies recovered for the current year and earlier years.

Table 5: Amounts Outstanding due to SIF in respect of Redundancy Payments (€)

Year

2005

24,913,154

2006

31,122,241

2007

37,680,257

2008*

48,493,602

2009*

78,673,864.61

All figures are cumulative figures

Please note that figures for both 2008 and 2009 in tables 2, 3, 4 and 5 are *provisional figures.

Smart Economy.

Simon Coveney

Question:

135 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way she plans to promote the expanding cloud computing technology sector here; if she is actively seeking investment here from technology companies engaged in cloud computing services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12466/10]

Simon Coveney

Question:

136 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on whether investment in cloud computing should be part of her smarter economy strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12467/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 136 together.

Cloud computing is one of the most important transformations in the IT industry since the adoption of the Internet, as it facilitates computing-on-demand rather than computing-on-premise. This enables users to use just as much computing power as they need and to pay for it according to their demand. As such it enables convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, and services) that can be rapidly deployed with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

It is clear from both the Government's Smart Economy policy and the recently published Innovation Taskforce report that internet-based technologies, including cloud computing, will underpin the development and further growth of the IT sector here and assist Ireland's economic recovery and growth. Internet-based technologies and business models are a key feature of innovation and productivity and cloud computing in particular will enable companies to control their IT costs by reducing expenditure on IT equipment and infrastructure in favour of using hosted facilities.

Business opportunities are being driven by existing communications-intensive sectors, which includes cloud computing, and Ireland is already taking a lead in a number of areas in this regard, supported through the efforts of the enterprise development agencies.

For example, IDA Ireland has identified data centres and ecosystem services around cloud computing as an important growth area for Ireland, leveraging off the significant investments already made here by leading ICT multinationals and IDA clients such as IBM, Hewlett Packard and Intel. The IDA's aim is to win further investments that result from convergence, enabled by technologies such as cloud computing. New collaborations between existing clients in different sectors and between those clients and other firms and/or universities in Ireland are increasing and will be a source of jobs in the next five years.

Enterprise Ireland's Strategy for Development of the Software Sector features transition programmes to assist software companies to change their business models to take advantage of Cloud computing. These programmes will address a range of issues including data protection, confidentiality and security.

There are a number of very significant research groups in the higher education institutions, either currently or previously funded by Science Foundation Ireland, which are working in the cloud computing area, and examples include:

The Computer Architecture and Grid Research Group at Trinity College Dublin;

The Hamilton Institute at NUI Maynooth;

The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) — a SFI Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology based at NUI Galway.

In addition to currently funded groups, Science Foundation Ireland also has a number of additional research proposals currently under review in the cloud/data centre area. These investments will help underpin the development of cloud computing in Ireland.

Investment in Cloud computing is a significant opportunity for the private sector where the significant business potential of providing services in this area is recognised. The Government and enterprise development agencies can, and are, providing significant assistance in realising the potential of cloud computing.

Organisation of Working Time Act.

Mary Wallace

Question:

137 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details in relation to the working time Act in connection with a person who is working in two different places of work; the maximum hours that this person would be entitled to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12479/10]

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides that an employee shall not work more than an average of 48 hours a week averaged generally over a 4 month reference period. In relation to employees whose work is subject to seasonality or to a foreseeable surge in activity, or where employees are directly involved in ensuring continuity of service or production, the reference period is 6 months. The reference period can be extended up to 12 months in respect of employees who have entered into a collective agreement providing for such a reference period and, provided the collective agreement is approved by the Labour Court.

Night workers shall not work more than an average of 48 hours a week averaged over a 2 month period or longer if a collective agreement is approved by the Labour Court. However, night workers whose work involves special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain shall not work more than a total of 48 hours a week.

The 1997 Act also provides that an employee is entitled to a break of 15 minutes after working more than four and a half hours and a further break of 15 minutes after working more than six hours. If a break is not taken after more than four and a half hours work, a 30 minute break may be taken after more than six hours work.

The Act provides that an employee is entitled to eleven consecutive hours rest in a twenty four hour period and thirty five consecutive hours rest in a seven day period. If an employee does not receive the thirty five hour rest period in seven days he/she is entitled to a rest period of fifty nine consecutive hours in 14 days.

These terms apply to a worker or employee under a single contract of employment with his/her employer, to include a person who is working in two different places of employment for such employer. As regards a worker who works under more than one contract of employment for a single employer, section 15(1) of the 1997 Act provides that an employer shall not permit an employee to work more than an average of 48 hours in each period of seven days. As regards a worker who works under more than one contract of employment for more than one employer, Section 33 of the 1997 Act provides that the aggregate of the hours he or she works for both employers cannot exceed an average of 48 hours per week.

EU Globalisation Fund.

James Bannon

Question:

138 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding her application for assistance from the EU globalisation fund for workers who have been made redundant in recent times in view of the fact that there are 15,000 unemployed people in counties Longford and Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12539/10]

I refer to the answer to Question Nos. 53 and 102 of the 9th March 2010.

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) applications from Ireland to date have not been made on a specific geographical basis and my Department continues to monitor redundancies nationwide in order to assess whether further applications, which must meet strict EGF Regulation criteria and conditions, can be successfully made by Ireland.

Work Placement Programme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

139 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the work placement programme will be available for 2010 graduates; the number of places that will be available; the details of the way and when they can be applied for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12546/10]

The Work Placement Programme is available for 2010 graduates. There are 2,000 places on the Work Placement Programme and half of these are available for graduates who have a full award at level 7 or higher on the National Framework of Qualifications. There are approximately 560 individuals currently participating in placements on the programme.

Individuals wishing to participate in the Work Placement Programme should contact their local FÁS Employment Service Office to register for the programme and explore the various work placements that are currently available.

Job Creation.

Damien English

Question:

140 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created and lost by the Industrial Development Agency in 2009 and to date in 2010 on a county basis in tabular form. [12548/10]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the industrial development agencies. Data is compiled on an annualised basis and therefore figures for 2010 will not be available until early 2011.

Details of the number of new jobs created and lost on a county basis in respect of IDA Ireland client companies for 2009 are set out in the tabular statement.

Table showing the number of jobs created and lost in IDA supported companies during 2009

County

Jobs created in 2009

Jobs lost in 2009

Carlow

49

75

Cavan

18

56

Clare

116

93

Cork

1,082

2,432

Donegal

62

29

Dublin

1,786

6,805

Galway

429

1,178

Kerry

25

416

Kildare

29

1,491

Kilkenny

0

112

Laois

0

16

Leitrim

5

30

Limerick

169

2,519

Longford

8

74

Louth

34

272

Mayo

97

189

Meath

24

159

Monaghan

19

14

Offaly

22

118

Roscommon

9

89

Sligo

54

137

Tipp North

0

188

Tipp South

252

93

Waterford

71

569

Westmeath

219

527

Wexford

8

89

Wicklow

28

258

Community Employment Schemes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

141 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason there are cutbacks taking place in relation to the approval of community employment schemes in west Tipperary, where a considerable number of persons are not going to be re-engaged; if she will take steps to save this position; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12585/10]

FÁS South-East Region is currently reviewing its Community Employment (CE) projects within the Region that includes West Tipperary with a view to creating a greater equity whereby the number of CE places will relate to the numbers on the Live Register throughout the Region.

EU Directives.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

142 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the main purpose of the Shareholders Rights Directive 2007/36/EC Regulations 2009 signed on 6 August 2009 is to enhance the rights of shareholders; if these enhanced rights include access to possible election as a director of financial institution at an AGM or EGM; if covered institutions are subject to this directive; and if covered institutions are adhering to this directive, referring in particular to a bank (details supplied). [12613/10]

The purpose of the Regulations referred to by the Deputy is to implement the Shareholders' Rights Directive on the exercise of certain rights attaching to voting shares in relation to general meetings of listed companies. The Regulations, transposed as S.I. 316 of 2009, apply to companies whose registered office is in the State and whose shares are admitted to trading on a regulated market situated or operating within a Member State. In practice this means companies listed and trading on the Main Market of the Irish Stock Exchange as well as any company trading on a regulated market in another Member State having its registered office in Ireland.

The main provisions of the Regulations are as follows:

Provides for shareholder participation across borders without the need to physically attend meetings, notably through the exercise of voting rights electronically;

Obliges companies to answer shareholders' questions at general meetings;

Obliges companies to publish documents and information regarding a general meeting on their website, including the result of votes taken;

Allows shareholders representing at least 5% of the voting shares in a company the right to call a general meeting (previously a holding of 10% was required);

Allows shareholders holding 3% of the issued share capital and representing at least 3% of the voting shares in a company the right to put items on the agenda and table draft resolutions for an annual general meeting; and

Strengthens shareholders' rights in relation to the appointment of proxies at general meetings.

There is no provision either in the Directive or the transposing Regulations providing specifically for access to possible election as a Director of a Financial Institution.

It is assumed that the Deputy's reference to covered institutions refers to those institutions covered by the Bank Guarantee Scheme. The Regulations only apply to the two main banks. The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) is responsible for enforcement of the Regulations. If the Deputy is aware of any instances of non-compliance on the part of the institutions subject to the Regulations, he should communicate these to the Director of Corporate Enforcement who is independent in the exercise of his statutory functions.

Job Creation.

Sean Fleming

Question:

143 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the job losses and jobs created in 2008 and 2009 by the Industrial Development Authority on a county basis; the number of jobs that are in the IDA assisted businesses in each of these counties on 30 September 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12617/10]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the industrial development agencies. Data is compiled on an annualised basis and is aggregated at county level. The number of jobs created and lost in IDA supported companies, on a county by county basis, in each of the years 2008 and 2009 is set out in the tabular statement, together with the total number of jobs in IDA supported companies in each of those years.

Table showing the number of jobs created and lost in IDA supported companies, on a county by county basis in each of the years 2008 and 2009, as well as the total number of jobs in IDA supported companies in each of those years

2008

2008

2008

2009

2009

2009

County

Number of new jobs created

Number of jobs lost

Total number of jobs

Number of new jobs created

Number of jobs lost

Total number of jobs

Carlow

74

28

457

49

75

431

Cavan

32

26

1,071

18

56

1,033

Clare

139

16

1,144

116

93

1,167

Cork

2,108

1,488

21,223

1,082

2,432

19,873

Donegal

67

48

1,650

62

29

1,683

Dublin

4,340

4,196

52,745

1,786

6,805

47,726

Galway

610

764

9,661

429

1,178

8,912

Kerry

86

108

1,798

25

416

1,407

Kildare

113

584

10,593

29

1,491

9,131

Kilkenny

1

9

468

0

112

356

Laois

0

20

129

0

16

113

Leitrim

35

43

1,013

5

30

988

Limerick

286

694

8,615

169

2,519

6,265

Longford

30

88

847

8

74

781

Louth

121

433

1,875

34

272

1,637

Mayo

132

126

3,010

97

189

2,918

Meath

83

83

950

24

159

815

Monaghan

15

14

351

19

14

356

Offaly

24

47

1,109

22

118

1,013

Roscommon

41

1

897

9

89

817

Sligo

103

64

2,273

54

137

2,190

Tipperary North

13

46

550

0

188

362

Tipperary South

262

26

3,217

252

93

3,376

Waterford

176

483

6,079

71

569

5,581

Westmeath

134

264

2,128

219

527

1,820

Wexford

91

73

1,190

8

89

1,909

Wicklow

53

296

2,329

28

258

2,099

Sean Fleming

Question:

144 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the job losses and jobs created in 2008 and 2009 by the Enterprise Ireland on a county basis; the number of jobs that are in the Enterprise Ireland assisted businesses in each of these counties on 30 September 2009. [12618/10]

In the time available it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Food Marketing.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

145 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to prosecute companies marketing food products as Irish when they have been produced in Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12628/10]

Primary responsibility in relation to the marketing, promotion and labelling of food products lies with my colleagues the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and the Minister for Health and Children and the relevant agencies operating under their auspices and I have no direct function in relation to such matters.

Insofar as my own area of responsibility is concerned, the Consumer Protection Act 2007 includes specific provisions in relation to the provision of information to consumers in the course of commercial transactions. Specifically the Act provides that the provision of false information in relation to the geographical or commercial origin of a product and where that information would be likely to cause the average consumer to make a transactional decision that the average consumer would not otherwise make that such a practice is a misleading commercial practice. Traders who engage in misleading commercial practices commit an offence and are liable on conviction on indictment or on summary conviction, as the case may be, to the fines and penalties provided for under the Act.

Evidence of traders engaging in misleading commercial practices should be brought to the attention of the National Consumer Agency, which is the body responsible for the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act 2007.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

146 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the apprenticeship retention programme within FÁS; the steps she is taking to ensure that apprentices who are being let go by their sponsors can finish their apprenticeships; the further steps she is taking to ensure that apprentices who are being let go by their sponsors can qualify with a qualification even if they may not get to finish their full apprenticeship which is out of their control; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12629/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

147 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the funding for the apprenticeship retention programme to make sure that these apprenticeships are able to finish their training and work placements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12630/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

148 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans to address the situation that many FÁS apprentices find themselves in having being let go without completing their formal qualifications. [12631/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

149 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of apprentices within six to 12 months of completion of their apprenticeship without a job placement; the type of apprenticeship involved; the cost to subsidise these work placements to encourage sponsors to keep apprentices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12632/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

150 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her plans for apprentices who have been unable to complete their training due to the unavailability of work placements; the way they can continue their apprenticeships; the number of apprentices that have had their apprenticeships on hold in the past 18 months due to this situation; the cost to subsidise these work placements to encourage businesses to sponsor apprentices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12633/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 to 150, inclusive, together.

FÁS has already put the following measures in place to assist redundant apprentices:

1. FÁS has put in place an interim measure whereby redundant apprentices may progress to the next off-the-job training phase of their apprenticeship, in line with current scheduling criteria. In 2009, over 2,000 redundant apprentices were provided with off-the-job training. To date in 2010, 1,041 redundant apprentices commenced off-the-job training in January 2010, and 1,008 are currently being scheduled to commence in April 2010 Phase 4 and Phase 6 off-the-job training in the Institutes of Technology and Colleges of Further Education

2. In 2009, FÁS introduced a temporary Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme for apprentices made redundant in the Construction Industry. Over 460 redundant apprentices completed Phase 3, 5 and 7 on-the-job training and assessments with employers under this Scheme in 2009. A new Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme which will replace the Rotation Scheme in 2010, is under development and this will assist redundant apprentices to complete the on-the-job training of their apprenticeships with a FÁS approved employer. The Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme is expected to provide 750 places for redundant apprentices to commence on-the-job training at Phase 3 and Phase 5 during 2010 based on applications from eligible employers. A budget of €3.875m has been allocated to the scheme.

3. A joint ESB Networks / FÁS programme commenced in March 2009 where on-the-job training with ESB Networks is provided to eligible redundant apprentices at Phases 5 and 7 of their apprenticeship. This programme will provide up to 400 places over a period of 18 months and is funded by ESB Networks. To date, 184 redundant apprentices have completed training, 106 are currently in training, and further placements will take place during 2010.

4. FÁS has also developed Phase 7-equivalent assessments for redundant apprentices at the final phase of their apprenticeship in the trades of Carpentry & Joinery, Electrical, Plumbing, Brick & Stonelaying and Plastering. Redundant Apprentices are being scheduled to the assessments events in accordance with the scheduling calendar.

5. Redundant apprentices registered for 4 years who have successfully completed all Phases 1-7 of their apprenticeship, but have not yet completed the required 4 years in employment as an apprentice in the specified trade, will be contacted by FÁS to submit a portfolio of evidence under Recognition of Prior Learning for consideration by the National Apprenticeship Advisory Sub-committee for the award of the Advanced Craft Certificate.

6. Redundant apprentices may also avail of existing trade-related specific skills training courses to enhance their employable skills. They may also avail of the range of trade-related evening courses available in FÁS Training Centres.

In response to Question Number 149, the numbers and apprenticeship types of those apprentices within six to 12 months of completion of their apprenticeship without a job placement are set out in the Appendix.

In response to Question Number 150, the number of apprentices recorded as redundant in 2008 and who currently have the same status / phase is 645.

Appendix — Redundant Apprentices within 6 to 12 months of completion of apprenticeship*

Trade Description

5C

5H

6C

6S

6W

7C

7F

7H

Total

Agricultural Mechanics

1

3

4

Aircraft Mechanics

16

1

1

18

Brick & Stonelaying

21

32

80

32

59

7

146

377

Cabinet Making

9

4

4

2

19

3

32

73

Carpentry & Joinery

55

86

8

192

100

145

39

413

1,038

Construction Plant Fitting

1

1

3

1

3

1

3

13

Electrical

14

29

36

100

13

137

103

297

729

Electrical Instrumentation

1

1

Floor & Wall Tiling

3

1

3

4

11

Heavy Vehicle Mechanics

1

1

4

6

Instrumentation

1

1

2

4

M.A.M.F.

4

2

1

3

1

7

18

Metal Fabrication

1

2

2

7

3

10

1

23

49

Motor Mechanics

4

9

15

21

31

80

Painting & Decorating

2

9

6

10

9

29

65

Plastering

12

10

26

7

19

5

65

144

Plumbing

62

64

60

104

61

139

20

271

781

Print Media

1

1

Refrigeration

1

5

1

8

15

Sheet Metalworking

2

5

2

12

21

Toolmaking

2

2

Vehicle Body Repairs

8

3

4

4

9

28

Wood Machinery

1

1

2

4

Total

178

242

122

547

234

577

223

1,359

3,482

Apprentices who have successfully completed at least Phase 4 of their apprenticeship ie Apprentice registered before 22/3/2007.

5C = Apprentice required to complete a minimum of 6 months with a FÁS approved Employer on Phase 5.

5H = Apprentice on hold — Phase 3 on-the-job results not received from Employer.

6C = Apprentices currently attending Phase 6 off-the-job training in the Institutes of Technology.

6S = Apprentices currently being scheduled to do off-the-job training.

6W = Apprentices waiting for Phase 6 off-the-job training.

7C = Apprentices required to complete Phase 7 with an Employer (minimum 12 weeks).

7F = Apprentices have not completed full duration of apprenticeship.

7H = Phase 5 / Phase 6 Results not received by FÁS or Apprentices referred.

EU Globalisation Fund.

Chris Andrews

Question:

151 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the application for support for former workers at a company (details supplied) to up-skill under the European globalisation fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12660/10]

The EGF application process from initiation to final decision is a lengthy procedure involving not just the European Commission but also the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. In the case of the EGF application in relation to redundant workers at the DELL plant in Co. Limerick the approval process took some six months. Strict eligibility criteria apply and there is no guarantee of success if a sustainable case for EGF assistance cannot be made in support of a Member State's application. My Department is seeking to ensure that such a robust case is made and sustained. In this context Department officials are currently preparing a response to a request from the European Commission for further information in relation to the SR Technics application and it is hoped to complete this process in the next couple of weeks. In the interim State agencies such as FAS and Enterprise Ireland have made, and continue to make, the full range of their employment, training, guidance and advisory services available to all workers made redundant at S R Technics.

Furthermore, with a view to ascertaining those interventions, including in further and third level education, that redundant SR Technics workers might avail of in the event of a successful EGF application being made, an information event was held by a wide range of service providers in Dublin Airport in December 2009. I know that the full range of education programmes provided by the VEC and third level sector are also available to redundant SR Technics workers and that the education sector is also working to develop additional upskilling responses in anticipation of the approval of the EGF application. However, while every effort is being made to ensure such programmes can proceed as soon as possible, the further progression of any interventions to be funded specifically by the EGF must await the completion of the EGF application process. In relation to the length of time that EGF funding is available the timeframe permitted for eligible expenditure under the Fund is 24 months from the date of submission of an application, or from the date of commencement of relevant measures provided this is no later than 3 months after the application's submission.

Community Employment Schemes.

Mary Upton

Question:

152 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will respond to a query (details supplied). [12678/10]

The provisions of the Community Employment Programme allow for funding by FÁS of Community Employment (CE) sponsors to employ participants and supervisors up to the last day of their 65th year, at which point the entitlement to a State Pension becomes available. Consequently, funding from FÁS for such participants ceases on their 66th birthday, in line with the aims and objectives of the programme.

Unemployment Levels.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

153 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of registered apprentices unemployed in County Wexford; the initiatives that are planned by FÁS to address this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12695/10]

There are currently 260 unemployed apprentices registered in Co. Wexford. FÁS has already put the following measures in place to assist redundant apprentices:

1. FÁS has put in place an interim measure whereby redundant apprentices may progress to the next off-the-job training phase of their apprenticeship, in line with current scheduling criteria. In 2009, over 2,000 redundant apprentices were provided with off-the-job training. To date in 2010, 1,041 redundant apprentices commenced off-the-job training in January 2010, and 1,008 are currently being scheduled to commence in April 2010 Phase 4 and Phase 6 off-the-job training in the Institutes of Technology and Colleges of Further Education.

2. In 2009, FÁS introduced a temporary Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme for apprentices made redundant in the Construction Industry. Over 460 redundant apprentices completed Phase 3, 5 and 7 on-the-job training and assessments with employers under this Scheme in 2009. A new Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme which will replace the Rotation Scheme in 2010, is under development and this will assist redundant apprentices to complete the on-the-job training of their apprenticeship with a FÁS approved employer.

3. A joint ESB Networks / FÁS programme commenced in March 2009 where on-the-job training with ESB Networks is provided to eligible redundant apprentices at Phases 5 and 7 of their apprenticeship. This programme will provide up to 400 places over a period of 18 months and is funded by ESB Networks. To date, 184 redundant apprentices have completed training, 106 are currently in training, and further placements will take place during 2010.

4. FÁS and the Institutes of Technology have agreed the PP5 programme for redundant apprentices who have successfully completed Phases 1-4 of their apprenticeship and where an on or off-the-job training opportunity is not currently available to them. The programme has both a Construction Stream and an Engineering Stream, with a number of core skills modules related to apprenticeship and a number of electives in specific skills. The programme provides apprentices with a Level 5 FETAC award and allows for access and transfer of credits to other post-apprenticeship programmes. The Institutes of Technology are currently providing training to eligible redundant apprentices who responded to invitations issued in January 2010 by the Institutes of Technology providing the programme.

5. FÁS has also developed Phase 7-equivalent assessments for redundant apprentices at the final phase of their apprenticeship in the trades of Carpentry & Joinery, Electrical, Plumbing, Brick & Stonelaying and Plastering. Redundant Apprentices are being scheduled to the assessments events in accordance with the scheduling calendar.

6. Redundant apprentices registered for 4 years who have successfully completed all Phases 1-7 of their apprenticeships, but have not yet completed the required 4 years in employment as an apprentice in the specified trade, will be contacted by FÁS to submit a portfolio of evidence under Recognition of Prior Learning for consideration by the National Apprenticeship Advisory Sub-committee for the award of the Advanced Craft Certificate.

7. Redundant apprentices may also avail of existing trade-related specific skills training courses to enhance their employable skills. They may also avail of the range of trade-related evening courses available in FÁS Training Centres. FAS has advised that where the employment of a FÁS registered apprentice has been terminated due to insufficient work being available, he/she should:

Inform FÁS Services to Business immediately of his/her redundant status Register with the local FÁS Employment Services Office for assistance in securing new employment to enable him/her to continue their apprenticeship training.

Access information regarding employment vacancies by telephoning FÁS Jobs Ireland at Freephone 1 800 611 116 or on the FÁS Website (www.fas.ie) Keep FÁS Services to Business informed of all details relating to his/her apprenticeship employment with a FÁS approved employer so that this time may be credited in calculating the finish date of his/her apprenticeship.

It is important to point out that the onus is on redundant apprentices themselves to inform FÁS Services to Business immediately of his/her redundant status and register with their local FÁS Employment Services Office. Otherwise, the redundant apprentice may lose out on invaluable assistance in securing new employment which would enable him/her to continue their apprenticeship training.

Redundancy Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

154 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason for the delay in refunding a redundancy payment to a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12701/10]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that my Department received two rebate claims from the company concerned in February, 2009. Further information was requested in relation to the claims submitted and, while a reply was received which enabled one of the claims to be processed and paid, the information requested in respect of the second employee is still, according to my Department's records, outstanding. Upon receipt of the outstanding information in relation to the second employee and, providing it is in order, the claim will be processed.

Departmental Agencies.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

155 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her Department has given, or undertaken to give, public money to An Smaoineamh Mór Limited, a registered company currently advertising a competition under the style and title Your Country Your Call; if so the amount of money from what budget or programme it was taken and under what statutory power it was transferred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12702/10]

Although it is not a Government-led initiative, the objectives of "Your Country Your Call" are to identify proposals which will have a significant positive economic impact on Ireland and which will help to secure sustainable employment. I view the initiative as being complementary to the work being carried out by my Department and its agencies. In this context, my Department is currently examining a proposal to provide funding of up to €300,000 to the "Your Country Your Call" initiative from within existing resources. No funding has yet been paid by my Department in respect of the initiative. However, if funding is made available, a key objective for my officials will be to ensure that the necessary financial procedures are followed and that mechanisms are put in place to ensure appropriate management and accountability of public funds.

Trade Union Representation.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

156 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a trade union official can be barred from representing their members at a creditor’s meeting of a company in the liquidation process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12725/10]

Section 68 of the Courts of Justice Act 1936 conferred powers on the Superior Courts Rules Committee to make rules for the practice and procedure of the courts to be applied in relation to compulsory liquidations. That rule making power was extended to voluntary liquidations by section 312 of the Companies Act 1963. I understand that the relevant Rules are found in Order 74 of the Rules of the Superior Court (as amended).

Redundancy Payments.

Joan Burton

Question:

157 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on the decision of Aer Lingus to make cabin crew redundant with a view to re-hiring all bar 230 of them on new contracts with lower salaries; if the State will be called on to fund, or part fund, these redundancies through the social insurance fund; the proportion of those working at senior cabin crew level who are to be among the 230 people not being offered a new contract; the extent to which cabin and pilot teams are being based in jurisdictions abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12741/10]

Finian McGrath

Question:

161 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [12980/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

162 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if it is in order that a company can make several hundred workers compulsorily redundant with the specific intention of recruiting a large proportion of them back on vastly reduced terms and conditions; the liabilities of the State in such a scenario in terms of redundancy payments and rebates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13073/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

163 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the protections that are in place to safeguard workers against being made compulsorily redundant by their employer in order to re-employ the same workers at vastly reduced terms and conditions as a means of reducing the wage and other staff costs of that employer; and the steps open to her to prevent such practice. [13078/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157, 161,162 and 163 together.

In October 2009 Aer Lingus announced details of a cost savings programme aimed at reducing operating costs by €97 million, comprising staff savings of €74 million and non-staff cost savings of €23 million. Following four months of intense negotiation between Aer Lingus management and Unions, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, the resulting joint agreements were put to Aer Lingus staff with a recommendation for acceptance by each of the respective unions. The results of the ballots were that the plan was accepted by four out of the five unions involved. Cabin crew rejected the plan by a 2:1 majority. Aer Lingus subsequently announced their plans to achieve the necessary cost savings.

As a result of further discussions at the Labour Relations Commission on 19 March, during which clarifications on the cost saving plan were given, cabin crew will ballot again on the restructuring package in the coming days. The restructuring process within Aer Lingus is therefore the subject of continuing dialogue with the trade unions representing the company's employees. I am satisfied that there is an adequate legal framework in this country governing restructuring arrangements at company level in the form of legislation covering collective redundancies and legislation covering information and consultation requirements.

In relation to the issue of redundancy and eligibility for redundancy payments, I should point out that redundancy is a matter of fact that occurs after the event of termination of employment. Qualification for an entitlement to the payment of statutory redundancy under the Redundancy Acts cannot be made until the full facts of the situation are known, after the event. When presented with redundancy claims for payment, the Department will have regard to the legislative provisions governing the eligibility of any such claims and can, if necessary, have the matter referred to the Employment Appeals Tribunal for a decision on any claims that might actually be made.

The Government is satisfied, from all of the information available to it, that a major restructuring of the Group's cost base is essential if Aer Lingus is to return to profitability and growth. The cost base of Aer Lingus is seriously out of line with that of its competitors. Airlines throughout the world are either rationalising or going out of business as a result of the global economic downturn. The Government want to see a strong viable Aer Lingus in the future. The cornerstones of Government aviation policy are competitiveness and connectivity. A viable Aer Lingus is key to ensuring the achievement of these objectives.

EU Directives.

Joan Burton

Question:

158 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the requirements under company law for shareholders of a listed company wishing to make resolutions at the company’s AGM for the appointment or removal of a director of that company; if there is a requirement that a shareholder, or group of shareholders, wishing to table such a resolution must hold at least 3% of the issued share capital in that company, representing at least 4% of the total voting rights of all members who have a right to vote at that meeting; if she plans to bring forward reforms to improve shareholders’ rights; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12750/10]

The Shareholders' Rights (Directive 2007/36/EC) Regulations 2009 (S.I. 316 of 2009) implemented the Shareholders' Rights Directive on the exercise of certain rights attaching to voting shares in relation to general meetings of listed companies. The Regulations apply to companies whose registered office is in the State and whose shares are admitted to trading on a regulated market situated or operating within a Member State. In practice this means companies listed and trading on the Main Market of the Irish Stock Exchange as well as any company trading on a regulated market in another Member State having its registered office in Ireland. The main provisions of the Regulations are as follows:

Provides for shareholder participation across borders without the need to physically attend meetings, notably through the exercise of voting rights electronically;

Obliges companies to answer shareholders' questions at general meetings;

Obliges companies to publish documents and information regarding a general meeting on their website, including the result of votes taken;

Allows shareholders representing at least 5% of the voting shares in a company the right to call a general meeting (previously a holding of 10% was required);

Allows shareholders holding 3% of the issued share capital and representing at least 3% of the voting shares in a company the right to put items on the agenda and table draft resolutions for an annual general meeting; and

Strengthens shareholders' rights in relation to the appointment of proxies at general meetings.

Departmental Expenditure.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

159 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the estimated cost of foreign travel, accommodation and related ministerial and official costs associated with Saint Patrick’s Day 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12816/10]

Details of the cost of travel, associated with Saint Patrick's Day, 2010, are not yet available . I will be pleased to forward them to the Deputy in due course.

County Enterprise Boards.

John Cregan

Question:

160 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on allowing some discretion to the county enterprise boards in order that applications for grant aid from persons wishing to start up their own businesses, where such applications refer to grant aid for commercial vehicles and or mechanically propelled agricultural vehicles, could be considered favourably. [12918/10]

The County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) have primary responsibility for the delivery of State support to the indigenous micro-enterprise sector i.e. businesses which employ 10 or less workers. The CEBs, through both financial and non-financial assistance, support the sector in the start-up and expansion phases and facilitate entrepreneurial activity at local level. There are three types of grant-aid available from the CEBs:

Priming Grants;

Business Expansion Grants;

Feasibility/Innovation Grants.

A Priming Grant is a start-up grant available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up. A Business Expansion/Development Grant is available to further grow a micro enterprise while a Feasibility/Innovation Grant is available to assist micro-enterprises with the cost of pre-start up studies carried out to assess demand for a new product or service, the appropriateness of funding plans and the general viability of the venture. The criteria under which funding is available from the CEBs is based on factors such as the sector of the economy in which an enterprise is operating or intends to operate and the size or proposed size of the enterprise.

the enterprise must be in the commercial sphere

the enterprise must demonstrate a market for the product/service

the enterprise must have a capacity for growth and new job creation

the enterprise must not employ more than 10 people

priority must be given to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector which can develop into strong export entities

it is considered inappropriate to support businesses in sectors such as retail, personal services, professional services and construction etc as these generally give rise to unacceptable deadweight and/or displacement within a local area.

While the range of expenditure which is regarded as eligible expenditure for grant-aid excludes the purchase of mobile assets such as commercial vehicles it is, none the less, quite a considerable range including the following;

Capital items including fit out of workspace, office equipment, machinery, computer costs

Salary costs for first year of employment

Rental/Accommodation costs for first year of the project

Utility costs including installation costs for telephone & broadband

Marketing costs including packaging, brochures, trade fairs, website design and development, patent fees and other marketing initiatives

Consultancy costs including design fees, architect, accountant and legal fees

Business training costs for key Personnel central to the growth of the business

Some miscellaneous costs relating specifically to Feasibility/Innovation Grants.

I am confident that the current mix of grant types, the criteria underlying these grant types, and the broad range of eligible expenditure ensures that a significant number of viable start-up and existing micro-enterprises can access significant levels of financial assistance from the CEBs.

Questions Nos. 161 to 163 inclusive, answered with Question No. 157.

Flood Relief.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

164 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the funding that is available to Wicklow County Council to undertake non-coastal flood relief works, particularly in the upland areas of south Wicklow and east Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12604/10]

Under a scheme introduced in 2009, the Office of Public Works wrote to all Local Authorities seeking prioritised applications for funding for localised minor flood mitigation works that the Authorities propose to undertake. In 2010 to date, a number of applications have been submitted by Wicklow County Council and one application has been submitted by Carlow County Council. These are currently being assessed in conjunction with applications received from other Local Authorities. A decision will be made shortly in relation to these applications. It is open to all Local Authorities, including Wicklow County Council or Carlow County Council, to submit further applications in relation to works that meet the economic and environmental eligibility criteria of this scheme. Any applications will be considered, having regard to the overall funding available for such works.

Pension Provisions.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

165 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the reason the national pensions framework which he recently published projects that spending on public pensions will increase to 15% by 2050 whereas the OECD country report on Ireland, the content of which was signed off by the Government, projects a significantly lower increase. [12621/10]

The OECD Economic Survey: Ireland 2009, which was published last November, contains pension cost projections for Ireland which were taken from the 2009 Ageing Report which was prepared by the European Commission and published at the end of last April. These projections were based on a set of assumptions which ensured comparability between all EU Member States. The reason for the different results in these two publications is that pension projections included in the National Pensions Framework were based on a different set of assumptions and covered a different reference period to those in the 2009 Ageing Report. Notwithstanding these differences, however, both sets of projections show the same picture of continuously increasing pension costs over the long term. The Government’s decision to set out radical and wide-scale reform of the Irish pension system was taken in light of this long-term outlook.

EU Funding.

Denis Naughten

Question:

166 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding his application under the European solidarity fund for assistance on foot of the severe flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12647/10]

My Department made an application to the EU Commission on 27th January 2010 for funding under the EU Solidarity Fund based on estimates of damage received from Departments and local authorities. The application was formally acknowledged by the Commission on 24 February 2010. The EU Solidarity Fund does not fund full reconstruction nor does it fund prevention works. It funds emergency operations to allow a rapid return to normal living conditions.

A regional application was made as the estimate of the extent of the damage does not meet the Solidarity Fund's threshold of 0.6% of GNI or €935.5m for a national disaster. There are specific criteria which must be met to ensure a successful regional application to the EU Solidarity Fund. These criteria include the majority of the population of the region being affected by the disaster and serious and long lasting effects on the region's economic stability and living conditions. My Department continues to work with the Commission on finalising the costs underpinning the application.

Tax Code.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

167 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1% increase in the higher rate of VAT. [12195/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

168 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1% increase in the lower rate of VAT. [12196/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 and 168 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1% increase in the standard (21%) rate and the reduced (13.5%) rate of VAT is €311 million and €262 million respectively.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

169 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1% increase in DIRT. [12200/10]

It is estimated that the yield to the Exchequer from increasing the DIRT rate by 1 per cent is €25m in a full year.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

170 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1 cent, 5 cent and 10 cent increase in excise duty on unleaded petrol, per litre, and the associated consumer price index effect. [12201/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

171 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1 cent, 5 cent and 10 cent increase in excise duty on auto diesel, per litre, and the associated consumer price index effect. [12202/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170 and 171 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested is set out in the following table.

1 Cent

1 Cent

5 Cent

5 Cent

10 Cent

10 Cent

Est Yield

CPI effect

Est Yield

CPI effect

Est Yield

CPI effect

€m

€m

€m

Unleaded Petrol

Litre

17.9

0.026%

87.5

0.130%

173.2

0.259%

Auto Diesel

Litre

19.0

0.006%

94.5

0.032%

187.2

0.064%

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

172 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1 cent, 5 cent and 10 cent increase in excise duty on beer, per pint, and the associated consumer price index effect. [12203/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

173 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1 cent, 5 cent and 10 cent increase in excise duty on spirits, per glass, and the associated consumer price index effect. [12204/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

174 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 1 cent, 5 cent and 10 cent increase in excise duty on cider and perry, per pint, and the associated consumer price index effect. [12205/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

175 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 5 cent, 10 cent and 50 cent increase in excise duty on wine, per 75 cl, and the associated consumer price index effect. [12206/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

176 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield to the Exchequer in a full year of a 5 cent, 10 cent and 50 cent increase in excise duty on cigarettes, per pack of 20, and the associated consumer price index effect. [12207/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 172 to 176, inclusive, together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested is as set out in the following two tables.

1 Cent

1 Cent

5 Cent

5 Cent

10 Cent

10 Cent

Est Yield

CPI effect

Est Yield

CPI effect

Est Yield

CPI effect

€m

€m

€m

Beer

Pint

7.1

0.014%

35.4

0.070%

70.3

0.141%

Spirits

Single Measure — Half glass

3.0

0.005%

15.0

0.025%

29.4

0.051%

Cider

Pint

1.1

0.002%

5.2

0.011%

10.4

0.022%

5 Cent

5 Cent

10 Cent

10 Cent

50 Cent

50 Cent

Est Yield

CPI effect

Est Yield

CPI effect

Est Yield

CPI effect

€m

€m

€m

Wine

75cl Bottle

3.0

0.006%

5.9

0.012%

27.7

0.060%

Cigarettes

Pack 20

8.5

0.022%

16.9

0.044%

83.1

0.222%

Public Service Pay.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

177 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if salaries to third level institution staff paid for from research grants awarded by the EU can be subject to the cuts in public sector pay as outlined in budget 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12215/10]

I refer to my reply to Question No. 11794/10 of 10 March 2010: "The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act, 2009 makes provision for the reduction in the pay rates of all persons employed by public service bodies with effect from 1 January 2010. As universities come within the definition in the Act of public service bodies, contract researchers employed by such universities are subject to the pay reductions provided for under the legislation, regardless of the source of funding for that employment. I have no proposals to exempt persons in that position from the pay reductions."

National Asset Management Agency.

Joan Burton

Question:

178 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will comment on recent media reports on the selection process for National Asset Management Agency board members; if the rejection rate for applicants was comparable to other public service recruitment processes; if he will publish the details of remuneration for NAMA board members; the annual cost of remuneration and expenses for the NAMA board; the level of participation, in terms of days per month that is expected of NAMA board members; if he will reconsider his decision to exclude NAMA from the Freedom of Information Acts; the way the absence of conflict of interest was established for appointees to the NAMA board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12235/10]

The Deputy will be aware that as part of the debate on the passage of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) legislation, I undertook, with cross party support, to conduct an expressions of interest process and consultation with party leaders to seek appointments to the Board.

As I indicated when the appointments were made on 22 December 2009 over 800 applications were received and considered. With the assistance of the Public Appointments Service and a former Secretary General of my Department these applications were reduced to 36 names from which, in addition to nominees which were submitted outside of this process, the final appointment of 7 members to the Board were made. The very nature of the expression of interest process means it is not comparable to a standard recruitment competition where the interested candidature would be necessarily more restrictive. As with any competition it is the merit of each individual application that determines if it is successful.

I revealed in an answer to a Parliamentary Question of 10 March 2010 the details of the remuneration of the Board members. They are as follows: Chairperson — all inclusive fee of €170,000 per annum on the understanding that the incumbent is available without restriction. Chairperson of Credit Committee — all inclusive fee of €150,000 per annum on the understanding that the incumbent works no less than 3 to 4 days a week. Ordinary Board Members (5 remaining board members) — fee of €50,000 per annum. Chair of other Committees — fee of €10,000 per annum in addition to Ordinary Board Member fee subject to a maximum of one per member.

The total cost in 2010 is therefore likely to be €470,000 and an additional amount dependent upon how many sub-committees are established by the Board of NAMA. However, given that board members can receive a maximum of one fee for Chairing another Committee and given the fact that neither the Chair nor the Chair of the credit Committee can receive this extra fee as their main fee is all-inclusive the maximum extra cost of payments to Chairs of other Committees is €50,000.

I further indicated that in setting the fees account was taken of the critical importance of the work to be undertaken by the Board and the fact that its workload will be excessive by normal standards in the first year of operation. I also indicated that I intended to review the fees after a year. The question of extending the application of the Freedom of Information Act 1997 to NAMA was discussed a number of times during the passage of the NAMA Bill 2009 through the houses of the Oireachtas.

Much of the information which NAMA will process in its day-to-day operations will be confidential commercial information attaching to the loan assets it acquires. The commercial and financial risks that would arise in connection with the disclosure of such information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 1997 would not be in the interests of NAMA, the Sate or the public. Such confidential third party information would not be released under the Freedom of Information Act and applying the FOI Act to it simply introduces extra bureaucracy with no additional transparency. There are already a range of other provisions in the Act which will ensure appropriate transparency and accountability of NAMA. Accordingly, I regarded such proposals as inappropriate and I therefore did not accept these amendments to the Bill and I stand by that decision and the rationale for it.

With regard to the question of conflicts of interest I would like to bring to the attention of the Deputy the fact that two of the criteria used in short listing were that the applicant was not currently working in any potential NAMA institution and secondly that there were no conflicts of interest apparent from the application. Furthermore the NAMA Act 2009 provides that all members of the board must furnish a valid tax clearance certificate within 3 months of appointment to the Board and I can confirm that this has been complied with for all current members of the Board.

Section 30 of the NAMA Act 2009 provides for matters relating to disclosure of interests by the Board members. Among other things it provides that if Board members do not adequately disclose interests and act in a hands-off manner where interests have been disclosed, they may be removed from office by the Minister. Section 31 further provides that NAMA shall keep a register of members' interests and update it at the beginning of each year.

Pension Provisions.

Joe Carey

Question:

179 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance his views on using the consumer price index as the basis for post retirement increases in respect of both existing and future pensions in the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12249/10]

I announced in Budget 2010 that, as part of the reform of the public service pension structure, I will review the current arrangements applying in the case of post-retirement pension increases and in this context will consider linking pensions to increases in the cost of living. The recent special report by the Comptroller and Auditor General estimated that the present actuarial cost of public service pensions is 108 billion euro. A change to a CPI basis for post-retirement increases would reduce that cost to 87 billion, a reduction of 20 per cent.

The cost implications of public service pensions have been borne out by successive recent studies including the National Pensions Review (2005), the Green Paper on Pensions (2007) and the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on Public Service Pensions (2009). The C&AG’s report is especially telling as to the cost consequences if action is not taken. It estimates gross public service pension payments this year at 1.6% of GNP, and projects that this will rise to 2.4% by 2023, driven by fast growth in pensioner numbers. Thereafter costs are seen stabilizing at about 2.5% of GNP in the period 2023-2038, before accelerating again to reach 3.6% of GNP in 2058.

In this context, as the Deputy will be aware, the Government recently published a new National Pension Policy Framework (2010) to deal with these and other critical pension issues. The public service pension changes now being considered are within the scope of and firmly supportive of the broader reforms featuring in the framework.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Richard Bruton

Question:

180 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the number of indictable offences contained within the Central Bank Acts 1942 to 2004; and the number of summary offences contained within the Central Banks Acts 1942 to 2004. [12252/10]

Richard Bruton

Question:

181 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 49 of 28 January 2010, the number of prosecutions brought for offences under the Central Bank Acts 1942 to 2004 in each of the years 2004 to 2009; the number of prosecutions on indictment brought in each year; the number of summary prosecutions brought in each year; the number of convictions on indictment obtained in each year; the number of summary convictions obtained in each year; the reason in his previous answer to the same question he addressed the number of administrative sanctions imposed but not the number of prosecutions brought. [12253/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 and 181 together.

In August 2004 under the Administrative Sanctions Procedure (ASP), the Financial Regulator was given the power to impose Administrative sanctions on "regulated financial service providers" and on "persons concerned in the management of those entities" for breaches of prescribed contraventions of certain Designated Acts and Statutory Instruments.

Following a public consultation, in October 2005 the Financial Regulator adopted a general policy of dealing with cases where prescribed contraventions were also potentially criminal offences, under the ASP, instead of bringing summary prosecutions. This is in light of the limited penalties available pursuant to summary criminal prosecutions.

In 2005 the Financial Regulator was also given additional sanctioning powers under the Market Abuse (Directive 2003/6/EC) Regulations 2005 (the Market Abuse ASP) (to impose sanctions on various entities) and under S.I. No. 324 of 2005 — Prospectus (Directive 2003/71/EC) Regulations 2005. In 2007 the Financial Regulator was given further sanctioning powers under S.I. No. 277 of 2007 — Transparency (Directive 2004/109/EC) Regulations 2007. I am informed that to date the Financial Regulator has imposed Fines amounting to €7,372,500, 7 Disqualifications ranging from 1 to 5 years and 19 Reprimands. Details of all sanctions in any given year are published annually in the Financial Regulator's Annual Report. The sanctions imposed to date are broken down as follows:

2006

Sanctions were imposed under the ASP on 2 regulated financial service providers and upon 3 persons concerned in the management of those entities. These resulted in 3 individuals being disqualified from being persons concerned in the management of regulated financial services provider for a specified period [5 years and 18 months].

2007

Sanctions were imposed under the ASP on 4 regulated financial service providers. These resulted in: 3 Reprimands being imposed; and 1 Disqualification for a specified period [2 Years].

Market Abuse ASP Procedure: Sanctions were imposed upon 1 Company and 1 individual. These resulted in a fine of €5,000.

2008

Sanctions were imposed under the ASP on 9 regulated financial service providers and upon 5 persons concerned in the management of those entities. These resulted in: 10 Fines being imposed which totalled €3.695 million, 9 Reprimands and 2 Disqualifications for specified periods [5 years and 1 year]

Market Abuse Administrative Sanction Procedure: Sanctions were imposed upon 1 Company. These resulted in a fine of €10,000.

2009

Sanctions were imposed under the ASP on 10 regulated financial service providers and upon 1 person concerned in the management of those entities. These resulted in: 6 Fines being imposed which totalled €3,672,500, 8 Reprimands and 1 Disqualification for a specified period [2 years].

The Deputy will be aware that there are a number of offences contained within the Central Bank Acts 1942 to 2004. I have asked my officials to compile the relevant information. I will write directly to the Deputy when the information comes to hand.

Richard Bruton

Question:

182 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the titles, responsibilities, grades and professional qualifications of all staff employed in the Office of the Financial Regulator; if there are any unfilled positions within this office; and the titles, responsibilities and grades of all unfilled positions. [12254/10]

In accordance with the Central Bank of Ireland Act 1942 (as amended), the employment of staff in the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (other than the Registrar of Credit Unions and the Chief Executive of the Authority) is a matter solely for the Board of the Bank, the Regulatory Authority and the Governor and is not a matter in which I have a role.

However, I am informed by the Authority that its approved manpower complement for 2010 is some 533. Of this, some 41 posts (8%) are at senior management level; some 349 posts(65%) are at senior officer level and some 143 posts (27%) are at clerical/administrative support level. There are about 160 vacant posts.

In March 2009, 81% of the Financial Regulator's staff held a minimum of a third level qualification or higher; 44% had qualifications at primary or master degree level; 21% held a professional accounting, legal or actuarial qualification; 16% held other qualifications, including Certificates and Diplomas, such as the Qualified Financial Advisor Diploma. Since then, 47 staff were recruited for regulatory departments. Of these, two hold PhD qualifications; 26 have master degrees or professional accounting, legal or actuarial qualifications; 14 hold a primary degree and two have diplomas.

Arrangements for the filling of vacancies at senior management level are in the final stages of the recruitment process. In recent weeks a large number of technical positions (aimed at senior officer level) have been advertised to fill some 80 positions within the organisation. This recruitment is aimed at widening the Regulatory Authority's expertise in the following areas: credit, treasury, market risk, legal, enforcement and policy. The Authority expects that a large number of these posts will be filled in the summer months. The remaining posts, which include a number of clerical or administrative positions, will be addressed shortly.

Richard Bruton

Question:

183 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his plans to consolidate or reform the Central Bank Acts 1942 to 2004; the position regarding such plans; his further plans to bring amending legislation; and when such legislation will be published. [12255/10]

It is my intention to bring forward a Bill to consolidate the Central Bank Acts as part of a three stage legislative process. A Bill to give effect to institutional reforms within the Central Bank and Financial Services Regulatory Authority will be published very shortly. A second Bill to enhance the powers and functions of the Bank will follow. These Bills will form part of the Central Bank Acts and the publication of a consolidation Bill would not be appropriate until the first two stages of the process are complete.

Bank Closures.

Richard Bruton

Question:

184 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he was consulted before the announcement that a bank (details supplied) will close; if other options were considered to avoid the loss of service to customers and of jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12260/10]

I have said previously, that I was disappointed but not surprised that Postbank is to close at the end of the year. The management of commercial decisions made by Postbank, which include the decision to wind-down the institution, is a matter for An Post and its joint venture partner BGL BNP Paribas, and one in which I have no direct role.

In considering the future of Postbank, the partners explored a number of options to ensure the continuation of the Postbank operation, including the transfer of BNP's shareholding to another institution. I understand, however, that this was not considered to be viable. An Post has been providing some banking services as an agent for a leading bank for several years and I understand will continue to do so even after Postbank ceases to trade. The underlying strengths of the network will allow An Post to develop other strategic opportunities in the financial services business and the board and management of An Post are actively engaging in this process. I also understand that options are currently being considered that will result in a significant number of the jobs at Postbank being saved.

Deposit funds in Postbank are secure and I understand that Postbank will write to its customers in the coming weeks with information on the options that will be open to them. This process will be carried out in compliance with the Financial Regulator's Consumer Protection Code.

Car Scrappage Scheme.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

185 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if he will extend the car scrappage scheme to include cases when a car is registered in one person's name and insured in another’s, such as a husband and wife; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12266/10]

The provisions of the car scrappage scheme as set out in Section 102 of the Finance Bill as published on 4 February 2010, provide that the car being scrapped,

must be registered in the State in the name of the registered owner of the new car for at least 18 months previous to the date of scrappage;

must be 10 years old or more from the date of first registration;

must be scrapped on or after 10 December 2009 and not later than 31 December 2010;

must be scrapped within 60 days of the date of the new car being registered, or have been scrapped within 60 days immediately before the date of the new car being registered;

must have a valid NCT test certificate, or one that has expired no more than 90 days immediately before the date of scrappage or documentation to indicate that it has been presented for and failed an NCT roadworthiness test in the previous 6 months;

must have been insured for use on the road in the name of the registered owner for at least 12 months in the 18 months immediately prior to the date of scrappage.

I received a number of representations regarding the fact that many vehicles are acquired for use as ‘family vehicles' and are frequently registered for VRT purposes in the name of one spouse, but insured in the name of the other spouse.

I have considered the matter further and I decided that the scope of the scheme under Section 102 of the Bill, be extended by making an amendment to the Finance Bill at Committee Stage providing that any reference to a "person" in the relevant subsection of the section may in the application of those provisions be construed by the Revenue Commissioners as a reference to either the person concerned, or to that person's spouse.

Consequently documentation in the name of one spouse is to be taken into account for the purposes of the other qualifying under the scheme. Following this change, documents relating to vehicle ownership and vehicle insurance can be presented in the name of either spouse in order to qualify for the repayment of VRT.

Departmental Properties.

Seán Connick

Question:

186 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Finance the number of buildings his Department is renting within the State; the rental costs of these rentals in 2009; the average length of the leases of these buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12289/10]

The Office of Public Works, under the auspices of the Department of Finance, rents space in some 430 buildings by way of 511 payable leases on behalf of Government departments and agencies.

Those leases, which exceed €5,000 per annum per lease, attracted a total cost in the region of €121 million for 2009. The average term of these leases is 18 years ranging from part year to 20 years plus. All buildings occupied by my Department are provided by the Office of Public Works.

Departmental Staff.

Richard Bruton

Question:

187 Deputy Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in his Department, and any agency under his remit, who are primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12303/10]

In relation to my own Department, the number of staff employed in the various areas requested:

Payroll*

Financial Management*

HR Management

Procurement**

ICT Services**

Means Assessment

18.93

32.19

20.5 (incl. training)

5.6

34.5

0

*The payroll and financial management functions in my Department encompass those functions also carried out on behalf of a number of smaller Offices. In the case of the financial management function, it also includes the Accounts and Exchequer sections.

As my Department has a role which encompasses policy across the civil service in these areas, the figures shown above include all staff involved either on a central basis, or with specific responsibilities within my Department itself.

In relation to Offices/agencies under the aegis of my Department, I am advised that the following is the position:

Payroll

Financial Management

HR Management

Procurement

ICT Services

OPW (i)

6.80

36.95 (incl training)

23.70 (ii)

18.80

Revenue

42.23

60.96

63.26

20.50

312.59

Valuation Office

1.00

1.50

2.00

1.00

5.00

State Lab

0.30

4.95

3.45

3.00

3.00

CPSA

0.20

0.50

0.10

0.05

0.15

PAS

1.00

3.53

4.40

0.10

7.40

NTMA

0.00

19.00

3.00

0.00

11.00

There are no staff in any of the Offices listed involved in means assessment.

(i) In addition there are non established (industrial) staff employed in a combination of duties across the areas of procurement, payroll and financial management.

(ii) National Public Procurement Operations Unit staff — Many staff in other areas of OPW have procurement functions as part of their duties.

Tax Yield.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

188 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the amount paid by an airline (details supplied) in departure tax in the period starting May 2009 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12311/10]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

189 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the amount paid by an airline (details supplied) in departure tax in the period starting May 2009 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12312/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 188 and 189 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that their obligation to observe confidentiality for taxpayers and small groups of taxpayers involved precludes them from providing the information requested. However, I can say that the overall yield for the air travel tax from its inception is €99m — this yield is in respect of departing passengers in the ten months from April 2009 to January 2010.

EU Directives.

Joan Burton

Question:

190 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his position on the alternative investment fund managers’ directive ahead of the discussion by ECOFIN on 16 March 2010; his views on whether hedge and private equity funds themselves must be regulated, not just the fund managers; his further views on whether the lower thresholds for application of the directive should be aligned with the new regime being proposed for the US or if the de minimis exemptions should be removed and that the marketing in the EU of alternative investment funds established in third countries, and covered by the directive, should require an effective, binding co-operation agreement, including exchange of information and tax cooperation, signed by the European Commission on behalf of all member states; if he is supportive of the limitation of the leverage ratio of hedge and private equity funds and if the European Commission, or another body, should be the responsible authority for setting these limits; if he is further supportive of the strengthening of disclosure, reporting and transparency requirements for hedge and private equity funds; his further views on whether improper conduct, such as naked short selling, stealth acquisitions or empty voting, should be outlawed or otherwise constrained by the directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12315/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

207 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance if he supports a cap on the use of leverage by investment firms as proposed in the current draft of the EU AIFM directive; his views on whether such a measure could have an impact on the 3,000 jobs that are employed by the hedge fund industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12455/10]

Richard Bruton

Question:

225 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland is the largest hedge fund administration centre in the world representing approximately 49% of global hedge fund assets and employing more than 3,000 persons; if he has received advice from his Department as to the effect the most recent Spanish Presidency compromise text of the alternative investment fund managers directive will have for this industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12690/10]

Richard Bruton

Question:

226 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the Spanish Presidency amendments to the EU alternative investment fund managers directive would have the effect of closing off the European markets and European institutional investors from non-European investment firms; if he supports the Swedish Presidency amendments that deleted the three year moratorium that specified that EU access for non-EU AIF and AIFM would be granted on the basis of adherence to a set of standards to be established by the Committee of European Security Regulators and on the existence of co-operation agreements between the regulatory authorities in the EU and in the third country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12691/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190, 207, 225 and 226 together.

The European Commission's proposal for a Directive to regulate the managers of alternative investment funds was due to be discussed at Ecofin on March 16th. However, the Spanish Presidency withdrew this item from the agenda because it believed that it had not received sufficient support at that stage for the proposed compromise text. Negotiations will continue and the Presidency aim to discuss this issue at Ecofin in the near future.

Many believe that, instead of focussing on the managers of these alternative investment funds, it would have been preferable to regulate the funds themselves directly. I understand that the European Commission considered such an approach but, because many funds are domiciled in jurisdictions outside the EU, they decided that the best approach would be to regulate the managers of all non-UCITS. I understand that the main reason for this is that the Commission would have encountered problems in trying to find a legally sound definition of a "hedge fund". They were unable to devise a definition that could not be exploited or create loop-holes, therefore it decided that the best approach was to regulate the level of the managers rather than the fund, the so-called "all encompassing approach". I appreciated the Commission's difficulties in that regard and supported their approach.

In view of the fact that the proposal would apply to all non-UCITS, it was proposed that a threshold be established to allow Member States apply proportionate rules to all fund managers, bearing in mind that the prevention of systemic risk was one of the main reasons behind the proposal. The proposed thresholds would allow supervisors to apply a lower regulatory standard to the managers of smaller funds, such as forestry funds for example. This is a practical approach to the issue of thresholds, while meeting the wider issue of systemic risk prevention.

The treatment of fund managers established outside the EU, so-called "third country managers", was one of the most difficult issues that arose with this dossier and a number of issues arose in relation to this. On the one hand, there was a view that third country managers should be allowed to operate within the EU without restriction. On the other hand, there were concerns that such an approach would not be consistent with the objectives of the Directive and would leave EU fund managers at a competitive disadvantage in relation to non-EU managers. In view of the range of complex issues associated with this, the Spanish Presidency proposed a draft compromise text whereby these third country managers, would have to comply with certain reporting and disclosure requirements before they could operate in a particular Member State, but that they could not avail of the "passport" to operate throughout the EU, without establishing a physical presence in a Member State. The proposal requires that appropriate co-operation agreements should be in place between the relevant Member State and third country. On balance, I believe this to be the best option available in the circumstances.

The original Commission proposal contained a provision to impose a limit on the amount of leverage a fund manager could employ the so-called "leverage cap". While such a leverage cap found little support among Member States, in recognition of the importance of monitoring the leverage employed by managers, provisions have been maintained to ensure that supervisors will have all the relevant information available to them to allow them to properly assess exposures. I believe that this is an appropriate approach.

It is clear that one of the key aims of the proposal was to strengthen the disclosure, reporting and transparency requirements. The proposal contains a large number of measures which impose additional reporting obligations on fund managers. Many industry commentators have criticised the scale of these additional requirements and regard them as onerous and burdensome. However, I believe that an appropriate balance has been found.

The other points which were raised regarding naked short-selling, stealth acquisitions and empty voting are not included within the scope of the Commission's initial proposal, although the proposal does contain provisions regarding the acquisition of non-listed companies.

Effective and efficient financial market regulation and supervision is central to the safeguarding of consumer interests, ensuring that financial markets and financial institutions operate in an open and transparent manner consistent with their stability and the stability of the financial system as a whole. It is also important that the legislative and policy framework for financial services supports the competitiveness of the sector and maintains in an appropriate way a level playing field among market participants. It is an important priority in formulating legislative proposals at EU level to strike an appropriate balance between these objectives. The funds industry is a valuable sector of the economy which provides direct employment to approximately 12,500 people with many more indirectly employed. The proposal, like all other measures aimed at improving the internal market, has the potential to impact on the financial services industry in Ireland, but equally it offers opportunities for developing new business practices aligned with the new regulatory regime as it evolves in the period ahead.

Tax Code.

Brian Hayes

Question:

191 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if he has given consideration to allow school boards of management to claim back VAT when fundraising allows a school to purchase equipment such as whiteboards and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12321/10]

In relation to the VAT treatment of purchases of equipment by school boards of management, the position is that bodies supplying educational services and non-profit organisations are exempt from VAT under the EU VAT Directive, with which Irish VAT law must comply. This means they do not charge VAT on the services they provide and cannot recover VAT incurred on goods and services that they purchase. Essentially only VAT registered businesses which charge VAT are able to recover VAT.

John Deasy

Question:

192 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance when a decision will be made on an application (details supplied) for charity status. [12326/10]

Applications for charitable tax exempt status are dealt with by the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that an application has been received from the body in question. Additional information in support of the application has been sought by Revenue. On receipt of this additional information further consideration will be given to the application.

Tax Yield.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

193 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield from increasing the marginal tax rate for income earned in excess of €150,000 from 50% to 65%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12347/10]

It is assumed that the change mentioned in the question is an effective increase in the top rate of income tax by 15 percentage points from 41% to 56% for incomes in excess of €150,000. It is also assumed that the threshold for the proposed new tax band mentioned by the Deputy would not alter the existing standard rate band structure applying to single and widowed persons, to lone parents and married couples. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2010 incomes, of the introduction of a new 56% rate in the manner described would be of the order of €558 million.

Given the current band structures, major issues would need to be resolved as to how in practice such a new rate could be integrated into the current system and how this would affect the relative position of different types of income earners.

This figure is an estimate from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2007, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2010. It is therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

Public Sector Pay.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

194 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if public servants and civil servants engaging in an overtime ban will continue to be paid overtime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12352/10]

My direct area of responsibility is the civil service. Civil servants do not receive overtime payments for periods that are not worked because of a ban on overtime.

Questions relating to other areas of the public service should, more appropriately, be addressed to the relevant Minister.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

195 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of overtime paid to public and civil servants by introducing clock-in or other verification mechanisms to ensure that overpayments and over claims are not allowed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12353/10]

The cost of overtime, which is primarily a matter for each Minister or Head of Office to be managed in the first instance within their pay allocation.

Under the terms of Administrative Budget Agreements sanction is delegated to Departments and Offices to pay overtime in accordance with the general directions contained in Department of Finance Circulars 27/99 and 30/0 provided that the expenditure involved can be accommodated within the Administrative Budget for the year in question. Departments/Offices are required to reduce the incidents of overtime and allowances through the reorganisation of work practices.

As the Deputy will be aware it is the responsibility of every Department/Office to authorise, monitor and verify overtime. I am informed by Personnel Officers that any such extra attendance is verified in accordance with the officer's attendance record. Questions about the cost of overtime in the Public Service should be addressed to the responsible Minister.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

196 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the extent that structural overtime exists in the public service and Civil Service whereby employees are paid regular overtime regardless of whether the overtime is actually worked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12354/10]

Government Departments and Offices do not have any practices of structural overtime. Questions of overtime issues in the Public Service should be addressed to the relevant Minister.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

197 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of allowances paid to public and civil servants by requiring the production or receipts for expenditure incurred with respect to these allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12355/10]

The issue of expense allowances in the civil and public service is kept under review by my Department to ensure that the optimum cost efficiency and cost effectiveness is achieved.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

198 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he has a strategy to reduce the cost to the Exchequer of sick leave taken by civil and public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12356/10]

The Civil Service has developed a complex set of rules and procedures in relation to sick leave and these arrangements form a significant part of the terms and conditions of employment of all civil servants. The policy was updated in 2007. Since then, a further up date and revision of the policy has been developed and presented to the Staff Unions. This policy takes on board the concerns raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General 2009 Special Report on Sickness Absence in the Civil Service, and provides a general framework of guidelines on more efficient management of sick leave. The policy is also aimed at reducing absence from work which should result in reduction in cost of sick leave.

As the Deputy will be aware, the day to day management of sickness absence rests with each Government Department or Office. My Department is working with Civil Service Departments and Offices to ensure development of appropriate systems of absence management, in line with best practice, and to ensure that Departments/Offices give a high priority to their proper implementation. Each Department has IT systems to record attendance and absences in the Civil Service namely a Time and Attendance system and a Human Resource Management System (HRMS). These systems form one part of absence management/controls and are aimed at complementing the non-IT systems, the manual business processes in place for checking, cross referencing and validating absences, thus providing an overall robust system for absence management in organisations. The management of Sick Leave in the Public Service is a matter for the relevant Minister.

Pension Provisions.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

199 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance his policy in respect of the requirement of persons on defined contribution pension schemes to purchase an annuity; and his views on extending the period permitted for the purchase of an approved retirement funds for new retirees to December 2010 in view of the poor value of annuities in the current economic climate. [12371/10]

The Deputy may be aware that in December 2008 I introduced an option for members of Defined Contribution occupational pension schemes to defer the purchase of a retirement annuity with their pension funds for a 2 year period.

Under the arrangements in place up to that time, PAYE taxpayers who were members of such schemes were obliged to purchase an annuity with their main pension fund immediately on retirement after taking their tax-free lump sum. I introduced the deferral period (which applies until the end of this year) because of the difficulties facing members of Defined Contribution schemes whose pension funds had been badly affected by significant falls in equity markets and in asset values at that time. As outlined in the recently published National Pensions Framework, the Government has decided to extend to members of Defined Contribution occupational pension schemes from next year, the option to avail of an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) at retirement, as an alternative to annuity purchase.

Tax Code.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

200 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the reason benefit-in-kind is being charged on staff of local authorities, who drive company cars as part of their daily work, but who cannot drive them outside of work hours other than to and from work; his views on charging persons at the same rate as workers who drive vans under the same conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12372/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a benefit-in-kind charge arises on an employee where a car owned by the employer is available for private use. This includes travel between the employee's home and place of work

Section 121 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a benefit-in-kind charge in respect of the private use of a car provided to an employee by an employer based on 30% of the Original Market Value (OMV) of the vehicle. This charge is reduced on a sliding scale where the business mileage of the individual in the year of assessment is in excess of 24,000 kilometres (for example, where the business mileage is in excess of 48,000 kilometres per year the charge is based on 6% of the Original Market Value of the car). Where an individual is required to use a car solely for the purposes of the performance of their official duties and that car is returned to the employer's premises at the end of the working day, no charge to benefit-in-kind will arise.

Section 121A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a benefit-in-kind charge in respect of the private use of a van based on 5% of the Original Market Value. This charge will not apply where the van is necessary for the employee's work, the employee is required by the employer to take the van home when not being used for work, private use of the van, other than travel to and from work, is prohibited and there is in fact no other private use, and the employee spends at least 80% of his or her working time away from the premises where the employee is attached.

The difference in treatment between cars and vans is due to the inherent design and use differences between the two types of vehicles. A van "is designed or constructed solely or mainly for the carriage of goods or other burden". In both cases, the charge can be reduced by any amount which an employee is required to make good and actually pays to the employer towards running costs.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Joe McHugh

Question:

201 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance his views on forced bank lending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12384/10]

I am assuming that in referring to "forced bank lending" the Deputy means forcing the banks to lend to customers to whom they would not otherwise lend. I would not consider this helpful and it will not aid the economic recovery of the banks if they incur high losses on risky loans they are forced into. However, the Deputy may be aware that under the NAMA Act I will shortly be issuing guidelines to ensure that SMEs, sole traders and farm enterprises will have recourse to an independent, external review of decisions of credit refusal by the NAMA participating banks. My aim is to have a simple, effective review process, run by people with experience and credibility. The banks must comply with the recommendations of the review process, or explain why they will not do so.

In addition to dealing with individual cases, the credit review system will examine the credit policies and practices of the banks in respect of SMEs. This will help me to decide what further action might be necessary to secure the flow of credit. I intend to publish the analysis from the review process so that the performance of the banks participating in NAMA will be clear to all. Work has been ongoing since December on the logistical aspects of the review system and it is envisaged that reviews will commence shortly.

State Property.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

202 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a building (details supplied) in Dublin 20; when it will be legally transferred to the Health Service Executive; if it can be used for the benefit of the local community as a community or enterprise centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12404/10]

Arrangements to transfer the property to the Health Service Executive are nearing completion. As the Commissioners of Public Works have given an undertaking to transfer the property to the HSE, it would not be appropriate to agree to any other uses.

Tax Collection.

John Deasy

Question:

203 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance when an application for a tax refund will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford. [12411/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, regrettably, due to industrial action by some staff it is not possible to ascertain the specific details of this case in the time available.

Tax Code.

Sean Fleming

Question:

204 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the number of properties on a town basis that qualified under the town renewal and urban renewal property tax incentives schemes for each of the towns in County Laois; the cost to the Exchequer in relation to tax relief in each of these towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12432/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information provided in tax returns on the annual amounts of claims for the Town and Urban Renewal Schemes is not sufficiently detailed to provide a basis for deriving an estimate of cost to the Exchequer on a town by town basis. I am not therefore in a position to provide the information requested by the Deputy.

Richard Bruton

Question:

205 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on exempting e-books from VAT; and the discussion he has had with his EU colleagues on the taxation of this sector. [12439/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the supply of e-books is subject to VAT at the standard rate of 21% when sold by Irish based suppliers to consumers in Ireland or in any other EU Member State. The Irish rate applies also to sales of e-books into Ireland from suppliers outside the EU. However, when an Irish consumer purchases e-books from a supplier in another Member State the VAT rate is the applicable rate in the supplier's Member State.

EU Directive 2008/8/EC contains a provision that deals with the VAT treatment of the supply of electronic services supplied to consumers. It provides that, with effect from 1 January 2015, the place of taxation of these services will change to where the consumer resides. This means that VAT on electronic services including e-books will be chargeable in the consumer's Member State. All business-to-business sales of e-books are already taxed in the business customer's Member State.

Under EU VAT law, Member States may retain the zero rates on goods and services which were in place on 1 January 1991, but cannot extend the zero rate to new goods and services. Consequently, it is not possible to exempt e-books from VAT.

Regarding discussions at EU level, the Deputy may be referring to the agreement of May 2009 regarding changes made to Annex III of the VAT Directive which lists certain goods and services to which Member States may optionally apply the reduced VAT rate, which in Ireland is 13.5%. This includes books in all physical forms but does not include books delivered electronically.

Parliamentary Questions.

John O'Mahony

Question:

206 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance his plans to address the non-answering of parliamentary questions submitted to several Departments; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that staff in these Departments will not take calls on the Houses of the Oireachtas lines provided to help access information. [12444/10]

As I said in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 10848/10 of 3 March 2010, the current work to rule and other actions, which are impacting on processing Parliamentary Questions and providing information to public representatives are part of a programme of industrial action undertaken by public service unions across the public sector. The industrial action is in response to the pay reductions imposed by the Government on public servants with effect from 1 January last as part of the Government's budgetary strategy to bring the public finances under control.

In order to address issues raised by the programme of industrial action in the public sector, my Department has established a co-ordination group of all public service sectors affected to monitor and review service delivery and other issues arising from the industrial action. Any industrial action, whatever form it takes, is regrettable, in particular if it has any impact on service delivery to the public. Public Service management are doing what they can to minimise any such impact. As the Deputy will know discussion are currently taking place between the Government and the Public Service Unions with a view to achieving the necessary transformation to the public service into the future.

Question No. 207 answered with Question No. 190.

Information and Telecommunications Technology.

Simon Coveney

Question:

208 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance his procurement policy regarding cloud computing services; the effect the recent communication from the national public procurement operations unit to the wider public service on the issue of cloud computing had on public procurement policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12465/10]

The procurement policy of my Department regarding cloud computing is the same as that regarding any other area, namely that it facilitates open competition, best value for money and best technological fit to requirements while complying with all relevant national and EU legislation. I am aware that the National Public Procurement Operations Unit (NPPOU) recently issued a message to members of the eProcurement Network (public sector buyers on eTenders) stating that where the use of cloud computer systems are being considered, that it is essential to obtain prior legal advice due to the potential risk of liability to the State.

The NPPOU considers this to be prudent advice to any prospective buyer of any IT solution. However, I am aware that the advice may have been interpreted by some as instructing public bodies not to procure cloud computing solutions. That is not the case. My Department is actively examining cloud computing technologies to determine the most appropriate approaches for the public service, taking into consideration the usual requirements with respect to costs, security and data protection.

Property Sector.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

209 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if in relation to SI 88 of 2010, the data and analysis referred to in section 5.2 is publicly available; if not, if it will be made publicly available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12480/10]

In determining the correlation of land prices with various factors as outlined in Section 5.1(b) of Statutory Instrument in question; projections were constructed for several key determinants of activity in the property market. These include:

Gross Domestic Product;

CPI inflation;

Population;

Interest rates and;

Employment numbers.

I am informed by NAMA that data and analysis published by the institutions concerned was considered by it in the context of Section 5.2 of the SI No. 88 of 2010. Additional information considered appropriate by NAMA was made available to NAMA in this context on a confidential basis and it is not proposed that this be published.

Departmental Staff.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

210 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Finance the number of permanent staff that are employed his Department at assistant principal level or above; the number of staff at that level that have a professional accountancy qualification such as ACA-FCA, ACCA-FCCA, ACMA-FCMA or CPA and the number of past ten Secretaries-Secretaries-General that have had one or more of these qualifications. [12495/10]

There are 203.73 whole-time equivalent permanent staff employed in my Department at the level of Assistant Principal or above. Of these, 7 officers have professional accountancy qualifications. In addition, 3 staff at these levels have degrees in Accounting or accounting related disciplines. As regards Secretaries/Secretaries General, I understand the Deputy, following consultation, to be asking only in relation to the current and 3 most recent Secretaries General. One of these officers has a professional accountancy qualification.

Tourism Promotion.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

211 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the efforts that the Office of Public Works has made to work in co-operation with Donegal County Council as well as regional and national tourism bodies on plans to enhance the tourism potential of Grianán of Aileach Hill Fort in County Donegal; and his plans in this regard. [12502/10]

The Office of Public Works has commissioned an information leaflet for Grianán of Aileach, which will be available for distribution locally later this year. New information panels on site are being erected. Discussions are taking place with Donegal County Council about upgrading both the carpark and directional signage that fall under the ambit of the County Council. Further discussions will take place with the County Council and tourist bodies as to how this site of major significance could be promoted and enhanced.

Courts Service.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

212 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the plans that the Office of Public Works has to invest in the refurbishment of Carndonagh courthouse, County Donegal; and when the OPW anticipate that the courthouse will be open for business again. [12503/10]

The Courts Service is responsible for the provision and maintenance of Courthouses. The Office of Public Works acts as agent for the Courts Service. Plans were prepared for the refurbishment of Carndonagh Courthouse last year. However, in light of the economic downturn, it was not possible to proceed with this project. In order to prepare the plans, it was necessary to carry out some investigative works at the Courthouse and the building had to be closed to facilitate these works. I understand that the Courts Service is considering the reopening of the Courthouse at present.

Flood Relief.

Pat Breen

Question:

213 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce a flood relief scheme to an area (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12523/10]

Under a scheme introduced in 2009, the Office of Public Works wrote to all Local Authorities seeking prioritised applications for funding for localised minor flood mitigation works that the Authorities propose to undertake. A number of applications have been submitted by Clare County Council, including two in respect of mitigation works in Ennis. The two applications submitted do not relate directly to the specific locations referred to by the Deputy.

It would be open to Clare County Council to submit applications in relation to these locations that meet the economic and environmental eligibility criteria of this scheme. Any applications will be considered in conjunction with applications received from other Local Authorities, having regard to the overall funding available for such works.

National Asset Management Agency.

Michael McGrath

Question:

214 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which the professional fees associated with the transfer of loans to the National Asset Management Agency will be charged to the relevant financial institutions. [12528/10]

The NAMA (Determination of Long-term Economic Value of Property and Bank Assets) Regulations 2010 provide that a charge of 0.25% be incorporated into the discount rate used in the valuation of loan assets transferring to NAMA. This charge is expected to cover all fees incurred during the valuation process.

Tobacco Prices.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

215 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the European Court of Justice ruling on minimum pricing of tobacco products; the action he will take to ensure that cut price cigarettes are not made available here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12545/10]

James Reilly

Question:

230 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance his plans to ensure that the price of tobacco products does not fall as a result of the recent EU judgment on minimum pricing of tobacco products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12730/10]

Joan Burton

Question:

233 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the recent judgement of the European Court of Justice in relation to the minimum pricing of tobacco products; if he remains committed to a high tobacco price policy as a deterrent to new smokers; if he intends to bring forward legislation to prohibit the below cost selling of tobacco products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12744/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 215, 230 and 233 together.

The European Court of Justice issued a Judgement on 4 March 2010 against Ireland, France, and Austria to the effect that the setting in Health legislation of the minimum price for which cigarettes can be sold is not in keeping with EU Law. The Judgement has only been issued recently and will require to be carefully examined by the relevant Departments, including the Department of Health and Children, as to the appropriate steps that should be taken in the light of the Judgement. It should however be recognised in that context that Ireland already has the highest excise rates on cigarettes in the European Community, by a significant amount.

Public Service Contracts.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

216 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the value of Irish public contracts advertised in the Official Journal of the EU in 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12595/10]

The total value of contracts advertised by Irish contracting authorities in the Official Journal of the European Union in 2008 is approximately €4.5 billion. The corresponding figure for 2009 is not yet available.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Joan Burton

Question:

217 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the statutory powers he plans to exercise to achieve the delegation of powers and banking functions from his Department to the National Treasury Management Agency; the statutory powers that he plans to delegate to the NTMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12596/10]

The passage of the NAMA legislation provided me with an opportunity to further consider the division of work between my Department and the NTMA as a result of the demands of the banking crisis. On 19 March the National Treasury Management Agency Act 1990 (Delegation of Banking Functions) Order 2010 which sets out certain banking functions to be delegated to the NTMA was laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

The main functions to be delegated to the NTMA are the negotiations with the covered institutions on their capital needs and the management of the Minister for Finance's shareholding or other interests in the credit institutions. A related direction to the NTMA makes it clear that they are to play a lead role in these matters, working in close consultation with my Department and with the Central Bank and Financial Regulator.

As Minister for Finance I will continue to be fully responsible and accountable to the Oireachtas and my Department will necessarily remain closely involved with banking and financial services issues.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

218 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the US system of using citizenship to determine whether a person’s worldwide income is subject to taxation; his views on the application of such a system here; the discussions he has had at EU level about the introduction of such a system across the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12599/10]

Since 1913, the United States (US) has had a system of citizenship-based taxation, under which a US citizen is liable to pay US Income Tax on their worldwide income, regardless of where they are resident. This is also combined with a residence-based system under which "resident aliens" (that is, non-US citizens who are resident in the US) are liable to US tax on their worldwide income.

A number of issues would arise if citizenship-based taxation was introduced in Ireland. Initially, there are large numbers of Irish citizens living abroad who have no Irish-sourced income or gains. These include all Irish people who have emigrated and made their lives abroad permanently for a variety of reasons, but chose to maintain their links with Ireland and Irish-citizenship. These people have no liability to Irish tax as they are non-resident within the existing residence rules and, even if domiciled in Ireland, have no income which is subject to Irish tax. Making these people subject to Irish taxation on the basis of citizenship would be an inefficient and ineffective use of the resources available to the Revenue Commissioners. The position of persons living in Northern Ireland would also have to be considered.

In addition, modifications would have to be made to Ireland's Double Taxation Agreements (other than the DTA with the US) to provide that one contracting State reserves the right to tax its citizens wherever they are resident. However, this would lead to difficulties in negotiating new DTAs or even the cancellation of existing DTAs, which would damage our international competitiveness. The change would also be against the OECD norm, whereby residents are taxable on worldwide income and non-residents are taxable on income arising in the State.

The Deputy will be aware that the Domicile Levy, which was announced in the Budget, is charged on an individual who is Irish-domiciled and an Irish citizen whose world-wide income exceeds €1m, their Irish-located property is greater than €5m, and their liability to Irish Income Tax was less than €200,000. The levy has been introduced to ensure that every wealthy Irish-domiciled person will make a contribution to the State. Finally, I am not aware of any discussions on the introduction of a citizenship-based taxation across the EU.

Tax Collection.

Sean Fleming

Question:

219 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the moneys expended and to whom they were paid; the moneys received during the same period under various heading in respect of a property (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12619/10]

The information requested is not held by the Commissioners in a readily accessible format. The Commissioners are, however, collating the information and will make it available to the Deputy at the earliest opportunity.

Tax Code.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

220 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the vouched fuel allowance scheme which he promised to introduce in his budget 2010 speech to offset the impact of the carbon tax on low income groups. [12625/10]

A number of Government Departments, including my Department, are exploring options for how best to offset the impact of the carbon tax on low-income households. A vouched allowance for solid fuels is one such option being explored as are other options for improving the energy efficiency of low-income households which will offset increases in fuel prices arising from carbon taxation.

Redundancy Payments.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

221 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance when former workers of a company (details supplied) in County Limerick that have yet to be paid the Labour Court recommendation for an additional three weeks redundancy pay despite the approval of the Rights Commissioner will be paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12664/10]

Any questions in relation to these matters should, in the first instance, be directed towards the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment who has policy responsibility for these areas.

Financial Services Regulation.

Willie Penrose

Question:

222 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the position whereby a person who secured a loan, and who had a particular health difficulty in the past, which is now resolved, cannot obtain mortgage protection insurance; and if insurance will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12676/10]

As the Deputy is aware, in my role as the Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. However the day-to-day responsibility for the supervision of financial institutions is a matter for the Financial Regulator which is statutorily independent in the exercise of its regulatory functions.

In relation to the Deputy's specific question, the Financial Regulator has informed me that it cannot compel insurers to quote for business for mortgage protection insurance. The decision to provide any specific form of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered is a commercial matter based on the assessment an insurer will make of the risks involved. If a consumer feels that he or she has been unfairly treated by an insurance company, he or she can make a complaint to the insurance company using the insurance company's formal complaints system. If the consumer is dissatisfied with the outcome of his or her complaint he or she can then refer the matter for further investigation to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

223 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the rationale for the introduction of section 139 of the Finance Bill 2010; the reason the abolition of secondary accountability and the 12 year CAT charge is being applied retrospectively; if he was lobbied in respect of this retrospective application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12686/10]

The rationale for the introduction of section 139 of the Finance Bill 2010 (as initiated) is to streamline and modernise the administration and collection of Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT). The changes will lower compliance costs for taxpayers and simplify and streamline administration for both agents and Revenue. The proposals originated out of an internal review of the existing procedures by the Revenue Commissioners and a subsequent public consultation process on CAT. Many of the existing processes around the administration of the tax are out of line with self-assessment principles and they involve excessive certification and clearance procedures having regard to the risks involved, and the alternatives available to Revenue for managing those risks.

The measures in the Bill, which are designed to be Exchequer neutral, will allow Revenue to implement changes which will:

eliminate up to 75% of current CAT documentation;

free up Revenue staff resources for more productive audit and compliance work;

deliver faster, simpler and more straightforward processes for taxpayers and their agents; and

allow the development of CAT audit and compliance programmes that are integrated into Revenue's overall risk evaluation and analysis programme.

The abolition of secondary accountability and the 12 year CAT charge on property are being applied with effect from the date of the passing of the Finance Bill and these changes will apply to inheritances and gifts, regardless of when they were taken. Therefore, the change is being made retrospectively. However, it should be noted that once the new procedures are in place, all CAT returns, regardless of the date of the gift or inheritance, will be integrated into Revenue's risk-driven audit and compliance programmes. Therefore, there is no need to maintain separate systems for gifts or inheritances taken before the introduction of the new procedures.

The Deputy can be assured that I was not lobbied on any aspect of the CAT modernisation package, including the abolition of secondary accountability and the 12 year CAT charge.

National Asset Management Agency.

Joan Burton

Question:

224 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the rationale for the recently reported increases in remuneration for the National Asset Management Agency Board members; the new remuneration arrangements; and the annual cost of remunerating the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12687/10]

In my reply to a Parliamentary Question of 10 March 2010 concerning remuneration of members of the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), I indicated that, under section 21 (1) and 25 (9) of the NAMA Act 2009, I had approved the following fee arrangements. Chairperson — all inclusive fee of €170,000 per annum on the understanding that the incumbent is available without restriction. Chairperson of Credit Committee — all inclusive fee of €150,000 per annum on the understanding that the incumbent works no less than 3 to 4 days a week. Ordinary Board Members (5 remaining board members) — fee of €50,000 per annum. Chair of other Committees — fee of €10,000 per annum in addition to Ordinary Board Member fee subject to a maximum of one per member.

The total cost in 2010 is therefore likely to be €470,000 and an additional amount dependent upon how many sub-committees are established by the Board of NAMA. However, given that board members can receive a maximum of one fee for Chairing another Committee and given the fact that neither the Chair nor the Chair of the credit Committee can receive this extra fee as their main fee is all-inclusive the maximum extra cost of payments to Chairs of other Committees is €50,000.

Originally, the fees for the Chairperson and Ordinary Board Members had been set at €100,000 and €38,000 respectively when the Board was appointed on 22 December 2009. Following discussions with the Chairperson and the Chief Executive of the National Treasury Management Agency last month and in light of the workload of the Board's operations over the initial period of its operation I revised these fees from a current date.

I further indicated that in setting the fees account was taken of the critical importance of the work to be undertaken by the Board and the fact that its workload will be excessive by normal standards in the first year of operation. I also indicated that I intended to review the fees after a year.

Questions Nos. 225 and 226 answered with Question No. 190.

National Debt.

Michael McGrath

Question:

227 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of interest paid in 2009 to service the national debt; the amount expected to be paid, for each year, between 2010 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12700/10]

As previously outlined in reply to PQ10987/10 on 4 March 2010, expenditure on national debt interest amounted to €2½ billion in 2009. Based on the projections for the Exchequer Borrowing Requirement for the years to 2014 set out in Budget 2010, the estimated cost of interest on the national debt is €4½ billion in 2010, €5½ billion in 2011, €6½ billion in 2012, €7½ billion in 2013 and €7½ billion in 2014. The National Treasury Management Agency has advised that, as is usual, these estimates were prepared on the basis of the prevailing market conditions for Irish Government bonds.

Flood Relief.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

228 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the need for flood relief works in respect of a town (details supplied) in County Cork. [12706/10]

Under a scheme introduced in 2009, the Office of Public Works wrote to all Local Authorities seeking prioritised applications for funding for localised minor flood mitigation works that the Authorities propose to undertake. Cork County Council has submitted a number of applications to date, including two applications for flood relief works at Clonakilty. These applications are currently being assessed in conjunction with applications received from other Local Authorities. A decision will be made shortly in relation to the applications.

Departmental Bodies.

Joan Burton

Question:

229 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will establish a body, similar to the Congressional Budget Office in the United States, tasked with the preparation of comprehensive, independent and non-partisan budget projections and costings of budget measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12708/10]

I have no plans to establish a body similar to the US Congressional Budget Office.

The Department of Finance provides comprehensive, independent and non-partisan budget projections and costings of Government budget measures. The Department of Finance also offers the facility to political parties of costing proposals in the context of general elections and in the formulation of programmes for Government.

I am satisfied with the performance of my Department, especially in light of the extraordinary demands placed on it in the period since I came to office.

Question No. 230 answered with Question No. 215.

International Agreements.

James Reilly

Question:

231 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; if officials from his Department are attending or have attended the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products fourth session in Geneva, Switzerland, between 14 and 21 March 2010; his views on this protocol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12731/10]

I can assure the Deputy that I am aware of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that, following its adoption in May 2003 by the 56th World Health Assembly, was signed by Ireland on 10 September 2003 and ratified on 7 November 2005.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the current discussions that are taking place at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) in Geneva are for the purposes of drafting and negotiating a protocol on the illicit trade in tobacco products in order to build on and complement the provisions of Article 15 of the FCTC.

As this protocol concerns the illicit trade in tobacco products, Ireland has been represented at all four INB meetings held to date, including the latest, by officials from the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for tackling the smuggling of tobacco products rather than by officials from my Department or the Department of Health and Children who would normally represent Ireland at meetings organised by the World Health Organisation.

As regards the protocol, while I understand that progress has been slow primarily because of the difficulty in drafting a protocol that is acceptable to all 168 countries that are parties to the FCTC, I can assure the Deputy that Ireland, along with the other Member States of the European Union, is pushing for the adoption of a strong and balanced protocol that will contain effective and meaningful measures to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products on a world wide basis.

Departmental Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

232 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if persons will be taken on as temporary clerical officers for the Civil Service in summer 2010 as has been done in previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12740/10]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

238 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance if the Civil Service will be recruiting students this summer to fill temporary clerical office positions in order to cover for permanent staff on summer leave; or if an embargo applies to these temporary positions. [13033/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 232 and 238 together.

This matter is being considered at present in my Department. As in previous years, it is likely that a limited number of temporary clerical officers will be taken on in the civil service this Summer, but final decisions will depend on the business case made by each Department/Office.

Question No. 233 answered with Question No. 215.

Tax Collection.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

234 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if he will take steps to allow businesses more favourable terms in relation to their VAT repayments and in relation to tax arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12751/10]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

235 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many businesses have been penalised in respect of their VAT and tax repayments even though they have met their full obligations for a given year but have underpaid their preliminary amount; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12752/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 and 235 together.

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the challenge for businesses in meeting their tax obligations in a timely fashion and the requirement on individuals and companies to ensure that at least the minimum amounts of preliminary tax, whether in regard to corporation tax or income tax, are paid.

This is a matter in the first instance for the Revenue Commissioners who are charged with responsibility for the timely collection and recovery of taxes and duties due to the Exchequer. I know that Revenue has a strong focus on making sure that everyone complies with their tax and duty responsibilities by paying the right amount and on time. Revenue expects businesses to continue, notwithstanding the more difficult economic circumstances in which they are operating at present, to organise their financial affairs in such a fashion as to ensure that tax debts are paid as they fall due. I fully support what Revenue are doing in that regard.

Revenue is very conscious of and appreciates that the difficult economic and financial climate that prevails poses challenges for business in being timely compliant. Revenue have responded to the difficult environment by actively encouraging businesses experiencing particular payment difficulties to work proactively with them when such difficulties start to arise in order find an agreed way through those difficulties and quickly restore voluntary timely compliance. Revenue has developed an administrative framework to manage such cases, and has published material for businesses experiencing tax payment difficulties on its website www.revenue.ie.

Where businesses or individuals fail to meet their tax payment obligations on time, including the need to pay the necessary amount of preliminary tax for income tax or corporation tax, then those individuals or businesses are liable to interest. Interest on late payment of tax operates not just as a compensation for the Exchequer for the late payment of monies due to it but also levels the playing field between those who meet their tax obligations on time and those who pay late. I am satisfied that Revenue's actions in regard to the collection of interest are reasonable. Those businesses and individuals who comply on a voluntary and timely basis must be confident that their efforts are recognised through the imposition and collection of interest from those who pay late.

Ministerial Travel.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

236 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost in relation to foreign travel, accommodation and related ministerial and official costs associated with St. Patrick’s day 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12818/10]

I did not travel abroad in an official capacity for Saint Patrick's Day 2010.

Minister of State Martin Mansergh visited the Netherlands and Belgium from Monday 15th March and returned Thursday morning 18th March. He was accompanied by his Private Secretary for the duration of the trip and by the Office of Public Works' Chief Engineer for his visit to the Netherlands. All costs have not been received as yet as some were dealt with directly by the Department of Foreign Affairs and will be invoiced in due course. When all costs have been itemised, a reply will issue to the deputy. The itinerary for Minister Mansergh's trip is set out as follows.

Visit to the Netherlands by Dr. Martin Mansergh TD Minister of State at the Departments of Finance and Arts Sport and Tourism 15th March 2010 – 17th March 2010

Monday 15th

09.45

Depart Dublin Airport on Aer Lingus flight EI 604

12.20

Arrive Amsterdam Schiphol Greeted by Ambassador Whelan and Embassy staff

13.00

Depart Schiphol for The Hague

14.00

Arrive The Hague

15.45

Meeting with Secretary General and Senior Officials, Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management1. Plesmanweg 1-6, 2597 JG The Hague

17.00

Depart for Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel. Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197, 1012EX Amsterdam

18.00

Arrive Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel. Check in

18.35

Depart Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel for Rijksmuseum

18.55

Arrive Rijksmuseum. Tourism Ireland Press Reception2, Rijksmuseum, Stadhouderskade 42, 1071 ZD Amsterdam

20.15

Depart Rijksmuseum for Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen

20.30

Arrive Restaurant. Dinner with Committee Members, Irish Club of the Netherlands. Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen, Spuisstraat 294-302, 1012VX Amsterdam

22.00

Dinner concludes. Return to Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel. Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197, 1012EX Amsterdam

Tuesday 16th

10.35

Depart Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel for Amstel Hotel

11.00 – 14.30

Bord Bia / Chef’s Irish Beef Club (CIBC) Event: A Celebration of Irish Food and Drink, Amstel Hotel, Professor Tulpplein 1, 1018 GX Amsterdam.

Running order of event:

11:00

Arrival guests, reception with coffee, tea and biscuits

11.15

Welcome by Declan Fennell, Bord Bia, and brief introduction on the development of the sale of Irish products in the Netherlands, the importance of Irish beef, cooperation CIBC, recipe magazine Mooi & Mals. Followed by remarks by Minister Mansergh

11.30

Tasting Irish drinks led by Mr. Rohan Gillespie

12.45

Lunch in Restaurant ‘La Rive’ prepared by Roger Rassin, new CIBC member. After the 2nd course Roger Rassin will be inaugurated

14.30

Depart Amstel Hotel for Dutch Association of Regional Water Authorities

15.30

Meeting with Director of Dutch Association of Regional Water Authorities3 Koningskade 40, 2596 AA The Hague

16.30

Depart Dutch Association of Regional Water Authorities for Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel

17.45

Arrive Hotel

18.30 –19.00

Interview with journalist from De Volkskrant, and 2 other journalists, Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel.

19.15

Ireland Netherlands Business Association Spring Dinner4 (Minister Mansergh is Guest of Honour and Speaker) Venue: Council Chamber, Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197, 1012EX Amsterdam

22.30

Dinner concludes

Wednesday 17th

07.30

Depart Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand Hotel for Amsterdam Centraal Station

07.45

Arrive Amsterdam Centraal

08.11

“Sneltrein” to Den Haag Centraal Station (Den Haag CS) departs from platform 13a

09.02

Arrive Den Haag Centraal Station Greeted by Embassy Transfer to House of Representatives, The Hague

09.15

Meeting with Chairperson of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Public Works and Water Management Bezuidenhoutseweg 73, 2594 AC The Hague

10.00

Meeting concludes Possible visit to Mauritshuis Art Gallery

11.35

Depart Den Haag Hollands Spoor Station for Brussel Centraal Station Note: train journey is 2h 03m Fare: €30.00 per person 2nd class €46.40 per person 1st class (includes power plug for laptop) (Fares per NS Rail service web-page)

13.38

Arrive Brussel Centraal Greeted by Ambassador Nason or Niall Brady, Embassy, Brussels Transfer to Sofitel, 3 Place Jourdan, 1040 Brussels (freshen up)

14.50

Transfer to Jacques Delors Building 99 Rue Belliard, 1040 Brussels — Remarks at the Research to Reality workshop — Opportunity to view “Diversity in Unity” exhibition by Irish artists — Tour state agency presentations, meet state agency representatives

16.30

Transfer to Charlemagne Building 170 Rue de la Loi, 1049 Brussels Greeted by Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee, Mr Martin Westlake & Ms Jillian Van Tournhout Freshen up opportunity (VIP room near entrance to building) Then escorted to plenary chamber

17:00

Plenary session begins — welcoming remarks by President Sepi — address by Minister Mansergh (10 minutes) — responses from representatives of the EESC’s three groups (these may be in the form of statements, questions etc.) — Minister’s closing remarks

17.45

Depart Charlemagne

17:50

Minister arrives at Jacques Delors Building 99 Rue Belliard, 1040 Brussels

18:00

Diplomatic Reception begins (Minister participates in receiving line) Irish music and dance programme

19:00

Ireland in Europe Reception begins

19:30

Piper (Jean-Pierre Faure) pipes Dais party down stairs — Welcoming remarks by Mr. Mario Sepi, President of EESC (2mins) — Ambassador Nason introduces Minister Mansergh — Minister addresses Reception (5-7 minutes)

19:45

Irish music and dance programme

21:30

Depart Jacques Delors Building Dinner (tbc) Staying at Sofitel, 3 Place Jourdan, 1040 Brussels

Thursday 18th

10.15

Depart Brussels, Aer Lingus flight

1Following the collapse of the Dutch government, Minister Camiel Eurlings has assumed responsibility for all portfolios in the Ministry.

2From 4 September to 5 December 2010 the National Gallery in Dublin will host an exhibition of works by Gabriel Metsu, a 17th Century Dutch painter. The Metsu exhibition will then go to the Rijksmuseum from 21 December to 21 March 2011. This exhibition presents an opportunity to present Dublin and Ireland as a Cultural Destination of significance. The press reception on March 15th aims (1) to present Dublin as a cultural “City Break” destination with a wealth of cultural things to see and do, and (2) to announce a group trip to Dublin in September for Dutch press, which will offer a sneak preview of the exhibition. The target audience (of 40 people) at the press reception will be National Press (Lifestyle, Newspapers, Travel trade and specialist media), and Irish business and agency contacts in the Netherlands.

3The Regional Water Authorities are concerned, inter alia, with water control/management, and in the development and implementation of international policy (EU). From their web page: “To exchange knowledge and experiences, Regional Water Authorities cooperate with foreign authorities and institutions. To this end, they (via the Association of Regional Water Authorities) are involved in international organisations working in the field of water management, like EUREAU and EUWMA. There is foreign interest in the manner in which the Netherlands organises its water management and in which Regional Water Authorities play a keyrole. The Dutch Association of Regional Water Authorities is a member of the Netherlands Water Partnership, the platform of the Dutch water sector. Dutch expertise can play a role in solving problems elsewhere. But foreign experiences can also contribute to Dutch water management. Whether it concerns joint solutions to shared (cross-border) problems, exchange of expertise, or application of expertise abroad, it is impossible to imagine life without international cooperation in the world of water. Nearly all Regional Water Authorities have developed international activities. In total, over 35 countries are involved.”

4The Ireland Netherlands Business Association (INBA) is a business networking association which works closely with Irish State agencies and the broader Dutch and Irish business communities in the Netherlands. Its membership ranges from international public companies to small and medium sized companies and semi-state organisations. Through periodic networking events, INBA provides a forum for networking and communication. These networking events include twice-yearly dinners, the invitation lists for which are drawn from across the Netherlands-Ireland business communities. Recent speakers at INBA dinners include former Taoisigh Dr. Garret FitzGerald and Bertie Ahern, entrepreneur Harry Crosbie, U2 Manager Paul McGuinness, former Minister for Finance Ruairí Quinn, Dutch Minister for European Affairs Frans Timmermans, and Peter Sutherland SC, Chairman of BP plc. and of Goldman Sachs International, and UN Special Representative for Migration and Development.

Garda Stations.

Denis Naughten

Question:

237 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 192 of 24 November 2009 the position regarding this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12973/10]

The production of tender documentation for the works at Clonark Garda Station is well advanced and it is expected that competitive bids will be sought within the next 6 weeks approx.

It is expected that the required works to the station will be substantially completed by the end of this year.

Question No. 238 answered with Question No. 232.

Tax Code.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

239 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance the process by which a person who overpaid the income levy in 2009 but who has not worked with the same employer continuously throughout 2009 can apply for a refund of this overpayment; the length of time this process should take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13034/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a person who has overpaid income levy can apply for a refund in one of two ways as described below. In making an application a person should use the figures from the Income Levy Certificates which he/she will have received from his/her employer in respect of each employment held in 2009. The person should either:

(i) Complete an Income Levy Refund Claim Form and send it to their local Revenue office. The form is available to download from www.revenue.ie or from Revenue's Forms and Leaflets Service, which can be contacted at 1890 30 67 06; or

(ii) Submit their claim using the on-line facility at www.revenue.ie

Refund claims would normally be processed within 20 working days in accordance with Revenue's customer service standards. Unfortunately, however, Income Levy refund claims forms are among items of work currently embargoed in the on-going industrial action by certain Public Sector unions and accordingly it is not possible to say when claims will be dealt with. Talks between public service management and unions are continuing with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission in an effort to resolve the current dispute.

Financial Services Regulation.

James Bannon

Question:

240 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13037/10]

As Minister for Finance I am responsible for the legislative and policy framework for the regulation of financial services. Under this framework I cannot become involved in disputes between individual financial institutions and their customers.

If the person referred to in the Deputy's question, feels that he has been unfairly treated by the financial institution concerned, he can make a complaint to that institution using their formal complaints system. If he is dissatisfied with the outcome of his complaint he can then refer the matter for further investigation to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Health Service Staff.

Denis Naughten

Question:

241 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive section 39 organisations have implemented pay cuts despite a reply (details supplied) to a parliamentary question; the steps she is taking to address this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12743/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Legislative Programme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

242 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will prevent the opening of any head shops in the Clontarf area, Dublin 3. [13052/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

David Stanton

Question:

243 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 249 and 301 of 19 January 2010, if she will list all the bodies who qualify as Health Service Executive service providers under section 38 of the Health Act 2004 and so are classified as public service bodies; the list of all the bodies to whom the HSE pays a grant towards running costs under section 39 of the Health Act 2004 and so are not liable for pension levy nor salary reductions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13072/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards.

Jack Wall

Question:

244 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card renewal application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12237/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

245 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be allocated a bed in the Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9. [12240/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Service Staff.

Phil Hogan

Question:

246 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a report on the scope of the final framework agreement in respect of human resource issues; the intended use and application of this framework; if the use and application scope of the final framework agreement could be revised on the basis that the Health Service Executive appeared to be applying the agreement in a far wider set of circumstances than was designed or originally intended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12241/10]

A draft employment control framework for 2010 for the health service is currently the subject of discussion with the Department of Finance.

Employment control frameworks have been used for a number of years in the health sector to give effect to Government policies on the number employed in the health sector. The 2009 framework gave effect to the Government decision on the moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. A HSE circular issued which gave effect to the Government decision in the public health services and other specific aspects of the employment control framework for the health services.

The Government decision was modulated to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability. The 2009 framework specifically exempted a number of front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium. The focus on these key grades was in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding was already provided. The overall result was to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care. This would mean reorganising and restructuring work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. The redeployment and reassignment of staff would be an essential part of this process. It is a matter of great concern that the level of flexibility from staff and unions required to achieve the changes needed, is not forthcoming at the moment, due to the ongoing industrial action across the public service.

Health employment levels are monitored by the Joint Employment Control Monitoring Committee, which comprises officials from my Department, the Department of Finance and the HSE. This committee also reviews the implementation of the moratorium and any issues arising.

Third Level Sector.

Phil Hogan

Question:

247 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the recent decision to reduce wages of researchers in Trinity College, Dublin, arising from a decision which is likely to have a detrimental effect for persons who are engaged in beneficial work associated with health policy research; her views on whether the recent decisions are removing the incentive to conduct the valuable work in relation to health policy in the future; if she will investigate the possibility of exempting those persons who are researching health policy from pay cuts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12243/10]

The issue of wage rates is governed by the employer/employee relationship. In the case of Trinity College Dublin as Minister for Health and Children I am neither involved nor have a role in relation to this matter. More broadly, the Government continues to place considerable importance on the promotion of research. Last year I launched an Action Plan for Health Research which seeks to bring about an increase in the extent and quality of health research, including health policy research. Of course the current economic environment means all areas in receipt of public funds must seek to control costs and achieve more with limited resources.

Medical Cards.

Michael McGrath

Question:

248 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for an over 70 years medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [12245/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

249 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [12246/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Finian McGrath

Question:

250 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [12247/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Finian McGrath

Question:

251 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [12248/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

252 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the spending to date in preparing plans and undertaking preparatory works at the Mater for the new children’s hospital; if she has set aside moneys to commence the construction; and if she will outline the phasing. [12251/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

253 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12261/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Noel Coonan

Question:

254 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a bilateral adoption agreement with Ethiopia; the outcome of discussions with an organisation (details supplied) following their annual general meeting in February 2010; if it is envisioned that parents here will be able to adopt from Ethiopia in the near future; if not, if transitional measures will be put in place for parents who have sent their declaration to Ethiopia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12268/10]

The Adoption Bill, 2009, is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted.

Ireland does not have a bilateral agreement with Ethiopia in respect of adoption. Consideration of this matter is at an early stage. I can confirm that I have had ongoing contact with the Irish Ethiopian Adoption Organisation to discuss the position.

I brought forward at Committee stage an amendment to the Adoption Bill 2009 that will enable prospective adoptive parents to proceed with an adoption from a non-Hague or non-bilateral country, if prior to the establishment date, they have been issued with a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to adopt. The proposed amendment requires that the Adoption Authority (to be set up under the Act) would be satisfied that the particular adoption meets all the standards of the Hague Convention. Following the Committee stage debate I am also giving consideration to the possibility of including the three month ‘cooling off' period provided for in the ratification process for the Hague Convention in the transitional provision.

Ambulance Service.

Noel Coonan

Question:

255 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a proposed ambulance base in a town (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for the delay in progressing this project; the amount of capital that will be made available for the project; the timeframe for spending same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12269/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Services.

Phil Hogan

Question:

256 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide evidence and justification with respect to diagnostic laboratory services as a whole to support her comments in Dáil Éireann on 8 December 2009 with respect to clinical laboratory services in the Health Service Executive when she stated that our turn around time is bad and our quality is poor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12270/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

257 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied). [12271/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Departmental Property.

Seán Connick

Question:

258 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of buildings her Department are renting within the State; the rental costs of these rentals in 2009; the average length of the leases of these buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12291/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Departmental Staff.

Seán Connick

Question:

259 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff in her Department, and any agency under her remit, who are primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12305/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

260 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Meath is on a Health Service Executive waiting list to see a psychologist; and if so, the length of time that they have to wait to receive the attention they need. [12318/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Finian McGrath

Question:

261 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford. [12328/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

262 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12359/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

263 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when speech and language therapy sessions will be offered in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12361/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

264 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a carer will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12362/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Services.

Michael Creed

Question:

265 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when an operator will be appointed to a new community hospital facility (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12370/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

266 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide funding for an association (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12377/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Joe McHugh

Question:

267 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the supports that are available to sufferers of diffuse idiopathic hyperostosis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12380/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

268 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for a medical card by persons (details supplied). [12390/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

269 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied). [12399/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

270 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12400/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

271 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Health Service Executive will take ownership of a building (details supplied) in Dublin 20; the plans that are in place for this building once under HSE ownership; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12405/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

272 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding allocated to drug treatment and rehabilitative services and projects in 2009; the allocation for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12406/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

273 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the groups and projects in the Dublin 8, 10 and 12 areas which received funding from her Department and the Health Service Executive in 2009 to tackle drug misuse; the funding they will receive in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12407/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

274 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if weight management programmes will be available in every primary care team area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12415/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

275 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if there will be adult obesity treatment units in each Health Service Executive region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12416/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

276 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding she has provided in each of the past five years to tackle obesity and the outcome achieved; her plans for future programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12417/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

277 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a policy for the annual weighing of school children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12418/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Mental Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

278 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12426/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

279 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the reason for the delay in providing an assessment of needs for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if the assessment will be carried out without any further delay. [12433/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

280 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on the request by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry to have their medical card application reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12435/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

281 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12436/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Adoption Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

282 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that persons who plan to adopt from a country (details supplied) are now in a race against time to get approval for adoption from the Adoption Board; and if she will make arrangements for a transition period to allow persons who have been pursuing this option for a long time to complete the process. [12438/10]

The Adoption Bill, 2009, is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted. Ireland does not have a bilateral agreement with Ethiopia in respect of adoption. Consideration of this matter is at an early stage.

I brought forward at Committee stage an amendment to the Adoption Bill 2009 that will enable prospective adoptive parents to proceed with an adoption from a non-Hague or non-bilateral country, if prior to the establishment date, they have been issued with a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to adopt. The proposed amendment requires that the Adoption Authority (to be set up under the Act) would be satisfied that the particular adoption meets all the standards of the Hague Convention. Following the Committee stage debate I am also giving consideration to the possibility of including the three month ‘cooling off' period provided for in the ratification process for the Hague Convention in the transitional provision.

The HSE and the Adoption Board are both aware of the deadlines associated with the transitional measure and are making every effort to process applications on hand for Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability to Adopt prior to commencement of the legislation.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Pat Breen

Question:

283 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a nursing home support scheme for persons requiring a short stay in nursing homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12447/10]

My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, has no plans to introduce a scheme of financial support specifically for short-term care in nursing homes. However, I would like to alert the Deputy to the availability of the respite care grant which is paid by the Department of Social and Family Affairs to carers and which can be used to cover the cost of short-term care in a nursing home. I would also like to draw the Deputy's attention to a number of wider developments which are currently ongoing and which are of relevance to the issue of short-term care.

Firstly, the Department of Health and Children is currently preparing a new legislative framework to provide for clear statutory provisions on eligibility and entitlement for all health and personal social services. On completion of this undertaking, proposals will be brought to Government for approval. Secondly, the Department has commenced work on analysis of future funding models for long-term care. This work will involve a detailed exploration of financially sustainable funding options to support the provision of all long-term care services, both community-based and residential. In line with the Government's commitment to supporting people to live in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, the work will consider the continuum of care services, including the role of short-term care, such as step-down or respite care, within nursing homes.

Medical Procedures.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

284 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason she has requested an organisation (details supplied) to carry out the report into the practice of symphysiotomy in view of the fact that members and former members of that profession are the subject of the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12450/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

285 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the expected extent of the report into the practice of symphysiotomy which she has initiated; if those persons carrying out the review will be expected to examine the files of each of the women concerned and review their individual medical records; if such a detailed review will be carried out within the timeframe; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12451/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

286 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the meaning of the term protocols in the context of the review of the practice of symphysiotomy that she has established; if there were, in fact, any protocols on such matters during the period under review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12452/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

287 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 166 of 10 February 2010, when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [12457/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Mary Upton

Question:

288 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans in place to outsource pathology services; the reasons she believes this might be the most appropriate option; her views on the possible loss of jobs and local expertise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12470/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Mary Upton

Question:

289 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reply to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12471/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

290 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if in respect of the measures announced in annex D of budget 2009 for her Department, if the item has been completed as of 10 March 2010; if not, the date by which this measure is expected to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12477/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

291 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Laois will receive an appointment at Tullamore Hospital, County Offaly; and if the family will be notified at an early date. [12500/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Pat Breen

Question:

292 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the status of a project (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12524/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Joe Carey

Question:

293 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the roll-out of BreastCheck to County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12531/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Children in Care.

Joe Carey

Question:

294 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 2 December 2009, when a reply will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12532/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

James Bannon

Question:

295 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the financial support available to a person (details supplied) in County Longford in respect of orthodontic treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12540/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

296 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the process involved in contacting women to remind them of their right to a free cervical cancer smear test; the numbers contacted each year; the way they are contacted; the effort that is made to ensure the database is up to date; the action that is taken when someone is uncontactable or has not taken up the offer or reminder of a smear test; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12556/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Children in Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

297 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to have the Health Information and Quality Authority investigate and report on the number of children that have died after having had a social worker investigate their circumstances on foot of contact by a concerned person or persons; the number of children that have been harmed or died while home under supervision; and the number of children that have been harmed or died after returning from care. [12558/10]

HIQA on 20th January 2010 published "Guidance for the Health Service Executive for the Review of Serious Incidents including Deaths of Children in Care”. The Guidance states that SSI should be informed within 48 hours of any serious incidents relating to the following children:

children in care

children known to the HSE child protection system

when a case of suspected or confirmed abuse involves a serious incident to a child known to the HSE or a HSE funded service.

The types of incidents referred to by the Deputy would appear to fall into the categories described above.

Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

298 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will establish an office independent of the Health Service Executive to which shortcomings and dangerous practice in care can be referred as addressed. [12559/10]

The health sector is one of the most complex areas of activity in every country and it must, by its very nature, command the confidence of those who use it. While I am confident that the majority of patients in Ireland receive effective and safe treatment, unfortunately, errors do occur in any health service. It is important therefore, that we have systems in place to minimize risk of occurrence and to detect and respond appropriately to them when they do occur. Patient safety has always been high on my agenda and on the agenda of this Government as is evident from various initiatives I have taken in this regard.

I established the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in 2007. One of the main functions of the Authority is the setting of standards and monitoring healthcare quality. The Authority also has the power to undertake investigations as to the safety, quality and standards of services where it is believed that there is a serious risk to the health and welfare of a person receiving services. The Authority has carried out a number of investigations in recent years and there is acknowledged to be public confidence in the work of HIQA.

In January 2007, I established a Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance to develop clear and practical recommendations to ensure that quality and safety for patients is paramount within the healthcare system. The Commission did consider the option of creating a new, stand-alone agency for Patient Safety. However, after much deliberation, the Commission concluded that it would be better to continue the momentum already built up through the working of the Commission and the improvements in patient safety that had already been made by the existing regulatory bodies. It was the Commission's view that a new patient safety agency, with a very broad remit, would require major legislative, structural and organisational changes which would take some years to put in place, thereby delaying the effective implementation of the recommendations in the Report. The Commission's Report —Building a Culture of Patient Safety was published in August 2008 and approved by Government in January 2009. The report contains 134 recommendations spanning almost every area of the health service. The most significant recommendation of the report is the introduction of a licensing system for all health services whether they are delivered publicly or privately based on standards to be set by HIQA. The Commission also proposed that the licensing scheme should be operated by HIQA. HIQA’s role in the licensing process, its overall remit in setting standards and monitoring health care quality and its achievements in this area to date, reinforces the Commission’s strong emphasis on patient safety and quality and further obviates the need for a new agency.

An Implementation Steering Group (ISG), chaired by my Department's Chief Medical Officer, was established in June 2009 with clear and regular reporting obligations to me regarding progress on the implementation of all the recommendations; this Implementation process is well advanced. The overall approach to the implementation plan endorsed by the Commission was to avoid short-term structural changes and, instead, to build on the structures already in place. The Commission considered that this was the best way of delivering results quickly. Finally, in March 2009 the provisions of the Health Act 2007 on protected disclosures were commenced. This facilitates all healthcare staff to disclose matters of concern to them to an authorised person and to provide statutory protection against penalisation in their workplace and against civil liability.

All the above measures are paving the way for a new culture of patient safety, openness, transparency, learning and accountability. On this basis, I do not see a need for, and am not proposing, the establishment of a separate office to which shortcomings can be referred.

Foster Care.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

299 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will alter the law to allow interested and concerned parties, such as foster carers, to have a legal right to be heard in court in respect of a child’s welfare and future. [12560/10]

The issues raised by the Deputy appear to be a matter for the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform. However, I regret that due to industrial action my Department is not in a position to provide a substantive response to the Deputy's Question.

Hepatitis C Incidence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

300 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will address the issue of the small number of women who received contaminated anti-D but who have tested negative for hepatitis C despite having similar health problems to persons who tested positive; if legislative change is necessary to address this; if she will amend the legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12561/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

301 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in arranging a person (details supplied) in County Kildare to be seen by an occupational therapist. [12563/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

302 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the way a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can obtain intravenous antibiotics within the existing health system here. [12564/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

303 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will be renewed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare whose current card expired in February 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12566/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

304 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a surgery will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12567/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Bernard Allen

Question:

305 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will explain a decision not to grant a refund in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [12586/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Legislative Programme.

Alan Shatter

Question:

306 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the operation of a head shop directly opposite a secondary school (details supplied) in Dublin 14; the action that she plans to take to address the concerns expressed by the parents of the children attending this school; when she plans to introduce the appropriate legislation to regulate both the operation of these head shops and the products sold there. [12598/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Pension Provisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

307 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ascertain from the Health Service Executive when the superannuation payment will commence for a former HSE employee (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the fact that the person retired on 4 February 2010. [12634/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

308 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that children who are with the Beechpark services who progress to a secondary school placement lose their home support grant even though they have the same care needs; the steps she will take to ensure that there will be uniformity of treatment of children based on their needs rather than the accident of the particular service to which their care is attached; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12638/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Departmental Expenditure.

Richard Bruton

Question:

309 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the aggregate budget that has been made available to fund rehab day care places for persons in 2010 and beyond, in particular a centre (details supplied); her plans to increase this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12640/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Staff.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

310 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to appoint a haematologist to Letterkenny General Hospital, County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12642/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

311 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the recent controversy at Tallaght hospital, Dublin, an investigation will take place into X-ray practices; and if similar investigations will be carried out at other hospitals and departments. [12643/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

312 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if the existing medical card contract with general practitioners includes the taking of necessary blood tests or if medical card patients are required to attend hospital for such tests; if she has done an analysis on the comparative cost and turnaround of requiring blood tests to be done in hospital compared to general practitioner surgery; and her views on an incentive for GPs to take blood tests at their surgeries. [12648/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

James Bannon

Question:

313 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the future of a centre (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12651/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Adoption Services.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

314 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will give a commitment to persons (details supplied) that they will receive their declaration of suitability from the Adoption Board as soon as possible in order that their inter-country adoption application will be covered under the Adoption Bill 2009. [12656/10]

The Adoption Bill, 2009, is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted.

I brought forward at Committee stage an amendment to the Adoption Bill 2009 that will enable prospective adoptive parents to proceed with an adoption from a non-Hague or non-bilateral country, if prior to the establishment date, they have been issued with a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to adopt. The proposed amendment requires that the Adoption Authority (to be set up under the Act) would be satisfied that the particular adoption meets all the standards of the Hague Convention. Following the Committee stage debate I am also giving consideration to the possibility of including the three month ‘cooling off' period provided for in the ratification process for the Hague Convention in the transitional provision.

The HSE and the Adoption Board are both aware of the deadlines associated with the transitional measure and are making every effort to process applications on hand for Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability to Adopt prior to commencement of the legislation.

Hospital Staff.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

315 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the Health Service Executive will ensure that medical students with the best results and performance, disregarding their citizenship status, will be given equal opportunity when applying for internships in this country following the change in the selection process in the medical placement system. [12657/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

316 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the Health Service Executive will treat existing non-EU medical students who are applying for a medical internship on their merit, using the revised selection process in the medical placement system. [12658/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

317 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the way she plans to deal with the backlog of processing of optical claims under the medical card scheme in an area (details supplied); and if she will intervene to speed up the process. [12659/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Martin Ferris

Question:

318 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children if the cut in allocation to a centre (details supplied) in County Kerry will be reversed in view of the services which the centre provides for deaf people in the county. [12663/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

319 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to concerns regarding a nursing unit (details supplied) in County Roscommon, namely the complete suspension of its day care service due to staff shortages; if she will make a commitment that funding will be approved for staffing of the day care service as a priority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12679/10]

This Government is committed to supporting people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Where this is not feasible, the health service supports access to quality long-term residential care where this is appropriate and we continue to develop and improve health services in all regions of the country and to ensure quality and patient safety.

The Health Service Executive has operational responsibility for the delivery of health and social services, including those at facilities such as Plunkett Home, Boyle. The information contained herein represents the position at 9th March 2010.

The Executive has been asked, in the light of the current economic and budgetary pressures, to make a rigorous examination of how existing funding might be re-configured or re-allocated to ensure maximum service provision is achieved. This requires a stringent on-going review of the application of the resources currently available.

Integrated Services Directorate is the Executive's directorate responsible for the delivery of healthcare services. In line with what's happening around the country, the HSE in Roscommon is reviewing its use of resources and facilities for all care in the County.

The Executive indicated that it temporarily closed the Day-care Service at the Plunkett Community Nursing Unit in Boyle from Monday March 8th.

The Executive indicated that the service has been suspended for a period of 3 months and it will make every effort to restore it as quickly as possible.

Departmental Programmes.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

320 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department has received an application (details supplied) under the once-off initiative programme; if a decision has been made on this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12680/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Nursing Home Accommodation.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

321 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children the proposals that are planned for the future of a nursing home (details supplied) in County Galway; if the Health Service Executive has plans for closing this nursing home; if so, the alternatives for replacing the 38 bed unit which currently exists at this nursing home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12684/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Departmental Correspondence.

Michael Creed

Question:

322 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received a request from an organisation (details supplied) for permission to extend the nursing support and care service which they provide to children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12689/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Pension Provisions.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

323 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children if employees of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service are public servants, the reason they have always paid into a private pension; if the pension is taken over by the public service, the changes that will occur; if employees will still have the benefits of their contributory pension as well as the public service pension; if the pension is taken over by the public service, will the employees still have to pay a pension contribution; as public servants, the reason the Department of Finance has not taken the pension levy that the IBTS staff have paid since March 2009; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that when the pension levy was introduced the employees were informed they were not eligible to contribute to it; the position of employees with eight years or less employment with the IBTS in the calculation of pensionable salaries if they are taken into a public service pension system; the reason it has taken since March 2009 to find out what pension staff should be paying into; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12697/10]

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is a statutory body under the aegis of my Department. A contributory funded pension scheme, sponsored by the employer, was set up for employees in 1963. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service is a public service body as defined in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009 and consequently its employees are public servants within the terms of that Act. The pension scheme in place comes under the scope of a public service pension scheme as defined in section 1 of the Act ‘provided for under an administrative measure to like effect as the Superannuation Acts'. The pension related deduction is required to be remitted to the Exchequer in all cases.

Officials from both my Department and the Department of Finance met with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service some weeks ago at the behest of the employer to discuss the scheme and its fund.The issue of future pension provision for IBTS employees is currently under consideration by both Departments.

EU Directives.

Alan Shatter

Question:

324 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made towards the funding and provision of a 116000 telephone number for the reporting of cases of missing children in keeping with the EU Universal Service Directive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12704/10]

The issues raised by the Deputy appear to be a matter for the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform. However, I regret that due to industrial action my Department is not in a position to provide a substantive response to the Deputy's Question.

Nursing Home Subvention.

James Bannon

Question:

325 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford, who is 82 years, has to pay €554 per week to retain a place in a care centre while the person a patient at a hospital (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12732/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Staff.

Michael Ring

Question:

326 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if the management of a hospital (details supplied) in County Mayo has applied to replace the nursing staff they have lost; when this application was submitted to the Health Service Executive; if the HSE made an application to her to get the embargo on recruitment lifted to replace the necessary staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12735/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Tobacco Products.

Joan Burton

Question:

327 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the recent judgment of the European Court of Justice on the minimum pricing of tobacco products; if she remains committed to a high tobacco price policy as a deterrent to new smokers; and if she intends to bring forward legislation to prohibit the below cost selling tobacco of products. [12745/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hepatitis C Incidence.

Joan Burton

Question:

328 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children her position in respect of the treatment of women exposed to contaminated anti-D in State run hospitals; her views on whether women could have been exposed to contaminated anti-D and developed symptoms consistent with hepatitis C even though they may test negative for the disease; the number of women who are estimated to have fallen into this category; her plans to amend legislation in order to allow these women the prospect of legal remedy through the compensation tribunal or otherwise and to avail of medical supports put in place to treat women exposed to contaminated anti-D; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12765/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Ministerial Travel.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

329 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimated cost for foreign travel, accommodation and related ministerial and official costs associated with St. Patrick’s day 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12820/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

330 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when speech and language therapy will be arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12905/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

331 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the location and reasons for provision of new services for Celbridge, County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12906/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

332 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding a surgical procedure; if surgery can be expedited in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12909/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Foster Care.

Richard Bruton

Question:

333 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children her policy in respect of social worker support to foster families and to children who are fostered; the number of foster families served by each social worker; if foster children have independent access to a different social structure in the event of mutual difficulties arising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12913/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to this Question. However, the National Standards for Foster Care set out the core procedures under which foster care is to be provided and these standards state that each child and young person in foster care should have a designated social worker.

Health Information and Quality Authority.

Sean Fleming

Question:

334 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to extend the role and functions authority of the Health Information and Quality Authority to allow it to carry out unannounced inspections and other appropriate activities in voluntary hospitals and Health Service Executive controlled hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12921/10]

The functions of the Health Information and Quality Authority include the setting of standards for the HSE and organisations providing services to the HSE and the monitoring of compliance with those standards. The Authority has already developed national quality standards in areas such as symptomatic breast disease, hygiene and infection prevention and control. Work is ongoing by my Department on the drafting of legislative proposals for a mandatory system of licensing which will cover both public and private healthcare providers based on explicit standards set by the Health Information and Quality Authority. It is anticipated that these legislative proposals will be brought to Government by the end of the year. Work is already well advanced by the Authority on the development of the standards which will underpin this system of licensing.

It is a matter for the Authority to decide how best to monitor compliance with any standards, including making unannounced inspections.

Hospital Staff.

Sean Fleming

Question:

335 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will outline the discussions, correspondence, agreement and approval that her Department may have given in respect of the retirement package of the former chief executive of Tallaght Hospital who retired in 2009; if she will state the cost to the Exchequer which is met by the vote to her Department; the details of the severance package approved including details of pension, lump-sum payment, retirement payment, years added on for pension calculations, number of years upon which final pension was based, number of years worked in the public service and any other benefits that may have attached; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12924/10]

Employees of the Meath, Adelaide incorporating the National Children's Hospital (Tallaght), are superannuated under the Voluntary Hospital Superannuation Schemes and therefore any retirement benefits are payable in accordance with its' scheme rules. The administration of that scheme was devolved to the Health Service Executive in February 2007. My Department has had no discussions, correspondence, agreement or approval in respect of potential retirement benefits in relation to the individual concerned.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

336 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12929/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

337 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for an appointment with an occupational therapist. [12933/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Departmental Funding.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

338 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to an organisation’s (details supplied) request for a meeting to discuss its funding and services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12937/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Pension Provisions.

Mary Upton

Question:

339 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive can provide funding in the short term to rescue a pension scheme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12938/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Hospital Services.

Mary White

Question:

340 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she and the Health Service Executive are taking to address the situation in which outpatients are waiting three years and longer for appointments to see orthopaedic consultants at Waterford General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12946/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Mary White

Question:

341 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans she and the Health Service Executive have to increase resources in Waterford General Hospital to reduce the long waiting list time being experienced by outpatients waiting to see orthopaedic outpatients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12947/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

342 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review the funding to an association (details supplied) to allow it to develop its services to patients suffering the condition in view of the fact it is in a position to employ only one specialist nurse facilitating the entire motor neurone disease community. [12969/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Cycle-to-Work Scheme.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

343 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if the cycle-to-work scheme is operational within the Health Service Executive; if she will report on the difficulties being experienced in some HSE areas in view of the fact that it seems that there is a lack of information about the way this system works or the person who is administering the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12981/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Joe McHugh

Question:

344 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if home help services are being cut. [13040/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Departmental Correspondence.

Mary Upton

Question:

345 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reply to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13041/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Health Services.

Alan Shatter

Question:

346 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of Health Service Executive special care units here; the names, addresses and contact details of each unit; the management structure and the number of children for which each unit is certified; the plans that the HSE has regarding a special care unit (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13046/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Finian McGrath

Question:

347 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [13055/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Youth Services.

David Stanton

Question:

348 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of special projects for youth being funded; the number of such projects for which funding has ceased in the past 12 months; the number due to come to an end in the next 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13071/10]

I regret that due to industrial action I am not in a position to provide a substantive response to your Parliamentary Question. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

349 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13102/10]